Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Shut Up and Weave

Amount woven yesterday: 8"
Amount woven to date: 1 yard+22"

With apologies to Robert Genn, who titled one of his essays: "Shut Up and Paint." And a good essay it is with much to say to us weavers, as well as to writers and other artists.

The basic thrust of Genn's essay is that telling people what we are doing as we are working on it and telling people our ideas for what we plan to do is not good for our efforts. It is not good for us because in the telling we lose some of the enthusiasm for the doing. The creative energy diminishes.

He even attacks show-and-tell. I mentioned my own suspicions about show-and-tell in an earlier post. Here is my statement from that post:

"I resist show-and-tells. I resist sending my work to shows. I have done both. And I do enjoy the praise and the occasional award. But these have a subtle negative effect on me as well. Sometimes they make me want to go out and do more and better in a terrible rush of energy, almost in a sense of desperation. Sometimes, on the other hand, they just somehow kind of sap my energy. In either case, I have to recover my sense of perspective."

And here is what Robert Genn has to say:

"Even a discussion or show-and-tell that leads to positive enthusiasm and encouragement can take the wind out of your sails. It's almost as if the approval is enough--a work of art on its own."

Then he goes on to discuss the bad effects desire for approval can have on one's work.

So what about this blog? Should I close up shop? Is blogging sapping creative energy that could be used for weaving? No, I do not think so. In fact, as I said once before, blogging seems to intensify my weaving efforts. And it does so, in part, by helping to keep weaving on the front burner, so to speak. Blogging actually energizes me vis-a-vis weaving. The process of articulating as carefully as I can what I am doing and what I am thinking helps me focus.

However, Genn does make some particular points that I shall listen carefully to. He says, for example:

"Never explain to others what you intend to do."

I have done a little of that, and I think I shall really try to avoid doing that. The particular one that comes to mind is the statement of my intention to explore finer setts on future crackle warps. As a matter of fact, what I plan on doing when I have finished weaving the current fabric, is to remove the cloth and resley what is left at a finer sett and see what happens. Here I don't think I'm talking about creative ideas but about a basic technical issue. Although technical and creative issues are inter-related, this is not, I believe, what Genn is talking about. Besides, putting in print my intention to resley the current warp will put more pressure on me actually to do that when the time comes. I do not look forward to doing that. Consequently any kind of pressure I can bring to bear on myself will help! It's kind of like putting pressure on oneself to diet by announcing those intentions to one's friends.

In any case, I regard the blog as a journal in which I talk about what I am doing, not what I intend on doing. And I regard it as a journal for sharing share random thoughts about issues relating to weaving. I am not putting out my work to gather comments. Well, I might possibly make an exception about the picture of the baby blankets; in fact, just to who off once more, here is the link.......

As for future ideas of a "creative" nature, these have another place (on the computer of course!), and I have no intention of sharing them! They are much too tender to risk input of any kind, even positive, from anyone else.

Genn also says:

"Learn to be your own best counsel and private advocate."

This has been hard for me to learn. When we moved from the Atlanta area two years ago I was most unhappy. I was moving from a marvelously supportive weaving guild to an area with virtually no weaving at all. And for awhile I missed the Atlanta guild tremendously. But moving away turned out to be the instigator to my growing up. I have had to learn to trust my ideas, my path, my self-criticisms. In short, I had to find my own way.

He has other things to say as well, but there is one more of his directives I want to note:

"Do not be concerned when you talk to yourself."

Note that he uses the work "when," not "if"..............


Dorothy said...

Hi Peg,

Plenty to think about here! I shall re-read, and have a look at Robert Glenn's essay as his essay needs consideration.

"Learn to be your own best counsel and private advocate."

I was married in my early twenties, divorced in my late twenties. My marriage started on the basis of mutual emotional went so badly wrong that I had to re-think. I had to learn, for the first time in my life to be really independent. That meant learning to like myself and support myself instead of looking to others for approval. Tough to learn, but invaluable. It took years, and goes on. I built on the words of an aunt who had told me "don't put yourself down, there's enough other people will do that for you". I had to learn to be a fair critic of my own actions, ideas and work. I return again and again to Rudyard Kipling's poem "If...." See

Apart from the Atlanta Guild, it sounds like you've had a similar journey and in having to find your own path.

I'd say, re. show and tell, discussing you work with others - these things only work for me when I have moved on from what I am showing or discussing. I do very much feel that talking about designs, where I'm going etc with others diminishes them. There's more flexibility, more development, more energy possible before things are reduced to words, that is to words for someone else to understand, or mis-understand. The dreaming stage is very, very important to creativity. Dreams need treating with care. Another poet, W B Yeats, title "He wishes for the cloths of heaven":

"But I, being poor, have only my dreams; / I have spread my dreams under your feet; / Tread softly because you tread on my dreams."

Do keep blogging Peg, tell us where you're going, but do hang on to your dreams, I'd suggest the time to share them is when they are developed into something that becomes independent of you.

Leigh said...

I find Genn's take on motivation and enthusiasm to be a little odd. I suspect that there are some personality issues at work here, which obviously don't apply to all of us. For example, I agree with you wholeheartedly about blogging. I have gotten more accomplished and learned more than and at a faster pace than before I started blogging (which, for anyone who happens to be reading this, Peg is responsible for my becoming a blogger :)
But ..... if it works for him, I say he can go for it.