Friday, June 12, 2015

Practice Is Art

For my next creative study, Diane suggested Free Play: Improvisation in Life and Art by Stephen Nachmanovitch. It's about spontaneous creation and is directed toward people who want to honor and strengthen their creativity. The quotes in this posting are from yesterday's study.

A person may have great creative proclivities, glorious inspirations, and exalted feelings, but there is no creativity unless creations actually come into existence. 

Going forward, the focus for my work is on adding details, refashioning, making fabric from fabric, working in series, and adding painted accents. That's a lot and I'm sure it'll take years to explore at any depth once I get started. Starting can be the hardest part. We learn to do by doing and until we actually do something, nothing happens.

I removed the suspenders and took out the stitching on the impulsively purchased dress and then ran it through the washer. Some of the markings came out but not all of them. The top line is thread damage. The bottom line is a seam.

The most frustrating, agonizing part of creative work, and the one we grapple with every day in practice, is our encounter with the gap between what we feel and what we can express. 

What I see in my head and what I'm eventually able to create may be far and away from each other and that's okay because if I start, and I do something, and I keep responding to the developing piece, I will end up with something. It's entirely possible that that something will be far better than what I'd imagined. Or not. But it doesn't really matter because it will be something and I will have learned through the process.

The waist seam was nowhere near my waist and far too droopy looking so I separated the bodice from the skirt and pinned a tuck at the shoulder to see how much to take it on each side. Right now, I'm working on another project while I think about and choose how such as a princess seam, a tuck, or hand stitching.

The Western idea of practice is to acquire a skill. It is very much related to our work ethic, which enjoins us to endure struggle or boredom now in return for future reward. The Eastern idea of practice, on the other hand, is to create the person, or rather to actualize or reveal the complete person who is already there. Not only is practice necessary to art, it is art

Play can be really difficult for some people - people like me who like to have a point and a purpose to things. As I get older, it's getting much better and I'm becoming more of a kinesthetic learner rather than a visual one. Gwen and I talked about play pieces and Diane and I talked about warm-ups. They are basically the same thing - a way to combine what you know with play and possibility. To learn more about draping, painting, and piecing, I'm working on scarf shapes. I started the one above with a bunch of triangles cut from an over-dyed linen. I'm piecing the triangles around the dress form to get a shape that will wrap well. This is TOTALLY new to me even though seaming is not new.

This is the danger that inheres in the very competence that we acquire in practice. Competence that loses a sense of its roots in the playful spirit becomes ensconced in rigid forms of professionalism. 

The above picture is of me with (left to right) Ute, Marcy, and Judy. It was taken at the Art Barn on Marcy's property when we visited at the end of the Design Outside the Lines retreat.  At the retreat, the guest instructor, Sandra Ericson, referred to the class as a group of masters and to Diane as "clearly a virtuoso". Marcy is in that virtuoso category as well. It is SO FUN to get together with a group of people who do what you do and love what you love at the same level you do and love at and to have the ability to be inspired by and to inspire each other. I'm so thankful for these women in my life and...

... encouraged by their learning because it's so easy to be planning a piece three or four steps into the future and forget to leave it open and allow it to become what it wants to become one step at a time. I'm still figuring out how to do that and it's getting easier. Right now, I think I'm making a scarf and I'm glad for that thought because it got me started but in the end, it may become a collar, or a peplum, or a cuff, or a shirt front, or who knows what. I want to be playful not rigid.

This morning, I'm driving to Salmon Arm to meet my friend Francine for brunch. She leaves an hour further east so we're meeting in the middle. After that, I'm attending a knitting group at the arts center to start researching the community. For the last couple months, I've felt like all this wandering and wondering was starting to come to an end but I didn't know where that feeling was leading so I've been praying and trusting that the path will become clear. In both my coaching sessions with Gwen and with Diane, they suggested that I needed to be more visible. Hmm...

While in Ashland, I researched the possibility of buying vacation property and in the end concluded that I am too Canadian to move to the United States for long periods of time and that Ashland is too far away from my family to work out well BUT... that lead me to realize that I want to live in an artistic community with the same kind of feel and to be more involved with other artists. I've always been drawn to Salmon Arm which is about an hour and a quarter away from our house and less from Howard's work. It's not quite as developed or as magical as Ashland is but it's developing in that direction and has a similar energy.

Moving to Salmon Arm would make it possible to shift our lives in new directions without turning them entirely upside down. Howard could keep his job - which he loves - and we wouldn't need to find new doctors, dentists, or hair stylists and our children and grandchildren would be (relatively) nearby. If we do move, we want it to be a less is more change so it may take quite a while to find what we're looking for and in the end it may not happen but we'll see. The idea is exciting.

I washed and dried all the second hand clothing and new fabric yesterday. Miss Chloe was delighted. Every time a new piece was added, she rearranged the "nest" and spent most of the day curled up in a warm pile.

Talk soon -  Myrna

Grateful - possibilities


  1. I can so much see you in an artist's community. You'll thrive - and so will the community. It's always heartwarming to be among one's "people."

  2. When i started following you you were before your crossroads,searching to fill an emptiness, to gain confidence.Now im always inspired to see your journey,your creativity ,your happiness.Thank you for sharing this on your blog.It has always been so refreshingly honest and distinctly you and a joy to read each day.


Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the feedback and the creative conversation.