Friday, November 27, 2009

By Whatever Name

By whatever name you call it, you have to do it.

What am I talking about? Well, the idea goes by many names. You may call it
  • having an artist's date
  • filling the well
  • honoring your muse
  • nurturing your inner child
  • priming the pump
  • having some "me" time
  • being inspired
  • stepping outside your comfort zone
Whew. I'm tired just typing all of that. But you still have to take the time to do it by some name or other. As a creative person, you have a basic need to replenish yourself, to see what others are doing, to observe trends in your field, to learn new techniques, to experiment with new products or equipment or to just play.

How do you do this? You can surf online or check out the latest magazine in your field. You can have lunch with another creative person and compare projects even if one of you works in clay and the other in wool. You can regularly read blogs of other artists. You can go on First Friday Art Walks if your town has one.

But those are all things that you are probably doing on a regular schedule anyhow. So let's talk about really stepping outside the norm. Have you been to a workshop or festival lately?

I recently had the opportunity to travel to Boerne, Texas for the 21st Annual Kid 'n Ewe And Llamas, Too festival. It's three hours away so the drive itself took me out of my comfort zone. It was a beautiful, sunny day. There was a large crowd enjoying the weather and the three buildings full of beautiful yarn and roving. There was a large choice of fiber, llama, alpaca, wool, mohair or bamboo. I spoke to a woman who spent three months of her yarn budget on quivet, the soft undercoat of a bison. I had a few minutes to talk to my old friend, Lorelei from Heritage Arts but only a few minutes. She was quite busy with customers.

I made a few purchases. I now have some indigo-dyed bamboo roving which I suspect will be a challenge to my spinning abilities. I have some very nice felted tweed wool in a soft green and I think I want to order even more. I also bought some Texas-made lavendar soap and a herbal lotion that are just perfect for pampering my self. Then I spent another $200 but I'm not going to tell you what I bought. You'll have to wait until I can show you.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Universal turtles

I think the universe likes turtles.

I think the universe likes any creature that can stick its head out of its shell.

Even humans.

It can be quite scary to be creative and create something new. The universe knows that; it's creating something new all the time. For us, though, creativity takes a different way of experiencing the world. Sometimes that means we look at the world and take in everything, every sound, sight, touch, taste and even smell. Other times, we focus on one small aspect. Maybe we squint and put all of our attention on a cookie crumb on the desk or pick out just the bass notes in a song.

An amazing thing happens when we allow ourselves to be creative. The universe opens up to us and the more awareness we have of the world, the more world there seems to be. Carl Jung used the word synchronicity to describe what happens when we allow ourselves to be more open to what is around us. Seemingly unrelated events occur with consequences that can be wonderfully exciting or quietly affirming.

I'll give you some examples.

I recently read The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. One night when I was too tired to read anymore, I put the book down and picked up a magazine that I had never read before. The first page I turned to showed a photograph of Bury St. Edwards, the hometown of the book's heroine.

Recently, I was rereading a passage in Julia Cameron's classic book about creativity, The Artist's Way. She mentions the old 50's song, Blue Velvet which at that precise moment was playing on the 50' station. Now, probably you're thinking that isn't so odd. I guess not if you listen to a lot of 50's music. I don't. I can't remember if I've ever listened to the 50's station but that day I was avoiding music by a prolific artist who had just died. So what are the odds?

Now those two examples are of the quietly affirming sort. Here's an example of wonderfully exciting. A friend is writing a biography of a man who was in Pierre, South Dakota for Christmas, 1932. She was discussing this at a party and another guest mentioned that her father was also in Pierre, South Dakota for Christmas, 1932. The guest's father kept a journal which corroborates the information my friend had already developed. The party, by the way, was almost 1700 miles from Pierre, SD. How cool is that?

Here's the kick, you as a creative person have to be like the turtle and stick your neck out for the universe to allow those wonderful experiences to show up on your radar screen. You have to be able to say "I'm a writer, . . . sculptor, . . . artist. I am a creative being." And not be surprised if the next day, the universe responds.