Jacquelynne Steves

Creative Journey

It’s Quilt Market time! This weekend, from Thursday to Sunday, many will be gathering in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for International Quilt Market. Your Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter feeds will be veritably overloaded with photos of booths, fabrics, quilts, designers…. It’s a fun time, networking with others in the industry, but it’s also exhausting. It’s a whirlwind, but right now the prep for Market can be exhausting too…. I’ve been sewing samples, working on artwork, preparing for demonstrations… it’s a lot of work, and then it’s over so fast :)

 So as I scurry around this week, I will be sharing a few “throwback” posts. Today’s post is about some things I have learned about creativity. I wrote this post a few years ago, and it is still true today…

Last week I was looking for some of my artwork that I did a few years back, and found that my storage drawers were a complete wreck and totally disorganized. I figured that while I was looking for a couple of particular pieces, I might as well just organize everything.

What began as an organizing chore became a fun look back on my creative journey. I found a lot of old stuff that I had completely forgotten about it. Some of it- I still really like. Some of it- well…. let’s just say it really has been a journey! It was good to see how far I’ve come since I started painting about 16 years ago. I WILL NOT show you that older stuff. What I thought was pretty good all of those years ago is frankly just horrible!! And I found SO MUCH that I had totally forgotten about. I did way more work than I thought. I thought about all of the hours and days and months and years represented in those drawers. I realized that I really have worked really hard to get to where I am today.

Creative Journey- art folders2- Jacquelynne Steves

Sometimes we are not happy with the work we are doing. It just seems to be not good enough. Sometimes it is missing something, but we don’t know quite what, and we don’t know what to do to fix it. Creativity is not just a fun hobby or job, it is a learning process just like everything else. If you are not quite happy with your work, I suggest looking back at some things you did a few years ago, and my guess is that you will be pleasantly surprised at how far you’ve come.

I did throw a lot of stuff away- mostly stuff that was incomplete and I knew I’d never finish. It was a good purge- making room for the new! But I kept a lot of the stuff from my “Early Ugly Period” (I am thinking that when I’m dead and then finally become a super famous artist, that’s what the art historians will call it…..) – it is a good reminder of how much I’ve improved. (I even labelled the folder for them so it will be easy for them to archive.)

Creative Journey- art folders- Jacquelynne Steves

 

It reminds me of a couple of quotes. The first is by Ira Glass:

Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.

By the way, I don’t think this is just true of beginners. As we progress, and our work improves, it can still get even better. As long as we just keep making stuff, it will get keep getting better and better. More mature, more aesthetically pleasing. Even though I am light years ahead of where I began, there is still so much to master… I look forward to the unfolding journey in the upcoming years….

The second quote that I am reminded of comes from Zechariah 4:10:
(paraphrase) Do not despise the day of small beginnings…..

Do  not despise where you are today! Keep on working and then enjoy the fruits of your labor!
(And don’t despise your Early Ugly Period, either. Even Michelangelo had to start somewhere….)

Jacquelynne Steves- bird art

Have A Creative Day-Pin Cushion Art_JacquelynneSteves

11 Comments

  • Posted May 16, 2014 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    I love Zechariah 4:10…I have a framed photo of large trees taken in Yosemite National Park and at the base of them is a tiny tree. The caption is “Potential…Do not despise the day of small beginnings.”

    Great people and great ideas start small and we all start at the same point…the beginning. This verse also tells us that whatever we have to give is enough…we don’t measure our gifts by the size, but by the willingness to give.

    As an artist I often look at my work and think it isn’t good enough, then God reminds me that being willing to give and learn is enough.

    Thanks for sharing and reminding us that life is a journey of learning and growing.

    • Jacquelynne
      Posted May 17, 2014 at 7:04 am | Permalink

      Wonderful comment, Vickie! I like your point that “we don’t measure our gifts by the size, but by the willingness to give.” Everyone has different talents and abilities, and it’s how we use these gifts that matters. We may not become rich and famous, but if we use our gifts to the best of our ability, and do it from an attitude of giving and sharing, then we are doing all that God has asked of us.

  • Posted May 21, 2014 at 11:36 am | Permalink

    I started reading this post and immediately thought of the Ira Glass quote! It was fun to find it at the end of the post. I agree that we have to be careful to accept where our skills are now, even as we’re trying to improve, so we don’t get discouraged and give up.

    • Jacquelynne
      Posted May 21, 2014 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for your comment, Leanne! I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

  • Posted May 23, 2014 at 6:50 am | Permalink

    Love this post Jacquelynne! It is so true!!! Thanks for reminding me of these quotes also :) I would add the one that says, “The woods would be silent if no birds sang except those that sang best.”

    • Jacquelynne
      Posted May 29, 2014 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

      Yes I like that quote too! We all have our own song to sing!

  • sue
    Posted July 10, 2014 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    I really enjoy this newsletter. It reminds me of all the crafts I once did, and new ones I desire to do. Thank you for the Bible verse and the quotes.

  • Diana
    Posted January 4, 2018 at 9:04 pm | Permalink

    Lovely quote and watercolor painting. 🙂💕

  • Posted November 2, 2018 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

    Me encantan los proyectos que subes , yo he realizado algunos y estoy por comenzar otro , mi pasión es el patchwork y bordar y coser a máquina , felicidades

  • Kay Rice
    Posted February 28, 2019 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

    Jacquelynne, you are an inspiration to me. Thank you.

  • Karen Jackson
    Posted May 12, 2019 at 12:00 am | Permalink

    So encouraging and beautiful

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