Monday 20 March 2017

...going forward instead of in circles

I'm starting this blog because I want to be more actively and mindfully creative - something I find really hard. 

For as long as I can remember I've been good at drawing and painting and making all sorts of arty/crafty things - "good at" in the sense that I can usually turn my hand to just about anything, ranging from knitting and sewing to making hand-cut, painted wooden jigsaws or mobiles or lino-cuts. I'm one of those annoying lucky people who doesn't have to try too hard to get a nice result.

I have drawers and cupboards and storage boxes full of all kinds of materials and tools I have hoarded collected over literally decades, including these water-colour pencils I won in a children's magazine drawing competition 40+ years ago:

Now that two of my three children have flown the nest I even have a room of my own in which to be creative, where most of this stuff is gathered together. 

Starting as I mean to go on (being honest with myself), I should also confess to having an out of control extensive wool stash stored in multiple locations all over the house, including under the bed and under the sofa (vacuum storage bags are a wonderful invention); an old steamer trunk filled with assorted fabrics, and abandoned incomplete projects; a doll collection;  and an entire bookcase given over to knitting and needlecraft books and magazines - enough to stock a small library.

I have a lovely, long-suffering, supportive husband who tolerates all of this and is always encouraging me to make things and proud of whatever I do. Although I have a fairly stressful full-time job, which sometimes involves evening/weekend working, when I'm not at work my time is pretty much my own to do whatever takes my fancy.

My problem is that despite having the means and the opportunity to live a wonderfully fulfilling creative life, somehow, for some unfathomable reason, I don't.

I vegetate. I procrastinate. I slump in front of the telly feeling apathetic and exhausted for days weeks at a time. The road paved with my good intentions is long and winding and getting uncomfortably warm.

I love looking at other people's work (where else did the idea for this blog come from) and often think/say "I could easily do/make something like that". I write optimistic 'notes-to-self' reminders like this one, which is now at least two years old and counting:

When I actually force myself to do something the time flies by and I'm completely absorbed. It feels amazing and energising, and I tell myself "I'm going to do this more often". Then I don't.

The only time I'm really motivated is when I've set out to do/make something for someone else - like these:

Christmas presents for friends
 Or these:
Wedding favours - painted pebbles
Made approx 70!

Repainted doll for a friend's grandchild

Miniature picnic for the repainted doll

Making things for other people is great. I'm not knocking it in the slightest. It's nice to be able to give someone something thoughtful and unique made with love and care, and at least it means I'm not completely inactive. It just doesn't feel enough. I feel I should and could be doing more, and that I'm slowly squandering precious time while my eyesight blurs and my hands get clumsier with age. 

I heard this quote on the radio the other day - Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life” (Pablo Picasso). I pulled over to the side of the road and stopped to write it down, because it struck such a chord in me. Then over the weekend I came across this, and also this, which inspired me and made me want to try start to nurture my creativity in a gentle 'small steps, one day at a time' kind of way. I'm so tired of listening to myself grumbling about my lack of energy and motivation, or allowing my ridiculous perfectionism to keep me paralysed, or feeling disappointed that another day has literally slipped through my fingers.

I know that spending the afternoon writing this is still mostly thinking, not doing, but I'm intending it to mark the start of a new era. After all, nothing ventured, nothing gained. 

Plus there's yoga class tonight, which counts as a positive 'mind, body and spirit' activity in my book, and therefore puts a tick in today's creativity box.

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