Finding the Joy

I had the opportunity to submit a concept to a contest on Talenthouse for a shawl for Stevie Nicks. As usual, I didn’t really give myself enough time (in fairness I didn’t even hear about it until about a month into it!) but I figured why not? I think the piece I came up with was very pretty, but it was also pretty safe. I stayed well within my self-imposed parameters of what I thought I could reliably produce and in the end my concept paled in comparison with some of the other entries. Which led me to some interesting conclusions about me and my art. I don’t take many risks – there’s always the little voice in the back of my head (Dad, is that you?) admonishing me to not waste supplies which keeps me from really tapping into, for lack of a better description, that preschooler who just wants to play and declare triumphantly, “Look what I made!!” so proud of that lumpy clay alligator or glue-caked macaroni mosaic. Little kids don’t look critically at their art and they don’t expect anything but the fun and mess and wonder of creating something.

This led me to the realization that I’m limiting myself to what I think is saleable; i.e., what are OTHER people going to like? And that mindset will poke a hole in that little balloon of creative happiness pretty quickly. So… switching gears from “What can I make that someone will buy?” to “I’m going to jump in and try this and see what I get” has been a bit of a stretch for me. Naturally there has to be some thought and intention, but color and texture and fabric and dye and floating paint all lend themselves to just letting things happen, seeing something and developing that into something a bit more or taking it in another direction. There are SO MANY techniques that I’m discovering that I want to try and I’m running around in a bunch of different directions, fooling around with this and that and not really settling into finding my ‘voice,’ if you will; a signature look, style, or technique that I can call my own. I expect that will come , probably not in one big “AH HA!” experiment result but in small increments, incorporating this, rejecting that, taking something else a step or two further, until I find how to express what I want Mauveine to be.

But in the meantime, my takeaway from my competition entry is to be less tentative and more brave; to not worry so much about whether “it’s going to come out right” and just have fun and enjoy the process and the result will be exactly what it’s meant to be.