Yesterday, as I sat down to work on items for my Etsy shop, Magic Carpet Dance Arts, I thought of the most recent Voca Femina live performance evening, and of a woman named Cindy. Cindy is an artist, and she shared several new mixed media pieces she’d created, and told us a story about learning how to let her art be play. She remembered being in grade school, and feeling excitement and joy at seeing the art teacher (“always an odd little person,” she said) wheel her cart of art supplies into the classroom. All those art supplies. All those materials. All those textures and colors. It didn’t matter what the project would be; Cindy just wanted to get her hands on all that art stuff and PLAY. But somewhere along the way in her artwork, the playing went away.
At our Voca Femina evening, Cindy shared her process of returning to play. Her new pieces were medleys of color and texture and out-of-the-box creativity. And she told us she made them more quickly than her usual speed, and without as much thinking. And they were gorgeous.
Back to yesterday. I still need to get more belly dance costume items made for my Etsy shop. I read on one of Etsy’s tutorials or forums that it seems to be ideal to have about 60 items in your shop. Less, and you don’t appear to be a consistent, productive artist and a reliable source of a quality product. More, and shoppers get overwhelmed. So when I opened Magic Carpet Dance Arts in February, I set 60 items as my goal. Right now, I have 22. And when I sat down to work, I felt the pressure to produce.
But for some reason, I thought about Cindy the little girl, so excited about her art teacher and the cart full of art supplies coming into the classroom and bringing with her a sense of expectancy for the magic that could happen next. And instead of stressing about making some of my more difficult pieces that I ‘should’ be making, I resolved to just play for a few hours.
One of the things I sell are modified Banjara belts. Banjara belts are handmade wedding accessories of a group of people in Rajasthan, India, and much loved by belly dancers because of their shiny mirrors and embroidery. But they are made for young brides to wear around their waists, not for belly dancers with hips. I’ve figured out a way to re-sew them and turn them into something usable for us.
I have a bunch of them that I hadn’t modified yet, so I spread them all out on my table, and picked the two that appealed to me the most at the moment.
And I played.
And I had fun.
Now, HOW am I going to remember this the next time I feel that pressure to produce art?