A Jill of All Creative Trades

Are you a creative like me? Loving so many different kinds of creating and never being able to settle on just one. Call me a Jill-of-All-Creative-Trades. I tend to want to do it all. I, definitely, see time as the enemy. There is never enough time for all the creative projects I want to take on. 

Over they years, I have learnt that creativity can be infinite. My brain can come up with a project incredibly fast. I can visualize the outcome and the project always seems so easy in my mind. I am super stoked to jump right on in and gather the supplies. Soon into the project though, I realize that it is going to take a lot more time than I had originally planned.

I find, if I can complete the project quickly, then I don’t loose motivation. As soon as I put my supplies down and walk away, I start to loose momentum and it is hard for me to continue with it the next day.

I bounce from project to project. Some stick and others don’t. But I have finally learned to stop buying supplies until my 1st project is complete. This has slowed down my fast-paced creative brain and has stopped me from becoming an art supply hoarder. (Although, yes I do have a studio full of supplies. Creativity is an addiction and I am a card carrying member of Creatives Anonymous. I should start a 12 step program.)

But now, because of becoming more strict with myself, I am extra cautious of the projects I do take on. I can pendulum swing into the world of analysis-paralysis very easily. There has to be a happy medium somewhere. 

So what am I into these days? I know you are all dying to know. 😉

My creative journey sparked when we purchased our first house over 20 years ago. While my kids were babies, I painted murals on every room in our little 1300 square foot house. That should have been a clue that I was needing a creative outlet. So when my daughter was 3 years old, I bought my own easel and started painting landscapes in acrylic. 

Loving this new found creative outlet, I dove into the local arts community head first eager to soak it all in. After years of painting with acrylics, landscapes eventually lost their appeal for me as I was looking for a bit more of a challenge.

I tried my hand at painting figures, but never super loved the outcome. I tried painting abstracts but again never really loved what I was creating. I soon realized that maybe it was acrylic paints was where I was battling. 

I joined a figure drawing group and loved the challenge of drawing figures with charcoal. I have always loved creating with charcoal since I was a child playing with charred sticks leftover from campfires at camp. It is difficult to duplicate the lines you can get from smudging charcoal with any other medium. 

Then it occurred to me that if I were to paint an abstract background with acrylic paint on canvas with a layer of gesso and a coat of spray varnish, I could take my charcoal drawings and make them a little bit more permanent than drawing on paper alone. This was fun for a while. I played around with figures, florals, tea cups as the subject. 

But again, I was not happy with my acrylic paints and started playing with watercolour on yupo paper. It is so much fun to watch the pigment move around on the surface. I was fascinated by the textures I could create. 

About this same time, I also rediscovered how much I loved fabric and began sewing. It thrilled me to be able to refashion thrift store clothing. I remembered the days when I was a child how I would take my grandmother’s leftover quilt scraps and turn them into clothing for my dolls. 

Sewing started to take my attention away from painting. I was so excited when I got my job working at Fabricland where I was surrounded by sewers, crafters and the copious mounds of colourful textiles. At this job, they gave me the freedom to create using fabric for their displays. I had so much fun draping fabric onto the mannequins into outfits and costumes that could be dismantled and turned into a fabric cake or a rainbow with a pot of gold. 

Being in this creative environment, I learned so much about colour. Colour and the feeling of textiles, was something that paint and charcoal could not provide. I admired the fabrics and wondered about the art put on the glorious fabrics. 

Fast forward to a year ago, when I discovered a new creative world that fits me like a glove. This world combines my love of art and drawing with my love of fabrics with a twist of technology. Up until last year, I had no idea how to get into designing fabric, let alone what the industry was called. I learned that this new creative world was called surface pattern design. I have finally found the thing that keeps me engaged. 

For a year, I have been learning Illustrator in great depth and have started creating repeat patterns. I am able to combine all of my creative passions into one entity. I can take my figure drawings and pair them with drawings of flowers. I can take my physical artwork and turn them digital for an extra layer of manipulation and creativity. I can take my love of story telling and pull it all together into a collection. 

It is through surface pattern design, that I have finally found “my thing”. I am looking forward to what this part of my journey brings. One day, I would love to see my art on fabrics. This goal drives me forward. 

Art is a journey. It never stays still. We learn, we grow, we learn new techniques and can be used in different ways. The journey of art morphs and changes with the infinite possibilities of creativity. Every now and then, it is fun to look back to see where we’ve been and how we have gotten to the place we are in the present day.

As I try to establish a daily routine of creating in the surface pattern design world, my creative life is filled full with a happy to-do list that evolves. I finally feel settled. 

Without the freedom to let yourself learn and experiment, it is difficult to narrow down the many creative paths that tempt any Jill-of-all-creative-trades. I hope you too will find that creative thing that makes your heart soar.