Then I gave a simple demonstration and general instructions for creating a small textile card that fits inside a photo frame card, which in turn fits inside a deckle envelope. It can be sent, gifted, framed, or become part of a larger project. This exercise is a way to prime the pump, cut through blocks, spark ideas, try them out, and invite surprises. My emphasis is on letting the class time be fun. I urge participants to feel free to experiment and play, with no agenda in mind, thus allowing something new and different to arise.
I had the whole group display their cards on tables at the front. Although they'd all received the same guidelines, the creative diversity was fascinating. Also, I never said they should stay within the frame or expand beyond it, yet some of the women clearly moved out of the box. Though I had lined up some of my own cards on the ledge of the blackboard, I was gratified to see that no one had made anything like mine. Each card was truly an original work. And several gave me some new ideas.
At first, the women were shy to voice their feelings. Then, gradually, I heard how much freer and looser and more spontaneous they were in engaging with the materials, maybe trying something different since there were no strict rules, no test, and no judging, for I had encouraged them to remember what it was like to be in kindergarten.
How the workshop experience and my words flipped a switch inside her, I certainly can't explain. But when we shift our attitude, when we let go and simply move inside the process rather than fixate on some outside measurement, something happens--things get clear and we know that we have to follow our passion, regardless of the circumstances, however we can.
I told the young woman that Van Gogh, among so many other artists, had to paint, even though no one supported his art except his brother Theo. Yes, it definitely feels wonderful when we receive kudos for our artwork, be it dance, music, weaving, or writing. But perhaps the difference between being an artist and not being one is not whether someone praises what we make, publicly displays it, or purchases it, but whether we have to keep creating anyway.
Have you ever been at a point where you wanted to give up making art?
How did you overcome it, if you did?
What would you advise others at the brink of forsaking their passion?