Sunday, July 13, 2014


Comparison is a creativity killer.  And, a self-worth killer.

I find myself stuck in comparison mode.  During my recent browsing of internet bead sites/contests/communities, I became aware of playing the comparison game.  Seeing all of the gorgeous beadwork there, I was inspired to try some additional techniques with my work.  Especially layering.  But I also began to doubt my own value as an artist.

Seeing one of my collage necklaces from twenty years ago (here's my post on this), reminded me of what I used to love most about bead embroidery - pulling lots of different things together to create a whole.  But I don't seem to work like this very often anymore.  And I'm not sure why...  I began to think of the work I do now as technically sound, but rather simple.  One dimensional.  Pretty, but efficient.

Comparison becomes deadly, though, when I compare myself to other beadwork artists.  Yikes.

There is some GORGEOUS GORGEOUS GORGEOUS bead embroidery and beadweaving examples on the interwebs right now.  Major competitions are underway or recently completed.  I love that these venues expand awareness of bead artists do!

But I find myself lacking.  Feeling not productive enough.  Not risk-taking enough.  Not creative enough. 

Notice the commonality here?  Not. Enough.

The danger to my creativity is in using a comparison with other artists as a front, an explanation, for what's really going on, the deeper issue that challenges my sense of self-worth.

I have a relationship with a family member that is...let's say, complicated.  And, often, painful.  When I can limit my exposure, I can maintain my sanity, my perspective.  I can control the pain.  Most of all, I can hold on to my balance.  I know my value.  I can recognize that while my father has influenced every aspect of my life, he does not define my life. 

Because he is ill, I feel like I should visit more often.  I can say I'm going for his benefit, but really, I'm going for mine.  In a quest to become enough.

In this relationship, I will never feel like enough.  I should, but I don't.

"Should" is my first clue that something deeply emotional is going on.  When I'm in should-mode, I'm not acting in my best interest but in somebody else's.  I'm stuck in somebody else's shit.  "Should" comes from lack, which never helps the quest to feel like enough.  In beadwork or in relationships. 

My solution?  No more comparison.

It really is that simple.  It's remembering that apples and oranges are wonderful parts of the fruit salad, each with their own flavor.  You don't need an apple to eat an orange.  Or vice versa.  One is enough without the other.  One is wonderful without the other.  Good together.  Good apart.  

And besides, I'm really more of a blueberry.


Friday, July 11, 2014

What's on my bulletin board?

I'm a believer in the power of images and words.  Hence, my bulletin board is a very necessary part of my creative life.  And, since I consider ALL of my life to be a creative process, my bulletin board covers a lot of ground.

After my recent edit.  Looks like I have room to build on some dreams and goals.

The things that show up on my bulletin board are the things that are MOST important to me.  Memories of where I've been, places I want to go or build.  For example, those garden pictures.  A sample of what I want to create in the future - not just a garden but a holistic art center/gathering place.
That young woman with the fish?  A younger me - so proud of the redfish I pulled out of the bay on Boca Grande.  (Even better, how annoyed the boyfriend-at-the-time was at this.)

Mom just gave me this black and white photo of my Grandma K.  I love that she looks down over my desk.  (Grandma M is off to the left, hanging next to the bulletin board.)  The photo of me as a little girls with the daffodils is one that I treasure.  Mom made the dress, bright yellow and for Easter.  It's one of the few times I remember feeling pretty when I was younger.

That white sheet in the lower left corner?  The outline for my dissertation.  Which will get written, even if I leave my PhD program.  (Yes.  This is up in the air, due to my challenges with French translation.)  Even though it hurts my heart at the moment to look at this, I'm leaving it up.  As a reminder that I went back to school to learn how to write.  Not to get a PhD.

My bulletin board always seems to have an Alphonse Mucha print on it somewhere.  I think his art is my biggest inspiration.  The ornament I found shortly after I had a dream about J and I sitting on a porch somewhere in the desert, rocking away in chairs, very old ladies.  It's an affirmation that we'll still be friends, even at 103.

I do believe that there are no limits but the sky.  Huh.  Plus it's a good reminder of the possibility of my chosen name.  I also like the open door to a hidden garden.  (Plus this is a theme in a planned novel.)

My bulletin board = personal and practical.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Art Inpsiration - The Desert

Valley of Fire, NV
The sky.  The rocks.  The color.  Even the heat.
Red Rock, NV
The desert is where I discovered myself as strong and resilient.  Maybe it was the influence of the harsh conditions.  Or the natural beauty that is so different than where I grew up in the Midwest.  A big influence is the big sky.  The quality of light. 
Nevada Sky necklace - circa 2000.

The sunsets dancing (really!) across the horizon.

Utah Sunset - circa 1999.  The picture doesn't do this necklace justice. 
 The sky and the rocks.  A contrast in color.  An interplay of texture.

Ancient Artifact - 2012.
Always, the sacred.
Temple of Sekhmet, Cactus Springs, NV

My heart's home.

Bright Peace, circa 2004.
Endless.  Just like the wind that carved this cave.
Valley of Fire, NV
I do believe I'm homesick.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Art Inspiration - Journaling

This is not so much a source of inspiration as my means of remembering my inspirations!

I'm a long-time journaler.  While I've gone through periods where I've written LOTS, I admit to a certain amount of paranoia about what would happen to all the words in those journals, should I unexpectedly die.  So, a few years ago, I burned all but a couple of them.

But, I've kept visual journals for almost 25 years.  Now, there's Pinterest for us visually-inspired people, but way back when, old magazines, scissors and photo albums were my dreaming tools.

My journals have always been a mix of spiritual inspirations and practical encouragement, with heavy doses of fashion and jewelry design.  They're more Dream guides then anything.

 Part affirmation.  Part design reminder.

Here, you can see my interest in bead embroidered quilts/wall hangings.  I've been wanting to work on a larger scale like this for about 10 years.  Maybe, possibly, this will be the year I do.  I recently found a scrap of an art piece I started maybe 10 years ago.  I think it must be destined to become the centerpiece for a bigger project.

Because this journal lives on my nightstand, it's always handy when I'm planning new projects.  And since I'm always planning new projects, with the interest of staying fresh AND of increasing my revenue streams, I make lots of notes about project ideas.  Sometimes (about half the time), I actually make the projects.

Most of the time, I pull images from print magazines to use as inspiration.  But since magazines have gotten so expensive and since my time to peruse magazines is so limited, I will download and print internet images.  Especially if the design is something that compliments or helps me recall the design I have in my head.  And, it's fun to look back over the years and see how my likes and interests change or stay the same.  Mostly, they stay the same.  It also helps me to record projects that were successful (meaning, I tried them!) and those I haven't worked on yet.

Having this handy reference is an important part of my creativity.  Since it's sometimes months or even years before I can get to a project, it's invaluable to have these reminders.

Do you keep a journal?  What's in it?