Saturday, April 14, 2012

Claim Your Creativity

Art is science made clear.
Jean Cocteau French dramatist, director, & poet (1889 - 1963)
Recently I read an article about the Blombos Cave Project, a 100,00 year old archeological exploration site that was discovered on the coast of South Africa in the early 1990's.

In 2008, scientists found an art studio in that cave.  This 'studio' was a separate space from where people worked, ate their meals and slept.  It contained tools such as a paint pots made from abalone shells, grindstones, charcoal, and residue of red and yellow ochre powder possibly used as body and clothing paint.  The findings were published in the online journal, Science, on Oct. 14, 2011, and the tool kits were displayed in an exhibition at the Iziko Museum in Cape Town, South Africa.

The head of the archeology team, Professor Christopher Henshilwood, said “It shows humans had the conceptual ability to source, combine and store substances that were then possibly used to enhance their social practices." 

Enhance their social practices...yes, enhance, and elevate and enlighten. 

Take just a moment to think about the idea behind this studio.  Even today it is considered a luxury many of us covet, a separate space set up for the sole purpose of creating.  Even that long ago, humans felt compelled to adorn, enrich, and color their world with art, and they had a quiet space of solitude in which to do it.

Imagine what this says about our need for creativity.

I hear so often from knitters and those wanting to learn to knit, that they can't take the time to do so until...

Until they clean out their craft room or organize their other projects or paint their office or finish all of their UFO's before starting something else.  We've all been caught up in that process.  

Here's my simple, heartfelt suggestion to all who have a desire to create...

Go to your place and make stuff.  

What place is that, you might ask?  

You know...your place, your studio.  

Wherever you create, call that place your studio.  (It's okay, go ahead.  I did.)  This affirms your desire to create.  You are an artist.  You create.  This is the space in which you create.

If you create in your garage, that's your studio.  If you create in a spare bedroom, that's your studio.  Your kitchen table or living room couch can be your studio.

If you are having company, I suggest you do not clean up, remove, or alter your studio and it's stuff. (well, maybe push it out of the way to make room to sit, but only if absolutely necessary)  

This is your art.  Your friends and family are likely curious about what you are making.  They really would like to see your work.  It makes them feel a part of your life and who you are.

I am learning to embrace this idea more than I ever have in my life.  My need to be neat and tidy is no longer the priority it once was.  I don't have the energy or the inclination.

My official fiber art studio is in a room downstairs.  I have two closets filled to the brim with yarn, needles, notions, books, fabric, and all manner of other art supplies you can imagine.  I have swatches and design ideas pinned to to walls and scribbled out in what is becoming quite an extensive collection of notebooks stacked haphazardly on my desk and work table.  

I get asked on occasion by students taking classes in my home if they can see my studio.  The answer has most often been: not today


Well, it's a bit of a sacred spot to me, I tell them.  It's also a bit of a mess.  But it occurred to me one day that the nature of my work, my art, is not confined to that room, and neither am I.  And whether I like it or not, others already see my creative space, and that's as it should be.

The truth is, my home is my studio, and therefore my studio is a shared and open space. 

Just ask my husband.  There is rarely a time when he sits down at the dining room table or on one of the sectionals upstairs or down, that he isn't surrounded by yarn and needles.  I believe if you ask him, he has not only grown used to this fact, but my work around him has also become a comfort in many ways.  

The yarn is a familiar sight.  The needles clicking away are a soothing sound.  I talk to myself a great deal and of course I am always counting something...stitches, rows, repeats, or how many times I have had to rip out.  He hears this, but knows it's all part of the process.

I have even been known to knit plastered right up next to him.  The yarn will often spill over into his lap, even once in a while becoming entangled around his arm or leg.  He quietly untangles himself, moves the yarn back to my lap, and doesn't say a word. 

Even in the earlier days before it became much quieter in our house, there were cats and dogs and our daughter, our niece, and other children sharing my 'studio space'.  Everyone learned to live and work around my stuff, as I lived and worked around theirs.

A shot of truth may never have just the right space to create your art, whether with needles and yarn, paint and brushes, pencil and paper...but it can be incredibly freeing when you claim your creativity.

I encourage you to do just that.

Begin to let it spill out and over into all aspects of your life.  

I believe when my family sees signs of my work everywhere, they can feel assured that I am getting on with it, that I refuse to stay stuck and not move until all conditions are right to do so  (make no mistake, I have been there done that more times than I can count).  

I believe they see representation of the risks I have taken with my business in the form of a new project being developed and how it grows and changes.  But most importantly, I hope they see that for all of the complications of life, the heartaches and disappointments and lessons to be learned, I have joy as well.  

Creativity is a sign of joy and a sign that you are experiencing life in a most personal and intimate way.  

I promise you, nothing but good can come of it.

Let your art be joyful.  Let in a little joy and it will become your art.
Start right where you are with what you have.  In the end, it won't matter what the room looked like that you worked in, it will only matter how you expressed yourself in this life and what you created and shared with others.

Knit on,



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