On this Saturday, I’m de-stashing. The Craft Retreat, a local craft supply store, at 59th Ave. and Greenway in Glendale, AZ, is renting tables to customers. Some people are selling items they made in classes they took at the store, others are selling what they make in their studio. I’m de-stashing. Rubber stamps, packs of ephemera, fabric pieces, paints, containers, canvas–tools of art I no longer do.
While pulling boxes out of the closet, I came across the very first loose-leaf are journal pages I did, about six or seven years ago. A shiver of horror ran down my spine when I looked at them–miles from what I consider acceptable today. But I didn’t throw them out. We grow slowly, and sometimes we don’t see how much we’ve grown, how far we’ve come. Instead of horror, I treated myself to some delight.
Design, construction, materials have all improved. At the time, if I liked a technique, it went into the piece I was working on, whether it was sensible or not. I no longer do that.
The words were still appropriate and fresh. That may be because I’ve been a writer for a long time, and the growth in the collage side is more apparent.
It’s easy to criticize yourself when you look at art you made years ago. But there’s a lot to be learned by looking at an older piece and seeing what you’ve changed. Why did you make the changes?
What was the result?
Why did you choose to do some of the older techniques?
Did they work, or were they a fad?
Does some of the work still please you?
What technique or concept pleases you still?
Is the thing that pleases you now shaped differently, or would you do the same again?
What color did you use most often? Do you still like or use the color?
The answer to all those questions create a pattern of growth in your art that you can see and measure. While you might cringe, it’s also good to know that you have grown over time. Producing the same art year after year without any change means you are stuck.
“I’m not stuck, it’s my groove,” one of my coaching clients used to say to me.
If you are sticking with the same colors and patterns, it’s not a groove, it’s a rut. Look at some of your older work and see what it has to say to you. I was surprised, a nice lesson on change while de-stashing.
–Quinn McDonald is a creativity coach who will be selling tools and ephemera this weekend.