Empty wine glasses. Three cashews in a bowl. An abandoned sweater. When the guests have departed, I remember bits of conversation as I load the dishwasher. The owner of the sweater will need to claim it; I don’t know whose it is.
Stencils on the table. Fabric tossed in a bin. Invoice filed. When I deliver the large commissioned work, I am at a loss. I want to play with color and texture on my own terms. Just for a day.
I make sketchbook covers.
What do you do when the party is over, when the work is done?
I began accepting commissioned work over 40 years ago; it remains an important part of my textile time. Two weeks ago I found myself praying for the courage of my gifts. I was in the middle of a custom table runner in which I was combining favorite techniques, new tools, and an unfamiliar size. The delivery date was less than a week away, a tighter time frame than I usually provide for myself. Fear began seeping into the studio work.
The fear was irrational. I had stopped evaluating my efforts and results and started listening to that inner voice of judgement. I had provided myself plenty of artistic cushion: two extra linen runners, practice samples with paint color and new stamps, a sample pillow to give a better sense of design space. I had been true to what I needed to bring the project to completion. Even with all that spread before me, I doubted my abilities. This is a dark place for a creative soul.
I prayed for courage. I also read the quote from William Stafford that hangs in my laundry room, a highly visible space in my daily routine. It is advice to poets: “Lower your standards.”, given in conjunction with the assignment to his students that they write a poem every day. I moved beyond doubting the placement of the grass around the bunny. I stopped second guessing the color of the flower. I inked up the stamp and pressed the final bee into place.
The client received the runner on time, appreciated the work, and paid the invoice. I like commissioned work because it involves communication as much as craftsmanship and design. I enjoy the skills I have honed in these areas. I evaluate my creative process and product. I end excessive fear with appropriate standards.
How do you overcome irrational fear in your creative endeavors?