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