Monday, November 14, 2011

The Art of Thinking

I've been having a good solid chat with Kim over the last couple of days about the creative process, and understanding time within that context. (Oh yeah, we are soooo elite.)

Kim was beating herself up about not getting enough time to create (something I've been fretting over lately as well) and that once she gets done taking care of house and home, there is precious little time to sit in the studio. She said 'I only have a few hours each day to grind on the shit and by the time I get concepts or sketches (in my head) down the time to make is actually gone.'

I think a lot of us suffer this problem- by the time you sit down, get grounded and relax into it, seems like you get about 2 minutes of solid crafting done and then someone somewhere expects something of you. (It's a curse born by women throughout time, so don't feel special!) I know as an Etsy seller there's a huge pressure to update your shop regularly and provide as much as you can for people, and we can worry ourselves threadbare providing a regular supply of inventory.

I used to harass myself all the time that I wasn't making enough work- I could sit at my desk 3 days in a row and still not have anything finished, and some stuff I even wanted to pull apart or throw straight in the bin. Meanwhile I would log on to my Etsy and see my shop front, shaking it's head disapprovingly at me because the latest listing is 5 days old.

But those days of tinkering and taking stock are not lost time. You need those times to think and experiment and move things around. Even 'organising' your space (and by organising I often mean 'looking through random boxes.') is good work. Playing with your materials and supplies is as much about communicating with your muse as actually making a piece is. Even when you make something and it doesn't turn out, it's still valid time spent. (The art of failure is a whole other post.)

One of the most important things in the creative journey is the thinking. Physically making and (gasp!) finishing something is grand and seems to be the golden fleece we all lament not holding on a daily basis, but you need that thinking time to feel out your materials.

There's a Carl Sagan quote: 'to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe'. And I LOVE that quote because it speaks to me it's about setting the foundations, feeling out the landscape. You can't make something until you have the energy of it around you, you need to create the world in order for the creature to live there. So all that time spent thinkin' and dreamin' and shuffling beads and string around the desk is all crucial to the process.

It's going to happen whether you like it or not, this tinkering. In fact it HAS to happen to get good work, so you might as well either square with it or consign yourself to the easy path of making frivolous trinkets. (And you know what Dumbledore said about easy choices.)

I've illustrated this post with random shots taken through my studio in the last few days. Every now and then walking around with the camera and snapping away at various things is helpful to my thinking process. This is just as valid as actually making something. Taking photos, observing, playing... it's all seeds for the harvest. So stop beating yourself up, and find validation in every minute of creative time you're blessed with. No matter how unproductive it feels.


fanciful devices said... Best Blogger Tips

Im gasping from the gloriousness here. these new things are ... squeezing my heart somehow...
and this is just random shots around the studio? now i feel like i should dedicate a few days to redecorating...

needless to say, couldnt agree more, even though i have no idea what dumbledore says about anything or really who he is. one of the teacher's at hogwarts im pretty sure but is he the old dude or the hairy one?

list these things already!!!

Alice said... Best Blogger Tips

Oh there you go again, showing your lovely creations and making me sigh in longing for your talent and creative intuition.

Thanks for the reminder that we are all in the same boat--us women. Being tugged in one direction and pulled in another, and we feel we must do it all, because that is how we are made.

Thank you for the wise words of wisdom this Tuesday morning.

Jen said... Best Blogger Tips

hmm... great minds? what I was musing about here. but you said it much more eloquently. LOVE the CS quote. I might snag that for my own. ;)

Gardanne said... Best Blogger Tips

Thanks I needed this. I look at the clock every night at 10 and say "whaaat the h did I do today."

Jackie said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you Penny, awesome words and photos you've shared with us. I also needed this! I'm always too hard on myself, I must be kinder to me when I'm feeling unproductive.
Your studio photos are lovely! My studio is a total mess, when I do find time I'm either reorganizing trying to get it "right" or looking for stuff.
...Jackie xo

Corvid Delights said... Best Blogger Tips

I like how your comments from our conversation are poetic and mine come off as being base. :) Squee! Look at all these beautiful things, those cluster pendants are drop dead gorgeous, and the last necklace is incredible. Thank you for the reminders about the value of taking time and tinkering. What are those pretty nut things? Some type of pine cone?

Kathleen Lange Klik said... Best Blogger Tips

Great post. I have been struggling with time and creativity. Your words really put things into perspective, thank you!

Michelle Mach said... Best Blogger Tips

As much as I hate being unproductive, I find that after a few days of tinkering, I usually have a huge burst of creativity. It seems to come out of nowhere, but I think it sometimes just takes time to marinate!

Petra Carpreau said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you for such wise words, that I'm sure we all need someone else to say to us from time to time. I have absolutely no idea how that Fanci D manages to get her lovely things out here so quickly. All this other etsy/FB/twit and bloggery stuff just takes sooo bloody long. Five days between listings, you say?? Oh my God - I'm doomed!
I totally agree with what you're saying though, about the negative impact it has on the piece when it's rushed. I experience that unpleasantness rather more than I'd wish to!! Mind you, I find that happens when I've overthunk all the spirit and spontaneity out of things as well. It's different for everyone though, isn't it.
On that note, I think it's my time to wander over to my workbench.
Petra x

TesoriTrovati said... Best Blogger Tips

Those times where I feel the least productive, meaning I don't have as much to show for it, really seem to be the beginnings of a new direction. I then find when the time is right that the shoots of new growth spurt up in wild directions. Plucking one to work on and take over my creativity is like a luxury then. I started my Challenge of Color last year when I was stuck in a rut. I wasn't producing anything of consequence and when I did produce something it wasn't quite right. So I challenged myself and started with color, very basic element. I found that I had all I needed and then some. So I have resurrected this challegen and I am going in some new directions with things and it feels good. You have such a thoughtful way about you, and I much enjoy coming to visit, to see the loveliness you bring to the world with your words and art. Thank you for this refreshing perspective. Things to think about for sure!
Enjoy the day!

stregata said... Best Blogger Tips

Very awesome thoughts and pieces here today. I am just totally drooling over those - are they pods? Would seriously love to get my hands into those...

Beads2Die4 said... Best Blogger Tips

Well said! I sometimes make those frivolous things and then rework them so they too become part of the creative process. Your work and materials are heavenly.

sharon said... Best Blogger Tips

This is a brilliant post! You said everything I think everyday. Now i feel a bit better, aaaa, I thought I was the only one..ha!
Love your pieces and pics here, so much natural beauty, so much positive energy.

eb said... Best Blogger Tips

I love this post
and your work is beautiful...

xox - eb.

Sidereal Day said... Best Blogger Tips

Somehow I missed this post until now, but today I really needed to hear that.

taralinda said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you for this post; the reminder to tinker, get lost, re-find: to toss, strew and re-string. Love your photos & designs.

Gia said... Best Blogger Tips

So happy to have found your site! Beautiful, all of it.

Thank you for the wonderful quotes - they'll feed my heart for weeks - so I'll return the favor with the wry one that graces the sill of my laundry:

"It's hard to become immortal when there's so much cleaning to be done."
(Mary Anne Radmacher - calligrapher, artist and writer extraordinaire)

Shel said... Best Blogger Tips

I really needed to hear all this - I was feeling like I was just spinning my wheels and getting nowhere - thanks so much!!

Beatnheart said... Best Blogger Tips

I am studying the wise and wonderful wisdom of this fine lady whom I just had the pleasure of meeting...recovering now from an unthinkable accident these words here even more poignant .