The Experiment

All’s quiet here in my studio. It’s early morning and I’m swishing gouache around on a page in my sketchbook before anyone, including myself, is fully awake and going. This is all part of an experiment I started about a month ago. And one I hope continues for a very long time.

The Experiment, as I call it, began as a way to combat a sense of overwhelm in my creative life. To be honest, I was hoping for some relief from overwhelm in the rest of life as well, but I simply needed to name and maintain a focus on one thing. In the weeks following surgery, I resumed the way I had previously been working…a kind of preschool centers approach where I flit from one station to another…knitting a little here, weaving a bit there, spinning a lot everywhere, and sketching in between. A familiar addled feeling of being pulled in too many directions led to a serious talk with myself remembering numerous times when I landed in this same place. Here is one and then another just a little while ago. Funny how I come ’round to the same spots.

When I arrive in these places where the whirling dervish of my creative curiosity needs reigning in, I ask myself…What is your one necessity? This question comes blazing out of the haze like a shooting star from Annie Dillard’s piece on Weasels in her book Teaching a Stone to Talk. I first read this book in college and this story in particular spoke to me of living a singular life, focused and enduring through whatever comes my way. It’s a pointed question that can be asked in all areas of one’s life…spiritually, creatively, financially, etc. A month ago I decided to recalibrate and set an intention that I knew from experience would help me greatly.

Drawing in a sketchbook is my one necessity. It is not selling artworks. It is not knitting, or weaving, or spinning even. And though I am loathe to say that about the last three for they are inextricably woven into the fabric of my daily life, it is drawing and painting in a sketchbook that anchors me in the life I’ve been given, opens my eyes to the beauty around me, settles my heart into present moments that are drawcumented in a book. As I age and try to remember past events, it is often the sketchbook pages I drew of those memories that come to mind. Stacks of sketchbooks are stored in a big wooden toy box which I’m sure someday I’ll pull out and look back over. For now, I’ll fill more pages, daily creating a Picture Book of my life.

I like that.❤️

In my next post I’ll describe the basic parameters of The Experiment. So far, these simple guidelines have been do-able and helpful.

14 thoughts on “The Experiment

    • Jennifer Edwards says:

      Thank you so much Nancy! So far, the Experiment is really helping me mentally have a sense of completion, continuity, and focus. I tend to be a bit hummingbird-like…flitting from one pretty flower to another. But I’m even enjoying noting the days I don’t “feel” so drawn to my sketchbook and working with that, changing the time of day I draw, or picking a pen or crayon I haven’t used in a while. Anyway..thanks for the creative camaraderie!

  1. Carolyn says:

    I love writing in my journal (occasionally drawing) as well as knitting, crocheting, cooking. My other passion is reading. Above all else I serve the masters of reading and writing and I am happy. Love reading your blog and seeing art I could never do. (Did knit your Easy Peasy scarf, though!) {{{hugs}}}

  2. Phyllis+Alden says:

    Jennifer I find myself returning to loves of my childhood. I think we all move in circles…some circles healthier than others. Life. Living. Learning. You reminded me of the many happy moments spent making cuddly baby and toddler blankets for new parents of little ones, and Project Linus. Thank you for your wonderful gift of writing just the right way to refocus what has been there all along.
    You are a treasure.

    • Jennifer Edwards says:

      Oh you are a dear Phyllis…thank you for your kind words! As makers who have been creating for many years, we have such memories of the phases we have gone through and sometimes I long for those phases to return! But I must be ever onward looking ahead and to my hands for what they are wanting to make now. Many blessings to you with sincerest hope for health and continued harp music-making!

  3. Mimi Davis says:

    I love this! So often in life we are pulled in many directions and sometimes it’s seen as a badge of honor to keep multiple plates spinning at the same time, but it’s exhausting!! I admire your experiment to be true to yourself and focus on what helps you the best!

    • Jennifer Edwards says:

      Thank you Mimi! Every single bit of making I do helps me. I have often felt the my Maker gave me these things to be the primary way of healing in my life, ways of dealing with Life as it comes. But with so many lovely things literally at my finger tips, it is helpful for me to zero in on one. I have a drawing from years ago, where I am spinning plates just as you have described and a few of the plates are teetering on disaster! Ha! I look forward to seeing you this week!

  4. Zoe Myer says:

    Jennifer, I don’t know if you’ve heard about Lilias Trotter. She was a Victorian English woman who studied art under John Ruskin. She gave up the art career he promised her to go on the mission field in Algeria. For the rest of her life, she kept sketch books, which are now the source of several books. You can see some of her sketches at this website I hope you’ll be encouraged to see that you’re not alone in the need for sketch books & what a blessing they can be not only to you, but others.

    • Jennifer Edwards says:

      Zoe, I apologize for not seeing your wonderful comment sooner! I will definitely go explore Lilias Trotter and I thank you for sharing this with me! I hope you are well and happy in your making these days! Blessings to you! -Jennifer

    • Jennifer Edwards says:

      Dear Zoe, I am so grateful to you for bringing Lilias Trotter to my attention. I have been ravenously enjoying reading about her on this website and gazing at her beautiful artwork and putting a book or two or three on my Christmas List. This is a real encouragement to me! Her life and work and all about her is so encouraging…I feel we are kindred spirits though separated by time and generations. Thank you!

      • Zoe says:

        Jennifer – I’m delighted that Lilias speaks to your spirit! She came into my life some years ago when I sorely needed her insight. Her books will not disappoint! Grace & peace – Zoe

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