Where does it go when you don’t use it??????? I was thinking about that this morning, up in my sewing room where I’ve laid out a vinyl tablecloth, my pastels and my cloth. I will show that piece in a bit – maybe after it’s quilted, maybe before.
I’m seriously pleased with it, the way it’s turned out. It is just what I had in mind. I have lots of things in mind now. But for years …….. I didn’t. I was numb, stumped, had artist’s block – I was dead inside.
The big dead period started in 2002 – shortly after we’d finished remodeling our home on PEI. I’d been taken up with picking out wood flooring, appliances, paint and tiles …… and new faucets and siding and designing shutters, two porches and a fireplace. Not to mention buying furniture and rugs and things. That was a good time …….. but the creativity ended up in a house. Not something I could take with me when I left. And leaving is what I wanted to do from 2003 on. A year with nothing to do on the Island was a year of death for me. And it lasted 4 more.
When I first arrived on the Island, I found a gallery and we went in to look around. When the owner asked if she could help me, I said I was just checking out the competition (how bold of me). She wanted to know what I did and I told her art quilts …… immediately she wanted them to sell in her gallery. I was pumped. I also said I had antique quilts that I sold ……. she wanted those too and gave me a whole room of the gallery with walls on which to hang them. My work was in the front two rooms with the paintings and sculpture. I loved doing that.
Selling stuff there took a lot of time and it was entertaining and I loved the gallery owner. But, as things do, it got to the point where I wasn’t going to make a lot of money if I sold them somewhere else …….. I needed to do it myself. So I did. I did that for the next 5 years and I also bought old books, whole libraries or just a few. I’d been collecting rare books for years – children’s illustrated books from the early 1900s and gardening books ….. anything that took my fancy, really.
I started to sell on-line and it was easier then, when people had money and wanted to spend it. My husband and I spent Saturdays at auctions finding more stuff to sell. The auctioneers regularly noticed my book-buying habit and I got a lot of good deals ……. most people didn’t have a clue what they were looking at. I did.
There weren’t any quilts on the Island that weren’t used up …… so I kept buying them from the States and importing them, selling them back to the States. My collection of African-American quilts came in handy when we needed cash.
But, other than running the businesses, I wasn’t creative. I didn’t quilt any longer and I didn’t do anything except cook and can and bake and sell. I got out of the habit of creating.
Back home in 2007 and I started to flex my creating muscles again – until oil prices went through the roof and I needed to work to buy heat. And then ……. from 2008 onwards, life went downhill. My husband became sicker (I’d noticed he wasn’t as well as he could be years before that) and life became drudgery, working and taking care of the house and still cooking and looking out after everyone. Until I had to quit to take care of him – then life became all about survival while trying to support us and keep us warm without a lot of extra cash. And of course, taking care of my husband.
Now he’s gone. It’s been 9 months. This is the first birthday my son has had since his father died. Sadly, my husband’s birthday will be in 3 weeks – the first I’ve experienced in 37 years without him. A sobering time.
I told my son today that it’s as if my creativity is a switch which has finally been turned on again. As I dye fabrics, draw on the fabric and even knit ……… my true self is back. The worry and hardship of the last 7 years is largely over. Oh there are things I still have to contend with but nothing like what I had to the last few years. So I can play again ……. I can plan. I can spend time the way I want without having to worry all day what might happen.
Welcome back, Creativity. Stay for a long time ……….. love having you here.