When to Stop

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Every now and again, if you’re lucky, you experience a rare gush of creativity. It erupts out of the blue and when it does, you drop everything and dive for the brush, pen, or whatever so you can seize the magic. When you’re riding this wave, each tone you pick is the right one, and inspiration flows like an open stream. It is lovely, perfect, sexy magic.

Under the influence of this rare tide, with these pieces, I managed to do something that is usually a hard won victory in my creative process. I put down the brush and walked away at precisely the right moments.

Now gouache and watercolour are particularly tricky in this regard. With acrylic or oil, you always have a second chance should you misstep. With gouache or watercolour however, you can over work it in a heartbeat. One false dot of pigment and you have to watch your mistake bleed through the piece – forever muddying what was once crisp. When you overthink forms your brushstrokes go from bold and pure to wobbly and insipid. In each of these pieces, I felt that moment come – where my urge to blather on was held in check by the voice of experience that said – “no – it’s time to walk away” or “yes – put that brush to paper and trust where it goes”.

I’m going to continue working at this size (5″ x 7″) for a while longer. I feel that there’s a series happening here and I like its vibe. Also, now, after working on 300lb watercolour paper – I am forever spoiled. I can’t go back to 140lb. I am hardcore geeking out about it.

Moments

As a creative person, I am my father in girl form. I’m not sure if I’ve become more like him, or if I’ve only now noticed. Growing up, I spent a lot of time playing with the gadgets and ornaments I found around my dad’s study. When I had outgrown playing with his glass figurines, I would do my homework at his writing desk while he worked on his computer. His study was the perfect retreat because I was the only one who dared to disturb the peace of his sanctuary. His study was the most productive place to be because he had every article of stationary or tool one could ever need. Many of his tools are even self made for specific purposes.

When I was a little girl, my dad made various creative versions of christmas trees. I loved that. He made one out of chicken wire and toilet paper for a couple of years. It was way prettier than it sounds. It was my favourite tree. I attempted to make an origami something this year as a stand in for a christmas tree. It turned out being quite pretty though not very christmasy.

The process of making it and deciding on the materials to use reminded me so much of my dad. It really made me miss being home this year for Christmas. When I started making it, I realised that I already had all of the materials that I needed to make it. It appears that I’ve begun to create my own ‘study’ that is well stocked with art and craft tools of every variety I can think of.

I don’t know when I started trying to recreate his study, but its a place in my heart that I attempt to recreate wherever I live. It’s my base.

After making the hanging thing and cleaning out an art box, I came across some off-cut squares of watercolour paper I’ve had hanging around in my art storage for over 5 years now. I kept them thinking that they’d make lovely little ‘moments’ one day.

This holiday vacation, I used them all. I got out my stained watercolour brushes from my dad’s old orange tackle-box and got to work with the gouache paints he sent to me for christmas last year.

Today I sat reloading ink into my fountain pens (just like my dad taught me) and I realised that I owe him the biggest thank you. Thank you Da for making me who I am. I see you everyday in many of the things that I do, think and say. I’m older now I guess, so I can see it all much more clearly. You made me who I am and I’m not sure how to say thanks for that. But I’ll try anyway. I love you. Thank You.

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Blog-worthy

Absence. For the latter part of last year and the first half of this year, I have felt the absense of something inside of me. It is as if there was now room in my mind where there was none before. Over time I have come to recognise that absence of drive as the absolute lack of desire to create something ineffable, wordless and beautiful. At first I fought it and tried to jump start my creativity into making something worthwhile. Then, slowly and regretfully, in lieu of that innate artfulness, I turned to working on developing different skills. It turns out that I really can’t just sit still. I love making things, even if they aren’t deeply emotive. I’ve been sewing and working on a realistic painting, based on a photo I took long ago. Will post more on that later.

For the past few months I’ve also thought about this blog and wrote nothing because I thought that I had nothing to share. After a friend prodded me to share the things I was talking to her about, it made me reconsider what I think of as blog-worthy. I mean we all go through creative dips and swells. The truth is though that in the midst of this latest dip, I had half convinced myself that I was done – that that part of me had run out like a fully tapped fount. It seems like an overly dramatic conclusion now. At the time though I was responding to how different I felt inside my own head. All ambition and purpose, was replaced by indifference and boredom.

I quit my job in Kitchener in March and moved to Toronto. I’m working in Architecture still, in a quite different job. I’ve been living with some friends from school. During this time in Toronto, I’ve felt the beginnings of inspiration again. Slowly those feelings have increased and with the encouragement of my roommate, who is also an artist, I’ve started making art again. Last week I made my first painting after a long stretch of absence.

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I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do when I sat down to paint. All I knew was that my hiatus was over and that it was time to pick up a brush and make something new. I have ideas again – all kinds of lovely things that I can’t wait to try out. I’m also less scared of making mistakes. With this has also come a kind of faith that I can trust even the dips in my cretivity because I am not a vessel that can be emptied.