Creativity takes many forms

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A tip for parents

Do not consult other parents of children the same age as yours about what to do with your baby – or toddler – or teenager. Find someone who has raised an admirable human being and ASK THEM. Especially if they’ve had more than one. Or especially if you know their offspring and you see similarities with your own.

Just a thought.

Yeah – I’m back. Stay tuned after April 15. (Missed you!)

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Thank you

When I was young I was often told I was Very Intelligent and Mature For My Age. This didn’t explain my bad marks in school, but I decided I was distracted.
This reputation was nice but it did me a disservice. Because in fact, I’ve come to realize, I was also Thick As A Brick.

A couple of examples from my 20s:

I met a woman at work and we got along very well. She asked me to go to a Heather Bishop concert with her. We had a lovely dinner together and I am sure I must have spoken of my romantic dilemmas. When we arrived at the concert I remarked on the incredible number of women there – my goodness there weren’t any men there at all! My friend gazed at me quietly. The concert was wonderful, we parted ways, and although we were amiable at work after that we never did cultivate a deeper friendship. Over ten years later I was hit by a lightning bolt and realized that she was interested in me . It all went completely over my head. I cringe at how insensitive and idiotic I was…. and I wonder what would have happened if I’d figured it out a little earlier in the evening. (!)

I spent time with a group of supporters of a left-wing magazine. Okay you need a little background for this one. I was raised by small-s socialist parents. I believed in publicly-funded health care and a social safety net (still do). And yet I also believed in personal freedom and creativity (still do). I did not understand the underlying contradictions (still don’t). I was given the chance to meet with the Canadian ambassador from Nicaragua on behalf of the magazine. I wrote a question-and-answer article that was vigorously quashed by the group. It was unprintable by their standards. I read it over and over, trying to understand what was so bad about my writing. One person simply told me it was not salvageable. Another spent a long time explaining his history with the SDS, and I never did understand how that related to the article. Obviously I was a terrible writer and there was no hope for me. TWENTY years later I was hit by (a different) lightning bolt and realized it wasn’t the writing, it was the point of view that was the problem. I’d asked questions about individual freedom. I got some great responses too, but they were, by this left-wing magazine’s standards, unprintable. And frankly I don’t think I will ever forgive them for leaving me with the impression that I couldn’t write. Because after that, I didn’t for a long, long time.

Another example, from earlier:

When I was in Grade One I was obsessed with drawing castles and turkeys. Not together. But I had a Method and I drew them over and over again. I had a very nasty teacher – she wouldn’t let us go to the bathroom to the point where we regularly peed our pants. She would put you in the corner if you didn’t say “Here” during roll call, although she was hard of hearing and sometimes wouldn’t hear you even if you called out. She yelled at us if we left white showing on our pastel drawings. I lived half a block from the school, both my parents worked, and I did what any rational six-year-old would do in this situation – I played hooky. I would let myself into the house and spend the day drawing castles and turkeys. I remember showing my dad my drawings one day and he got very angry and spanked me. I forever linked drawing and punishment. Only in the last three years have I started drawing again for pleasure. Although I haven’t attempted castles or turkeys. (In my father’s defense, we did discuss this years later. My parents knew this teacher was a problem, and they were constantly lobbying for her to be removed. I just didn’t know it at the time. And spanking was a common disciplinary measure in the 60s, in this case applied because even if the teacher was a mess, I had to go to school. Not that I accept all of this. )

What do these stories have in common? Well the first one is just funny/tragic. I think of it anytime I start thinking I know what’s going on. And yet it does relate to the others because it’s about misreading situations and using the reactions of others to dictate how we should live. It is common, and it’s a waste of this precious life. I admire people who manage to ignore that kind of feedback, and who just create and invent and do whatever they please. I am slowly becoming one of these people. And I also am so grateful for the people who say kind things, or who follow my blog, or send me an encouraging email. I am slowly learning two things: It doesn’t matter what others think, I should do what pleases me (and doesn’t harm others) AND moral support is a rare and incredibly precious thing.

Long way to say – thank you. So much. You are part of everything I do.

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Total Alignment #1

This is my first ever acrylic painting. I decided to work with what I had on hand rather than wait until next week when I could get bigger brushes and better paper. So this is freezer paper and fairly small brushes. The lines down the centre of the page came first, and then the big heart. Lots of little hearts appeared because love is everywhere.

Total Alignment #1

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Fibre update

I still don’t have a working camera but I am learning to take better pictures with my iPod. You’ll see the progression in this post!

I’ve been obsessed with spinning a gradient-plied yarn. Meaning take three plies of Colour A, and gradually exchange one ply after another with Colour B and until it’s all Colour B. I had it in my mind that I could create an optical illusion of orange by plying yellow and red together. Rather than spin and dye for this experiment, I used some yellow and red cobweb yarn in my stash. I wound them into circular balls and the red got hopelessly tangled:

So it took about two weeks of my free time to deal with that because I would not cut the tangles out. Then I plied:

Circus yarn

Yes it was immediately dubbed circus yarn. But one trait I do not like about myself is that I will stop if something isn’t living up to my expectations. I’d initially planned to make a shawl out of this but I no longer wanted to. Instead I dug out my copy of Unexpected Knitting http://www.amazon.ca/Unexpected-Knitting-Debbie-New/dp/0942018222 (sorry this is the only way links are working for me AGAIN) and decided to try the vest in Chapter 1. I knew it would be hideous – at this point it was just a big experiment anyway. And i told myself I can overdye it if I don’t like it.

This week I finished the vest. It looks way different than I expected.

Circus vest

I think you can see pretty clearly the yellow, but the 1 red/2 yellows and 2 reds/1 yellow blended better than I thought they would. Having said that, I’ll be overdyeing it. What do you think – blue or orange? I’m leaning towards blue. Not sure it will ever be worn – it’s a bit small and I’m not crazy about all garter stitch. And yes, the whipstitching on the right side is falling apart. Nonetheless I’m proud of following through on my original vision.

I want better creative vision – mine is blurry!

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Cultivation

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my gut this month. Both literally and figuratively. I’m having physical gut problems, which finally led to me having an endoscopy this week. No results yet but my symptoms got much worse right after. I had a lot of social plans this week and they were eliminated, one by one.

I am very much an introvert and I try to choose my socializing carefully. Not that I overthink, but I try to check in with my gut to see if it’s going to deplete more than it feeds. I sometimes wonder if my physical gut intervenes when it doesn’t trust my psychic gut. Or if my psychic gut takes over my physical gut when it thinks my intellect is running the show. Endless second guessing ensues, and so eventually I abandon all the naval gazing.

I’ve been sleeping a lot and having many strange dreams. I’ve also been feeling some urgency to create a “body of work” – whatever that means! I am acutely aware that my time on this plane is finite. I’ve chosen to work in a very slow medium – fibre. And I’ve chosen to dye and spin my own fibre for that body of work! I think the spinning part of the journey is nearly over. I will always spin for the pure relaxation and fun of it, but textile art is just too slow to do it all. And I’m not the fastest artist there ever was.

And so I really want my gut to be heard – to create the art that needs to come out. It is impossible to justify this (and it seems I’ve tried for some reason). It is very new to me to feel that I have some legitimate creativity to express and there are some Scotch Presbyterian ghosts hanging around who make it very clear that I’m a pompous you-know-what. Guts gotta win this time though. Instead I’m listening to the Bali dancers a shaman once saw surrounding me, encouraging me to manifest my beauty.

Some creative mentors I’ve been working with:

The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp http://www.amazon.ca/The-Creative-Habit-Learn-Life/dp/0743235266. Some of you may recall my attempt to get through The Creative Year by Eric Maisel last year. (I did get through it, just not blogging or podcasting due to computer woes.) Twyla’s a great followup to that book, and in many ways a better book. Although I’m not sure I would have been ready for it without Eric’s help.

Total Alignment – a free online workshop offered by Connie Hosvicka at Dirty Foodprints Studio http://www.dirtyfootprints-studio.com/p/total-alignment.html. It’s an upbeat approach to learning how to paint spontaneously. It’s a nice complement to my sketch a day discipline.

Yes I am still sketching and watercolouring but I find photographing everything tedious. I’ll share highlights, I promise!

I’m also trying to spend more time outside, listening to the birds. I’ve been learning about different types of bird calls – not identifying birds by their calls but identifying what is going on by the calls I hear. Mating calls, location calls (heard more once the mating rituals have been successful), alarm calls, babies’ hunger calls and good ol’ singing for the joy of it.

I’m trying to figure out what my poor body needs from me too.

These are all forms of cultivation, and it feels like the right time of year to be engaged in it on all levels.

How are you cultivating this spring?

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Monday puttering

Today was a holiday for me – I’m one of the lucky people who got a four-day weekend. I actually managed to get a few chores done – I washed all the windows for one thing. And now all I see are the streaks. However they are clean enough, good enough. It got me thinking about self-criticism and how much it dilutes the minor joys of life. Also I dreaded thinking about washing the windows, but when it came time to do it I enjoyed myself. A neighbour’s dog (a sweet little pug) got loose and into our yard. I picked her up while my husband found a rope to tie to her collar, and I walked her home. I want a dog!

I also made sauerkraut. Not the vinegar kind you get in the supermarkets, a salted one with some carrot and garlic and black pepper. It will ferment on a shelf for a couple of weeks before it’s ready to eat.

Image

I also had a bit of time to draw.

Still life with bathtub

Yes, I do have a bathtub in my front yard. I am the envy of my neighbours.

 

I want to improve my grass painting skills. The big challenge with this art journaling is doing it quickly. I want it to be perfect! (See self-criticism above.)

Now it’s time to make dinner – and finish a knitting project for a swap I’m part of on Ravelry. I have to rip out the last couple of rows because the cast-off looks wonky. Perfection no – but better yes.

 

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