Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Guest Poster Janice Fowler: The Fallow Artist

I've been creating jewelry for about 7 years now. Like most artists, I go through periods of high production and periods of lower production. There are times when I am bursting with ideas and times when I feel like I'm walking a dry and barren desert.

When I do wander into that desert where ideas aren't coming I do what many other artists do. I either clean my workspace, or I sketch, or I create in a different medium (painting for example), or I go for a walk, etc.

But have you ever had times when you HAVE ideas, sketches waiting to be brought to life, the time set aside to create, and you enter your studio and you feel nothing? This was my experience recently. One recent Sunday, when the family was out of town, I had all day to myself. I delighted in the idea of uninterrupted studio time. And yet, when I sat down to my bench. NOTHING. I wasn't feeling it.

Not to worry, I thought. I'll go do something else for a few minutes and come back.

So that is what I did. And you know what?


I did this no less than 4 times before I finally gave up. I turned on the tv and watched parts of two movies, on and off, between trips into the studio to attempt to create, finally giving up and relaxing into the quiet of the house and losing myself fully in a movie.

For me, it is far too easy to think what a waste of a day!

However, I have come to believe that these rare occassions are a gift.

Apart from creating jewelry, I work full time, I am a single parent, I have a house and yard to take care of and other various commitments and friends and family and, and, and......

Sound familiar? Does anyone else lead a busy life? Wear more than one hat? Feel like you are chasing your own tail sometimes?

Sometimes, despite how 'good' everything feels and how under control things seem - it just catches up to us. And that void when you go to create is a signal.

It's saying sometimes it's time to shut it ALL down. No sketching, no planning, no creating in another medium.

I view my day in front of the TV like a farmer allowing a field to go fallow. And I was the field.

It wasn't a wasted day. It was a period, albeit short, when I let myself breathe. Just breathe.

We tend to push ourselves. Whether at work, at home, or in the studio. Make it happen. If you're not creating, sketch. If you can't sketch, paint. Work, work, work.

I believe we need, at times, to resist the urge to push ourselves, especially in areas of creativeness. Embrace the idea of being a fallow artist, no stimulus at all - just rest, breathe, renew. Embrace the down times when they come. You just may find the soil of your creative energies richer for it.



Unknown said...

When my muse deserts me, I sometimes make projects by other designers, because then the pressure is off me, and I can create within someone else's framework. It really takes the pressure off, but then, because I'm creating, I get my own inspirations back. Just my way of dealing with it.

Julie Holmes said...

Beautiful post Janice. I too experience times like this when it seems the "spark" is gone. It would be all too easy to panic...but so far, it always comes back. I like your explanation for it, and will remember next time.

Unknown said...

Me too! But I've learned to just wait and it always comes back...usually, it means I need to fill the well...great post Janice and thank your for guest posting!!!

Chris said...

Super Post~~ Janice I agree that fallow times are a gift too. Thanks Stacie!

Artisan Beads Plus said...

I hear you! I've actually had that happen in the past year and I just could not get it together. I was dealing with a tragic situation and even when that subsided.... nothing.... I just went with it feeling my brain needed a break. It has come back. Not the way I had expected since I started created enameled beads and painting toy box story book designs for my grandchildren, but I'm still creating. I tend to let life take me where it may and listen to my intuition or "feeling." Great post! Thanks for sharing :o)

Anonymous said...

When I read that word "fallow" in your title, I knew what was coming, well sort of. My grandmother was a farmer and I learned early in life that you must leave fields fallow for a while or you deplete the nourishment. I believe our lives are like that. We must have that time of rest and relief so our creative "nutrients" can replenish themselves. Great post.

mairedodd said...

yes, a great post indeed... when you have a gazillion things you 'should' be doing and you get some free time, you feel like you should use it... when you cannot, it can be discouraging... i agree, we have to allow this to happen... i know i have days in a row where all i can do is circle around the work area... but cannot put my hands on anything... your work is beautiful and certainly worth the wait!

Linda said...

Beautiful and insightful post. Thanks for sharing!

Unknown said...

What a fabulous post! I feel like you are speaking directly to me. Lately I've been in a bit of a funk at the bench. I feel like a vulture circling. Although I know that we all go through these periods, it isn't the first and won't be the last, it helps to hear from other artists and what they do when their muse takes a vacation. Thank you!

Kelli said...

Have you been spying on me?? :) My life is chaos.... work work work, make jewelry, work, make jewelry components, work... etc etc etc...... While I have not had the option to stop working, I've found myself looking at older pics of jewelry I've made, looking at sketches, trying to draw inspiration from something, so that I can create. The short times I allow myself to just "relax" are SO very wonderful. Every October my husband and I take a week and rent a cabin in the Smokey Mountains of Tennessee. If we do nothing this year but hold down the rocking chairs on the deck and stare at the mountains, and the changing Fall leaves, I will be a very, very, very happy girl.

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