Sunday, June 28, 2009

Being creative every day feels good!

I went to the Vermont Quilt Festival (VQF) last weekend, where I entered my “Quilt On!” mixed media scrapbook quilt in the show, only the second time I’ve had the nerve to do that. The quilt didn’t have to meet any judges’ requirements to get in (they allowed the first 200 that applied to be shown)—but it was judged by a panel of three. I got an 84, 81, and 79 out of 100 points. Not too bad. The judges said my piece was fun (yes!) but it needed more quilting. I don’t disagree—I just didn’t feel like doing it. My goal was to make something simple and get my confidence and desire to quilt back. I felt good that none of them said it was a disaster construction-wise. I'm always worried about that because I have a hard time with piecing accurately.

Over the past couple of years, I think I’ve been stymied by my desire to expand my wings. I design quilts that I have NO IDEA how to construct, so I get stuck. I am so overwhelmed by what to do next and all the projects I want to do that I do nothing (sounds like the men I date).

Anyway, at VQF I came to the conclusion that I will never be a master quilter. Don’t laugh. That was once my goal. But I know I’ll never have the patience, skill or vision of a Barb Olson, Margaret Miller, Ricky Tims or Susan Balch. And I’m learning to be okay with that. In fact, I think it’s inspired me anew.

I took another class with Barb Olson at VQF and it was simpler than the previous class I’d taken in April (bigger pieces to glue and appliqué!) and I was familiar with the technique this time. It’s also a dramatic flower (which I’ll show you somewhere down the line when it’s more finished), which I loved. She calls it “Wild Child.” As soon as I got home, I started working on it:
1) Because I was psyched to design it. It was FUN!
2) I left my sewing table folded out and my fabric everywhere. I just spread it all out throughout my dining room and let my housekeeping go to hell.
3) I can take 10 minutes here and there to work on the piece. Once I start to get frustrated or my sewing machine gums up, I stop.

Over the past week, I've finished all five petals and I’ve felt really good mentally—and I know it’s because I’m quilting.

It’s amazing how good it feels to be creative everyday--don't you think?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

What to say...

My sister and I just heard that an old family friend had died. We bought a condolence card, and were faced with the dilemma of what to write. How to express our sympathy and offer encouragement in the saddest of times? Just by chance, I came across a short article I'd written on the topic. It helped me, so thought I'd share it...

Composing Tough-to-write Sympathy Notes...
When a friend experiences a significant loss--a loved one dies, she miscarries, she gets divorced, she gets sick, she loses her job--what do you say to her? How do you let your friend know you care without being patronizing, unintentionally insensitive (by saying too little) or offering cliches? According to Rosalie Maggio, author of Great Letters for Every Occasion, you walk a fine line, but the biggest mistake is ignoring the loss. In situations where someone has died or been the victim of a big misfortune (a fire, flood, burglary, violent crime, job loss, a miscarriage), not sending a letter is worse than sending a misguided one, she says.

Here, some tips on WHAT TO DO:
Acknowledge the loss and mention the deceased person by name (or specify the misfortune). Recipients are already in pain and they don’t want that to be ignored, says Maggio.

Express your feelings of grief, dismay and loss in an honest and clear manner. Don’t use euphemisms such as “left this life,” “the dear departed” or “gone to a better life.” Instead, write “died” or “miscarried.”
Be brief. “A lengthy letter can be overwhelming in a time of grief,” she says.
Mention what you particularly liked about the deceased.

End with a general expression of concern or affection, such as “you are in my thoughts.”

Don't go overboard in expressing how you feel about the loss—saying “I was devastated. I start crying every time I think of him.”
Don’t use overly dramatic language (“the worst tragedy I ever heard of”).

Don’t use well-meaning but hurtful clichés, false cheerfulness and optimistic platitudes.

Don’t discuss your religious views or philosophy of death or loss unless you know the recipient shares your views.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Creative bravery

Creativity bravery is the essence of good art--don't you think?

The risk, of course, is that you expose your deepest feelings, thoughts, and values to the ridicule, judgment, and misinterpretation of others. But that's why you do your work for yourself and yourself alone. It’s only when you can push away your shame, fear, and insecurities and say with confidence, “I don’t care what anyone else thinks, I’m going to do this my way,” that you can let fly what lies within and create something that is truly unique, truly expressive of you, and ultimately truly healing.

Still, it’s not easy to put yourself out there and keep at it.

There’s a great little book on developing creative bravery: It’s called “Art and Fear: Observations on the Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking” by David Bayles and Ted Orland. I read it frequently, underlining new passages each time. It has so many inspiring pearls of wisdom in it!

When I’m feeling bad that one of my projects isn’t panning out the way I planned, for instance, I think of their counsel that “vision is always ahead of execution.” Or that “In a general way, fears about yourself prevent you from doing your best work, while fears about your reception by others prevent you from doing your own work.”

As Mary Tyler Moore has been quoted as saying…”It’s none of my business what anyone else thinks of me.” Your creativity is FOR YOU.