textiles · exploration · misadventure

On Art and Self Doubt: Hungry Slog

Abstract painting of pink poppies with orange, yellow, white background.

Still reading chapter one of Fearless Creating. Yup.

Perhaps I ought to consider buying it instead of checking it out from the library, reading enough to write a post, and then finding it due again.

I’m reading it in earnest though, this morning, and it’s filling me with lust. Or, as this book puts it, hunger.

Hunger for the spinning process and the mordanting process and the dyeing process to go FASTER. Hunger to finish my skirt, to dye it, to embellish it with beautiful handmade threads.

But I can’t. I can’t hurry up and finish because there are required timelines. There are bottlenecks. There are slogs.

Spinning 900 yards of 3-ply yarn—2700 yards, plus plying time—is a slog. It’s an obsession; I enjoy it; it’s satisfying to practice and hone the skills.

And yet. Slog city. So I’ve been feeling that I’m not creating, because instead, I’m slogging.

But reading this morning has made me think—or possibly feel—that through. It roused my lust to create, made me conscious of it, of my own hunger lurking at the bottom of my slog.

There ARE slogs in art. There ARE grinds. There HAVE to be. Because in order for it to be art, there has to be a base foundation of skills in something. And practicing something over and over = slog.

There have to be materials, whether purchased, scavenged, collected, handmade, or compiled. This can be an energy-fueled, lust-inducing blaze across the sky, like my obsessive thrift and salvage yard hunts of last summer, or the compulsive turn to look at and identify, comment upon (“That’s x; it’s a dye plant,”) or dig something up.

But also, as in the case of this yarn, it can = slog.

So slog, no matter how sloggy, does NOT = stall. It does not = uncreative. It does not = wasting time, laziness, projection, desperation, or lack of inspiration.

Slog DOES = fire, lust, hunger, planning, patience, desire, obsession, commitment, long-term sight, trajectory, obstacle evasion, attention to detail, and refinement of craft upon which art is based.

Deep breath.

If you need me, I’ll be spinning.

For a full list of all articles on art and self doubt, look here. At this point, the list is short.

Image Credits:
Painting, Patchwork Poppies, by my college roommate, Brenda Higginson. Brenda, your work has always stunned and moved me. I’m privileged to own two of your paintings. They make me very happy.
Photograph: Of Patchwork Poppies and granny squares, by curvylou.