Saturday, July 17, 2010

5 Coloured Leaf Circles

5 Coloured Leaf Circles, originally uploaded by escher...(back).

In true Blue Peter style - here's one I made earlier.

But before I get down to business can anyone explain to me why my cat, after she has done a poo, sprints through the kitchen, curves round the lounge like a cheetah and lauches up the stairs at break neck speed?! The only time she does that is when she has done a poo! Maybe she feels lighter all of a sudden?! She's quite old but boy can she shift!

Anyway, back to business.

Does too much sun on your head make you lazy?

What do you do if your get and go got up and went?

Land art used to get me out of bed in the morning but we've had to go back to the old method using the electric cattle prod.

If you were never sure where your creative drive came from in the first place would you know where to find it when you lost it?

These are all things I've been pondering a lot recently.

Up to a couple of weeks ago we were having the best summer for a while. Sunshine and crisp blue skies and long, balmy summer evenings. But for some reason the lack of rain was starting to leave me bored. Call me ungrateful but the same thing each day starts to leave me jaded.

I was out in the garden in a thick coat trying to light damp barbecue coals when the first sunny day of April arrived but once several weeks of sunshine joined together I felt each day melt into the next and with it my urge to be creative subsided.

So did the sun on my head make me lazy?

I made this a few weeks ago when the sun was still shining but wanted to create something just for myself and not to show anyone. I discovered a way to make mini-circles with sycamore stems and this was the result.

But I have been out today and I have made something but I cannot show what it is, not even if you say pur-lease or send me a large cheque in the post (well I might show then but only after it has been cashed).

I'm midway through my first ever commission and now I am over the difficult part I can explain what a lark it has been.

I got an email several months ago enquiring whether I would make something for them and when I googled their name I nearly fell off my chair. He is a top level executive with a global business and I thought "he wants someone like me to make something for him?" - Pinch yourself moment number 1.

So I put together a proposal and he liked my ideas and instructed me to get on with it. I wasn't expecting that so I pinched myself again.

Next I went to a quarry and selected a large piece of stone and asked for it to be delivered to his house. And once again I pinched myself. This is not something I ever envisaged myself doing.

You see, perhaps when you look at my photostream it looks like to you that I am a professional artist or summink, and what I have written above is faux modesty. But no, it was only a few years ago I went out and made my first sculpture. And then I started to get a better at it and then I came up with some new and fresh ideas but had no idea where those ideas had come from and I believed that they would all dry up soon. But then they kept coming and coming and coming, once the tap was on it wouldn't turn off and I was as perplexed as anyone where it was all coming from. Then I started to get thousands more hits here on Flickr and elsewhere and more and more people told me they liked what I do. It was like getting to a fork in the road in my mudane life and taking a wrong turning and then finding yourself somewhere completely new and slightly bewildering. For 35 years of my life I was unaware of any need to create and when I found it I couldn't believe I had hidden it from myself, so completely for so long. I find it all most odd.

So the piece of stone I had selected was 7 foot by 3 foot and a few inches thick and I got to see it for 5 minutes at the quarry before we left.

"What on earth am I getting myself into" I panicked. "How am I going to shift this bit of stone, how heavy is it going to be, where will I put it?" "What if there is bedrock beneath the turf and I cannot erect it, what will I do with it then?" All these thoughts were lurking in the back of my mind as the weeks passed by before the delivery. An image I often awoke with was it being smacked in the centre with a sledge hammer and it shattering into a million pieces. Perhaps I worry too much but how do you know what you can do when you have never done something before?

We went along today to try and erect the stone ready for the final sculpture to be applied. My National Park Ranger friend replete with crowbar, pick axe and shovel accompanied me and within a few hours we had a hole dug, the stone erected and it set in solid with stones placed in around its base. No plan B was required and I was mightily relieved but very happy too.

So it seems the moral of this story and perhaps of life in general is to act confidently and pretend that you can take on new challenges even if the voices inside are telling you that you can't. But listen to some of those voices that tell you about the possible difficulties and put everything in place to overcome them. If you can balance on that line then you will achieve much but do them in a responsible and achievable manner.

The alternatives each side of that line are to act like a flake and tell everyone you can do anything, but never think things through and give up when you find that you can't overcome the obstacles. Or on the other side of that line you find yourself doing what I have been doing for the last couple of months, since the sun cooked my head and sapped my will, listening to the inner doubting voices and believing them and then ending up doing nothing. If you always listen to your voices, your own and others, that tell you that it's too difficult, too complicated, too scary, too much, too far, too dangerous, too childish then you will end up doing zilch. Life is too short to listen to the doubters even when it is yourself that doubts the most.


Gwynneth Beasley said...

You need to get your seld a copy of CLarissa Pinkola Estes The Creative Fire - a 3 cd set - you MUST - it's all about creaitivty ebbs and flows and how to pick an ebb that is part of the natural creative cycle or an ebb that is caused by self doubt or societal sabotage. Its brilliantly instructive and affirming. Best product on creativity I've ever come across! Can't wait to see the photos of your commission!

kristien said...

My cat Sushi used to do that, too: through the kitchen and up the stairs! It could be a sign of worms, but even after treatments Sushi continued to do so now and then, so we thought she was just extremely relieved! It was a funny sight though, the sweetest, most quiet cat would burst past me as a ball of fury, nails scratching on the stone floor and skidding as she did!

And I think there are seasons to our creativity, sometimes it flourishes and you can hardly keep up, sometimes it goes underground as if it has never been there. But that's good too: it is incubating...and hearing about your new project that's quite an adventure you're having! I can't wait to hear and see more, but...I'll be patient. ;-)

JuicyFig said...

Wow! well done you. Me and the other half have been engrosed with your work!

re the cat...who knows? ours likes to take a few swipes at the dog when he wants a poo - what's that about?


EmandaJ said...

Hello Richard,

Like you, I have so many ideas, but I tend to sit and futz and never get to them afraid of not completing them to perfection -- yeah, I know, dumb!

I wanted you to know that Kate Clawson, my bracelet challenge winner, has done it again. She sent me a gift and I have posted about it here:

All the best!

Richard Shilling said...

Thanks everyone, I don't think I've had four comments all at once on my blog before!

Gwyneth: I will check that out. As I've only been doing this a short while there's only been one flow and one ebb! So pretty much everything is a new learning experience for me. And I meant to thank you for wonderful comments over at Blurb. I can't tell how satisfying it is to hear, that when you try to create a book that inspires kids, that you have managed to do that, well, what I can say but it makes me very happy to hear that. So thanks to you and your clan.

Kristien: yes I think cat madness is a probable explanation, although they'd have you think that it is perfectly normal and it is us that are mad. Perhaps they're right?! And I agree about the seasonality. I am definitely most inspired at each change of season, the coming of spring and autumn especially. We've had a very harsh winter this last one and the flowers and fruits that have appeared have been especially abundant, more so than I have ever noticed before so it will be interesting to discover what colours this autumn brings.

JuicyFig: Ha ha that's funny, although I expect your pooch doesn't think so!

Emanda: wow, matching set! How nice to receive a surprise gift in the post. I'll bet it made your day. Thanks for stopping by.

Sharon McSwiney said...

Hi there...I've been struggling with my creative mojo for a few weeks now & I've been designing & making metalwork & jewellery for my business for the past 20 years! I think I'm coming out of it now...fingers crossed.
I've got 3 cats, 2 of which only have 3 legs but that doesn't stop them speeding round the house after each smelly deposit!

Richard Shilling said...

Hi Sharon, it must be a global epidemic! Lack of creativity and felines with up to four legs doing figure skating impressions across kitchen floors! Maybe our creativity will return if we celebrate our ablutions in the same way. Cats know the truth, never forget it. :-) Thanks for stopping by.