What are Your Creative Values?

What are your values? How does this question relate to creativity?

Here is a definition of values...
a person's principles or standards of behavior; one's judgment of what is important in life.
"they internalize their parents' rules and values"

synonyms: principles, ethics, moral code, morals, standards, code of behavior
"society's values are passed on to us as children"

So is creative expression important to you? Is it a value that you hold as important to satisfaction in your life?

If no, then no need to read the rest of this article. If yes, it is worth the time to figure out how to add creativity into your life in a seamless and joyful way. This is not another "to do" item but instead a “I am lucky I get to do this" item. 

I am offering a helpful tool to think about where you are in your creative journey and where you might want to go. This may sound hokey, but it really is a meandering trip from finding what lights you up creatively, to dabbling in it, to practicing every day to figure out how to incorporate your self expression into your life on a regular basis.

Are you somewhere on this continuum? 
To get to the next level, it may help if you think about your creative values. 
There is no judgment about any of these values. One way is not better than another way. The point here is to discover which approach works for you. Then you can use this knowledge to continue on your creative journey in a way that feels like a pair of broken in shoes or a comfy pair of jeans. Knowing where you are and where you want to go are prerequisites for any journey.

Value 1 How do you approach your art?
Traditional vs. Non-traditional Design

First quilt based on online directions from about.com in 1998.

Are you someone who likes "outside the box" thinking? Or someone who persistently practices a technique based on the traditional approach to this type of art?
An example for this traditional vs. non-traditional value is based on when I was just learning how to quilt. I started making quilts based on traditional quilt patterns like Ohio stars and nine patch blocks.  I included a photo of my first quilt. It was the beginning of quilt blogs becoming very popular. I would see these fabulous bed quilts completed in such a short time. At that time in my life, I felt lucky if I got to take a shower when my children were so small and active. Everything about these projects was perfect. Perfect fabric. Perfect sewing. Perfect everything. I'm not saying this to sound bitter. I realize it just wasn't my cup of tea. It actually was the opposite of inspiring. I stopped reading those blogs after a few years. It took me a while to start creating again. But when I did start creating again, I did so with fresh ideas based on things that inspired me like modern art and minimalist design. I used traditional Amish quilts and Gee's Bend quilts as my initial inspiration to start designing my own projects. I was able to think "outside the box" and follow what I was inspired to do in my own way. I still use antique quilts as a jumping off point as inspiration for my designs but I would not try to recreate it exactly as I see it. I realized I enjoy the ideas and design phase of my art. So looking for new ways to create was what kept me moving forward and still does to this day. So I value non- traditional approaches to my form of self expression.

Again, no judgment about people who like to follow patterns and derive great satisfaction from doing this in what ever area of art they choose. If you like this value, you may place value on the process itself and enjoy the construction and the “doing” phase of your art. Many traditional quilters fall into this side.  Many other art forms stress the importance of traditional training like in drawing or oil painting. Drawing what you see in front of you is a time honored way of practicing your technique.

But as we know, nothing is simple.  This really is a continuum and often times people can slide back and forth at different times on their creative journey. Of course, there is no hardline rule of ...you either like the design ideas or the construction. Frankly, many people like both. However, this is a helpful question to ask yourself how to get your creative mojo in gear.

What excites me when I think of my next project? I want to come up with something totally different than I've done before? Or I want to learn this new process technique to push through my boundaries?

Sometimes during trying times it helps to do something that's familiar and repetitive. You know what I'm gonna say here. There are no rules. These are just questions to ask yourself to inspire you to create more art.

Value 2 How do you get your ideas?
Traditional vs Non-traditional Inspiration Sources

How about your inspiration sources? Do you find inspiration everywhere or do you have one specific inspiration source? Perhaps you are just starting to embroider and get inspiration from the hundreds of embroiderers who share their work online. I started with traditional quilts for inspiration and then looked up and decided I could use whatever I saw to inspire me. I started looking for different color combinations and different ways of constructing fabric pieces together to match what I saw in my mind's eye. I often use nature for color and design inspiration, breaking the landscape into horizontal and vertical pieces. For some people inspiration comes from seeing what other people have done before them.  For me, I find the most inspiration from non-quilt sources like modern art or other random places like the upholstery on a the set of a Netflix series or  a photo of moroccan baskets on Instagram. If you feel stuck in a rut, try another approach. Look at some traditional sources for your chosen art or conversely, If you usually look at traditional sources, try something unique. Use google images. Walk around the book store and look at book covers. Go to your local botanic garden. Mix things up.

Why bother doing this exercise? Self-knowledge can be a wonderful thing. You may find you are exactly where you want to be. However, you may be stuck in a rut and exploring some of these other options, sliding up and down the continuum to these different ways of looking for inspiration or how to create a project, maybe just what you need to kickstart your creativity.

Stay tuned...I will be talking about more creative values next week.