Lisa C.

Dismantling the Committee

If I am completely honest with myself, I am the only person on my committee.  I know that I have a family and circle of friends who support what I do as a fiber artist – my husband is my biggest supporter, as long as he can golf at least three times a week in the summer!   The committee I need to dismantle comes from within myself:

Guilt

I feel some level of guilt when I spend time in the studio.  It is a longer list, but the three areas I feel I should be spending more time on include:

  • House:   We bought this 130 year old Victorian house in a small town three years ago after we retired from our professional life.  I love this house but there is a lot of demand on my time in planning the renovation work.
  • Garden:  We have a large yard that we have started to re-landscape.  Lately I have been spending a lot of time in the studio reviewing plans and researching plants and trees.  I am a master gardener and love the solitude of working alone in the garden. 
  • Family and Friends:  I sometimes turn into a hermit when I am in the studio and feel I am neglecting my friends and family.

I do not come from a creative background so it has taken me some time to come to the realization that I do not give my studio time the priority it deserves.  I view it as a hobby to be worked once my other life priorities have been addressed and I have time to pursue at my leisure.  I never had my dedicated studio space until we moved into this house about three years ago.

Time

I turn sixty this year.  I think this is the age where you begin to face your mortality.  I am coming to the realization that I will not have enough time left in my life to work on all the projects that are spinning in my head.  Ironically, this fact sometimes immobilizes me from “just doing it”.  I loved working on last week’s exercise because there was no end in mind - you could just let go and allow stuff to happen.  It is starting to dawn on me that writing my ideas down on paper is a good first step to help me focus on those projects that are most important to me as an artist.  It is helping me focus on “what I have time to do” rather than “what I can’t do because I don’t have enough time”.

Perfectionist Tendencies

I am very detail-oriented and realize this can sometimes slow down the pace of my work.  I wouldn’t categorize myself as a perfectionist but I do set the bar high for myself.  I have a quote posted on my studio wall:  “Don’t try to do your best work all the time.  The changes happen when you aren’t paying so much attention”.  Just a little reminder that sometimes a little less ends up being a lot more.

Too Many Toys

I am a collector and I have too many toys – fabric, thread, paint, dye, pencils, pastels, and more!  Sometimes having too many options is not a good thing.  It can drive you to spend more time thinking and less time doing. 

It is easy to procrastinate when you are retired.   I am a PBS junkie on the TV front – lots of arty shows and documentaries to distract and entertain.  Even if I get into my studio, I can spend a lot of time doing things other than creating – organizing ideas and supplies, reading other artist’s blogs online, and perusing my ample supply of art books, just to name a few.  Once again, a little less thinking, a little more doing is in order.

Final Thoughts

I know I have the ability to focus and prioritize my time in my studio when a deadline looms.  An example and interesting anecdote:

My daughter bought her first house a few years ago, one of those modern midtown places with lots of white walls.  I offered to make her a wall piece and she replied that they would like a wall quilt depicting the Houston skyline, something which both she and her fiancé time adore.  They had no deadline involved, just when I got around to it.  When they announced their engagement, I decided start and finish the piece as their wedding present.  It took me six months to design and complete this large quilt but it was completed a few days before their wedding.  I treated my studio time like a full-time job that I loved.  I didn’t feel guilty because I rationalized this to be a special gift for my only daughter and on her wedding day.  This allowed me to set my guilt aside and give priority to my studio time.  I finished the skyline quilt a few days before their wedding and they loved it. 

After the wedding, I spent little creative time in my studio.  I felt guilty that I had ignored other priorities during this time and that I now needed to focus on other areas of my life.  It made me realize that I often treat my studio time as something I can do only after my other obligations are met.  For me, this is not about dismantling a committee of others - it is about changing my own behaviors.  I need to give myself permission to spend time in the studio but I need to be doing this in a more focused manner.