I am often asked how I can keep coming up with so many different creative ideas.
While one would think that the answer to this question would be easy, it really is not, and usually I find it a difficult thing to answer.
So many things can trigger a design; a distant memory from childhood, the way the light hits the fur on my cat Richard's back (I am looking at that now and noticing how glossy he is), or even a phrase or lyric from a song that we hear in the background of a busy day. I think that training yourself to open your senses to everything around you plays a huge part in being creative. I am afraid that I don't believe this happens instantly, as it seems to be something that is practiced over a period of time until it becomes nearly automatic and you don't even need to think about it. You just begin to realize that you see things in different ways than you used to and think of ways you could incorporate them into something that may be functional or decorative. The more you practice, the easier it seems to be. Soon you are no longer forcing yourself to try to think of new ideas, but rather you are trying to sort them and prioritize them, as you realize that there just aren't enough hours in the day to make them all reality. It is a good place to be – especially for a designer.
But getting to this phase took me more than 20 years. It wasn't always like this for me. Like most, I learned from others and in the beginning, we follow their instructions to the letter. But as my skills grew and the basic fundamentals were developed, I found myself thinking of ways that I wanted to deviate from the 'patterns' that I was using and do things my own way. At times, the results were not optimal. But that didn't deter me from trying again. Little by little I figured out what worked for me and what didn't and I was eventually toying with the idea of making my own patterns and designs. After all – why buy patterns if I didn't follow them anyway? What would be the point?
A lot happened in between then and now. My story is a series of events choreographed by fate, as is true for every designer. Each of our journeys is different and unique. There is no one formula that one can plug themselves into which will result in success. It is only achieved by following a long road with many twists and turns and keeping ones' determination – even on the days when everything seems to fall apart. It isn't a path that everyone will follow. Those who are left are the ones that truly have a love for what they do. It is rare that I see someone succeed that is only in it for the money. Those who do well financially as a result from their creativity have paid their dues. Each of them has a story of their own journey, which usually entails hardships. It is why I believe that artists as a whole are quite a hearty lot, despite their tender hearts and deep thinking. But this is only my opinion.
I also find that surrounding myself with positive people and things helps quite a bit. It is sometimes difficult to do – especially in these days of turmoil that our world is going through. I have however learned when to 'unplug' from things and not allow the negativity into my life. I turn off the news. I shut down the computer. I remove the feed from the people that I think are negative and spewing hate on my Facebook timeline. Many of these people are customers, which makes it hard. We have all heard the saying that we don't want to get to know some people 'too well' because we will see a side of them that we may not like. I find that applies to more than I would feel comfortable mentioning.
I don't confront these people when I see them post something cruel or thoughtless or rude. I simply remove them from my feed. It takes two seconds and one click and solves the problem (for me) immediately. I have learned long ago that any attempt to reason with some of these people is futile. So why allow myself to be sucked into their negativity and hate? I am not going to change them, and it isn't worth my energy or effort to try. They feed on reactions that they stir and I refuse to fall into that trap. They are not worth my time.
So I surround myself with friends and customers who focus on being positive and creative. My favorite saying "We follow where we focus." always seems to ring true for me. While there are times when sad or negative things happen in my life as well, I try to deal with it as best as I can and move on. For even on the worst day if I look hard enough there is something to be greatful for. As I sit here now and think of the many positive things in my life, it is easy to see why they dominate my thinking. Because I allow them to do so.
So there is the long answer to the question of staying creative. I realize that not everyone works the same. Some of the worlds' most beautiful artwork was born from tragedy. I like to think that my own artwork is born from joy.
Yesterday was a kind of 'in-between' day for me. After mailing out the many packages that had to be sent, I came home, made a pot of soup and cleaned my house. It wasn't too bad, but it certainly needed some attention. We had our closet wall torn apart over the weekend due to some leaking and there was the chaos from that, as well as getting my own supplies and things reorganized.
Keith was out for the evening and I was able to sit down and relax with my needlework. I have so many beautiful ideas that I want to create, and I am still hoping to make some fun needlework kits for others to enjoy. I worked on some stumpwork leaves:
They will of course be part of a larger design. The leaves are embroidered around a wire and cut loose so they are dimensional (that is what "stumpwork" embroidery means). I hope to have a nice design finished soon.
I plan on photographing my new ornaments later on today and writing the pattern. We are looking to update the site by tomorrow and the patterns will be available for those who asked. Keith has also come up with four new beautiful plaques that are now on our site:
I think his SFSKSET1- Self-Framing Seasonal Sayings pattern set is lovely! As usual, he offers the patterns singly as well as in this set.
I hope you all have a good day today. Here is it quiet and cloudy and very cool. I had to go out early and carry the trash to the street for pickup and even though I had my winter coat on, I needed to button it up. The days are definitely getting cooler and before long winter will be upon us. I am sure though that I will have plenty to do to keep me happy. I hope you all find things that will give you pleasure on these upcoming winter days as well.
Have a beautiful Wednesday!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"