YOU ARE BRAVE textiles printed fabrics by textile designer Michelle Kistima-Menser

Filling The Creative Well

Michelle Kistima-MenserComment

Every winter for the past 3 years it’s been the same … June comes around & I find I’m struggling to adjust to the cooler weather and less daylight hours. Do you find this too?

This time of year I’m less inclined to be active. I’m quieter, unmotivated and I can’t seem to find the creative energy that usually drives me. I experience a sort of low that’s not typical of me.

I think most would agree that winter is a time for hibernating, ruminating & reflection … for withdrawing & soul searching.

So it’s no wonder that this month my thoughts turn inward … to the home, the family, to my self & to my creative practice.

For the past few weeks I’ve started reading a wider variety of books & maintained my nightly drawing sessions. I’ve been forcing myself to seek out the work of other creative types & making a point of catching up with good, fun, positive people.

Getting out in the winter sun ... after visiting a friends exhibition, we decided to explore the area on foot & found a lovely, hidden harbourside park we'd never been to before. Photo by little Mr Menser

Getting out in the winter sun ... after visiting a friends exhibition, we decided to explore the area on foot & found a lovely, hidden harbourside park we'd never been to before. Photo by little Mr Menser

All of these, I’ve come to realize, are like treats … like little gifts of uplifting, soul filling Joy.

And on deeper reflection through these experiences I’ve come to visualize my creativity to be like a well. Sometimes it's full of clear nourishing water and sometimes the water level is low or murky.

So then drawing from the Creative Well means keeping it full of clean, pure water & finding the right tools to extract the nourishment I need whenever I need it. This has really helped me to view my slump as a time when I need extra care & I'm the best person to do that.

So this month I thought I’d share my top tips for igniting creativity whether it be winter or summer :-

1.     Treat yourself well. Sleep. Eat well & move daily. (I know you’ve heard that a million times elsewhere but I believe it really is at the core of being creative & vital!)

2.     Seek out creative types whether it’s at a market or gallery. Initiate a chat, invite them out for a coffee or do a workshop. (I recently did my first ever ceramics throwing class … boy was it fun .... & messy & weird!)

3.     Do something out of the ordinary at least once a week. Break out of the routine if only briefly. (I’ll leave the repetitive & the routine to the machines thanks!)

4.     Experience the joy of play. Kids are naturals with their creativity. Look to them for inspiration.

And let me know how you go?

PS. I still can’t wait until the air starts to become sweeter with the divine perfume of the neighbourhood’s blossoms & the uplifting feeling of everything starting to come alive again!

June Member Survey Questions & Answers

Member Question : What has been the hardest thing for you starting your own business and how do you stay motivated?

My Answer : Starting the business 2 years ago was a decision that didn't come easily. I was used to the security of full time employment & that being the socially accepted norm. But something bigger was urging me to pursue it. So with the help of the wise words from my Great Aunt Mabel (some 34 years ago) & the support of my family, I took the leap! Staying motivated & focused is something that I need to work on all the time. I do love my work & I'm not the type to flake off & go to the beach instead but I constantly need to reign myself in & channel my energy to the business & all it's aspects. This is the hardest part!

Member Question : "Is running your business a full time job?"

My Answer : I run YOU ARE BRAVE solo. I am also a mother, wife & home maker. I teach fabric printing & am currently involved in setting up the print studio at Makerspace & Co in Marrickville, Sydney. I also do freelance graphic & textile design work for clients from my previous life in fashion. I LOVE all these aspects of my life but sometimes juggling & balancing everything is a huge challenge. And I think the key is to view it all as spokes on one wheel. I'm trying to combine family & home life with teaching & what I do at Makerspace for example. So that my creative business is my life & not my job. I really take inspiration on this from Reiko Azuma, a wonderful local artist, mum, singer & teacher who I interviewed for my blog in March. Read that interview here.