Sparking creativity

If you were hoping for this blog post to be about inhabiting liminal spaces, I must apologize up front. That post seems to be inaccessible to me. I tried writing it four times and it wouldn’t cohere. Oh, the irony.

So, I’m going to talk about creativity because Glendon Mellow (aka flyingtrilobite on Twitter) got me thinking about it. I have always been amused to hear writers when they say people ask them where they get their ideas. I think if you sit around and watch tv all day, you might have a hard time coming up with ideas, but if you live life, it seems to me ideas should be easy to come by.

So, what does that mean? For me, I know that I learn by talking. Some of my best inspirations have come from conversations I’ve had with people. If I’m looking for a creative spark, I know certain topics will get the juices flowing: science, marine topics, outer space, and textiles. Because I talk so much, people will sometimes bring me ideas. It’s great!

I go to lectures and classes. I’m a member of two local quilt guilds and I go to the meetings no matter who is speaking because I never know if someone will inspire me. I’ve had people say things that hit right to the core even though their style and possibly even their technique are of no interest to me! Same with classes. You never know how a technique might be used in your work if you don’t try it first. Just because the teacher uses dots to make cats doesn’t mean you can’t use dots to make ice cream cones (or something along those lines :))

Sometimes I will try to use a different thread or fabric or yarn to see what I can do with it. I also make challenges to myself and invite my friends to join me. Don’t ask me about the things I have in my studio that I haven’t even tried to play with yet. It’s why I started my own little group and boy are we having fun!

Someone told me a while ago to try doing things “the other way.” So, try being the driver or passenger. Try eating left handed. Or drawing (if you draw — I don’t:)). I’m a contra dancer, so I’ve started switching roles during a dance, something I had not been able to do before a year or so ago. I think it did something to my brain because I can now do it easily!

I try to make sure I do things that get me outside my head. I walk with friends once a week. I dance once a week. I sing once a month. These are routines that are built into my schedule that I feel improve my quality of life.

In the end, being creative is all about expressing the subjects that excite me. Personally, I’m not excited by traditional landscapes. I had been quilting for 11 years before it occurred to me that my subjects didn’t have to be traditional. I’m not sure why it took me so long. I was probably distracted by my kids as I’ve never been one to stick with the traditional.

I think, in the end, one just has to find things that excite them and pursue those exciting bits. How do you challenge yourself?

(ADDING THIS BIT: Very important: REGULAR PRACTICE. Good writers go and write for X many minutes/hours or whatever it is a day. If you want to be creative, you have to do it. Not all of us have the luxury of doing it every day, but for me, even if I’m not in my studio, I still spend part of the day thinking over ideas.

Oh, which leads me to another point! Stretch yourself. Share your work. Submit it places. Apply to things you love even if you think it’s not going to happen.)

As a reward for reading all of this, have a couple pictures of art quilts I made for the upcoming Art of Neuroscience exhibit I will be part of.  It is part of the much larger Neuroscience Convention and will be from November 15-19.  Apparently there are two sessions open to the public: one on Saturday at 11 am to 1 pm and on Tuesday, November 19, from 3-5 pm, there’s a forum on science funding that is also open to the public. I know that Michele Banks will be there with scarves and her fabulous watercolors. I am not sure which other artists will be there at this time.

These are roughly 9X12 inches.  The first is obvious, the second was inspired by a picture of synapses.