It can be difficult! some people put it off for hours and days and weeks with displacement activity (I MUST tidy up before I get started, I can’t work with the blue fabric mixed in with the green, ugh! disgusting!), or blind optimism (if I go away maybe the studio elves will get this thing going), or magical thinking (if you pretend it isn’t there it will go away) and its opposite (if i pretend it is there, it will appear!).
So, what d’you do to get going? I find it helps me to have a solid, somewhat ritualistic routine..like the preparation for any performance whether it be the solitary writer, the explorers setting off on their journey, the athlete getting his socks on in the right order and touching things, the stage performer making the “right” gestures.
I’m finishing up some work now (sadly it must be hidden because of The Rules of the Game id est nothing can be revealed if you want to enter it into a specific show! ). The work is all off the wall, out of the sewing room and onto the “sewthiswhilewatchingtelly” pile. So now is the time to start again.
I’m always collecting inspirational material, photographs, sketches, notes…I like to pin these up and rearrange them while doing some of the machine stitching assembly work on the ongoing piece. Such assembly doesn’t require my whole brain, especially not the creative part, so it likes to going wandering around thinking about the sketches up on the wall. Ever seen a wandering brain? it’s probably mine!
I do find it helps tremendously to overlap work; I’m always thinking about the next, or the next several pieces, before finishing the current one. I know writers do this, they write the first sentence or two of the next chapter before going to bed so next morning instead of a blank page they’re greeted with “ His eyes were glued to her heaving bosom ….” (most uncomfortable I would have thought!.
If I’m machine stitching that means I have no handstitching in the telly pile, so then I’ll have sketching materials there. I usually work better in the play stage of creativity if I’m not too solidly focussed on it; if I can jot down an idea: hmmm I like this arrangement of shapes, let’s just clarify it..now what if I turned it upside down and repeated it, or just took half, or cropped this bit out. Hmmm I could try adding a couple of vertical lines here….I can play like that while watching a gentle British sitcom (I’m a Doc Martin fan!)..and not be too critical of the drawings. Thus the overlapping of work at any stage.
So now I have my sketches, or sometimes collages:
Above are two typical examples. The sketch is #9 because I told myself you must make 10 sketches based on this photograph (a complex one of houses in Warwickshire). Collage from magazines advertisements is fun and can give you unexpected little quirks of colour or shape.
And the next step for me is to clear and rule out the design wall:
I read ages ago that the first four lines of any composition are the four outside edges. It’s amazing how much of a start getting those four edges into place is – and of course you can always shift them a little as the piece develops. But somehow, clearing the space, and marking the edges (I use all the long strips of selvedges I’ve pulled off fabric.) really sets the scene for me…and then I’m off to deal with the glued eyes and the heaving bosom!
so…what are your starting rituals? How d’you get moving on the Next Great Work? Do write and tell me!! If you have been…thanks for reading! Elizabeth