Friday, September 23, 2011

Behind black & abandon


So in an earlier post I mentioned my two new "gifts" - black and abandon. Here's a bit about the story behind. 

I needed some playful fun (and something not too serious) to ingnite my creative life after more than 1 1/2 year away from it. I'd heard many inspired words about Christy Tomlinson's workshops and I thought it sounded just perfect to get me going again. I had no idea how the workshop would affect and inspire me, but it did in a big way (as I mentioned in an earlier post - it affected me in a way that rocked my creative foundation). I guess there's different advantages to attending a real live workshop with other people reflecting your creative work and just doing an online class in the comfort of your own home where no-one is there to reflect or make comments. 

I can honestly say I had no expectations whatsoever  - maybe just one of having some childish fun. I believe that's exactly why I had the aha-moment I did - I was open and I had no expectations. 

So I'm sat there enjoying watching Christy's fun videos, completely unwitting of the "rocks" that are about to hit me. Well, the first rock that hit me was "abandon." At some point watching her work I notice that I'm beginning to get twitchy thinking she's adding too much stuff. I'm thinking; "It's perfect now... don't ruin it." And yet she continues to splash and dabble with the paints, inks, paper and what have you. But suddenly it all magically blends in to this gorgeous little piece of perfect mess (and I mean this in the most positive and sincere way!) - and I can feel some kind of inner boundary being pushed. There was something about the abandoned way she worked that made everything blend so magically - just what I needed, to not be too overly concerned about the result, but more believing it would turn out just perfect. When I studied fashion design (my artistic background) we were always told to strive for perfection (nothing less was good enough!) and that can be a little stifling to your creative process to put it mildly. 

Well, there was another "rock" in store for me...
 Christy likes her black doodle-pens. She doodles a lot! A smile is allowed as you ask; "So what's up with doodling?" Again I watched her doing all these random doodles - right across her creative pieces - and I was thinking; "Oh no, not again, don't spoil it" but the same magic happened - it just pefected the piece. So the next day I decide to try this for myself and I initially ended up with a neat little piece. A bit too neat and boring I thought, so I'm thinking let me have a go with some black accents and a black doodling pen. At first I could hardly get myself to put the black on the paper - it actually made me feel uneasy inside. So of course I was wondering; "What on earth is up with black?" And suddenly I get this flash-back to art school where I've been introduced to hard and soft pencils. I always used hard pencils because they were thinner and not quite as visible as the softer pencils. I suddenly realised how closely linked these two (black and abandon) were. Feeling the weight of must strive for perfection upon my shoulders I'm sure I developed some kind of inhibition where if I used something vague (like a hard pencil) then I wouldn't be noticed too much and therefore my imperfection wasn't as likely to be noticed. Yes I know - how much you can be unaware and ignorant of when you're in your early twenties!  So upon this realisation I'm thinking; "Holy cow!" (or something stronger than that!!) and decide there and then to give it a good old splash and doodle with some black. And suddenly magic appears - my little neat piece comes to life and I'm beginning to feel endeared to it and I'm realising that I've just been given two huge gifts. And in an instant the cost of this workshop has just redeemed itself.

I do believe these insights serendipitously coincided with joining The Great Big Card Swap where I did my first ever free motion stitching - and I fell in love in a way where I couldn't believe I hadn't done that before! Anyhow... I felt everything creatively falling into place and I could suddenly feel my own signature style as an artist appearing - something I've been struggling with for years. I knew my new friend black had to play a prominent part so the black button appeared, almost as the dot under an exclamation mark as if to say; "I'm here to stay." I also just loved the idea of wildly stitching a black frame (the loose threads being used to tie a bow) to make the entire piece pop. Abandon was included in the way of just tearing and ripping fabrics - using some natural dyes and going with the first attempts - randomly placing some contradicting fabrics (such as silk and burlap) and doing some completely abandoned stitching - I just let me hand go with the flow.

I don't think I've ever had more creative fun and I am just loving the results.


  1. Your piece looks fantastic, Joan-
    And reading your text, I nodded several times--Oh yes, I also know those little neet devils- sitting there -stopping one from going ahead, because it might be TOO MUCH-TOO WILD- TOO ROMANTIC- TOO................
    I have not joined Christys workshops, but I follow her blog- and love what she does- I also love what you do-
    Her er det koldt efterår idag, men stadig med en bleg dejlig sol- håber din week-end bliver fyldt med sol- på alle måder.
    XO, Dorthe

  2. Thanks so much for visiting and signing up to follow my creative ventures. Comments are always appreciated. You have a beautiful blog - I'll be back to visit often. Cheers, Lorraine

  3. Dear Joan:
    Your blog is fantastic! you are such a wonderful artist, I'm so happy you felt so inspired and decided to continue with your creativity. I've tried to do something like this, but honestly I don't know how, I guess I have to visit you more often to get the inspiration from you.
    Sorry, I didn't visit you more often before, because I was kind of little bit depressed. My oldest daughter decided to move on with her boyfriend to Calgary in July, so..these 3 past months have been hard for me to deal with the idea that she is not a little girl anymore and I had to let her go. But it is so hard still. Anyway, I believe that praying to God helps me a lot and I feel much better than before.
    So I learned that I have to let go and hope for the best.
    I'll be around and like i told you before, I love also this blog of yours, it is great!
    Send you a big hug my dear friend.
    Have a nice Sunday!
    Your friend,
    Laura =)

  4. you are creative and busy with this all. Like the book of you husband. I have read 7o pages. I agree with the most of it!
    nice weekend Mieke

  5. Hi Joan,

    I enjoyed seeing your creative work and yes, life is too short so we do need to make the most of our time here.
    Look forward to seeing more of your wonderful creations.

    Hope that you are having a lovely weekend

  6. I love this piece! Beautiful work. I've added you to my side bar so I can keep up! :-)

  7. what a fascinating post - I look forward to reading many more