It's funny how the minds works. We come across a piece of advice and store it away. Then we encounter another suggestion and remember it as well. Some time later, we put the two together and find exactly the advice we needed.
I used to be late-to-bed and late-to-rise--I'd stay up past midnight and sleep past eight. My mornings were full of chaos as I'd rush to get to work. But over the past eighteen months I have become a morning person. I rise with the sun and have a couple hours before starting my morning routine.
My use of those hours has been erratic. Sometimes I am productive--baking, cleaning, doing laundry, reading, or occasionally even sewing--but other times I just sit, read email, and surf the internet. But, I've recently encountered two pieces of advice that have changed my mornings.
The first was from Robert Genn, on The Early Morning Club. (Robert Genn writes a free, twice-weekly letter for artists that is interesting and inspirational. Sometimes, the letter is geared to painters, but often the advice generalizes across mediums.)
In this letter, Genn recommends heading to the studio immediately upon waking. No stopping for breakfast, or to check email, or a quick shower. The idea is to immediately move from the dream state to the act of creation.
I read this and was intrigued enough to save the email and remember it. But I wasn't inspired enough to try it out.
The second suggestion came from a discussion of this Ira Glass video on my Quilt Art mailing list. Here, Glass says that the problem for beginning artists is that our taste levels are higher than our ability to create work that matches those levels. In other words, we can't yet create pieces that match our vision. It's only by making lots of pieces that we can get through the mire and find the art we want.
Or, as one woman suggested, we have a crap quota we need to meet before we get to the good stuff.
And so I realized that I haven't created enough crap.
These two thoughts--the Early Morning Club and crap quota--coalesced in my mind. I can use those early morning hours as an opportunity to work through my crap quote. I decided that each morning for the forseeable future, I would wake, head to my studio, and create a little piece.
To make it easier for myself I set some guidelines. All pieces would finish 6" x 9" in a vertical orientation. I would fuse or glue the fabric down, stitch it in place, and use a modified pillowcase finish. To me, it is important to finish these pieces. I want to form a habit of finishing projects. So finishing something each day, regardless of how small it may be, reinforces the finishing habit.
Thirty minutes is the maximum amount of time I allow myself to work on a composition. After thirty, I stick it down and stitch, whether I'm happy with it or not.
The idea is to get pieces out of my head, onto fabric, and out into the world.
This process is still evolving. I can see changing what I'm doing over time. But the idea is twofold: to use the extra time I've discovered by becoming a morning person and to create lots of work so I meet my crap quota.
Tomorrow, I'll post the pieces I made in my first week.