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.

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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!