Do you ever worry about your creative energy – the spark, the source, whatever you call it – will just up and disappear? I do. Because it happened to me.
A few years ago my health went south. Something that most of my years messed up life a few times a year, over several months morphed into an all-day, all-the-time severe problem. And it about killed me, the disease itself didn’t but it pretty well killed my want to be alive. It did kill me creatively. It took everything I had, and required a boatload of crazy drugs just to go to work, and eventually I had to give that up, too. I’m better now. Not all better, but better enough that I’m not going insane. Better enough that the creative pilot light finally relit itself about a year ago and I began making things. I sewed all night. I drew. I read creative blogs. I taught myself to crochet. It was a huge compulsion and I just couldn’t stop myself for making stuff. I was so pleased! “I’m back, baby!” as George Costanza used to exclaim.
And then… then, a couple of months ago my mother went to the hospital with an annoying problem and during her stay it was found that she had a life-threatening brain bleed, and she very nearly died. It was terrifying. I was with her every day in the ICU, and every day once she transferred back to the regular part of the hospital. Then for a couple of weeks after that I saw her every-other day in a rehab center.
This story really will come around to the kitty photo. And I promise it stops being depressing.
So as I mentioned earlier, my health ain’t all that, and seeing my mother so often was making my stuff go haywire. During that time, due to pain, exhaustion, and fear for my mother, I made nothing. Well, duh, who could be creative at a time like that? But I was getting worried. It wasn’t that I didn’t have time to make anything, I simply didn’t have the desire, and that was too familiar to be comfortable. But also during those same weeks, something wonderful happened: we found a kitty.
She was tiny and frail and starving and needed help. She was in a family cemetery (not mine) nearby, and although I knew she needed help or she’d perish in the ugly heat, I really didn’t want another cat. I already had four! But we took her to the vet and found that she was a mere 4 weeks old and needed a fair amount of care due to her young age. So we took her home and cared for her with the intention of fostering her until she was old enough to adopt out. At least, that’s what I told myself and anyone else who asked. Two days, 7 hours, and 32 minutes later she looked at me thinking I was her mother, and that was that: I had another kitty. Penelope Eleanor Graves is now healthy and strong, and utterly adorable. A couple of weeks ago I made her a little toy, the first thing I’d made in a month.
It’s not much at all, took maybe 45 minutes and is now coated in cat spit, but at least I made something. Right after that, I made another little crochet ball for her.
And then I made more stuff. And more stuff. And I started hitting up the blogs again and the other sites I like to go to for inspiration. And I have rumblings in the New Idea Joint. That’s the space between your ears inside you head that you can feel twitching when you are formulating an idea, it’s the New Idea Joint popping. I wasn’t creatively dead again!
Right now I’m playing with the idea of combining crocheted shapes with paintings on boards. I like the contrast of a softer material on top of a visually hard surface, being the painted board. This is the first stab just to see how it might look, and so I could figure out methods of attaching the crochet pieces to the board. The whole concept isn’t cemented yet but I am making some decisions while allowing lots of room for expanding the idea.
I haven’t done any more of the Beautiful Disease paintings in a few years but I’m toying with the idea of combining that idea with crochet to make the finished pieces more dimensional. I’ve always liked multimedia works anyway, as well as paintings that aren’t flat.
As for Penelope, she’s getting along grand, healthy and growing. She purrs almost all the time she’s around me, even when she’s dozing. She loves to play with my hair. My crochet hooks fascinate her, as do my paint brushes. My 2 boys are already enjoying playing with her. I think she’s going to be a great little cat. Even if she is Cat Number Five.
My hands smell like cat spit.