I love all seasons in Central Oregon and I feel blessed to live in a place where I can experience all four seasons.
Our mid-summers are often hot and for the past couple of years we’ve had to deal with residual smoke from forest fires from Northern California, Washington state, British Columbia or even Oregon forests. Usually by late summer and early summer, the forest fire smoke has cleared and the weather has suddenly cooled.
As the weather cools, suddenly the beautiful colors of Autumn appear as the leaves Central Oregon deciduous trees change into spectacular shades of green, gold, yellow, orange, red, and purple!This is not the first time I posted about Autumn in Central Oregon and how it inspires me. Here are a couple previous posts for you to check out, filled with images of the beauty of our Fall:
As part of my ongoing series of posts on my sources of CreativeInspiration, I thought I would continue the discussion begun a couple of weeks ago by Melanie @ Catbird QuiltStudio and Chela @ Chela’sColchas y Mas on Creativity, by sharing how I work out my creative ideas – using my two journals (and give you a peek inside!)
First here are the two posts that inspired this post:
If you have an interesting post on Creativity/the Creative Process, please share the link to your post in the Comments section to this post. I know I’ve read such posts on other blogs I follow, however these are the posts that recently come to mind.
I’ve posted about on of my journals previously, in my 01/16/2016 post Creative Inspiration: My Journals, but I thought it would be fun in this post to share a peek inside these journals (a glimpse inside the madness…smile).
As I shared in the 01/16/2016 post, I originally got the idea of keep an art quilt ideas/inspiration journal from JeanWells Keenan‘s brilliant books Intuitive Color and Design: Adventures in Art Quilting and Journey to Inspired Art Quilting. I was also fortunate enough to take her series of classes, Journey to Art Inspired Quilting, twice and see in person her wonderful inspirational art quilting journal.
Journal One: Art Quilt Sketchbook (Windows to My Creativity)
My journal for sketching out quilt ideas and keep clipped images (like from magazines) or photos of inspirational ideas, has a handmade cover:
It is called “Window to My Creativity” (thus the window like pieces images on the cover); and here is the inside page:
Before we go any further, I need to warn you that you might be underwhelmed with my drawing/sketching abilities and as a bonus I have terrible, difficult to read handwriting – but it works for me!
Here are examples of some of the images pasted into my journal to inspire future art quilt projects:
I sketch out and write notes on any art quilt idea.
Example #1 – from The Recycled Door
Example #2 – The Lesson & The Equation
Example #3 – Recycled Love
As you can see originally I had quite ambitious plans – I was going to stitch or appliqué the following words onto each of the “folded quilts” in the piece: kindness, empathy, integrity, compassion, joy, respect, honesty or unity (I was going to have to get rid of one of those words to get to 7). Instead I decided to just do a different piecing of recycled materials to create each “folded quilt”.
There was a great quote (in the book Art & Fear: Observations On The Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking (1993) by David Bayles and Ted Orland about ideas being larger than ability or desire to execute. I forgot the specific words to, so I will just very loosely summarize: Your ideas for a piece and might be greater than your ability or desire to execute the piece.
After reading that book I accept that how I initially conceptualize, visualize, dream about a piece is likely going to be larger and more ambitious than how I can translate it into an physical quilt. This leads to much less frustration.
By the way, I did decide to do a “facing” to finish the piece. I am nearly done with the hand quilting and hope to finish this piece soon (and share complete photos)
Journal Two: The tierneycreates Journal
I use my other journal, which does not have a handmade cover, for writing down ideas for my tierneycreates blog posts, and planning of my artistic journal.When I had an Etsy shop I wrote out the original ideas and planning for the shop in this journal. I also keep inspirational quotes I come across, and notes from self-improvement books or small business/craft business books for future reference and inspiration.
Below are some journal page examples:
Fun with Sharpies
Finally, I love Sharpies pens/markers, I think I have them in nearly every color made and keep them in a pouch by my journals.
I use Sharpies to write in my journals and the fun of using these markers (and other cool colored markers I’ve picked up over the years) is also a source of creative inspiration for me!
So – what about your journaling practice: do you keep a journal to work out your creative ideas? Pleas share!
One of my quilting mentors, Jean Wells Keenan, once said in a class (paraphrased): When you are really stuck on a piece and you want to give up, don’t give up. Just push through your discomfort or unhappiness with the piece; keep going and you will be surprised how it evolves.
So what does this have to do with my featured image for this post – a pile of sweet potatoes?
Well, at lunch today (I am a telecommuter), I pulled out the remains of a bag of several weeks old sweet potatoes. I forgot about them in the veggie drawer in my fridge and I hoped I could possibly use them (I hate wasting food) in a salad or veggie bowl if I boiled them.
As I washed the sweet potatoes, a first glance, they looked kind of icky and their only future was compost. However on closer inspection, I realized there were good viable parts to each sweet potato – all I had to do was cut out the bad parts.
While trimming each sweet potato to remove the “bad parts”, I thought how this relates to creating a piece of art. I have worked on several art quilting project when I wanted to just give up, crumple the piece into a ball (and burn it) and discard it.
Occasionally I did just this, throw away the piece and try to forgot the time I spent on expending my creativity on the piece. This was until I took a series of art quilting classes with Jean Wells Keenan and heard her statement about not giving up – it resonated with me.
I learned to work or rework what I have created already, cut the bad parts out, and keep going with creating the piece.
An example of an art quilt that I wanted to throw into the trash pile (or burn as an effigy of what-not-to-do-when-creating-an-art-quilt) was my piece Abandoned Water Structure. This piece, which was eventually sold to the City of Seattle/Seattle Public Utilities for their Portable Works Collection nearly made it to the trash or fabric recycling pile several times (or as potential kindling).
It began as an art quilt project based on a photo of a beach structure for a series of classes I was taking with Jean Wells Keenan, called Journey to Inspired Art Quilting. I absolutely hated the piece and it seemed like to would never go anywhere (I felt like I was stopped in my journey anywhere, much less to inspired art quilting).
The series of classes ended, and I took the unfinished piece back home with me to sit in the abandoned project pile (where projects go to die..).
Randomly rummaging through my abandoned project pile a couple months later, I rediscovered the piece and I was suddenly struck with the feeling that I was not using the correct inspiration for the piece. The piece WANTED TO BE SOMETHING ELSE.
I had a photo on my inspiration board of an abandoned/closed water power facility in Central Oregon and I knew this is what the piece was to become (or at least be inspired by)!
After reworking the piece for a couple hours, I was tempted to return it to the abandon project pile (or just soak it in lighter fluid) but luckily I heard Jean in the back of my head to “just push through, keepgoing“. I cut out the bad parts, the parts that were not working in the piece, and eventually it became the Abandoned Water Structure art quilt.
If I were to summarize my thoughts and advice from this experience (and my ramblings above) for my fellow crafters and artists, it would be:
Creating can be like working with a partially rotted sweet potato.
You know there is yumminess still there but you don't want to eat
"the bad parts".
So cut out the "bad parts" and keep the good/viable parts!
Keep going, don't give up, be patient with yourself and the piece.
Let it become the yumminess it eventually wants to become.
Well I have stretched that analogy as far as it will stretch, thanks for reading to see where the heck I was going with my sweet potato story.
Oh and in case you were curious, my trimmed and boiled sweet potatoes were delicious (full of yumminess) in my salad at lunch!
Continuing my ongoing series of posts on my latest stack of books borrowed from my local public library, I realized a couple of stacks have come and gone and I did not post them (they were smaller stacks). This time I went a little crazy the other day at my local library. A couple of the books in the stack below I had reserved but many were “impulse borrowings“!
I had a little wander in my favorite “Dewey Decimal System” sections of 745 – 747 (and a little jaunt into section 700 – 702) and I wanted to take 1/2 the section home (even if I have read them before). My thinking was – it is a holiday weekend (New Years) and it is time to nest with some books!
As you can see below, this morning, I started nesting in my favorite chair with the books and a pot of tea:
So far I am really enjoying the book by Danny Gregory – Art Before Breakfast: A Zillions Ways to Be More Creative No Matter How Busy You Are (2015). Gregory discusses the benefits of making art and one benefit that captured my attention is that: “Art stops time”. Making art makes you be in the present moment – “Be here. Now” – it makes you observe the world around you instead of obsessing on all the busy thoughts in your head!
One of the books in the stack, Ted Koppel’s Lights Out was recommended on a blog I follow, Dewey Hop|Feisty Froggy Reads Through The Library. And yes, as the blog’s title implies, the blogger is reading through the library, one section at a time and sharing the interesting finds!
The book Reinventing IKEA by Isabelle Bruno and Christine Baillet, I discovered in the New Releases: Nonfiction section (this is always my first stop when I am browsing the library). We are thinking of re-modeling our living room someday and adding built in bookcases and I am the hunt for inexpensive ideas.
As far as Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, I had tried to listen to the audiobook but got lost and grew disinterested. I am going to try and read the actual book and see if that helps as the book has gotten such great reviews. Also I want to watch the movie someday and want to read the book first (as movies rarely capture all the delicious details in a book).
Well back to nesting with the books, perhaps I will also do some sewing later on this cold snowy winter day!
Sassy the Highly Opinionated Miniature Schnauzer is getting impatient with me. She is waiting for me to help her finish transferring the posts on her tierneycreates blog’s SchnauzerSnips page to her new very own blog – Schnauzer Snips (schnauzer snips.wordpress.com). Do not follow her yet or you will hate me for the endless notifications of “new posts”, which are old posts being added 🙂
I have made it to 2015 in the transfer and I did not realize she had so many “posts”. Once it is done, she and I will share an announcement. Eventually I will remove her Schnauzer Snips page from the tierneycreates blog.
Comment to my fellow WordPress bloggers out there: This will free more space on my tierneycreates blog which is a good thing as I was going to have to eventually upgrade my plan for additional storage (thank goodness I have learned to resize my photos to take up less of my allotted storage space).
As I shared in previous posts, a month or so ago I was in the midst of a creative block. I first picked up English Paper Piecing and then revisited traditional quilt piecing to get myself creating again.
Before I got to this point however, I was trying to figure out a way, short of forcing myself to sew something, that I could “get my creative energies flowing”. On a whim I decided to reorganize my fabric scraps.
I first shared my fabric scrap organization in the 01/01/2016 post Inside the Studio. My fabric scraps were organized by individual color – Red, Blue, Green, Orange, Cream, Black/Gray/Black & White, Brown, and Yellow. Each color had its own bucket.
Reorganizing my fabric scraps I decided to group colors together that sometimes I have trouble telling apart and to make it easier to work with by having less individual buckets.
As you can see by the photo above, the new groupings are:
Orange & Brown
Black, Gray, and Black & White
Red & Purple
Blue & Green (interestingly this was my largest group of scraps)
White, Cream and Yellow
While I was regrouping the scraps, I got to revisit my fabric scraps and I could feel creative energies start to percolate!
Interestingly, one of the books from my latest library stack (The Library (Mega) Stack) – Living the Creative Lifeby Rice Freeman-Zachary – addresses creative block. The author interviewed a group of artists for this book and their wisdom and experiences are peppered throughout this inspiring read.
One of the artists the author interviewed, Bean Gilsdorf, an art quilter out of Portland, Oregon (www.beangildorf.com), shares the following tip for dealing with creative block:
When it starts to stress me out that I’m not doing anything in my studio, I try to make myself do something to get my hands busy again. The ideas will come back eventually…Clean out your files, rearrange your paints, or clean everything so that when you’re ready, everything is in order. – Bean Gilsdorf
I read this book after I reorganized my scraps, but this book reinforced that I was headed in the right direction!
I am currently listening to a wonderful nonfiction audiobook – Designing Your Life: How to Build a Well-Lived, Joyful Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. In this book the authors discuss “Gravity Problems” and how we get mired in “Gravity Problems”.
What are “gravity problems”? They are problems that are not actionable to resolve.
The authors share a great example (paraphrased):
A friend asks you what is wrong. You reply “I am having a hard time in life, I just cannot make it up hills as easily as I want to due to this thing called gravity. If I just did not have gravity in my life pulling me down, I would be fine and I could run up any hill I want”.
The authors humorously share that unless you are able to change how the earth spins on its axis and its rotation around the sun, you are not going to be able to resolve your “gravity problem”.
Now perhaps the real problem is you are not at your ideal fitness level and/or you need to improve your cardiovascular health, so you can more easily climb up a hill. That is an actionable problem.
Here is a wonderful quote from the book that I will leave you to ponder:
If it’s not actionable, it’s not a problem. It’s a situation, a circumstance, a fact of life. It may be a drag (so to speak), but, like gravity, it’s not a problem that can be solved. – Bill Burnett and Dave Evans
Continuing my series on sources of my creative inspiration, today I explore a couple of books in my personal collection that inspire me to create.
Unconventional & Unexpected: American Quilts Below the Radar 1950-2000 (Roderick Kiracofe, 2014)
This inspirational book was a gift from a quilting colleague. I have read it cover to cover and refer to it when I need inspiration. I even keep it on display at my house at the top of one of my bookshelves, to remind me that everyday people have beautiful art inside of them.
This excerpt from an Amazon.com review, summarizes how I feel about this book:
Artistic, joyful, visually and emotionally awakening
Beautifully designed and written from cover to cover, Unconventional and Unexpected: American Quilts Below the Radar 1950-2000 is a piece of art in and of itself. The collection of quilts in the book look like modern paintings and poetry created through stitches. Each quilt is made for personal use with most humble materials; it makes you wonder about the personal story of its maker. Like any other form of modern art, it allows you to make your own interpretation through the fabrics they used or the pattern they followed.
The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters: A Guide to Creating, Quilting, and Living Courageously (Sherri L. Wood, 2015)
I originally borrowed this book from our local library in Spring 2015. After an hour or two with this book, I had to purchase it and add it to my collection.
“Improve Is…Setting Limits to Expand Horizons” – Sherri L. Wood
I think this book is the seminal guide on quilting improvisation. It is not a pattern to follow quilt book, but a guide on strategies to allow yourself permission to be free and initiative in your quilt design. The author provides wonderful exercises to try out your improvisational skills. These “Scores” are intended to help art quilters gain confidence in their “improv” skills.
This also features work by other art quilters (in addition to the author) to include a very talented Oregon Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) colleague of mine, Marion Shimoda.
My collaborative partner on The Wardrobe Meets the Wall, Betty Anne Guadalupe and I have been fascinated with the idea of “Rescuing Blocks” that other quilters have discarded and we have an ongoing obsession with fabric scraps given to us by other quilters.
A quilting friend of ours (we think it was our friend Judy?) gave Betty Anne “Trimmed Block Discards” a while back (a couple years ago at a quilt retreat?).
What do I mean by by “Trimmed Block Discards”? I mean the ends of sections or blocks pieced for a quilt that trimmed off to make the quilt fit together. These are usually tossed in the trash by quilters (except those pathologically obsessed with scraps).
Betty Anne recently gave me these discards and challenged me to make an art quilt piece out of them. I could not turn down such a challenge: The ends of someone else’s blocks meant for the trash – recycled into a quilt!
I have already named the piece: “We Will Not Be Discarded!”
I started with figuring out a uniform way to make the discards work. I decided to float them in a coordinating solid:
Trimming the discards into triangle shapes:
The discards all trimmed into various sizes triangles and ready for the design wall:
On the Design Wall – waiting for what happens next…
To be continued…
Here are several other posts on playing with rescued blocks and discards from other quilters:
This post is really the “Part II” of the previous post: “Creative Inspiration: Where I Started…” in which I discuss my inspiration to create series of small recycled clothing quilts based on the first quilt book I owned: Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!! (McClun & Nownes, 1998).
The “Big Magic” of Creativity
I am currently listening to a wonderful audiobook by Elizabeth Gilbert, read by the author – Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear (2015). In the inspirational book Gilbert proposes that Ideas are entities unto themselves that move among us searching for a home/host to bring them fully into existence.
If an idea visits you and you do not grab onto it, it will move to someone else. She also discusses the concept “multiple discovery” (simultaneous inventions by different individuals not aware of what the other is working on). She proposes that when an Idea is ready to “be born”, it will visit numerous people to find someone who is going to bring it into existence. This is all part of the “Big Magic” and mystery of creativity and the creative process.
The Ohio Star Idea (magical “multiple discoveries”?)
The traditional quilt pattern “Ohio Star” popped into my head. I mentioned to my creative partner on The Wardrobe Meets the Wall my idea of making some recycled clothing/garment manufacturing samples quilts based on the Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!! book. I did not mention that the traditional pattern, “Ohio Star” had popped into my head.
At first she hesitated on the concept and then remarked: “An Ohio Star done with the recycled silks would be interesting”.
The Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!! book does not contain the Ohio Star pattern. It was like we both just came up with the same idea at the same time! I was completely overwhelmed that she randomly mentioned “Ohio Star” when I was thinking it at the same time. There are so many traditional quilt block patterns – why did “Ohio Star” pop into both of our minds.
The Ohio Star Silk Experiment
Of course, I had to try and make a small recycled clothing quilt with the Ohio Star quilt block pattern! I found an image of an “Ohio Star” on the web and reverse engineered it.
My challenge: The quilts I have made so far from recycled clothing materials, such as silk garment manufacturing samples, have been using free form, intuitive piecing techniques. In order to create a traditional Ohio Star block, I had to use more accurate piecing techniques.
Using a special interfacing, I backed on the thinner silk pieces to stabilize them for cutting into specific small shapes (such as triangles). Silk is not as forgiving as cotton when piecing a block and it was a new experience to try and make a traditional block with silks!
On the design wall photo below, you will see I have completed the basic Ohio Star block. I am working on an inner border and outer border for this piece. I will post the completed small quilt top in the future.
I consider this experiment a warm up for the project to make a series of small quilts from recycled clothing inspired by traditional quilt patterns from Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!!
I have been working for a while on downsizing my stuff and reducing clutter in my life (see recent post The Space in Which We Live).
As part of this process I have been working through my craft magazine collection (as a prequel to some day conquering my craft book collection – see post Craft Book Hoarder?!?!?!).
Since 2008 I have been reading and collecting Interweaves’s Cloth-Paper-Scissors Studios magazine (who’s tagline is “inspiration & ideas for your art and craft space).
In order to let go a a magazine, I feel like I have to read it again or at least skim it and see if there is anything interesting in the issue that I want to reference or stick in the back of my mind. So I stacked all my old issues of Cloth-Paper-Scissors Studios magazine and started going through them.
I came across this great article in the Spring/Summer 2009 issue by Lesley Riley: “Clutter Out Creativity In: 10 Steps to a More Artful Studio”, and I wanted to share a listing of her steps to deal with studio clutter. I think they are fairly self-explanatory but I have added a couple comments based on the article or my own experience.
Hoarding is a primitive instinct (but having a more limited selection may force you to be more creative!)
Know thyself (think about what colors and fabrics you now enjoy working with and consider ditching the rest)
Treat your stash like your clothes (in your closet if you have not worn something in a long time or it no longer fits you, maybe it is time to get rid of it – the same applies to using fabric)
It’s not “all or nothing” (you don’t have to get rid of things all at once, you can whittle it down over time)
Take your time (relax and find time to slow sort your stash)
Share your favorites (shared a little of your favorite fabrics with others)
Spread the wealth (I personally enjoy donating fabric I no longer need to the local Humane Society Thrift Shop as I know it can be a treasure to a fellow crafter who stumbles upon it and the proceeds help support the animal shelter)
Create coordinated bundles
The artist, not the fabric, makes the art
You control the fabric (it does not control you!)
After I finishing letting go of my already read (twice) Cloth-Paper-Scissors Studiosmagazine, I can’t promise I will never buy an issue again. This is truly a wonderful magazine with glimpses into artists’ studios and their inspiration.
Sometimes quiet, stillness or time out to daydream… to let your mind freely wander…is just what you need to inspire your creativity.
I had committed to a year of listening to fictional audiobooks after listening to a year + of non fiction audiobooks, but I have slipped and a couple non fiction audiobooks have recently graced my ears. Two of those books inspired this post: The Art of Stillness: Adventures in Going Nowhere (2014) by Pico Iyer and The Organized Mind: Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload (2014) by Daniel Levitin.
Both of these books explore the need for the mind to be quiet at times. Being still and quiet can open up new windows of creativity.
This is very true for me. When I am stuck on a design for a new fiber piece and it is just not going anywhere, I find that taking a solitary walk or just sitting quietly and daydreaming is what I need to get unstuck.
Daniel Levitin in his book The Organized Mind, explores the importance of allowing your mind to wander freely and daydream. When I was working on the piece Jiko’s Secret Robe (see post A Novel Panel Idea) I was stuck on how to extend the original panel in an interesting way. Giving up on the piece for the evening, I went to bed and let my mind wander and daydream about the piece before going to sleep. Suddenly it came to me: Mirror the waves in the printed panel and extend the panel with the sensation of flow, movement and waves. When I work up in the morning, I was clear on how to finish the piece.
In Pico Iyer’s audiobook The Art of Stillness, the author shares the story of sitting next to a woman on a plane for a long flight who appeared to be quietly meditating. Later in the flight he spoke to her and she said she was using the long flight to be still and move her mind from work to vacation time. I use stillness to transition from my health care day job to my evening of working on a fiber art quilt piece.
I appreciate a moment of stillness, a pause, in an otherwise overload mind. If we can give our minds a moment to wander freely or just be still we may find it refreshed and energized with new ideas and solutions to creative challenges.