Sunday, September 15, 2013

Experimenting with creative tension

As part of my creative preparation for life on "the boat" I've been experimenting with smaller pieces, tiny components that are relatively easy to create in a short period of time and can be combined or stand on their own or be created without the need for a workshop. Small things that I can make in a small space. It is easy for me to get distracted in creating massive works, it is almost like binging - hours and hours of being bent over the work table. I sometimes feel something that is akin to anxiety when I am preparing for a big piece, there is a lot at stake, I have a lot of skin in the game, it can be a bit frightening too. It is creative tension, which is healthy, but you got to be careful to ensure that does not turn into creating-stress. With smaller components I can engage with the building blocks without getting sucked into an anxiety vortex, I can disengage from the outcome as the outcome does not mean 4 months worth of work. It may be 4 minutes or 4 hours, and that is manageable - I can start it without procrastination.

I don't want to come across as a neurotic freak, the crazy artist with superstitions and neurosis, that is not how it is. It is actually a sign, a compass needled that I may be able to negotiate that path between vision and reality. Peter Senge in his classic The Fifth Discipline wrote about this tension as a rubber band that is stretched across the chasm between our current reality and our vision and that resonates with me. It is a forward motion, like those catapults you made as a kid by using your thumb and index finger and a large rubber band. Contracting, stretching and then releasing energy - just at the right time to shoot the pea meters forward. Visualising and giving your vision energy and motion. That is creative tension.

Often I know a piece will be good by the amount of creative butterflies I feel in my stomach, but not always. There is however, very often a series of sparks in the brain, like fireworks. It is a deliberate strategy when I plan a work project - start with bite sized pieces and work forward along a line - from A to B. I tell this to my creative buddies who are stuck in inner criticism - celebrate all your achievements, no matter how small you may think they are as they are the bread crumbs that show you the way. Small, many small, fun small, abundant small, small process, grateful - for the small.

I have found this to be possible in knitting lately. Projects can be small, they can be made in a short and small space of time and place and they do not need a workshop or a large work table. And yarns may be easier to get and store whilst one is sailing around the world. The past few months since my last blog update have been filled with preparations - getting the house ready, cleaning up clothes and books, putting feelers out for a job that I can do from my boat home. And I found knitting to be a soothing activity during all that time. Although it is Spring in Australia, there are still cold days and nights and so I have knitted a few wraps. In my favorite sea colours, the sea greens and golds of dunes and seagrass and the blues of the ocean.

The green wrap was very liberating to knit, there was no real pattern, just a rough sizing and shape and big needles and different yarns - merino, silks/wool blends, viscose tape yarn and linen blends. I enjoyed seeing it grow in such a short period of time. Tension is important in knitting as it affects size and fit but for this wrap, I threw all of that out the door and it flowed freely. No anxiety, although I still knew in my creative gut that this was good. Not technically good, but good for the soul - free range.

The blue capelet was a piece I knitted during my daily bus commutes, not a lot of counting needed, markers showing me where I needed to increase every other row. Easy, so I could focus on the flow of the movement and the rhythm. Smaller components, one row, two rows, nothing more or less and I can put it away.

As the days grow longer and it gets closer to the time of actually moving out of the house, I can find some solace in my knitting outings.

And celebrate where this road is taking me.

1 comment:

Karin Klebe said...

Hi Bianca,just passed by to see how you're coping. I know what it's like, I've had to do the same thing.

I have a little storage room back in Holland with a friend. For the things that I thought I couldn't part with. It's 5 years later now and if you ask me what's in the storage I wouldn't know.

Just to cheer you up if you need cheering up at all.

Greetings from Karin (SeaBeads).