Learning as I go along…

A smattering of creative revelations.

How do you respond to the urge to create something? Some art forms lend themselves to a potentially rapid response – drawing & painting mean that you can quickly get into your work, see your ideas in action. Other art forms take longer – music, stone-carving,  writing, all these require a long creative process. I see needlepoint in this category – slow art.

But as a slow artist, my creative urges aren’t generally slow. I get impatient with the work I’m making – not generally while I’m doing it, but I often feel impatient to see it in its finished state.

I get seized with ideas for compositions, colours, inspirations – things that I’d like to create in needlepoint, but I know that it will be a long time before I can bring any of these to light in stitch and canvas.

But this week, I had a few little personal revelations.

The first was something that occurred to me while I was working on the piece I’m calling ‘shell’.

Shell, in progress

Whenever I start a piece, when there are just a few little stitches on a big piece of bare canvas, it can be difficult to ‘get into’ the flow. I feel irritable, it doesn’t draw me in to work at it. But I keep going. Then, at some point, usually about a week or so into the stitching, I suddenly ‘see’ where I’m going. The piece starts to have its own life and then, from that point, I find that I have an urgency to carry on.

I reached this point on ‘shell’ this week.

The second thing that occurred to me this week, was that stepping out of my comfort zone, isn’t a bad thing to do.

The tree piece that I started, hadn’t reached the critical point of seeing where I was going with it – I was struggling.

Tree, it looks better in my mind, where I can see the next stage

I’d had a break, but then it kept popping up in my mind. I think my subconscious mind has probably been spending time working on it for me. Anyway, I picked it up again, and now I am beginning to ‘see’ it. It won’t take tent stitch, so I’m having to explore alternative ideas. I need to lay down a structure, which I’m doing now, so that I can then come back over those areas, adding colour and texture.

In my mind now, I can see how this can be created – that’s a very big step forward for me. The piece feels so different in hand, to my usual needlepoint, but at last, I’m beginning to understand it better.

And the third thing that struck me this week, was that just because my chosen medium is a slow one, doesn’t mean that I am restricted to working in that medium. At last (please don’t laugh at the poor old girl’s naivety), I realised that when those pesky creative urges hit, there’s nothing to stop me getting the pencils or the paints out, and getting them down.

That might not seem very radical to you, but to me this was important. I do think that I’m gradually starting to understand how ideas form, how odd snippets of inspiration coalesce, and how you don’t have to be a perfect artist to use those flashes as they come.

The best thing I’ve found, is that when I do get the pens out and just get on with it, I experience a great sense of relief, and then I can pick up the stitching again, with a clearer mind.

Oh, and the very last revelation – I love Prague. (I went there last week – there’s a post on my non-stitchy website, Mostly Motley, if you’re interested. Just the most incredibly beautiful city you could imagine).



6 thoughts on “Learning as I go along…

  1. I so know what you mean. I knit, dye with plant dyes, and do a bit of stitching, and none give instant results. But my camera does, and I also keep sketch/scrap/inspiration books that are the perfect way to channel your creative energy for a quick boost 😀

  2. I was searching for needlepoint and found your blog. I really liked your insights into the creative process! I’m going to have to keep it in mind when I get stuck on a project.

    Geez Louise, do I sound like a spammer or what. Actually, I used to do quite a bit of needlepoint and wrote it up on my blog, A Daily Life. I’d put in a link but then for sure it would go to spam.

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