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Monday, February 02, 2009


I'm writing the penultimate chapter in my book on creativity today, and it's about support. I think we all use that word a lot, but we don't really think about what we mean by it. So, I thought I would break it down into its constituent parts. I came up with : sympathy, understanding, feedback, money, time, tutoring, coaching, acceptance, listening, enthusiasm, challenge, play, advice. I suspect that is the tip of the iceberg, though. Maybe your version of support is different to mine; I'd love to hear what you think.

I think the problems start in part when we expect our nearest and dearest to provide all of the above, or as near as makes no difference. My husband is a master of the understatement (he's a Scot, they are always underwhelmed by things...). The closest he comes to praise is 'very nice, dear', though he does do a good line in interpreting abstract images. That said, if it wasn't for his financial support, I couldn't do what I do; my business is not established enough to be generating a lot of money. He does a great line in listening, even though I know he often doesn't actually understand much of what I'm talking about. And, being an accountant, he does all my admin for me. The business of art is not discussed in the book, but I do have to admit that that takes a considerable weight off my shoulders.

For me, I think we need a number of different sources for support. I get mine from friends, family, my online communities. Where do you get yours from?

I talked yesterday about 'Moon Cat I", and here he is. There are another two pieces in the making at the moment, see what you think! The cat and the moon are both made from rust dyed silk habotai. The stitching around the moon and the cat is a lovely lilac/grey metallic thread; the stitching between them is some grey rayon. So there is both sparkle and mystery in this little piece.


Judy Sall Fiber Art said...

My support comes from those areas you mentioned; also, my Quilters' Guild, Artists' Coalition, and a friend here who started an e-mail service to tell fellow crafters about craft shows in the area. I find I derive a lot of support from the blogging community... people I will most likely never meet, but who share my love/need to create, and put themselves out there for all to see!

Anne Huskey-Lockard said...

My support comes from the sources you mentioned, but there is a spot deep inside where it originates. I think, at the deepest level, we have a support mechanism within us all. I cannot put this into words better but do compare it to meditation or the moments of work where we are completely *in the zone*.
The second support structure I have that I could not live without is the internet and all the people/groups/blogs I connect with. A simple sit at the keyboard and soon I have an answer. For me, being out in the country, this is vital. Some of the people I write are just a couple of miles away and some, like yourself, are halfway around the globe. The internet has changed how artists FIND their *normal* support systems.
Sometimes, it is simple luck. I am somewhere and a person comes up to me and says, "I just LOVED your Quilt/painting/mixed media piece." Support of that sort from a complete stranger is a different type that can fill the creativity well quickly.
Or, as in one instance, I had a woman start making art again after 20 years because she had seen an exhibit of my fiber shrines. That was beyond support---it was a wake up call to the power of Art!
I guess, at some level, we *expect* those we know to support us; it is a totally different type when it is someone we have no connection with.
And last but not least is when a child looks at a piece of work you've done that you just think SUCKS, and they smile and say "I really LIKE that!!!" Because children say exactly what is on their mind. That is genuine support that is not solicited, and seems again different than our other sources.
This was an interesting question Marion, and I apologize for getting so wordy!! I'm not sure I have scratched the surface though.....I think different types of support fill different needs we, as artists of any medium, have.

Mary Ann Littlejohn said...

My support comes from my local and internet quilting friends.

My husband once said, "I don't always like what you do, but I like to watch your face when you tell me about it." He may not always "get" my work, but he understands why it is important to me.

I have even caught him taking a friend upstairs to show him what was on my design wall.

Live, Love, Laugh, Write! said...

I totally agree that your support should come from multiple places - no one person ever truely embodies all of those qualities! I get my support from my husband, family, friends, and on-line communities :)

Julie said...

My biggest source of support is my husband who allows me to be myself and understands my need to create, even when I don't have much to show for it. It also comes from within me, giving me permission to spend all this time making art or just playing. Since I have been blogging I have found, like others, an amazing network of support from like-minded people and I really appreciate the support I receive all the time. This year I have hesitantly joined a quilter's group (as I am not really a quilter as such) and,after only one meeting, I can see how supportive they are. Friends are there too, in fact, the more I think, the more the web of support around me grows. And yet, I still sometimes feel embarrassed when I speak about what I do. Insecurity strikes again!

Patricia said...

A term we used in teaching is "scaffolding", that is finding the right method of helping a person to learn. We all learn differently and sometimes we have to change our strategies in order to reach each person.

Leslie said...

What a lovely thought. My support comes largely from my daughter, whom you have had experience with from the Mavs. My internet/knitting/quilting/church/re-enacting friends have been immensely part of my support as I have so little family. Thanks for reminding me about this, so I can tell them how much I appreciate them for who they are.

Penguen said...

I really love "Moon Cat I".
For me the hugest thing about support is exceptance and I luckly get that from my hubby, I just wish I had it earlier in my life.

Jo Hoffacker said...

That is an absolutely stunning quilt. I love the way the silk gives it a bit of shimmer instead of being flat like if you used all cottons.

Unknown said...

I love moon cat, and can't wait to see what you have in the works as well.

As to support, I think it is difficult to find true and deep support - and then sometimes it is difficult to accept it as well! But oh, how we all need it. And oh, what blessings come with it.