Monday, December 31, 2007

New Year's Eve Q&A

A reader with the same birthday as mine wrote me:

So my question to you this year, Melody, is how do you manage to stay so productive so consistently? I know there must be a lot on your mind on many days, so how do you overcome that? I also realize that personality has a lot to do with it. ButI would appreciate any tips that you could pass along.

Of course my first inclination was to be a smartmouth and and reply that making artwork is preferable to finishing the laundry, so of course it would be my first choice. And then focusing the mind, ha! I wear headphones and listen to my Ipod so I can't be distracted,

but really...when am I going to be honest and tell the truth?
The truth is that unless I am making art, I am afraid (panic stricken) that I will lose it. Afraid it will be discovered that I am not really an artist, especially by myself. And being an artist is all that I have. I am not a mother, so I don't have that role. So what do I do to make my mark? I gotta make art.
And I have ALL those supplies. Eeek. Bought 'em. Gotta use 'em up. Gotta justify.
It's not even the finished product that moves me.
It's the process.
It's the discovery, and I am still learning everyday. There is such an open ended puzzle that I have to solve. Just when I think I have found some culmination and think I can move on, something else comes into the puzzle and I am back trying to solve that one.
When we moved here and I tried to figure out what 'retirement' means for me, I had to ask for advice from a few retired people who are continuing to work at their art. It helped somewhat, but then working with David Walker to update my website made me look at what I had to put on it and realized that I wasn't ready. We had a December deadline to get started and so I jumped back in the saddle and made the October series, and then the Pine Tree series. Now that the website is updated, where will I go to when my family leaves? Who knows?
I am making a couple of non-original bedquilts in the meantime and thinking about what I want to do next.
Sometimes it's the new shape that gets my juices flowing, like working with a 12" square or the 9x21" vertical or horizontal format. Those were kinda challenging to me, to be specifically confined, and I discovered that a limiting factor can induce a certain kind of creativity. Of course staying within a restricted palette is also a big new thing for me, and helped me improve my work.
Yesterday I found some more ten year old fabric that I had saved (thank God!) and I am itching to include it in my next series.
Retirement has given me the time to not rush through a project. I can spend the necessary thinking time, while feeding the chickens, watching stupid TV, walking to the mailbox, or taking a shower (my favorite brainstorming setting), knitting, baking bread and ...eventually, every two weeks or so, finishing the laundry.
I don't have coffee with anyone except Dave, who gets to hear all my ideas, whether he likes to or not. I thought I would be miserably lonely, but it turns out I am not (except a little at Thanksgiving) I am happier than I would have imagined. The fact that my studio is upstairs and so warm, with the sun pouring in and a view out my TWO windows is such a treat, who wouldn't be creative in such a space?
Back to the process not being the product. When I make something, I get what I need out of the doing. Then I post it on the blog and share it. That's all there is to it for me. I may hang it up for a day or two, but if it has to go in the mail immediately I can let it go.
It seems to be some sort of proof.

9 comments:

  1. A thoughtful statement that will be a help to many of us. Thanks, Melody. I'll print it out and add it to my file "Things to read when the black beast comes to call." Hope 2008 brings you joy and prosperity.

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  2. susan_from_nerk1:10 PM

    What an honest statement! I can understand what you're saying. Though I work full time, I am more and more driven to make art just because I can. Too many ideas (and supplies) and so little time. If my only hobby was watching TV, I think I'd commit hari kari. I have a hard time rationalizing (to myself) doing things that are not "productive".

    Now excuse me while I go reorganize my basement to make room for more art! :)

    Happy New Year everyone!

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  3. Anonymous1:54 PM

    Very thought provoking question...EEEK! I will be retiring from fulltime work in the next couple months. I am 61 (:()and have worked since I was 19. I'm tired of the grind and look at the 30-something girls I work with and I'm glad I'm my age and not theirs. They have a lot of years to work and I have the rest of my life to do some things I've been attempting to do on weekends, but failing miserably at enjoying it or even finishing it...let alone enjoy the PROCESS of it! We will be moving back to PA from TX to be closer to relatives and look forward to being there. Hopefully, when we are settled in our new home, I will have the time to do some "hobbies". I think the hardest part will be NOT having a routine. I'm sure, with time, I will enjoy my next stage in life.

    Have a very Happy New Year!

    Colleen

    ReplyDelete
  4. Melody, I have not sewn in over a year. I told myself I would get back to sewing and trying to find my creativity again in 2008. Well, here we are and I can't seem to get bring my creative juices churning. I have beautiful pictures of nature that I want to do in fabric and use the fusable technique and my many hand dyed fabrics I did myself. How can one get those juices going???

    Happy New Year
    Bren

    ReplyDelete
  5. Enjoy this phase of your life! It sounds wonderful. Happy New Year to you and Dave and the visiting family!

    ReplyDelete
  6. thank you for that post. i've been following your blog and enjoy it a great deal. having retired myself in june 2006, my challenge has been finding enough time to do the things i want to! i'd set artwork aside for a long time as my job was very stressful and family and other obligations took so much of my weekend time. i've been following the art quilt world for 6 years now on the net and have recently joined a art quilt group that is being mentored, so i'm learning lots of new things. also love your post on the lazy dyer!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Ah, Mrs. Mel... you are an inspiration. Thanks so much for a look into your psyche... it's nice to know that someone who makes such wondrous things also has the feeling she needs to prove herself! You have chosen a wonderful spot to retire and explore your quilting genius. Enjoy... (and blog every damn bit of it!!!) ;0)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Well said, Mel dahling...and while I am not retired, it is still spot on. Except for the role identity...would like to check a couple of those off my list so more process could get done. Wishing you and Dave a very happy 2008.

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Hello,
So nice of you to drop by. I love your comments, and if you would really like a reply, please email me at fibermania at g mail dot com