19 October 2009

Searching for Inspiration

The last couple months have been crazy as I've rushed to finish projects for The World of Stitches exhibit and my local guild quilt show. Last Sunday, October 11th, I met the last of my deadlines and immediately found myself at loose ends. I sat on my couch that night and realized, with a shock, that I had nothing to work on.

After weeks of spending every free moment--and stealing moments from other commitments--finishing my projects, I found myself unburdened by deadlines. For weeks, these deadlines provided structure to my life and, without them, I felt lost. It was an empty feeling.

I wasn't sure what to do, but I didn't have time to dwell on it. I had to catch up on my backlog of studiously ignored chores and prepare for weekend company. A freak mid-October snowstorm canceled those plans and I decided to use the unexpected weekend to just hang out with Kevin.

That's not to say that the past week was completely bereft of creative activity.

Leslie Lacika spoke to my quilt guild about using non-traditional fabrics in quilts. Although I don't need much encouragement in that area--I love the challenges of combining fabrics like osnaburg, cottons, polyester, and even pleather--Leslie made the suggestion of using deconstructed garments from thrift stores.

I had never considered that, but immediately made plans to visit our local thrift store. I walked out with an armful of linen, wool, woven, and even some knit garments that I washed and dried without regard for the care tags. (Another brilliant suggestion from Leslie!) And then I spent an enjoyable Sunday afternoon deconstructing them. I'm excited by the palette I have and am sure to be inspired once I dive into the studio with them

I also missed my evening stitching projects. For the past couple months, I've done plenty of hand stitching while spending time with Kevin. So I excavated an 8-year old wallhanging (a Harmonic Convergence quilt begun in a Ricky Tims' class) that I had started machine quilting. I decided to use it as a practice piece to play with the interaction between hand stitching and the quilt design.

And I selected yarn colors for a crocheted afghan, which is another nightly stitching project.

Oddly enough, I'm missing those deadlines and the bursts of creative growth they inspired. Of course, there are natural cycles to everything--periods of intense growth followed by periods of rest and hibernation, but I can't help but miss that incredible sense of focus that I had.

Another busy week ahead means I'll only have a chance to putter around the edges of creativity, rather than having the opportunity to dive right in again. I'll have to take what time I can to play and create. I feel a need to keep the pump primed, so to speak, so that I can jump back in as soon as my life outside of art settles.

How have you dealt with finishing deadlines? Do you jump back into another commitment? Use the time to catch up on the rest of your life? Putter around until inspiration strikes? Sleep? I'd love to hear your strategies.

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