Wednesday, March 8, 2023

7 things to do in the studio when you're out of ideas

Sometimes you're just not feeling it.  Not feeling the excitement of a new idea, not feeling the energy you need to do serious creative work.  Maybe Life has Intervened one time too many, or you've caught the dreaded plague, or you're just back from traveling and can't remember what you were doing before you left.  But you have some time you could spend in the studio.  What can you do that will feel productive, be useful, and make you feel better about yourself rather than inadequately inspired?  

In order of least amount to effort to most (in my mind anyway): 

1.  Stare out the window.  Or better yet, go for a walk outside.  Seriously.  Just stare out there/walk out there and daydream a while.  It's amazing what a relief this can be, just to free yourself for a few minutes from thinking and doing.  Try five minutes, and if you still are enjoying it, do it for as long as you can get away with.  Who knows what might happen?  You might get an idea or two!  At least you'll feel refreshed.

Morning light from kitchen window

You do not need to leave your room.  Remain sitting at your table and listen.  Do not even listen, simply wait.  Do not even wait, be quite still and solitary.  The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.   -- Franz Kafka 

2.  Tidy up.  Put stuff away you're not using at the moment.  Put things back where they belong.  See if you can clear at least one blank surface to open a sketchbook on or make a yarn pile.  For me this tidying  is ridiculously satisfying.  I tend to spread out everything everywhere, and then I find I have no open space at all when I need it, and it makes me itchy.   I am a born tidier and purger.  You might also discover you have stuff you forgot you have.  Yay!  If you stumble across UFOs and you aren't instantly inspired to finish them, put them away in a drawer or throw them away.  On the other hand, if creative clutter inspires you, skip this one.  

As clean as this table ever gets!

3.  Catch up on listening to podcasts and watching videos.  I have a folder in my email called "Watch & Listen" where I put links to programs I want to hear/see but didn't have time for at the moment.  When I'm doing rote tasks I go there and tick one off.  

4.  Read one of those books you've been meaning to.  Usually I don't allow myself to read until bedtime, and then on some nights I get maybe 5 minutes of reading in before I nod off.  I've just started this book and am looking forward to getting farther in:

5.  Finish projects that just need that little final push.  Hem that tapestry.  Make a label for it with your name, date, title and other relevant information.  Mount it or frame it.  Hang it!  Take a photo for your files.  Share on social media if that's your thing.  Add it to your inventory list.  Done and dusted!  SO satisfying!

Molly Elkind, WUI:  mark this.  
Linen, lavender, plastic survey marking whiskers.  12" x 15" x 1.5"

6.   If you sort of have an idea, or even if you don't, make a yarn wrap or three.  Just pull out some yummy yarns you haven't played with and see what looks good together and wrap them around a piece of stiff card or strip of mat board.  I can do this all day.  So much fun to play with putting colors together. . . and it might inspire a tapestry, who knows?  For me it was interesting to see how much better the grama grass showed up on the dark yarns than on the light ones.  Value, value, value.  

recent yarn wraps (with grama grass) while thinking of possible new weavings 

7.  If your yarn wraps get the juices flowing, weave a small sample (doodle, woodle, sketch tapestry--lots of names for the same thing).  Do horizontal stripes or wedge weave if you enjoy that, or just lots of squares or rectangles.  Just to keep your fingers in the yarn and keep that muscle memory active.  

recent sample: linen, paper yarn, blue grama grass

What do you do when you feel uninspired in the studio?