For obvious reasons, I wanted to talk to Diane before I posted this and I wasn't able to do that until Friday afternoon. My first session with her was in October 2014 and over the past three years, it has been a tremendously positive thing to have someone coach me in developing my creative potential. I had never worked so closely with a coach before and I would definitely do it again.
One of my earlier assignments was to make a collage of the woman I am becoming. In putting it together, I focused on the time between ages 50 and 69 and on what my most authentic self would look like. Gutsy, witty, slightly eccentric, and relaxed are all aspects of the woman I want to be.
In the last few weeks, I've had several people comment about how I dress, that it's unique and individual. In one instance, the general description of how my friend and I were dressed was pretty well the same. When I pointed that out, she said that I wore the clothes in a more expressive way. Diane helped me to become far more comfortable in my skin and with my outward expression of my inner self and to be bolder in how I present myself.
As we age, we learn that the way we thought things would be is most likely not the way they are actually going to go. That has certainly been true in my life and that awareness led to significant changes like my move to this small, creative community and a redesign of how I am married. Letting go of "should" and embracing "what if" not only in terms of my creativity but in terms of my creative life has led to opportunities I never would have considered previously. Diane helped me make that shift.
Another collage assignment was to look at what I was inviting into my studio so that I didn't simply pack my boxes, move to another location, and continue to act in exactly the same manner. Both of these collages are displayed in my studio and I'm constantly making new discoveries within them. Collages have become one of my favourite ways to ask and answer a question.
Dressing conservatively and dressing creatively both have stereotypes. One may have a lack of detail while the other may have every detail possible thrown at it. Neither is comfortable to me and one of the things I wanted to discover through coaching was my "Myrna" way of dressing and how to present that more creatively and more authentically. Diane helped me with that. Having someone you respect that has the authority to speak into your life and sees in you something you've always hoped to find there is vastly different than having someone admire you for something you do and they don't. It's truth. It's warm, cozy, comforting, settling, energizing, exciting, filled with potential and possibility, and so much more.
Through her questions, comments, and the assignments, I discovered that I am most comfortable in garments that are simple with architectural structure and surprising details. When I look at magazines and patterns or clothing in a boutique, these are the things that call me and they are the things that I look to include in the clothing that I will sew and wear... which is rarely...
... the projects that are the most fun to create. It bothered me that I'd spend weeks painting and exploring ideas like this patchwork denim coat from scraps with a macrame, serger strip, collar and then never wear it. It felt like I had a split personality or was wasting time or wasn't focused enough and what I realized from coaching is that these are simply two different aspects of my creativity - how I explore what I can make and how I express myself to those around me. Just because I want to make it doesn't mean I have to wear it - creativity is enough all by itself. The journey is in the making and not in the wearing. That's an entirely different journey.
This is a place of peace. Few people I know have reached that stage and it's a hard thing to describe - that the possibilities of serger scraps can be completely engaging and that even though it's labour intensive beyond your wildest dreams you still have no intention of wearing it nor of selling it. And I don't have to. That's not the point.
Selling is another thing that comes up all the time and when you make something, especially if you do it well, you get a lot of pressure to sell. Most people see that as the ultimate compliment and yet there is a vast difference between making things to sell and selling things you've made. Diane helped me to become comfortable with the point of why I create. For me. Everything else is a bonus.
Diane makes the absolutely most gorgeous jewelry. The first time I saw her pieces, I had an immediate attack of heavy green envy because - as you know - I adore statement necklaces. It took me almost four years to make the piece above - one that I felt was sophisticated enough to wear in public. I am thankful that she held my hand through all the trial and error and whining and complaining and stopping and starting to get to this point and I am confident that it influenced...
... this year's success with learning wire weaving. I'll talk more about this recent piece in a later posting but here - as in creating wire jewelry - is not a place I expected myself to be and it's a place that I am loving not only for the labour intensive joy of weaving wire but for the endless creative expressions wire presents and for the fact that statement jewelry is exactly what I like to wear with my architectural clothing. It feels like two parts of my self have connected - labour intensive and simple structure. Diane pushed me to be more open minded and to explore more than just fabric. I'm so grateful.
When I went back to knitting years ago, I focused on public knitting with simple things like scarves that I could complete in a group because I sewed at home and knit in groups. And I still knit simple when I'm out but at home I'm beginning to work on garments for me like this cardigan above that I'm just about finished. When I thought about what to pair it with, Kathryn Brenne's Vogue 9268 came to mind. Do you see the architectural structure in both these garments PLUS the opportunity to wear them with a statement necklace? Recognizing myself in my choices is a comfortable starting point for creating a garment and an outfit.
If you're familiar with Diane's work, you're familiar with her incredible skill with surface design and painted details. I love her work. I'd like to be able to use those sorts of details and it's an area that I am still becoming comfortable with. When I was looking for a fabric to co-ordinate with the cardigan yarn, I did think about painting lighter grey details on a darker grey knit. And then I bought a lighter fabric. Although I use my walking purse frequently, I'm not there yet with painting and I don't wear any of the clothing I have painted. One day I will. Right now, what I paint I typically recycle. These pants were recycled into the coat I showed you earlier which sits in my closet decorating the hanger. I have a feeling it may become a carpet bag at some point soon. And that's okay. Continued learning, continued growth, development, and exploration are a huge part of our creative journey AND...
... we can't do everything at once while discovering who we are... HOWEVER... discovering and becoming comfortable with who I am has allowed me to create with more joy and confidence. If I were to create a simply structured top like the one above left and then paint on, or stitch on, the dots, I would be exploring in a direction that I am most likely to wear. If I were to create a coat like the one above right, I would alter it to have a closure at the neck so it wouldn't feel like it was falling off the shoulders and pair it with a dress like Kathryn's or some funky pants and a simple top with a longer, pendant style, statement necklace and I would wear it. I am thankful to Diane for helping me to hone in on what is me, what is wearable, and where to invest my creative energies.
I first met Diane in 2012 at a Design Outside the Lines retreat that she was co-teaching with Marcy Tilton. Both of these women have inspired my creativity tremendously and it has been a wonderful gift to learn from them and to be able to work one-on-one with Diane. At that retreat, one of the students told me that the first time she heard Diane speak, she cried and cried because she just knew she'd never be that creative. That wasn't my response. I knew I was that creative and I wanted to be "that woman" and find a way to pull out of myself the creativity I felt was bubbling below the surface. As I told Diane when we spoke on Friday, I have become that woman - not in what I create but in how I create - and for that I am eternally grateful. Thank you Diane.
Talk soon - Myrna
Grateful - for Diane