Sunday, April 10, 2011

creativity monster

"embroidery is a very personal art,
its charm lies in the individuality
expressed by the worker."
- w. g. paulson townsend, 1899

this can also be said of any fragment of needlework (or other artistic expression, for that matter).  even when we find ourselves joyously influenced by others we admire and aspire toward, our needles move to a different rhythm, expressing the soul that lies behind their direction.

those who inspire me (jude hill, ann wood, india flint, heike gerbig , those amazingly talented folk listed on the side bar in "some of my favorite haunts", and so many others yet to be listed there) all leave their mark on my creative expression. how could they not? but even though i can see the touch of their essence in my work, it is like recognizing a mother's eyes or a father's chin in a child.  i am thankful and blessed to have such amazing creative "parents" and hope that my own work does them proud!

one of the most difficult aspect of the creative life is learning to trust one's artistic intuition and expression. we look to our teachers. we look to our peers.  we look to our patrons.  everywhere but to ourselves for validation.  something that richard hatton once wrote really helped to open my heart to trusting my own sense of design: 

"we have to trust our own choice after all,
and end with the simple belief that
what pleases us is beautiful. 
indeed, no other rule is of any use to us,
and if we do but honestly please ourselves,
and make forms which genuinely give us pleasure,
we shall find ourselves credited
with the power of designing beautiful things."
- richard hatton

this has been a great struggle for me in the past. i'd like to say it is a monster that i've put to bed. but, being human, i still wrestle with him from time to time. but i return and contemplate hatton's wisdom and am heartened. for those of you who find yourselves rolling around in the grass with this monster, i hope this thought helps you, too!

and now, to dive into that thread basket and commence work on a new monster fragment...



  1. Two days in a row!!!! It's so nice to hear from you. You've been working LONG hours, and I understand it completely. All week long my stitch pieces stay out where I can see them. My needle and threads of cotton, silk, rayon, and wool, whisper to me. Today, I may get some time in to stitch a bit... if I get my all my homework finished before my eyes are too tired for close-up stitching.
    I struggle with the beast you talk about from time to time. The one who makes me doubt myself and what I can accomplish. I don't think it's possible to put him to bed and make him stay there. I think our doubt is part of our human condition. That's why we are told to go back to the foundation over and over. Faith, Hope, and Love. There must have been a reason we're told to cherish these three.
    I can't wait to see your new monster fragment!

    ;~) Debi

  2. it's been a quiet weekend, debi (knock wood), at work. may it remain so...

    i brought my new monster fragment to work with me, along with the dog, just in case i have a moment or two like now to spare for it.

    now, if only the at&t monster would tame itself and let me online when i am at home!


  3. it's a struggle that is universal, and is probably part of the drive to express. i once read that the mark of the professional is that one day they can do nothing well, the next they can do nothing badly and the third day they just get on with it. c'est la vie.
    It's good that you can take your old dog to work, she would enjoy the company.

  4. awesome, kaite! i shall add that one to my collection!

  5. Oh Joe, I really needed this. I have been making funny, weird and I think beautiful vases, but the thought did go through my brain, will anyone else like these goofy things? Like you said here, we have to follow our own creative heart.
    Thank you for this. xoxo

  6. hugs, annie! so glad i could help. :) your work is always fun and wonderful! my coworker and i were just oohing and aahing over your work in your blogs not more than 10 minutes ago!


  7. It's nice to at least have you back again. I love to put my hand in that basket and start stitching. I have been busy with jude's whispering heart and really enjoying it - Hugs Nat

  8. I agree, Joe, embroidery is a very personal art and boy it is so difficult to trust the truth of one's own experience and how we express it. I'm liking Kaite's words...they really help.

  9. thanks, nat! it's good to be back when i can and will be awesome later this week (one hopes). i haven't been able to access jude's whispering heart because of the audio/video content and the lousy connection. hope to catch up later this week though...

  10. i'm glad, penny, that they touched you. they have meant a lot to me as well, over the years.

  11. Ahh Joe, never a truer word spoken.
    I was the kid who drew something amazing and then screwed it up because it wasn't "perfect". I am learning to love what I do. I know what I like, I hear my inner voice a little clearer and I let it sing to me with gay abandon.
    This post reminds me of one of my favourite Shakespearean quotes "Trust thine own self".
    Sending you big love and a sweet little reminder that you are awesome, and oh so INSPIRING!

  12. thank you, tallulah...that's very sweet!

  13. I admire so many other artist and at the top of the list would be Jude Hill as well.
    I think as artist we all face that bit of self doubt and wonder whether our work will be appreciated by others. I am learning it is ok to "sing" my own song regardless, and I use what I do as a "therapy" of sorts for me to express what is going on inside of me. :)
    Thank you for being willing to be open and honest...very touching. <3