It would be so great if I could tell you that if you drink a new herbal tea and take a yoga class you will become more creative, but there is no sure-fire recipe for creativity. However, we can do small activities that stretch our minds, making us more aware and receptive to creative ideas as they come to us. Creativity is an approach to life.
As individuals, sketching, writing, drawing, reading, thinking, and setting up small creative challenges in our daily lives may not seem like huge steps toward hooking rugs more creatively but they are. Each day we wake up with a bit more knowledge about ourselves, and a slightly thicker book of self-understanding. I like this self-directed approach towards creativity, but I know that there are plenty of other simple and unique ideas to push us along in our path. Many of the ideas and activities I am going to suggest are playful and fun, designed to open up your mind to creativity. They can be done as an individual or as a group. You can change them around and adapt them to suit your needs.
Recently Linda Rae Coughlin, in Warren New Jersey invited me to participate in an Art Card Rugs show. Linda had gotten this idea from a group of quilters who had organized a show and created a deck of cards out of art quilts. She took this idea and adapted it to rugs and invited fifty-three rug hooking artists to participate. I gladly participated for several reasons. I liked that she had the initiative to take on such a huge project and wanted to support it. I also liked the idea of making myself create a rug that I never would have thought about doing. I chose the Jack of Spades and created a very interesting rug that blended my idea with Linda's ideas for a show.
A second show that I have decided to submit to is called Art Hits the Wall. Jan Moir, of Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia, is curating a show that asked rug hookers to create a rug based the work of an artist or piece of work. Usually I like to come up with my own ideas and try to remain as uninfluenced as I possibly can. The "usually" is exactly why I have decided to submit to this juried show. I need to keep exploring ideas, and that sometimes means doing things that I do not see as "like me". I got out my art books and started sketching, not pictures of the works in them, but sketches inspired by them. I found a book of paintings by Gustav Klimt and saw a richly coloured painting of a group of women all wrapped up in fabrics. It reminded me of when three or four of my sisters and I used to sleep together in the same bed. The trigger went off. Klimt's visual image captured a memory and a feeling for me, and I had a reason to make a rug. I have just started this rug and will submit it to the jury for the show, knowing that the exercise is not in getting my work accepted, but it has been in responding to the challenge that the show's organizers presented. If you are part of a rug hooking group you might want to work together in a brainstorming session to come up with a show theme to host at your local museum or library.
Two years ago, myself and four other artists from different disciplines decided to use Nova Scotia's Studio Rally map, a list of artists in the province, to plan a little studio tour for ourselves. We picked a route and organized a Band B for a one-night vacation, and visited the studios of six or eight artists along the way. We have made this an annual event, finding that visiting different kinds of artists in their own studios filled us to the brim with ideas and inspiration. Check with local tourist boards for information on artists studio in your area. They are everywhere, hidden in the hill, down by the bay, and on city streets. If they advertise studio visits go see them.
Try setting up a bulletin board and a little shelf up near where you work or spend lots of time (over the washer in the laundry room is a good place) so that you can tack recent inspirational things to. You can paste them in your sourcebook later. Things like great postcards, show invites and deadlines, paint chips, fabric swatches, sea shells, bits of branch and abandoned bird nests, a piece of moss, an old button can be good fodder to stir up your mind. Whenever I travel I like to bring back a little found things that helps me hold on to a memory of the place. It is often a beach rock, a shell, or a twig.
A walk in the woods, or a stroll on the beach, can lend some great ideas for colour planning. Once while walking on a beach in Advocate, Nova Scotia, I picked up five rocks all different colors, and saw a wonderful combination of colors for an abstract rug I was working on. I gladly took the rocks home as a reminder of how well-planned nature actually is.
Generate a wish list of things that you want to do in your hooked rugs. How much do you want to hook, in what ways do you want your hooking to grow, what do you want to achieve with your hooking, what tools do you want to acquire. Be sure to check it once or twice down the road to see how you are doing.
Buy yourself a new box of crayons, make a sculpture with play dough, draw a self-portrait (it is okay if it does not look like you), find a recipe with an ingredient that you have never used before and make it, buy a CD that you have not already heard, change the channel on your radio and turn up the volume, turn off the TV, invite someone new to dinner, swing on a swing set, write to someone you admire, kiss the cook, and think of six other possibilities that might make you approach rug hooking and life more creative.
Give yourself a template (a simple traceable stencil) and try to think of several different designs for it. If you are part of group, try creating a set of templates (three or four) for yourselves. Let each member of the group go off and sketch several different design possibilities. Share the ideas with each other. Another fun idea for a rug hooking group is a mat or pattern sway based on the templates. Each person goes of and creates a pattern or small rug with the groups template ideas. Set a date for completion, get together and have a pot luck supper and a swap. It gives everyone a nice memento of their rug hooking group.
There are many ways to become more creative in our rug hooking, but the most sure-fire way is to become more creative in our daily lives, placing importance and emphasis on living artfully. The results of this is sure to trickle down into inspiration for you hooked rugs. Remember, know yourself, waste some time, and smell the orange blossoms in the summer. They are too good to miss.
Next: 'The Spirit in the Mat'
©2006 Deanne Fitzpatrick. All rights reserved.
Deanne Fitzpatrick is a member of the Editorial Board of Rug Hooking magazine and has been the subject of a television documentary and features on national radio shows. More
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