I wanted to take part in the Instagram “one of many” initiative, and decided I’d use up some more of this massive sheet of painted paper that’s been kicking around, cluttering up my studio.

This is only one section…there’s loads more!

The paper began life as a colour mixing exercise: using a limited palette (one red, one blue, one yellow, black and white) seeing how many different colours I could create, and how they looked next to each other. When the paint was dry, I really enjoyed layering on more colour using my favourite Woody pencils (more crayon than pencil, so yummy to use).

So I cut some more manageable pieces, and started to stitch. I started to add snippets of fabric. Easy to do, I have a basket of bits. OK, two baskets of bits (and some jars…) on my desk. Grab and go.

I started to choose different colours of thread. I’ve just acquired some thread – a sad acquisition and a lesson in itself: use all the stuff – so I have a lot to choose from.

Just like back when I’d painted the paper, choosing fabric snippets and thread and lines and marks became a puzzle – something to solve. Finding the “right” colour to layer on next felt like solving the next clue, filling in another word in a crossword.

And then choosing which bits I liked, where to cut. Another puzzle to be solved.

Just like the puzzle of “what to do, so many ideas” and “what to keep, so much stuff”. It can sometimes feel like I’m fighting – and losing – the battle between creating and creative clutter. I yearn for calm, but it seems so elusive…

Too many ideas, too much stuff, being pulled in all directions, distracted by stuff.
How do I solve that?!

(As a side note, the social media posts of my messy desk and creative clutter are the ones that get the most comments. I know I’m not alone).

A great question I’ve heard that helps to cut through all this mind-chatter:

What would this look like if it were easy?

Tim Ferriss

No overthinking, just top of the head blurt it out – what lights me up? what would I do if I had to choose? (which actually I do need to, because fight against it all I want, I can’t do it all and keep it all…)

If this were easy…

I’d use my favourite things in an intuitive way

OK then Isobel, do that! Enjoy. Repeat.

This is, after all, the exact approach I take with my Swirls and Seascapes and Baubles, and what I teach other people to do…

Do you overthink your art?
How could you make it easy?

5 Thoughts to “Studio update”

  1. Ruth says:

    I love your sense of colour, shape and movement in these. Yes you are not alone in overthinking the creative process, but you do produce lovely work. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Chris says:

    Just do what feels right, it is working for you so why change? It seems that many of us are pulled in two (or more) directions. On the one hand we are educated into thinking that planning should precede execution of the task, while on the other our innate talent tells us to feel the fear and do it anyway!

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