Thursday, January 05, 2006

Observation on Work Habits

I'm not sure this is directly related to goal setting, but I suspect if I had not been setting arbitrary weekly goals, it would not have happened. What happened was this: I acted on an idea before it faded, before it even had a reason for being. I don't usually work this way. I am nothing if not methodical, even plodding. I am very progressional in deciding the order in which things get done. I am more likely to say "No, wait your turn" to an exciting new idea than let it go to the top of the list for immediate exploration. Its only chance of moving up in priority is if it will result in a finished product to fill an immediate need, say a challenge contest entry or a gift. My studio and my brain are littered with exciting ideas set aside for when I have time to pursue them...after the ideas that proceeded them chronologically are completed. No doubt that order and priority have an important role in the grand scheme of things, but I suspect that my habit of saying, "Not this until that is finished," or "No time to play - too much 'real' work to finish," has not served me well where my art is concerned.

I came to this conclusion in a lightbulb moment as I studied my piece with the stamping (which by the way, I think I will be calling "Changing Seasons"). I'd been putting off the experiment with stamping for at least 2 years, yet that one afternoon of play triggered the idea for this quilt. Maybe by chance I would have tossed other fabric squares on the table at some other time and triggered a similar response, but I think that not likely. There was no "good" reason to follow up so quickly with working up the idea - this little piece has no where to go, no real reason for being. Yet in working through it, I may have stumbled upon a form or way of designing that will finally move my art quilting forward in a way that has alluded me so far. This unimportant, unplanned, unpretentious plaything may have led to a breakthrough. By letting it go to the top of the list, it may have filled an immediate need I've been downplaying or thought could be achieved through more progressional, methodical means.

We shall see. All I know is that it was quite an exciting feeling after so many months of being unsatisfied with my work and not knowing what to do about it. It showed me the importance of flexibility in scheduling. It reminded me that I will not discover and grow if I remain in such tight control of the work and process. That will be a huge concession for me because I am all about control.


Mad Max said...

Remain open to the underlying serendipity of life.

margaret said...

ah, Sheila, sounds like you're breaking through into that effortlessly creative space