I have found myself captivated by the markers of flow – and it’s cousin, relaxation. It’s something I find in my own creative practice – some days I do simple work that I can ease into, especially when I am seeking calm. But then inspiration strikes (after my mind has had a chance to process) and I am in flow, finding shapes and fabrics and sketch out ideas for a story cloth. Those are both moments that are dear to me – and I can find one without the other (or, at least, not in my stitching).
Reading: Finding Flow by Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi. And wondering what he thinks of smartphones – the ever present cure for boredom. In 1997, he writes “But if one also counts the long-term effects of generations addicted to passive entertainment, the rosy picture will look grim indeed.” Though, in some ways smartphones allow instant access to software that could be supporting a flow moment, but how often does mindless scrolling get in the way of my own projects and flow moments? Earlier, he wrote “what matters is the dosage. Passive leisure becomes a problem with yen a person uses it as the principal – or the only – strategy to fill up free time.”
Jim came home from a conference in Seville, Spain, and his stories & pictures got me thinking about historic urban spaces. The way that buildings were built first, and the space that was left over became the public space — the buildings defined the pathways between them. Cities that established a grid grew by defining the streets first — where the carriages, and then cars, would belong. The roadways defined the buildings between them.
I started stitching these little maps — a variation on my treasure maps — and also a throwback to my architecture classes in college. I got lost once I stitched some building footprints… what happens outside those buildings? What happens in the public space? These pieces are only asking questions right now, no answers yet.
I am thinking especially of a visit to Venice with my friend Julia in 2000. The pathways are so fascinating to wander – I could turn left and find a dead end, and I could turn right and find a tiny piazza with a cafe and a fountain.
And I had to revisit a favorite book: Courtyards by John S. Reynolds, because I had some of his drawings on my mind. And now I am left to wonder…
I had a storycloth that wasn’t meant to be — the figures were meant to be in different stories. I started it while in a class with Jude Hill, and I was following along with her process. I reworked the central figure a few times, but it just never felt right. So I cut it each figure apart and tried moving it around to join different pieces that I am working on. I find that I like the two tree figures as a pair, singing or howling together.
My little story cloth took a swim on Sunday, when we spent the day next to a mountain creek (the prettiest little creek that you ever did see!). At the time I was very interested in my lunch, when I saw this little bit of fabric tumbling past me in the breeze. I leapt after it, but it moved quickly down to the water and floated on top. I thought it would stop there, since it wasn’t blowing in the wind… but I forgot about the current. The swift current.
It didn’t take me too long to catch the adventuring story cloth, and I didn’t get too wet fishing it out. But I spent a while thinking about the current after that. I had been thinking about electrical currents — the metaphorical charge you feel when an idea flashes through your brain. And also literal currents, since my kids spent the previous day wiring a robo-car with my husband. But now there is a new kind of current to think about — the river current!
What is pulling us? What are the forces that surround us?