We have a new meeting place for tea and talk! A branch of Costa Coffee has been built in the carpark of my gym. The good news is that it is open late so it is a perfect place to write between work and home. The bad news is that the cake is good and that means more time is necessary in said gym!
There is a certain irony that your last post was tardy because you were not feeling a creative urge and mine is tardy because I have been busy, busy, busy creating. There is an even greater irony that much of the creating has gone into pulling together a brand new blog called Plan • Create• Succeed which includes material about organisation amongst the posts about art, food, journalling, design and personal development.
Of course with Blogger I could have just written a post and there the new blog would be. But I decided that was no fun and sought out the challenge of learning how to use a self-hosted WordPress blog with a sleek premium theme. It was really fun using my brain for research and learning and writing lots of posts ahead of time and I am thrilled with the initial response from new readers.However, in my determination to meet my own self imposed deadline I let things with no deadline slip. Which is why, after our discussion off blog, about getting this blog more regular, I now have it scheduled in my blog organiser for fortnightly posts from me. A deadline means a commitment which means I need a damn good reason not to do it!
Which sort of brings me on to your main question from last time about motivating yourself and whether I have ever hit a period when I am devoid of all impulse to create. I cannot actually think of a sustained time, since I discovered I actually was creative ( only a few years ago!), in which I have been unable to motivate myself. the have been days when I have chosen to do other things and in fact a period of about ten days running up to Festival of Quilts when I had all my projects finished and chose to rest from the studio so I would be really hungry to do new things when I got back to it with all my new inspiration and shopping from Festival. But that was a deliberate rest not a complete funk like you seem to have been struggling with.
I think there are two reasons for that. One lies in what some people would regard as my over the top target setting and organisation. I participate in the SAQA Visioning Project and my main target there for this year is about studio time. After much excruciating maths, I declared my goal was to be a thirty/seventy artist meaning that when you added up the time I spent over a year in the studio with that I spent at work, the total would divide thirty percent to creativity and seventy percent to work. There was much consideration of how to count work time...do commutes and lunch hours count?...but in the end I got to a monthly total of 53 hours a month target subdivided for art and blogging.
Then I made a list of what projects I fancied doing in the first portion of the visioning year, how long each might reasonably take and made my choices based on what I could fit in to the time available. Those form my secondary goals for the project.
This means that the decision about what and for how long I am going to create is pre-made. So my decision each day is not, "Do I feel like creating?" but rather, "Do I want to miss my target?" or " No I have spent so much time On this project already do I really want to slack off now and miss the deadline for submission." or actually, the question is usually more, "Am I in the studio before or after dinner tonight or am I clocking hours with handwork in front of the TV today?"
I think I have a healthy regard to these targets. If I miss a submission date, I miss a submission date and the world does not stop. There is nothing to beat myself up over and maybe there will be times when other things, say, health or family, take priority. Fine. But the buzz of meeting my own targets and crossing them off on the drywipe board in my studio is heady and enough to keep me going.
Basically I have created a habit of creativity rather than constantly making a choice whether to create or not. Please don't think I am bragging about this; I remain rather surprised that it has happened!
The second reason is that I find creativity soothing and comforting. As you know I lost my Granny a few days ago. ( do you remember taking this photo? Its the last one of us together.)
It was expected but still, bereavement I found made me feel heavy and stolid and washed out. Logistics of being away for the funeral means I missed a couple of days of sewing (although I did take the opportunity to solve a thread emergency by popping to the nearest quilt shop to where she lived and put the finishing touches to Plan • Create • Succeed !) But the day she actually died and the weekend after the funeral I spent hours at my machine and hand quilting. The flow of creativity ( and some good films and back episodes of Grey's Anatomy on Love Film Instant while I worked) soothed and sustained me and took my mind away from grief and loss to a more positive state of bringing art in to being.
You mentioned that part of your problem was a dissatisfaction with your space and I totally agree that having a suitable dedicated space is a big enabling factor. A studio is not a requirement for good creativity; as the photos in our book show I did much of my early work on a dining table. But I think that having a dedicated space however big small, basic or luxurious sends a big psychological message that creativity is a basic life function like cooking, washing, sleeping and doing laundry. In a studio what else are you going to do but create? Having that area is a sort of validating permission.
Or to put it another way, as my husband said when I checked he did not mind me spending so much time in my studio, "We spent thirty grand on it, you'd better be sending lots of time in there!" (Of course there is no need to build a new house storey as I did, its just identifying a space and dedicating it to creativity that works. I know part of your troubles that are consuming you involve your environment and what it will be like in the future and I encourage you to build into your plans a dedicated studio separate from your office.
Interestingly, I have noticed this pattern with my burgeoning Filofax collection too. I have a taste for these beautiful leather binders which come at a certain price, although the hunt for the bargain is fun. I realised this weekend that the areas of my life that have a really nice binder that I love to use and have pushed the boat out a bit to buy get more attention from me. I think it is that by the act of committing money and the beautiful object to that purpose, I validate the purpose as worthy and important. Plus, the pleasure of using the binders ( Oh, the lovely soft leather, the flippiness of the pages, the joy of customisation. Ahem) makes me give the material inside the attention it needs.
Yes, I could use a cheap notebook or a mock leather binder but the joy of using something beautiful is motivating. So, writing the hours I clocked towards my quilting target in an Ochre Malden A5 model? Double whammy of bliss and satisfaction! Too often we downgrade creativity to leftover status when for reasons of our well being it should be up there with gym membership. Do you find your filofaxes have the same result? Did buying that great beast of a Bernina of yours have the same effect?
You also asked what would I do if I found myself lacking in motivation. I would take a pile of art related books or magazine or the like to a cafe and start to browse. Without fail I find that shortly I start to get inspired and excited and start to hunt out paper and pen to write ideas down. It does seem to work best in a cafe though. Maybe its just that I have trained myself to get the same signal I get from going to a studio,but I have never fathomed why cafes are such special places for creativity. I know you share that love of cafe life. Do you know what it is about them?
You also asked me about the effect on working in a series, but you know, this is a long post so I think I will keep you in suspense and write about that next time. (Such a tease but I have much to say!)
Oh, but before I go, I wanted to ask you about your watercolour sketchbooks... They do not obviously seem design related. Do you see them as an end product in themselves, or is it the process that is important and if so why? I like the idea of doing them but them I see them as a huge distraction from the task in hand of art quilting. I do not have time for distractions! Am I missing something? Do they feed into your textile work or stand alone?
In January the builder starts to convert our garage into a wet studio and laundry area. Before then I have to clear the large amount of junk in there. I thought about taking one item at a time and drawing it and journalling briefly about the item as a sort of quirky record of creating the studio. But I don't know.. That's more hours.. Is it worth it?