Some of you may have noticed that I have been a bit 'unsettled' lately. While I have been keeping my self busy, I have felt as if I haven't been making much headway in several areas. Maybe the term 'overwhelmed' is a bit more fitting.
I have never been one to make excuses for myself. I learned at an early age that it is better to own up to the things you did or didn't do and then move on from there. To me, the consequences of thinking about things were far worse than the actual result most of the time. Of course, I don't ever remember doing anything hideous. But I am talking about things like not doing my chores or missing a homework assignment – things that are somewhat benign. Many times it was my own guilt that impacted me much more than any punishment that was handed out. I knew I should be doing something, but didn't get it done.
It has been nearly three months since we moved to our new home. It is hard to believe that it has even been that long, but the summer has passed quickly and even though it seems as if we have been busy just about every minute of every single day, I still feel a bit 'behind' in things. I wonder if it is because I am a bit older since the last time I moved and not as resilient. I also wonder if I went through the same feeling of uneasiness as I settled in and just kind of blocked it out of my mind. After all, I was at a different place in my life the last time I moved and never has my business been so successful. I can see how missing days or even weeks back then wouldn't be as noticed as it is today. In the big picture, that is a good thing, right?
Perhaps it seems like our move is so traumatic because I am not considering the time leading up to the actual moving day. We found our new place approximately three months before we actually were able to move in, and those three months were filled with planning and excitement and lots of distractions from work..
Don't get me wrong – everything that we went through was purposeful and necessary. It is just that it has taken time away from my designing. But something has to give I suppose.
So now we are at the six month mark since we found out place here. It is wonderful, spacious and a much better environment for creating and living. We are all happy we are here and even now at this early stage of the game I look back and wonder how we survived as long as we did in our small apartment and were still able to produce and be functional. But we did. And I am sure that after a bit more time, we will settle in and be more comfortable and be able to do so here as well.
In the meantime I suppose I need to be patient with myself. Before we decided to move, we were like a train heading full speed to our destination. Designs were coming quickly as well as the production work, and everything was growing almost just as fast as we could create. But as our moving day came closer, our focus (rightfully) turned to our new home and the actual moving. For some reason, this was so much larger than I thought it would be. Even though I moved from Chicago to Nova Scotia several years ago, this seemed bigger. Perhaps it is because I am older now, or perhaps it is because I know I will be in this house a long time. I wanted everything 'perfect'. (We know that life isn't like that though, don't we?)
All is good though. It really is. We are so much happier and more productive here already. I suppose then what is bugging me is that there are so many loose ends that need to be tied up before we can say the house project is 'done.' Will that ever really happen? I wonder.
I write about these things this morning because I often see posts from several of my creative friends where they express that they are experiencing 'blocks'. Although their circumstances vary, I am sure that the reason they are not as productive as they wish to be is that there are other things going on in their lives that occupy much of their thinking. It doesn't have to be a physical thing like moving. It can be illness, family obligations, or just general worry. Sometimes it doesn't take much. It is rare that someone is able have nothing at all weighing on them, and I do believe that the degree of issues that causes this block is as different as each individual experiencing it. It is truly personal. So I don't feel that I am alone in feeling this way.
So what to do about it . . .
I find that the best way for me to overcome these anxious times is to 'push the pile'. By that, I mean do the 'non-creative' work that is necessary so I can feel accomplished and eventually the other, more creative part will come back and fall into place. This not only requires being aware of the situation, but also some patience. It means we need to be kind to ourselves and allow things to work themselves out.
One of the best ways I find to relax and still be creative is to make projects which were created by other designers. Sometimes, like with the Lynne Andrews' "12 Days" and Peggy Harris "Cinderella Mice", I can justify doing that because I know of the perfect recipient for them. It is easy to make something with someone else in mind. That is why most of us craft in the first place.
But every once in a while, I see something that I want to make for no other reason than for myself. These are sometimes the most difficult things to make because I live a life of creating for others so much that it has become a habit. It is a hard one to break sometimes.
The other day, I was going through my issue of Painting Ezine and I saw the most adorable project by one of my long time favorite designers – Kim Christmas – called "Meow, Meow, Boo!" It is a set of three cute autumn ornaments that were done on the silhouettes of kitty heads. Kim's autumn and Halloween patterns are incredible (you can visit her website here at www.kimchristmas.com) and I have always loved her use of color and beautiful designs. I loved this design so much, I actually had a dream about it the other night. I knew I had to make it.
I worked pretty much the entire day on projects yesterday. I am doing another series with a fellow designer and I am not yet at liberty to share it with you, but I will later on. I finished my "work" around dinner time and I thought that I would take the evening to do the "Meow, Meow, Boo!" project for myself. After all – I felt I put in an entire day. While I still had lots of things to do, I felt that I needed to step out of the work place and do some creating for myself. In the long run it will bring me back to where I need to be creatively.
Kim's project called for using DecoArt's Image Transfer for the background of the design. But to use that, you need access to a laser printer (inkjet printers won't work with this process!) But me being me, I improvised a solution that worked really well. Instead of using the Image Transfer medium, I decided to use DecoArt Decoupage to apply a layer of paper on top of my wood pieces to create the background.
I first went to Etsy and purchased some awesome digital paper . I thought this paper would look great as a background for the design. (By the way – I LOVE digital paper!)
I cut my wood pieces from 1/4" MDF and cut corresponding background pieces in the kitty head shapes:
I then followed the EASY directions to apply the papers to the shapes. I let them dry while I ate dinner and did the dishes:
Then the REAL fun began. I began painting the surfaces according to the pattern. (If you don't subscribe to the Painting Ezine, you can order an individual issue for a VERY reasonable cost! Also go to Kim's site to see her other lovely patterns! Most of them are available as PDF files so you can start right away!)
Look at the lovely, rich autumn colors!
How can that NOT make you happy???
I watched a couple of episodes of one of my favorite shows on Netflix and painted the evening away. Here is where I wound up before I got tired:
How awesome is that?? And so, so EASY! I am a snail-slow painter and I was thrilled at how far I got. I hope to finish up these pieces by tonight.
I suppose the point of my post here is that sometimes it that while I am a 'designer' and have my own ideas for designs and usually take the 'leader' position in showing others how to create, sometimes it is best to step back and take the 'follower' position and allow others to lead for a bit. Following instructions of my favorite designers for me is relaxing and invigorating and fills my own need to create stress-free, without having to think too much. Keith often tells me that my "down time" looks a lot like my "work time" and to the outside person, that may be the case. But being a 'follower' really changes the demographics of things and really DOES allow my head to 'rest' and still be productive and creative.
I am sure I will be back on track soon. This isn't the first time something like this has happened to me. I can feel things slowly returning to normal and I have lists and lists of ideas to implement that both my scroll sawing followers as well as my painting followers will enjoy. I think they will, anyway.
I hope that all of you who read that have gone through this give it a try. Sometimes taking pressure off of yourself allows you to do even more in the long run. And in the mean time, you will create some beautiful things for yourself or your loved ones.
I hope to finish this up tonight and have more photos for you tomorrow. In the mean time, I will get some other work done here.
Happy Wednesday to you all! I wish you all a lovely and productive day!
-- Designer/Artist/Teacher. Owner of Sheila Landry Designs (http://www.sheilalandrydesigns.com) Scroll saw, wood working and painting patterns and surfaces. "Knowledge is Power"