For the past two weeks, I have not made a daily square. In a way, it was a nice break from the routine. But honestly, I just missed it. Even though it felt awkward to not be creating every day, I plan to take a break over the holidays every year though for two reasons. First, it helps to have a focused time to not only look for inspiration for the next year but develop themes I want to pursue. Second, taking a break from making daily squares helps me appreciate the practice of daily creating. I will admit sometimes I don't want to make a square if life is just busy that day. This happens very rarely. Mostly because I have realized that usually walking into my studio is the perfect way of pushing that mental reset button. But when I may feel some resistance to the work, now I can remember that feeling of absence. Like something was missing from my day. Absence can make the heart grow fonder, I guess.
So over the past two weeks I have been looking for inspiration. I turned to my art books of Carl Larsson and the Impressionists. I have found inspiration from the Tate Museum's Instagram posts of Rousseau and Mondrian. I have seen designs in ice crystals, the beach horizon, clouds in the sky and tree bark. I have noticed colors of birds, warblers and rosette spoonbills. These are my go-to places for inspiration: nature and art history.
I plan to continue thinking about these ideas and how they fit into the bigger picture of my 14 series that I create for the whole year of 2017. It needs to be a balancing act because, on one hand, I like the overarching themes for the year or for 4 series in a row. But on the other hand, I like the spontaneity of working on what I am thinking about at that time.
Here is a summary of the two weeks of looking for inspiration.
I noticed a theme of unusual color combinations.
Mustards, cream and white from Carl Larsson and the warbler
Forest green and dark rust from the gumbo-limbo tree
Pale pink, creamy white and dark green from the rosette spoon bills and white pelicans on a sand bar
Cobalt blue and lime green from Van Gogh’s " Starry Night"
I noticed some design parameters that would be new for me.
Transitions in shapes from square to rectangle across a line from my air purifier’s vent
Curved lines with a limited color palette from the ice and cloud patterns
An overall structure of a 25 Day piece using Mondrian's art
Some familiar themes appeared too.
Horizon theme from the beach view
Chaos design with diagonal trending lines made up of small pieces of fabric from holiday gifts
When you look at your creative life through the lens of a year, it can make you more productive and more consistent. Consider a Creative Calendar.
Daily, weekly, or monthly timeframes can help you get out of the project-to-project cycle and work more consistently. Personally, I find the daily time commitment easiest. Your Creative Calendar will be different, perhaps two hours on a Saturday, every Saturday. We all need to find what works for us. I started by adding this time as a reoccurring event on my calendar. It helped me see it as important as an appointment.
Once you figure out the time component of your Creative Calendar, you need the content component. That is what this 2 week inspiration hunting is for, to look for inspiration to discover what to do when I sit down at my sewing machine daily. This only works though as a way to keep away the drama of resistance and procrastination. If you use the idea of a Creative Calendar in an honest way, looking clearly at your available time to dedicate to your creative life, it can do miracles. But if you use it as an excuse to be hard on yourself, it will be the opposite of helpful.
Consider taking some time to figure out how you want to approach your creative life for the year 2017.