My Creative Process

March 14, 2015 , In: Clay, Inspiration, Polymer Clay

Do I have one? Yesterday was one of those dismal days that I think every artist I’ve ever known has encountered—that day when you wonder if you’re really creative at all. Why are things suddenly so hard? Why are ideas flopping left and right?

Yes, that was me. And this was my work table—piled high with beads (some were on the floor too) for a tutorial design that had seemed wonderful all week and up until the very moment I sat down to make it reality. Nothing worked! Colors, shape, texture—they all disagreed with my design!
I began to wonder how designs like these came together. Were they just a happy accident? Do I really know what I’m doing? Am I crazy?
Haha! At this point I laughed and poured myself another cup of coffee… I was doing it again! I was feeling the effects of overworking myself and forcing creativity.
We all know that creativity can’t be forced. Some days it comes easily and other days it would have been better to have never entered the studio… or even gotten out of bed, for that matter!
It was a day of reflection yesterday. Most importantly I realized that my creative process has never changed, but it is sometimes stifled. I think that creativity is a precious, and often fleeting thing, and it only comes when it is entirely welcome.
I paused for a bit to think about what’s not working for me and why, and also, what has worked to overcome the issue in the past…
Re-evaluating the task: Stepping back and considering what has been completed. I like to know how much time I’ve spent and recalculate my estimate of time needed to finish. Hopefully I’m ahead of schedule (unlikely!) or at least on schedule (maybe!)… or if I’m behind (probably!) I can quickly determine what needs to be changed to meet my goal.

Re-organizing the mess: I’m an organized person by nature, but somehow things always get piled high on my work table. A few minutes spent straightening things always helps me! I get my work space back in order and find anything that was lost in my creative fury and am then ready for my next creation.

Completing monotonous, but necessary tasks: Marking things off my to-do list is always encouraging and I like to stick to the ones that require no brain power when I’m feeling uncreative. My hands are busy and things are getting accomplished and best of all, the monotony of the task allows my mind to wander on to new ideas.

Being inspired by accomplishments and mementos: I like to keep a few of my recent projects nearby for a reminder that I really do know what I’m doing. Mixed in with my creations on this shelf are several other mementos—a collection of found objects, gifts from friends and family… and one of my very first polymer creations: a little sculpture of my childhood pet rooster, Button, that I made early 2002.
I keep my jewelry boxes in my studio and often sort through them when I’m feeling uncreative. I’ve amassed way more jewelry than I have time to wear, but I love to go back through the creative process and reflect on what inspired each design. And I can’t forget about the art beads that they each hold—from artists all around the world—each bead is an inspiration!

Breathing some fresh air: A must! Even just 15 minutes out to see the growing things (or in my case lately—the falling snow and rain!) goes a long way to lifting my spirits. The quiet of nature with its unmatched creative wonders and the ease of life where money and career are of no significance is a beautiful thing!
And now, today… I’m feeling creative again! I’ve rediscovered my creative process and I remember now that I do in fact love to create. And that is something that will never change no matter how often I lose sight of it!
My tutorial design is even taking on new life… I think it may become something after all!
So to you all, I’m wishing you a very creative weekend. And for those of you who feel you’ve lost your creative process and are maybe even going down the scary road of doubting your skills and dreams—remember it’s okay! It’s part of being an artist. It helps us grow and better ourselves. Don’t be afraid to take a break. I hope my post has maybe inspired you to reflect on your own creative process and what it is that helps you move on and get back to the thing you love most: creating!

Rebekah Payne

Rebekah Payne is the designer and creator behind Tree Wings Studio. What started out as just a few beads for her own jewelry creations quickly grew into more than a hobby and she now spends every spare moment busy in her studio crafting beads for jewelry designers around the world… and the occasional piece of jewelry for herself. She loves fine details, rustic charm, earthy hues, and all things textural. These days her medium of choice is polymer clay, but she also dabbles in wire-working and uses various fibers and leather.
  1. Reply

    Thank you, Rebekah. It's so easy to let a few minutes of lost inspiration wander into self-doubt and/or non-productivity. You provided great tips to get back 'on-track', for any time in our lives!

    • Reply

      Yes, is sure is! It's always amazing to me how doubt can sometimes hit so hard in just a matter of minutes—creativity is so often very fragile! Glad you enjoyed my post Carol. 🙂

  2. Reply

    Thanks for the reminders! I'm a longtime creative, and have worked as a commercial handbag designer before starting off on my own. For me, down time is SO important to allowing for the rejuvenation of creativity. I have to be careful not to overschedule my time, and also to specifically set aside time where I am ding nothing but allowing the wash of the world to come through. Good sleep, a quiet environment and avoiding stress are the key components in my recipe. As I find inspiration in nature, antique design and historic architecture, I am sure to include these elements in my life, and allow myself the freedom TO be aware of them when in those environments!

    • Reply

      So true Terrie! Not over scheduling is one of my biggest struggles! It's so hard sometimes when the deadlines are looming to allow that downtime, but I am much more productive (and happy!) than I would have been if I had just forced myself forward. I'm learning to be more self-aware and to quickly recognize the problem… even just that and reminding myself that I've overcome the problem many times, is encouraging. Getting in more "nothing" days to just enjoy life and the things that inspire me is my goal for the year! It's wonderful to hear from someone else who has made it all work—good for you! 🙂

  3. Reply

    Great tips for all of us who suffer from this affliction from time to time. I find the messy factor is my biggest block, but I am always messy, so it's a never-ending battle.

    • Reply

      I'll happily come organize your studio for you, Jen… in exchange for a few beads! 😉 I actually love to organize and cleanup—I always have! These days with such limited time, I try to put up with the mess longer than I used to, but if I don't keep up with it, it finally gets to a point where I simply refuse to make anything until I've done a thorough clean-up—those days I usually declare an all-day cleanup!

  4. Reply

    What a problem never seems to be creativity when I get to my studio it's actually getting energy to go down to the studio. I will go down to play with wire or just put away and I and up making something I never seem to find the time to actually do The routine tasks like making class sore in her wires because I get sidetracked.

    • Reply

      I know that feeling too Shaiha. It happens to me a lot when I'm truly burnt out—usually a project has taken much longer than expected and I've started to lose enthusiasm and even gotten bored… getting sidetracked is so much more fun sometimes and even better when something beautiful and creative comes out of it!

  5. Reply

    Great post Rebekah. It is always good to take stock of ourselves.

  6. Reply

    I just left a comment, hit publish and it disappeared. Oh, well. The general gist was "Excellent post"!

    • Reply

      I hate it when blogger eats comments! But thank you—I'm glad you enjoyed my post Tina!

  7. Reply

    You describe, wonderfully, how to re-find your muse.

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