Sunday, 21 March 2010


While driving back from giving a talk to the Montrose Embroiderers' Guild yesterday I started thinking about the similar ways I motivate myself, both for driving long distances by myself as well as for making quilts.

On my way to giving a talk or a workshop the time usually flies, while I sort of rehearse what I'm going to say, worry about how long the drive will take (specially when I encounter roadworks!) and towards the end of the drive paying attention to where I have to be. Usually the adrenaline makes the time go very quickly. It's a completely different matter on the way home. By that time I'm usually tired, the adrenaline has disappeared and I know where I'm going and I just want to get there. So to encourage myself I break up the journey in 10 mile segments (Montrose was a 120 mile trip) and I allow myself one Revel every 10 miles. For those of you not in the UK Revels are small chocolate covered treats. Inside there can be solid chocolate, raison, nut or caramel. I line them up (12 for this journey) on the dashboard and when 10 miles have passed I allow myself to take one. I seem to be quite disciplined as I never take 2 or exceed the ones I have put out. And it does make the journey go a lot faster.

I do the same thing when making a large quilt. I break the process down into smaller steps such as piecing the top, tacking, machine and/or hand quilting, hand embroidery, beading and embellishing, and finally adding the binding and the sleeve. After I complete each stage, I give myself a reward in the shape of making smaller stuff such as skinny pages or ATCs, or even just making a fabric-paper collage. When I finish a big quilt I gift myself a few days to do all this and also allow myself an away day trip.

Somehow this works for me. It's the carrot and stick approach but without the stick. It really isn't a good idea to beat yourself up as an artist! We have enough negative feedback from our inner voices already, no need to add more!! The most I ever do is tell myself to grow up but so far that hasn't worked yet. If anyone has an idea of just exactly when you become a laid-back, relaxed, wise adult person, let me know. I suspect I'll go to my grave, still anticipating adulthood!

The illustrations on this blog post celebrate the lovely spring weather but also in a way further add to my point. After all, most gardeners are also motivated by the fact that after all their hard work they will be rewarded by gorgeous plants and flowers in the end!

Because I finished a quilt on Friday you can look forward to a lot of art on this blog in the coming days!


Maggi said...

Wow, what an inspiring post! It also serves as a great reminder, we do beat ourselves up too much creatively.

Thanks for posting this!

Tristan Robin Blakeman said...

those peachy tulips are gorgeous!

can't wait to see the quilt!

Lenna Young Andrews said...

I love seeing your crocuses, Frieda. None of those for me this year, so I will enjoy yours! I also enjoyed reading what you wrote in this post very much. To me it shows your strength and how you are able to discipline yourself so well to do all that you do -- with small rewards. Truly so very clever and smart!
mmmmm, those chocolats sounds tasty!


Related Posts with Thumbnails