Felt: Creative Momentum


Years ago, I developed a series of expressive arts workshops to help students overcome creative blocks. Inspired by Peter London’s book “No More Secondhand Art,” and Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way,” my studies in creative arts in education as a graduate student, and my own experiences, I called the course “Momentum.”

Lately, perhaps connected to doing yoga and developing a practice of mindfulness/meditation, I’ve been questioning the idea of creative momentum, because it seems to me that it’s so important to pause — perhaps come to a complete stop — and ask basic questions about one’s work: what’s it for? what does it mean? what will happen to it? These are important considerations, but not questions that drive momentum.

The marketplace, the business of art, is a loud space. Artists need to get attention in order to sell their work. Studio work can be a lonely business, materials are costly, earning a living as a small-business owner is overwhelming, and the affirmations of attention and sales provide useful feedback and essential support. Through social media, artists are saying “Look at me! Look at me!” They need us to look at them.

Maybe it’s just my own low tolerance for commotion that makes me long for quiet and simplicity and makes me turn away from the requests for more “likes” and “shares;” maybe it’s my own ambivalence about materialism that makes me question crafting “stuff” — even beautiful, useful stuff.

Some days I look at all of the arts and crafts out there and think of how some fish lay eggs, so many eggs in a hostile environment, and how so few of them actually mature. I don’t want my work to feel like spawning. I see handiwork — vintage handkerchiefs and table linens and crocheted blankets — in secondhand shops, and in my mind I ask these objects “someone lavished attention on you, so how did you get to be homeless, you poor thing?”

I’ll see some fiber or get an idea or just experience a color that beyond words expresses a thought or longing, and I’ll want to work with it. I’ll be asked to do a commissioned piece. I don’t need to seek momentum, it’s just there.

Ideally, all art would connect to an original, authentic and deep source and would be cherished; but in reality, sometimes a client will really like your work but want it in a different color/size/fiber/format… sometimes we just need diversion or we get off track or even obsessive about our production. Momentum is one challenge, and staying connected to your own authentic, deep source is another challenge.

Right now, for me, it’s very helpful to pause in my work and to ask “what’s it for?” I know it’s a luxury, to be able to pause like this. I hope and trust that this pause will be a sort of composting, in which my ideas can rest and become more alive.


Published in: on June 10, 2015 at 2:39 pm  Leave a Comment