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Country Romantic Fabric Quilted Tote Bag

Creative Improvement Through Practice

I’ll admit that creative improvement has not been high on my priority list. 

A tote bag from my Etsy shop
These tote bags keep getting better the more I make.

Whenever I sit down to sew, there’s the voice that reminds me that I need to get more done for my Etsy site. I don’t have nearly enough products up. My pictures need improvement. Have I looked over my descriptions? What about tags? What about engaging in social media? The list is endless.

So every chance I get, I construct a tote bag, stitch a quilt together, or design journal covers. I have limited time, and I need to use every moment I can to make my Etsy shop better.

However, by skipping the practice, even with the quilting and sewing experience I have, I am doing myself a disservice. I do spend a lot of time watching videos and taking classes to learn new techniques. What I don’t do is set aside time to practice them.

‘But you don’t have time.’ I hear that inner voice whine.

Perhaps not. I need to make time. To achieve that creative improvement goal I have a few ideas…

Schedule time. This is a counter intuitive option for me. As soon as I declare I’m going to sew at a specific time, I don’t. I think my mind rebels at the thought of being restricted, and I will find anything else to do but what I had intended to. Laundry, cleaning, reading…doesn’t matter what the distraction is, I find it. When I say schedule, what I prefer to do is fit in a couple half hour blocks dedicated to practice. Sometimes fifteen minutes. Sometimes five. Depending on how crazy life is that week. By being flexible, I am free to practice more. Instead of saying ‘I must’, change the view ‘I get to’.

Prep ahead of time. This is even more important than scheduling. If I make it easy, I’ll do it. Setting up a practice quilt sandwich (top, batting, backing) to try out a free motion quilt design works well. I’ll tell myself just to do a corner or a line and usually end up finishing the entire piece.

Remember it’s just practice. I have a challenging time when things aren’t just so, especially with my quilting. Which is why it’s even more important to practice. I have to remember that the more I practice, the better my Etsy items are going to be. It’s worth the time.

Immediately try new techniques. I’m great at needing to replay things in my head to get them right before I do them. Which means I don’t do them because I end up psyching myself out before I even start. My new attempt will be watching a new skill and trying it out shortly thereafter.

Will these new techniques assist me with creative improvement and becoming a better artist? I have no idea, but I hope so. I’ll certainly report back. What about you? Are there techniques you use to practice your art? Tell me about them by commenting below or posting on social media. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Country Romantic Fabric Quilted Tote Bag

Cupcake in Memory

Trigger warning for those sensitive to suicide topics.

Just for the record, I love cupcakes. Moist, delectable cupcakes with frosting. Lots of frosting.

And I can’t eat them now without a physical reaction. My gut clenches and tears find their way to my eyes. Oh, I still eat them and enjoy them, but I can’t have one without remembering that day. The day my friend took his life.

I walked into the student center where I work after calling Mark to find out where he was. No answer. Not unusual, he often didn’t hear his phone or got tied up with work. He’d meet me in the pub later like he always did, I assumed.

Down the stairs into the main corridor, and met one of the dining employees. She had a tray of cupcakes in her hands.

“Those look scrumptious.” And knowing the college’s dining service, I knew they would be.

“Want one? They are leftover from a meeting. We were trying them out.”

Tell me, who passes up a free cupcake that looked like chocolate heaven? Not I. So I walked into the pub, cupcake in hand, and filtered lots of greedy looks and comments to abscond with the treasure in my hands. I ordered food, then found a table and texted Mark. Hey, Mark, just checking on you to make sure you are alive. The amount of horror I feel at that choice of words now is superseded only by the fucking cupcake.

I ate my lunch, chatting with coworkers that stopped by, inquiring why I was dining alone. We joked that I got stood up by my work spouse.

And then I ate that cupcake. It was delicious. Everything perfect a cupcake could be. I was close to licking the frosting off of the paper, it was that good.

All the while my dear friend’s body was getting colder. All the while a small amount of blood dripped down from where the bullet had entered his skull. All the while the gun had dropped to the floor after the shot rang out.

My friend was dead. And I was indulging. The two items are not related, I know this. Yet they will be forever linked in my mind.

The kind, sweet soul that he was would tell me that of course I should eat the cupcake. That I should always eat the cupcake.

I will, Mark. I promise. I just wish you were here to share it with me.

Country Romantic Fabric Quilted Tote Bag

Pathways

http://nature.desktopnexus.com/wallpaper/1650423/

I walk a different path
Always have
My steps converging with others
Once in a while
When the water drifts close
And my spirit vessel recognizes kindred hearts

They sync for a time
Joyous song
Dancing in harmony together

Until there is a tug inside
A whisper
The current changes, and I must go

Not a goodbye, not an ending
A course alteration
There is no need to follow
I revel in the solitary
I am here with you, always
Wishing you well

As we travel our destined star pathways
Guided by inner light
Seeking our own travel to the source.

For the Sisters of the Sacred Circle, I love you.
Amy Dionne, 2016

Country Romantic Fabric Quilted Tote Bag

Starlight

I finally switched over the calendar in my loft to December. Yes, I realize it’s the end of the month and the new year is close upon us. I haven’t spent much time in my loft, which I use for writing, yoga, and where most of my books are, for quite a while. Life, work, busy, busy, busy…you know how it is.

Now that I have a couple days of reprieve, I am picking away at the clutter and clearing space for peace and creativity. Finally, I flipped the calendar to December, already wondering which of the lovely calendars I received for Yule and Christmas will take its place.starlight

I stopped all movement when I saw this calendar page. I think my heart and my breath both caught and remained suspended for a long, long moment. This page is a gift, a message, from Tanya, my beloved friend who passed two and a half years ago.

She called me Starlight in every email, her name for me. The artwork I know she would have adored. Every part of this picture represents our friendship, well, more than that. She was the sister of my heart, and always will be.

This page was a reminder. To clear out the clutter, physical and emotional, to focus on what matters, and settle into my core being. To write. To dance. To laugh. To revel in beauty and magic.

I may have pushed that sign away, caught up in the spin of life, but the universe waited until I was ready to listen. So with gratitude for my beautiful friend, I smile and breathe deeply. I settle in to the core of my being, ready to move forward. Knowing she is always looking out for me.

Perhaps I’ll change the calendar pages promptly this year.

Country Romantic Fabric Quilted Tote Bag

A Yule Blessing and Solstice Wish

in the woods

In a shadowed time as the dark seeps in
May the flame find its spark
As the days are short and fleeting
May the inner compass guide true
When the cold permeates the stillness
May the flame find its spark
If the soul is worn and heart-weary
May the comfort of friends ease the hurt
To find the way through winter’s chill
Gather heart and light and warmth within

Amy Dionne, 2015

Country Romantic Fabric Quilted Tote Bag

When Daylight Leaves

When Daylight Leaves

As the light recedesMoonrise
A shroud of darkness descends
Little snippets of joy
Bring sorrow instead

Heart mired in shadow
Coated with black
Lethargy spreads
Immobilized limbs

The soul keens silently
Echoes Its pain under the skin
Bruised knees battered from the ground

Did not ask for this
Do not want this
Anguish from foggy reason

All details magnified
A cut, becomes a slice, becomes a gaping wound
Unbalanced by a tear
Choking on the ones held back

Flat on the ground
Rocks rip skin
Pressed by burden
Without, within
Weighted
Paralyzed with desperation

Mind’s battle
Fake smile
Hidden light
A puppet with routine strings
Dance of shadow

One step, another
Forward only by will
Seeking light
Finding none
Holding on

Just holding on

 

Amy Dionne, 2015

Country Romantic Fabric Quilted Tote Bag

Samhein Musings

Blessed Samhein.

The harvest is done and put away. Preparations for the long winter underway. The temperature dips, the clocks are set back, the animals don their winter cTree in Shadowoats.

Hail now the growing dark, for that is when we face the questions from the shadows that linger within. Only in the time of dark are those thoughts freely able to rise to the surface. They are personal. Necessary. Residing within the shadowed places in your body and soul. Accented by questions left unasked.

This is a time of shadow, a dark need arisen.

Remember though, shadows can only exist because the light does. While the uneasy topics rise up and those unanswered questions demand a response, the light will return in its own time.

Until then, sit with those dark places in soulful reflection. From now until the spring, ask the darkness what lessons it has for you. The answers that you didn’t even realize you seek are within.

Country Romantic Fabric Quilted Tote Bag

Unbalanced

Credit to Andy Goldsworthy
Credit to Andy Goldsworthy

Unbalanced
Tightrope without a net
Strung together on threadbare wings

Slid my hand in yours
But you let go
Too much weight

My charred mind
With its coal black thoughts
Left no room for light

Close your eyes and truly see
Your shine is fake
The top down smile doesn’t fool me

Get off your platform
At least I crawled
Emerged covered in mud

Not trying to drag you down
See reality instead
The ground is stronger than the air you walk on

Pull me up and I will counter-weight
Together in a spiral
Until the energy spun connects us both

Swirling, entwined with the universe
Sight clear, voice strong
Light and dark in harmony

Life’s challenges
Ebb and ease
Standing side by side

Amy Dionne, 2015