When You Feel Creatively Stagnant

a large wooden schoolteacher desk with wall shelves hanging above. There are boxes and baskets on the shelves full of art supplies.

When you have a blog called “The Artyologist”, it kind of follows that you are supposed to be creating Art (with a capital “A”). So what happens when you don’t want to anymore?

A few months ago, I made the decision to pack away my watercolour paints. Not very far, they are just in my desk drawer, but they are gone nonetheless. Out of sight and out of mind.

When I started The Artyologist blog in 2016, my plan was to open an online shop and blog mostly about my art. However, that is not what happened at all! While I do sometimes blog about art and share my photography, I have mostly shared fashion, homemaking and sewing.

Over the past few years I opened a Society 6 shop, a web shop, an Instagram account and even placed my artwork in a local gallery for 4 months… but it didn’t pan out the way I had hoped, and I have now closed all of those avenues (except for my Poshmark shop). While I made a few sales along the way, it wasn’t enough to consider it even as a part time job, and I came to realize that watercolour was a hobby and it wasn’t going to be anything more than that. After I pulled my artwork from the gallery at the end of my agreement last February, I decided that I was going to stop trying to focus on selling my watercolours in hope that my love for painting would be rekindled.

That didn’t happen though.

Instead, when I walked into my beautiful new art space, instead of being excited to open my paint palette and a pad of paper to sketch a new piece, I felt guilty because I wanted to work on sewing projects, or paper crafting or even tidying instead. In the back of my mind was the nagging thought that I “should” be working on watercolours.

So, when so much of what you enjoy doing and identify with as a creative person is tied up in one specific genre of art, is it OK to quit? It is so hard to end a dream, even when you aren’t enjoying it anymore. You question, “Did I really give it my all?”, “Should I have tried harder?”, and “If I was more talented, it would have worked out, right?”

I’ve come to realize that sometimes we enjoy something for a season and then move on from it…and that’s OK. What’s not OK is to feel creatively stagnant, and then stay there.

I haven’t completely gotten rid of my watercolour paints… I’ve been watercolour painting on and off for over 15 years, so I don’t think that I am quitting completely…I’m just refocusing onto other things right now. Somewhere along the way, I just fell into a rut of “I’m a watercolourist” and didn’t feel like I should try new things… but that is the antithesis of creativity!  There are so many other mediums out there.

When I was in high school I loved to do messy scrapbooking and art books. I experimented with paper collage and acrylic paints and ink and ephemera.

Then I really started to enjoy couture sewing techniques and pattern making as I got into vintage clothing. I loved to dream up clothing ideas and then breathe them into being. I started playing around with ribbon and beads and started DIY’ing hats and headbands. Even if I wasn’t using the proper millinery techniques, I created some cool pieces!

In the past few years I’ve really gotten involved in furniture restoration and decorating. I’ve painted some furniture pieces for my home, and crafted home decor to beautify my space. I’ve enjoyed wallpapering and painting, and then putting together displays of my vintage home goods to curate my favourite bedroom I’ve ever had!

All of these are different ways to express creativity. Somehow along the way, I pigeonholed myself into a box: when I was painting I was being an artist, but when I was doing all of the other creative things, I wasn’t.

I want to get back to that feeling of love for creating, even if it’s something I’m not good at and it turns out badly! I want to try new things, and not feel the pressure to promote it. As soon as I “hung up my shingle”, in order to try selling my watercolour, the creativity was sapped and even though I’ve had months and months to start again, for myself, I haven’t found that creative spark again. I’m not decluttering the paints, because maybe in the future I will return to them. But I’ve realized that even if I decide that I don’t want to return to them, then that’s OK too.

Creativity doesn’t need to look like anything in particular, and you don’t have to be defined by your hobby. It is supposed to be enjoyable, after all. If it isn’t fun anymore, then that’s a signal that something needs to change. Over the past few months, after I packed away my paints, I have rediscovered my love for other artistic endeavours. What’s on my desk right now? Mod Podge, and calligraphy pens, and felted wool scraps, and a half finished millinery project, and some pattern pieces, and hot glue and sandpaper and a decorating book, and the ubiquitous cup of tea.

It’s a very random and eclectic assortment of items which tell a story of all of the projects I’ve been working on lately. I’ve begun paper crafting again and making cards. I’ve been sewing some new clothes for my winter wardrobe. I refinished an antique dresser. I’m learning calligraphy…. Creativity doesn’t have to look like one thing, and there certainly isn’t time to feel guilty about not doing one creative endeavour, when there are so many others you can try.

I am widening my horizons and trying new things. The perfectionist in me hates the idea of trying something new and failing at it, but that’s a part of the creative process: we have to try new things in order to learn new things. It takes time and practice, but I’m excited to try out some new stuff. Some of these things might make their way to the blog, and much of it probably won’t, but I am excited about the thought of creativity without the pressure of an audience. It’s just for me, and just for fun; isn’t that what creativity should be?

So, I’ve learned over the past few months that, while it can be hard when one artistic endeavour comes to an end, that doesn’t mean it’s the end to your artistic endeavours!

Well, that’s what I’ve been thinking about lately. I hope that my ramblings about my discoveries over the past while might encourage you today in whatever creative endeavours, or ruts, you may find yourself in.

Have you ever tried a creative endeavour and it didn’t work out how you hoped it would? Have you ever gotten into a rut and felt “creatively stagnant”? Do you find it difficult to try new hobbies? What creative activities are you enjoying right now?

(Ps. I do still have my Poshmark shop, linked in the sidebar or here, with all of the pieces I already had on hand!)

A Fashion Moment With (1949) Styles By Beehive: Sweater Weather

Styles By Beehive by Patons & Baldwins cover featuring a knitted sweater vest, skirt and sock combination

I found this great vintage knitting book when we were organizing our new sewing/craft room. It was mixed in with some sewing patterns and books from the 1980’s, so I’d never looked closely at what was in that folder (the anorak pattern dissuaded me) but when I emptied out that folder to put on the shelf, I came across this book by Patons & Baldwins Limited Toronto: Styles By Beehive Series No. 40. The back page was torn, so I didn’t know what year it was from, but judging by the styles I guessed 1940’s. I was able to track the year down online and I was right; it was from 1949! This book was my Grandma’s and it was open to Page 9, the “Antelopes” sweater, below right, which is why much of the colour is rubbed off that page. I wonder if she ever made that sweater?

I hope you enjoy seeing these lovely 40’s fashions!

styles by beehive ski sweaters from the 1940's

styles by beehive by Patons & Baldwins book with a lady wearing a dressy knitted sweater

On a different style note- I love the waistband of this skirt, above, it looks kind of like a half waistcoat.

styles by beehive book with several ladies wearing knitted pullovers and cardigans and a head scarf

The checked grid pattern on the cardigan above adds such a great detail.

styles by beehive by Patons & Baldwins lady wearing a pair of jeans, knitted boots and a casual cable knit cardigan coat

The earliest “Uggs”, above.

styles by beehive knitted accessories

page 1 of the styles by beehive knitted accessories featuring socks, scarves and gloves

Would you wear a hood like these?

page 2 of styles by beehive featuring accessories including hoods and socks

styles by beehive pages showing a lady wearing a tennis outfit and another with a casual pullover sweater

styles by beehive book featuring ladies wearing straight skirts paired with knitted pullover sweaters and cardigans for a dressy look

I like the texture of the one on the left, above.

styles by beehive by Patons & Baldwins lady wearing a cardigan and skirt combination

styles by beehive lady wearing a sweater with a hare and tortoise pattern knitted into it

I love the cardigan on the right, below, too. It’s lightweight and would look so nice paired with a skirt.

styles by beehive by Patons & Baldwins two ladies wearing dressy knitted sweaters

All in the Details

wearing a tan wrap skirt and a black top and shoes standing in a field with fall coloured trees in the background

When you have a minimalist or capsule wardrobe, it really is all in the details! If you’re wearing a combination of the few same pieces over and over again, changing your necklace or shoes can make it feel like a whole new outfit. Well, sort of?

wearing a black star patterned t-shirt with a tan wrap skirt and standing among the grass with yellow trees behind

To be honest, I sometimes wonder whether I should even post these kinds of outfits, since there isn’t much of a difference to see from the last few times I wore it… but since most of us don’t have the wardrobe of the Royal Family, wearing outfits again and again is reality. And while most of us own more than a single “Sunday best”, when you come up with a new combination, or add a new accessory, it definitely feels noteworthy.

It’s actually kind of hard to have a blog and not get sucked into the trap of thinking you need to post something new every time. But posting about the times I re-wear pieces is not only more realistic, it’s also so much better for the wallet…and the landfill. And besides, when I put hours of time into sewing a piece, or saving up to buy an item, I do want to wear it as much as I can!  I don’t understand our culture’s obsession with fast fashion. I want even my cheaper items to last forever, and am sad when inevitably “moth and rust destroy”.

wearing a black v-neck star patterned shirt with a brass snake necklace with an abandoned shed and fall trees in the background

yellow and green fall poplar leaves

detail of an antique brass snake necklace on a long chain

So, regarding this outfit, I’ve worn this favourite homesewn rayon-linen skirt many times this summer, but this time I paired it with a new thrifted geometric patterned t-shirt, a brass snake pendant I bought at a craft sale from Burlap Sac, and these laser cut peep toe heels for a fresh look.

detail of laser cut leather peep toe high heels in black leather

Sadly, these shoes are no longer a part of my wardrobe because when I wore them, I remembered why I never do. While the outers are leather, the insoles are not, which makes them really uncomfortable. My feet couldn’t slide in them properly, and so they felt very pinchy and stuck, even though the footbed fit well. It reminded me of why I always buy good quality shoes: life’s too short to wear uncomfortable shoes. (Ps. not only are quality shoes more comfortable, but they will instantly elevate your outfit.) I only paid a dollar at the thrift store for these, so I don’t mind sending them back!

holding a heart shaped yellow poplar leaf

standing in front of a yellow tree wearing a black t-shirt and tan skirt with a closeup of yellow poplar leaves

abandoned gas tank with yellow trees and a cloudy sky behind it

Well, I can’t believe that we’re already in October and I’m still able to wear lightweight skirts and open toed shoes; we have had a delightfully warm and long Fall. But, the leaves are almost all gone, and the bare trees are sweeping the sky, which means it’s time to finally pull out the Winter woollens. My Winter wardrobe is pitifully bare at the moment and, while I like having a capsule wardrobe, I don’t think I want it to be quite that minimal. It’s time to sew some more pieces or I won’t have much to mix and match this season!

spinning in a grassy area wearing a tan wrap skirt and black v-neck tshirt with black peep toe high heels

tan grass seedhead

Anyways, that was a bit of a scattered and rambley post, but I’m just getting over a head cold and I can’t think of anything else to say or a better way to say what I have written, so I guess I’ll leave it as such!

Do you tend to repeat outfits? What are your favourite ways to freshen up your outfits? Are you excited for the seasonal changes of outfits, or are you sad to say goodbye to the last season?

standing in front of a bare harvested field with trees in the distance

yellow poplar leaves silhouetted agains the sky and trees in the background

looking across the valley with trees in the distance

This Time of Year

grassy lane with a view across the fields. The grass and leaves are golden and brown and the sky is a mixture of greys

It’s October now and it feels like it; the leaves are golden against a sky that alternates between crystal clear blue and stormy greys. When the wind blows, it often has a chill in it, and colourful leaves crunch underfoot as you walk.

golden and green tree branches against a bright blue sky

The season is short, but it’s my favourite time of year!

abandoned shed surrounded with trees and tall grasses

country road lined with golden trees and a cloudy blue sky in the distance

Every corner you turn has another spectacular view. This is a small ravine close to where we live. It’s gorgeous at this time of year.

valley full of golden trees and a blue sky

Even abandoned buildings have a romantic look to them.

empty shed with trees on either side of it

And despite the signs of decay, there is beauty to be seen in the blooms and seedheads.

hydrangea and blanketflower blooms at the end of the season

weed seedheads in the evening light

The trees are dropping their leaves…and their seeds! We will plant some and see if they grow.

basket of acorns and one acorn still on the tree

We’ve been so busy harvesting the garden and have a pantry stuffed full of bounty from our tomatoes, cucumbers, plums, choke-cherries and apples. There are delicious treats ahead this winter!

plums in the tree and colourful leaves

wicker basket full of red plums

mason jars with juice, salsa and tomato sauce in them

In the meantime, it’s still the perfect time to go outside and explore; soon we will be spending most of our time indoors!

barbed wire fence alongside the road with tall grasses and a stormy sky above

Social Saturday | October 1

oak tree in fall covered in gold and brown leaves

Happy Saturday, dear Readers, and welcome to October (My favourite month!) How was your week? I’ve got a quick little post for today because I wanted to share a couple of links with you all.

The first is this calligraphy course I’ve signed up for! I’ve always wanted to learn calligraphy, so when I learned about this modern brush calligraphy course, by Becca of The Happy Ever Crafter, I was so excited to join! I’ve got my supplies ready, and can’t wait to learn a new skill. The class starts on Monday, so there is still time to join if you too want to learn calligraphy!

And the other link is to this article from Verily about the recent Persuasion Netflix film. I didn’t watch the movie, and had no intention of doing so, but I did really enjoy this examination of why this “modernized” version of one of my favourite Austen stories was such a miss, and how Hollywood fails at presenting different kinds of heroines.

Well, that’s all I have to say today. I hope you have a lovely weekend, whatever you’re up to!

a hollyhock bloom with a bumblebee inside it and a yellow sunflower