Tuesday, July 17, 2007

On Creativity at Different Stages of Life

When I was a teenager, I had few responsibilities besides my school work. I could paint and do all the art things I wanted to do. Then I went off to collage and did lots of art stuff for two years and had a blast being an "artist." The I switched colleges, took one art class and didn't enjoy the environment, switched majors, but continued to do my art, sell at outdoor art festivals with my mother, show my work and have a good time and do my stuff.

I got married and continued to do my art painting. Then I started doing some other crafty things which led to making a quilt and then on I went.

Once I started having children, my time became much more full of everything but my art. I learned to be creative in different ways. I stopped painted because I didn't have the room for a studio with two children. But I was going on the quilting. As I was learning, I learned that by making blocks of traditional quilts, I could find a little bit of time to piece all of one piece to the next one and feel like I had accomplished something.

But something else was happening. I was very busy working with teenagers raising money for the Children's Hospital by doing catering. Weekends got full as other hospital branches would hire us to do all their food for parties.

Then my job required a lot of creativity. I had to learn how to reach people, gain their confidence and get the information that I needed. I got very good at it. Later I came up with some rather inventive ways for teenagers to face the consequences of their illegal actions (non-violent petty stuff). I found that working on my art was hard to do as I had moved in to art quilts. It couldn't be done in little bits of time but needed chunks of time to work through the design. But somehow, as the children got older, I carved out a little time for myself. With many years of soccer between the two children, I managed to always go to my guild meetings each month. That day was my one day a month that was all mine...no transporting, no cleats, no shine guards, no nothing but other quilters.

Once the children were grown, I was able to spend more time doing my art. However, the job was requiring a lot of attention and frequently I found myself worn out and not feeling very creative. Then, when I had time, I couldn't decide what to do because I had so many ideas. I became resentful of my job as it was taking all of my energy away from my art.

Then it was time to reframe my thought processes. Work was not taking me away from being creative, but I had made a choice to do my job in such a way that it required me to be very creative on the job. Once I understood that I had a choice in the matter, I relaxed and was able to do my art work on weekends and time off.

And then retirement! At first, the time was spent with my mother as she was dying. I had patches and cut out hearts of various fabrics and hand appliqued them onto the neutral patches. I still have the pile of these. I could do something with them but somehow I just don't want to.

After my mother died, I went to Asilomar for an Empty Spools class with Caryl Bryer Fallert. I had had a short workshop with her several years before but this was the first time I had ever gone to a week-long learning experience. Caryl graciously took time with me to help me define what kind of artist I wanted to be. I am still very grateful to her for helping me through that. I became a full time studio artist who sometimes teaches.

Now, I "can" be creative whenever I want to be. This is good and sometimes not so good. I can easily get into the "zone" of creativity where I am truly one with the work I am doing. I really find this to be true when I am doing liturgical work as I purposefully work at inviting the Holy Spirit to partner with me during the process.

The not-so-good part of this creativity and not having too many limits on my time, is that I can become rather flaky. I can't find words to finish sentences, my friends have to put up with some sort of charades game with me as I try to describe the word I want, I don't sleep well because my brain is on overdrive, etc. Being by myself means that I don't usually have someone to bounce all this off of. My poor dh is at a loss when it comes to understanding this part of me although he can go work on his lathe for days making a small little stainless steel knob. Which really is art, also but he just doesn't get my art, even though I would busy doing it when we met.

Now that I am sixty, I can become as philosophical as I would like and pontificate on my blog. Since everyone can chose to read or not, I am not boring anyone.

An interesting thing happened Saturday night. My daughter's father-in-law had taken 16 of us out for dinner for my son-in-law's birthday and also because he was here from PA and this was a good chance to see a lot of his friends. We gathered at my daughter's house after we had eaten out and had dessert. Now, these are friends I have knows for a number of years. I am not very good at socializing as my professional life had me discussing people's sexual fantasies...not something one brings up with friends at a social gathering. Nor were they interested in hearing about sexual predators. So, I am socially behind. This night, however, one guy started talking to me about my art for a while, and then another started talking to me about the job of a probation officer. Someone was interested in me! I run out of energy pretty quickly when I am socializing...it just tires me out.

So yesterday, after three days of spending lots of time with lots of people, I had a day off on my birthday. What did I do? Caught up on paperwork, and spent a lot of time on the computer. Then at 11pm I started working on genealogical research which didn't stop until 3am.

today? I was back in the studio (once I work up) and feeling much better!

So here are two pieces of lutradur that I had painted and then screened today. I just love making these weird thermofax screens!

Also finished up the layering of my new piece which is now ready to quilt.
And then the fun began. I love doing paper collages...it justifies all the stuff I collect and hoard. Life music in foreign languages, dictionaries in foreign languages, old atlases, old school books, old junk. So I set up the table and starting playing with first layers. I've got four pieces going and will work on them again tomorrow. But I think I will do some stamping on them at home tonight...if I can stay up long enough.


Anonymous said...

Pontificate away! It's one thing knowing that we all work our creativity in different (and often perplexing) ways, and it's another to hear it out loud. I found that when i had a creative job, the urge to work on my own art was mild, but when I quit and didn't have the opportunity to be artisticly creative every day, then the urges got very stong. Like you, even with two kids in tow, I must make art!

Anonymous said...

You never bore me. Because I know you so well (I've even seen you in your jammies!!), it is sometimes hilarious for me to read your pontifications and sometimes very poignant.

I love these pieces you do with the bit of red.