Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Revisited: The D Word

I'm just coming off a week in the Texas Hill Country for the Roadhouse Arts jewelry and design retreat - an amazing time of creating and exploring what it means to be an artist. In addition to sharing the experience with the awesome retreat attendees and my dear friends Gail Stouffer and Melissa Muir, I also got to meet and get to know Connie Fox, whose work inspired me to get into metals in the first place.  I'll have something to say about it all once I've had a chance to process it a bit, but in the meantime, I thought this post on the essential nature of discipline was a good fit for where my head is at. Enjoy!

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In yesterday's post, the very awesome Louise Goodchild asked a terrific question: "What do you do to kick start your creativity if your muse has done a vanishing act?"

Several versions of this question have been rattling around in my head since my business partner Lisa gave a presentation to the San Antonio Glass Art Guild on a similar issue a couple of weeks ago. How do we motivate ourselves? What's the difference between people who long to make a creative life and those who actually do? How on earth do some people make dozens of gorgeous components or pieces in a weekend while others of us spend the same amount of time with the jewelry equivalent of a writer's blank page? How is it that some makers manage to become unique and recognizable artists while others struggle to find the "it" that speaks to and about them?

Beautiful ceramic components by Karen Totten
Rebecca Payne's leather feathers - yum!
Gorgeous ceramic components in progress by Diana Ptaszynski
It isn't that they're more talented (sorry ladies!) - though they are indeed extraordinarily talented. It boils down to discipline - they sit down and do the work, whether they feel like it or not.

I don’t wait for moods. You accomplish nothing if you do that. Your mind must know it has got to get down to work.

- Pearl S. Buck
Ouch. There have been lots of times I've chosen a movie or a nap over pushing through and doing something productive at my bench, because I didn't "feel it" that day. What did I miss by not requiring a measure of discipline from myself?

You may not be a Picasso or Mozart but you don’t have to be. Just create to create. Create to remind yourself you’re still alive. Make stuff to inspire others to make something too. Create to learn a bit more about yourself.

- Frederic Terral
I've been in a funk - both personally and creatively - for several months, and I wrote about it recently on my blog. But this recurring question about the "how" of creativity has jolted me into looking at it in a different way: I can't expect to be creative if I'm not creating.

(Insert "I coulda had a V-8" headslap here.)

Let me put it another way:

So, my answer to yesterday's question?

Go make something.

Until next time -


  1. well said. You have really inspired me to keep working.

  2. Thank you for jumpstarting in some discipline in me.

  3. Excellent thoughts, Francesca! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Very true! Another quote I love, by John Cleese: "Creativity is not a talent. It is a way of operating." You hit the nail on the head. "Talent" is not the point. Having spent over 30 years doing some form of design or art as a living, I did not have the luxury of a "blank page". The work had to be done no matter what. That was my corporate art and design life.

    Having said that, I get into funks too. We all do. In my case it is not a blank page (my head continues to swim with ideas, even in dreams), it's more an energy thing. I have a strategy that has usually worked for me over the years. When I get in a state like this I switch gears for a bit. I sketch or write, or redesign my blog or whatever lol (oftentimes it is useless make-work but something I enjoy doing). I'm still working but it's a break from my usual production routine. This was something I did in my corporate art life too - I would switch over to a different project or do some design research - something to reboot my art brain. I still had to meet deadlines, so the reboot session might be very brief, but enough to get me back in the groove. So having a strategy to bridge the funk periods is important. After a while you figure out a rhythm for changing up routine. Still, there is work I just hate, such as glazing, and I simply have to push through though I might carve out a 30 minute window here or there for something different, then get back in saddle to go back at the deadline stuff.


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