July 5, 2015
On Creative Practice, and a New Project
I am interested in how creativity works. I am especially fascinated by creative practice, both my own and that of other artists, and have written and given lectures on the subject. For many artists, the state of being “in the flow” alternates with creative slumps and blocks. I find that these highs and lows can be better managed with a sustained creative routine.
That routine varies greatly, of course, in accordance with individual proclivities. For myself, part of my routine since 2012 has been taking daily photos, using either a macro or a fisheye lens on my iPhone, and posting them to social media. It gave focus to my day, helped train my eye, and gave me a glimpse into corners of the natural world I might otherwise miss. The habit has been exciting and fulfilling, and helped inform my primary artistic practice of textile based art. I’ve also enjoyed and greatly appreciated the many lovely and enthusiastic responses I’ve received when I posted photos.
It was all great, until all of a sudden it wasn’t. I had been struggling a bit in the spring to find subjects that engaged me, and one day I realized that it had turned from a delight into a chore. So I stopped. I put the project on hiatus and just stopped. If I had been struggling with my primary work in fiber I would have powered through it, but this is an adjunct practice, meant to be fun. While I may still take and post the occasional nature picture, the daily part will remain on hiatus until/if I feel like reviving it. I suspect it may have served its purpose, and it is time to move on.
Which raises the question of what moving on looks like. I feel like to some extent the photos were a dead end. I’m not a professional photographer, even thought I play one on TV. I’m going to move my repetitive creative practice into my true area of expertise, working with fiber.
After a lot of thought and false starts, I’ve devised a project involving the Susquehanna River, a never ending source of inspiration for me. My plan is to get out and observe the river somewhere on its course on a weekly basis for the next year, and then make a small fiber piece in response to what I’ve just seen. Further details and parameters will be worked out as I go along, as part of the appeal is that the project be open-ended and exploratory. I’m calling it “52 Ways to Look at the River”.
Today I cut 52 pieces of rayon/wool felt into 6” x 12” blanks, and will be using them as the foundation for each weekly piece. I anticipate it will be primarily needlefelting work but I’m not locked into that. The idea is that each piece will be the fiber equivalent of a quick sketch, and in the end the sum will be greater than the parts.
Above is my first panel, and below is the picture I took of the river, in Columbia, PA, under the Veterans Memorial Bridge. There’s been a lot of rain lately, and the river is very high and muddy.
I’ll be posting the weekly pieces to my Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/suerenostudio
My Twitter feed: http://twitter.com/suereno
My Tumblr: http://suerenostudio.tumblr.com
and Instagram: sue_reno_studio
So pick a platform and join me as I work my way through some imagery!
As always, thanks for reading and commenting.