Evaluation and Commissioned Work

camera upload 016I 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?


Three Words 2013: prepare, practice, evaluate

“What three words will help you in 2013?”  That was the last sentence of the last post of 2012.  I planned to write this post a month ago.  I had my three words.  But I also had doubt, the kind of doubt that sabotages movement.

“I believe in the power of words.  Each year I choose three words to shape and focus my time, space, and energy.  They usually arrive in my brain sometime between Thanksgiving and the New Year.  I am grateful when they appear early, because I can roll them around and get comfortable with them.” I wrote this in the last blog, too.  I got the 2013 words in late November and they have been rolling and rolling, but there is no comfort.

The words are prepare, practice, and evaluate.  For me, they are derivatives of last year’s “invent,”  the word that wanted more time.  Some days these words elate me.  On dark days, they seem to illuminate my inadequacies.  Elation and illumination.  I like it when my art causes that response in my viewers.  Perhaps these words will make me a more wholesome artist.

Does your work inform and illumine your days?  How does that happen?  Do words help?