Monday, August 03, 2009

Creativity Identified

Those of you who know me, know that occasionally I think about Creativity Itself. Sometimes I think about it alot.

I've been at it again.

I picked up a book called Living the Creative Life (Freeman-Zachery) and have been reading it bit by bit in a room of the house I will not mention, because I am struggling a bit with a busy life which I felt was disconnecting me from the creative aspects that keep me alive. Yes really, they are that crucial to my happy life.

I also bought the book because I have been thinking alot about how to make my creative space work better for me. I have two main spaces that I use. Our living room is cordoned (ok, not really, but I have a line that I observe) off into living room and sewing/yarn/creative area. The problem is that my creative area is inescapable, just as my office feel inescapable, since I am working at home so much at the moment. I also have what my son called the dyeing yard (great name) this weekend, which is the side yard of the house that I keep my dyeing storage and tables in. There is a chicken wire fence closing it in, which is nice, because it gives me a space in which to contain the process. I would really like to move the sewing area into the side yard with a studio building of some kind, we are working with the city on this, but I don't think I have too many options at the moment given the restrictions of city ordinance, existing buildings and the flow of chi through the yard.

But here are some things that I have realized in the intersection of focusing on this topic and living my life:
  • One of the best places for me to think is in the car driving. I know that Bezzie takes showers, and Kverulantinnen takes long walks and generous timelines. Long walks and timelines also work for me, but require time which is in short supply right now. But this weekend, I went to the South Bay to sell some yarn and the ride back was very creative, just driving on the freeway and thinking, even with my mom in the car, which made me remember this. Why did I have to do this to remember this? Because I have been doing lots less driving than usual, due to telecommuting etc. So this is an important revelation for me, that when I am feeling dry to go for a bit of a drive.
  • I have periodic slumps that feel like the end of the world. I know this because I blog about them. You also know this because I blog about this. I also forget about them every single time. Amnesia.
  • I also like to putter about in my studio area before I get started. It's a bit of a ritual of initiation. The putter can include getting out materials, putting things away, or just moving things around. The important point is that I am in the studio space, I am touching things in the space and things are moving.
  • I also putter in the midst of creating. It's a distinct process that I go through. Stopping periodically to clean up a bit, get a snack, putter around the house/studio with mundane uncreative tasks, etc. I do this while painting, writing, sewing, quilting, anything that is a long drawn out creative process, but not while dyeing, interestingly, probably because of the segregation of materials that I observe while working with chemicals of any kind. I also do this at the day job, when writing or working on a document of some kind.
  • I like to clean up my space between projects or foci. So for instance, this weekend I wrapped up a long run of dyeing, skeining, and labelling of yarn etc for Ceallach Dyes and Sock Summit. Before I could rest, I needed to put everything aright, meaning yarns got boxed, labels, inventories and other paperwork got stacked, auxiliary furniture got stored, and the living room furniture got restored. The sewing machine and serger went back up on th desk and the swifts went over by the skeiner. By the time I was done, most everything was put away and the space is ready for the next gust of Ceallach. Maybe it's more of a flood. Who knows?
Another area that I am interested in, and hoping this book will help is trying to find or strike a balance between a day job, a business, writing of books (which is becoming a force in my life) and maintaining creativity, maintaining my health through diet and exercise, and dedicating time to my family.

So here are some questions for my readers:
  • What kinds of things do you do when you are creating?
  • What rituals do you have around creating?
  • What is your space like?
  • Do you have some of the same struggles?
  • Would you be interested in a cohesive group of people where you might discuss this and related topics? This could be on Ravelry, a dedicated group blog, a web ring or the like.
  • Do you already know of something like this?


Bezzie said...

Man, I wish I had space. Right now my "space" is transient. Beading on the bed, sewing and print making in the dining room, knitting in the living get the picture. Is it wrong that I've started sketching out what my idea craft room would look like--when and if I ever win the lottery????

As a result of this I'm forced to be neat about creating and cleaning up between projects like you describe. Which is good and bad.

Batty said...

My academic writing process is very creative -- and very structured. I begin by thinking about the topic, mostly while walking around. Walking helps me think. I used to study while walking up and down a room. Doesn't work for knitting, but is a necessary component of assimilating information and turning it into something new.
Next comes the note-taking, sketching, outlining, interrupted by baking, exercise, and more walking.
Finally, I sit down and get started, interrupted by hot chocolate, baking, exercise, walking.
Then, there's a slump, and some cleaning up because by then, my space is a mess and makes me unhappy.
Then, it's back to creating.

Yeah So said...

very interesting as Ive been thinking about my creative space alot lately. I do have a dedicated room, but I haven't been in there much lately because Im either working or spending time with my family. Plus its become a dumping ground for all manner of things we cant find room for. Soon I'm going to have to give the room up altogether for another child and I'm worried that my creative mojo will be gone for good though. Im trying to "relocate" but theres not much extra space around here, and my husband doesnt totally get my need to have a defined space for myself for projects.

To answer another question, I do what you do...I prepare the space by cleaning up a bit, and it usually involves putting away paint bottles which I love to do because of all the colors I have to touch.

zippiknits said...

I have a dedicated studio, 17x15 at the end of a big room for producing jewelry, since I made and sold it for many years.

Now it's gotten junked up because of the chaos of life, so lately I've been going through it and cleaning out things I will not ever use again. A vulcanizer, and all the plates for it, for one thing. I'm trying to do more of this everyday.

What kinds of things do you do when you are creating?

When I am creating a design, I start with a piece of stone or ceramic material and go from there; I decide how will I form metal around it (forging) or use wire wrapping to enhance it. Do I want to keep as much of the material intact or grind a lot of it off? How will I polish it, or will I carve it? I decide which tools I need and make sure that they are handy, and not out in the garage.

What rituals do you have around creating?

I'm not ritualistic about creating, I don't have to get into a mood, since I'm basically looking and seeing design all around me all of the time. I really do not like to be interrupted when I'm working. That stops the flow of mental imaging that I do to "see the transformations that I must make to get all the parts to go together and fit the design that keeps evolving in my head.

What is your space like?

My space has everything I need to work the metal or the stone. It's approximately 17'x15'. There's a tall work bench that used to be used by a computer tech somewhere to fix CPUs and even cash registers, I am told. It has a hardwood top and shelves underneath it where I store materials. There's two kilns and a huge conference table that holds some pieces of equipment that are small enough to be there instead of on the floor.

Do you have some of the same struggles?

I have some of the same struggles of finding chunks of time when I'm not too exhausted to think or my hands don't rebel on me. Mostly it's physical limits.

Would you be interested in a cohesive group of people where you might discuss this and related topics? This could be on Ravelry, a dedicated group blog, a web ring or the like.

I might be interested, though this isn't a fiber related craft, it's metal craft.

Do you already know of something like this?

I do. There are at least two clubs that are dedicated to this craft but they are so far from me that I seldom get there. Also there is an ongoing day long.. 5 hours.. class at a Community College nearby. But I would be there just for the equipment so having thought of using their facilities. The clubs are a lot of socializing, and I honestly can't get a lot of work done in that setting. The big equipment is nice, but that's the big draw.

Does this fit in with your crafts? This is very long, I'm sorry, but I hope that it's relevant. Also I hope that it's helpful to you, though not the same fiber related craft.