Have you ever sat down and really thrashed an idea?

I know I haven’t.  I read an article by Sarah Ross Thompson in which  she spoke about “excitables.”  I am an “excitable” – she explained – “some people are naturally excitable and explode with ideas….  they find it hard to know which path to follow when so many things rock their boat.  That’s me!

So, I have enrolled on an online course with Sue Stone, Chair of the 62 Group of textile artists, care of www.textileartist.org.  I had done one online course before which I did not enjoy as it was very pressured with new videos arriving every day.  This one, however, I would recommend.  You are given a year to complete the course and can work at your own pace.  Participants are set a series of projects and the choice is yours as to how much time you spend on each module, creating as many or as few samples as you wish.  The first challenge is to work only using running stitch and only using horizontal lines.  Each sample contains a block of four pieces 5cm square and I have so far created five.


Even though this course is obviously about stitch, I can already see how useful it will be in other areas in that the message is to take an idea and push the boundaries of what you can do with it.  Setting a limitation, either in terms of media, or by reducing the option for a methodology of working, is in fact helping you to think more creatively within set parameters.  Although I am a very organised person in everyday life (where would I be without my lists?!), in my Art practice I like to work intuitively responding to each moment.  So, with the exception of the rigid patterns above, I did not think.  I chose my thread, put my needle in and started without knowing what I was going to do with it.  This way will not suit everyone I know but it suits my loose style of working – I have always said that I can’t sew and I can’t create beautiful embroidery or make clothes but luckily I don’t want or need to be able to do those things.  What I do want to do is to make interesting “marks” whether that be by using a pencil, pen, inks or stitch and I am already learning loads about how I can do that.  Thank you Sue, Jo and Sam at http://www.textileartist.org!

So, why don’t you think of something you would like to do, set yourself some strong boundaries, and play.  And, carry on playing until you really feel exhausted – I can’t tell you when that will be but maybe you need to spend at least a month on that one project. I’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback if you have done this!

6 thoughts on “Have you ever sat down and really thrashed an idea?

  1. I love that you are doing this Helen. I’ve set myself a challenge, it’s called ‘One & Twenty’. I’m trying to improve my drawing, so I pick any item, examine it for 1 minute, then spend 20 minutes drawing it. This means I don’t get too caught up in detail and my hand just has to go and produce something without me agonising and rubbing out all the time.

    I’ve extended it in Feb to one drawing every day – I’m a bit behind but am trying to keep up. I’m finding my eye is improving, I’m not so daunted picking up a pencil and I almost enjoy it now. I’ll tone it down time-wise in March and then pick it up to one drawing a day in April again. Soon I’ll be in a good habit of trying new things all the time. Just having a go is something I also picked up from Jo and Sam at textileartist.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Claire – so sorry to see that I didn’t ever reply to your kind comments – v new to all this is my excuse. Funny that I see you are a fan of textile artist – I’m currently doing an online course with them and it is very good! Your “one and “twenty” idea is a good one as it is manageable and means you should get a good sketchbook habit going – something I have always struggled with. Be good to see how it is going.


  2. Lovely ideas in thread, Helen (I follow your husband Alan’s blog), so caught the link today.

    I must be an ‘excitable’ too, having studied Fashion Design & Textiles, done pottery, craft work, tapestry, sketching and watercolour painting through my early adult years and now, in early retirement, Photography (as I can’t see well enough to paint or do Botanical Art as I would have like to do).

    I’ll check out your other posts as your collages and other work is something I haven’t looked at online before.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have read your replies in the wrong order I’m afraid but Alan has just told me that you follow him so thank for your support from us both! He is not at all an excitable – very calm, mathematical, but also competitive. I do take photographs but I am not technical and only use the camera on “Auto” so I am never going to be competition! In any case, I prefer drawing, painting, collage and stitch – don’t think I could live without the texture – not particularly drawn to printing for that reason, although I like collagraph. There is just too much to enjoy isn’t there?!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. There’s so many ways to fulfil that creative urge, but mine was waning a bit. Looking forward to some beach combing since reading your blog.


    2. Thanks Vicki – I am feeling a bit less “excitable” now as I have the beach combed object as a running theme and inspiration throughout the various media that I am using. On a roll!


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