Willing to play?

So the past few months I've been fretting. I haven't had much to show of my own work on this blog. It's because I've been busy ... playing. Developing new ideas can be incredibly challenging and frustrating. For me, it's a time issue. I hate thinking I wasted precious time not doing everything in my power to develop new work. We hunker down. We get serious. Who has time to play? This is where our problems begin. We need to allow ourselves playtime so that we're open to innovative and creative solutions.

Brazil landgrab map in progress this week.
Everyone's technique is different. I loved hearing Robert Ryman talk about what he does between his series ... nothing. He understands his creative process well enough to know that he shouldn't get in the way of it. And for him, that's to ignore it. Another artist who knows how to play is Hela Jongerius. But it looks like her play ends up as her final work.

Non Temporary by Hela Jongerius, 2005.
Over the past eight years, I've been able to really hone in on what makes my creativity work. I love challenges, but I like to approach them slowly. I know I needed to learn a new medium for this next series. I stopped fighting the voice in my head that said 'It will take too long to learn' and just got on with it. And what I made isn't great but it's a start. It's all about quantity at this point and thinking with my hands to understand a new medium. I'll talk more about that below.

My very first six highly irregular and very bland pinch pot tea cups.
The more I make, the better they'll be. At least, I hope so!
I gave myself the time to explore clay. I had no idea where I was going with this. My first ideas for my new series finally popped into my head last week but I'm not implementing them until January. I'm having fun just exploring.

This is where I dared myself to use something other than Randall White glaze.
Yes, that's hard for me!
If you have kids, watch them at play. This weekend we went to a friend's wedding. They rented a photo booth with props for photos for their guest book. Brilliant! The booth was unused for the first half hour until the kids figured out what it was. They weren't shy! The adults knew what it was but it was set up in plain sight of everyone! It was only after they had a few drinks did they start to loosen up and head over. That's my daughter on the left. Oh, and I made her dress last Tuesday. That was my play for that day.

Remember how I mentioned quantity and thinking with your hands? There's a great video on the importance of these points in play by designer Tim Brown. I love how the audience is forced to play, what better way to remember how to do it than to actually practice it. Watch it and feel yourself loosen up.

Give yourself some time each day to play. If you've had any revelations about your artwork while playing, I'd love to hear them!


sophie said...

yes, yes, yes! more play, always! am about to be in a show that's all about the creative process and I hope I remember that every day :)
Nice post!

claire said...

love this post Kathryn, and love seeing how things are progressing I'm just about to start playing again and 1 part scared and 1 part excited, but know it has to be done. I was reading something about quantity over quality that was very moving, will post it when I remember what it was. Can't wait to see where your creative explorations take you.

Lari Washburn said...

Aaaggggg! Why is it so hard to play!? I think we rely so much on thinking to do everything. We totally forget that getting still and just breathing is really purposeful. I find it difficult to be in that in between ideas mode, and as you know I went to clay for help as well. I think it has to do with trying to see things in more dimensions in my case. Many things happen in us without our knowledge...that's called "the mystery" in my opinion. Relaxing and trusting what ever surfaces is the way to proceed I think. And it takes a great deal of patience. I love those little pinch pots!!

lisa s said...

so true. my sketchbook projects are about play.

for me art is research, work, and happy accidents. those only happen when i get out of my own way. try something on a whim w/ full knowledge that it might not work.

for me it's all about potential, possibility and giving up a bit of control.

love seeing what you've been making w/ clay ! have no doubt you will get "there" whereever it may be.


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