Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Creative Reading...or Reading for Creativitity -- ATA blog tour!


I’m happy to be part of the American Tapestry Alliance blog tour this year. My blog topic is about how books, catalogs of exhibits, and other print media all play a role in my quest for design inspiration and ways to enhance my creative process. 

I once thought the answers to all my questions about creativity and inspiration were probably in a book—I just needed to find the right book. I was always eager to dig into any book with a topic of creativity, creative process, ways to become more creative, as well as books about design. I also loved to read about other tapestry makers--especially if the books were biographies or memoirs about their particular creative journey.  For years, I've checked out books, purchased books, borrowed them from friends, and pored over books in libraries--all in the search for the answers.

My reading corner at my studio. 
A couple of my home bookshelves.
When I came across The Mind’s Best Work by D. N. Perkins a few years ago, I hoped it held the secret of how to come up with novel ideas. But what I learned instead from Perkins was that there isn’t a secret, magic formula for “being creative.” Instead, it results most often from—work!


Writers often say: “You have to show up every day…” and that’s true for me in my visual work.  In my own art making, I’ve found that the process of first digging for inspiration and then developing it further into images is sometimes painful, sometimes joyful but can only be accomplished by action.  I have to have confidence that the daily effort will help me to discover some of the potential that lies in my assorted ideas, and that I’ll eventually find images to express those concepts.


A closer view of the book shelf.
And more...
I now know that reading a book will not “make me creative,” but I usually find encouragement in the writing.  And it often turns out that the author suggests pointers I haven’t yet discovered. For instance, a couple of books I’ve found that have helpful suggestions are The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron and Drawing on the Artist Within by Betty Edwards.

I began the practice of daily writing that Cameron calls “morning pages” in 2009. Since then, sitting down with a cup of coffee and my favorite fountain pen to write three pages has become an important part of my morning ritual. I’ve found this habit to be a great way to combat the niggling anxieties of my life by getting them onto the page and out of my head.

Favorites for morning pages ritual: spiral bound notebook, Lamy fountain pen, and strong black coffee in a Bob Owens mug!

I’ve also used the morning pages much like a diary to recount previous day’s events and sometimes I jot down ideas about ongoing tapestries or make planning notes for classes I’ll be teaching soon. I feel being faithful to writing the morning pages has enhanced my tapestry making (and my life in general) by helping me to both sort out negative thoughts and to generate positive ones.


In addition to the private morning pages notebooks, I also have journals I don't mind sharing with others in which I mull over current tapestries in the making—and anything else that happens to wanders through my mind. I have found that writing helps me elaborate ideas as I design for tapestry by giving me a way to clarify my thoughts while I’m developing the concepts for a tapestry more fully.

A few of my many journals from the past twenty + years.
Drawing on the Artist Within by Betty Edwards has excellent suggestions for visual exercises. In fact, I like this book better than her Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. Several of her exercises were particularly helpful in pushing me out of my typical approach to designing when I was struggling with an idea that I just couldn't resolve into a cartoon.

One of Edwards's recommendation was to make quick gesture drawings from photos, with a timer set for one minute. The photos I worked from were ones I’d taken of emerging fiddleheads and I dearly wanted to design a tapestry based upon those young, developing ferns. But I just couldn’t seem to get it right by looking at one or two photos and making a painting--so much visual activity in the forest floor was in those photos and I couldn't seem to simplify!

The rapid gesture drawing activity forced me to loosen up and become less concerned with detail. Instead, I could see the energy of the spiral growth of the fiddleheads and I responded to that in lines I quickly scribbled. Later, I refined the images by scanning them and printing several versions of each one that I developed further in value studies. Several tapestries resulted from the momentum I gained by looking for the photographs in different ways in those fast sketches from Betty Edwards’s suggestions.

Charcoal gesture drawings made from my photos of fiddleheads
These are some of the value studies made on the scanned versions from the charcoal sketches.
These two turned into tapestries.
Spring Profusion, 31" x 25" wool and cotton
Once Upon a Time, 40" x 25"
I've also gained so much inspiration from reading about the creative journeys taken by other artists, especially those of tapestry artists.  I have Woven Color by Carole Green and James Koheler, a wonderful look at James's life and work.  Others are The Tree of Lives by and about Jean Pierre Larochette and Yael Lurie; Christine Laffer: Tapestry and Transformation by Carole Greene; Nezhnie: Weaver and Innovative Artist about Muriel Nezhnie by Linda Rees; Weaving a Chronicle by Judith Poxson Fawkes; and Helena Hernmarck: Tapestry Artist by Monica Boman and Patricia Malarcher.


Last year, Rebecca Mezoff self-pubished a small volume about her month-long artist residency at the Petrified Forest.  She document the tiny daily tapestries she did while she was there in a Blurb book that I love to flip through, see the tapestries and read her comments about finding the inspiration for and weaving the little pieces.

Rebecca Mezoff's Petrified Forest National Park, Artist-in-Residence Tapestries.
Finding sources of inspiration and ways to sustain creative flow are distinct challenges for me—and maybe for you, as well. Sometimes taking time to sit down with a book that’s an old favorite and that’s been on the bookshelf for years is nice to do. Maybe while flipping through the pages you’re reminded of the wisdom contained within both the book--and yourself--and that’s all you need to spark a burst of creative energy.

Other times, maybe seeing pieces included in an exhibit catalog will energize you. Perhaps you bought the catalog when you visited the exhibit and you’ll be reminded of how the works looked in person. Friends may also mention a book to you. In fact, your online social networks are great places to learn about new books—just recently on Facebook I found out about the beautifully inspiring publication, Joy: Yellow is the New Blue by Jilly Edwards and a copy of it now lives on my bookshelf (when it isn't in my lap being pored over!)


I've subscribed to several publications for many years and keep the old issues to revisit.  Although it was only published for a few years in the 1990s I enjoy going back to issues of the International Tapestry Journal to reread articles.  Unfortunately, I don't know how one might find those any longer--if anyone has that information, it would be wonderful to find out!

One of the benefits I've gotten from being a member of British Tapestry Group is receiving their Tapestry Journal in the mail.  I love VAV, the Scandinavian weaving magazine.  And I also subscribe to Surface Design Journal and to Fiber Art Now.  I've been a member of Handweavers Guild of America for years and their publication, Shuttle, Spindle and Dyepot is among my magazine copies, too.  I have most of the copies of the no-longer-published Fiberart Magazine.  And many other fiber journals--it's amazing how many tapestry articles there once were in Handwoven magazine in the 1990s.

Of course, I can't leave out the American Tapestry Alliance and many of the back issues of the newsletter, Tapestry Topics, at their website at this link.  

These are just a few of the many files of magazines that are both at home and at my studio.



I love hard copies of any reading material--yes, I do go to the Internet daily to search for information and to travel down particular rabbit holes that open up. But I just don't get the same sensual response from a laptop or phone screen as I do from sitting down with a publication in my hands. Even the smell of printing ink can be intoxicating when the new magazines arrive!
 
I’ve posted a selected bibliography of books to which I’ve returned time and again in the left margin of the web view of my blog under Books I Love. And, here’s a link to my most of my studio books at Library Thing: http://www.librarything.com/catalog/tmscanlin

The ATA website also has a book list compiled by many members at this link: https://americantapestryalliance.org/tapestry-education/books-on-tapestry-weaving-technique/


The online digital archives of weaving materials also holds a wealth of information.

I hope your design routine will include time for you to sit with a good book about art, design, tapestry weaving, nature studies--or any other topic that grabs your attention and that may inspire your thoughts.  And now that I've written this I think I'll select one of the books from my shelf that I haven't gotten down in awhile and see what I might find to shift my thinking!


And... don't forget to enter your name for the prizes that are being provided by wonderful folks as a thanks for following the blog tour! 
  
Here's how to do that:


THE BLOG TOUR

January 22nd: Molly Elkind: Collage as research

January 23rd: Ellen Bruxvoort - Vlog on Instagram about her design process

January 24th:​ Tommye Scanlin: Literature as inspiration

January 25th: Debbie Herd: Digital design tools

January 26th: Barbara Burns: Documenting your design for promotion

WIN ONE OF 26 PRIZES!

Follow all the stops on the blog tour to increase your chance to win one of the following prizes: $50 towards a Mirrix Loom, a Hokett loom kit, a Hokett Tiny Turned Beater, a project bag from Halcyon Yarn containing rosewood bobbins and a voucher for their online shop, a voucher for Weaversbazaar’s online shop, a free entry into ATA’s 12th international, unjuried, small format exhibition and a free one-year membership to ATA.

Here’s how to enter to win. Comment on this blog post then go here to let ATA know that you commented. The more blog posts you comment on the more chances you have to win so be sure to follow along. Ellen Bruxvoort is doing an Instagram video for the tour and if you respond with a photo or video on social media describing how you design tapestry you get five extra entries in the giveaway. Let the sharing begin!

To win another 5 entries into the giveaway enter to exhibit in The Biggest Little Tapestries in the World, ATA’s 12th international, unjuried small format exhibition, and then let us know that you entered by going here by Sunday January 28th. For this exhibition all entries get accepted to exhibit as long as your tapestry fits within the size requirements!

The Biggest Little Tapestries in the World, ATA’s 12th international, unjuried small format exhibition is open to all weavers. We invite entries which fit more traditional definitions of tapestry, and also entries that expand upon the core principles of the medium as they explore new techniques and processes. Multimedia work is welcome. The Biggest Little Tapestries in the World! will hang July 2018 at the Northwest Reno Public Library, 2325 Robb Drive. The entry form (intent to participate) is due February 15, 2018. The tapestry, and an image of the tapestry is not due until March 31, 2018. Find more details here




ABOUT AMERICAN TAPESTRY ALLIANCE

The American Tapestry Alliance is a nonprofit organization that provides programming for tapestry weavers around the world, including exhibitions (like Tapestry Unlimited), both juried and unjuried, in museums, art centres and online, along with exhibition catalogues. They offer workshops, lectures, one-on-one mentoring and online educational articles as well as awards, including scholarships, membership grants, an international student award, and the Award of Excellence. They also put out a quarterly newsletter, monthly eNews & eKudos, an annual digest. Members benefit from personalized artists pages on the ATA website, online exhibitions, educational articles, access to scholarships and more.

You’re invited to exhibit! The Biggest Little Tapestries in the World, ATA’s 12th international, unjuried small format exhibition is open to all weavers. We invite entries which fit more traditional definitions of tapestry, and also entries that expand upon the core principles of the medium as they explore new techniques and processes. Multimedia work is welcome. The Biggest Little Tapestries in the World! will hang at the Northwest Reno Public Library, 2325 Robb Drive. The entry form (intent to participate) is due February 15, 2018. The tapestry, and an image of the tapestry is not due until March 31, 2018. Find more details here




179 comments:

  1. Thank you Tommye! As I've been learning about tapestry over the past couple of years I have devoured many practical books on the subject, but there are others in your list which I may well try to track down. However, I suspect that I also need to put the books aside and concentrate on design for a while.

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  2. Yes, Jane! Putting down the books and jumping into design is necessary. I know that I surely can't design productively just in my head... I have to see and respond to what comes out.

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  3. Thank you for listing all the wonderful resources! On my list of must dos is taking a class with you. You are an inspiration!

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    1. Thanks, Kathy! There’s so much out there to be inspired by—newly published and old ones, too. I forgot to mention the Harriet Tidball monograph about tapestry and the wonderful design chapter in it!

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  4. Books! I love books and have turned to them so many times for the technical side of weaving, cooking, music and more. But, I often don't think of using them for the creative process, at least not consciously. After reading your blog post today, I may have to hunt down some of these resources and see what happens. Thank you!

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  5. Thanks, Chriss! I'd suggest hunting in a library or interlibrary loan before purchasing if you want to see if it's what you'd really want to own. That said, the Betty Edwards's book, Drawing on the Artist Within, is so good (in my opinion) that I have a digital copy now that I can dip into from my mobile.

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  6. Love the process! I am a textile artist and I find some of the same ideas with your processes. I have a loom and at some point want to lear! Thanks for your inspiration!

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    1. Deb, thanks for the comment! I'm glad to know that in your textile work you're finding similar ideas of process.

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  7. The words that resonate with me are “finding inspiration” and “sustaining creative flow. Since I do not have an art background I feel I have to dig deep to find my tapestry groove. Pouring through the work of others does help greatly. As in writing, imitation is a powerful exercise. Thanks for the window into writings to explore.

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    1. Marilyn, not having an an art background doesn't have to stop you from finding your "tapestry groove." Molly Elkin's great suggestions about collage yesterday are inspiring and approachable. Doing something every day also helps with the creative flow--even if only 5 minutes to look with your "creative eye" at something you see around you can help that.

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  9. I have to say, I am loving this blog tour. Tommye--you've given us several rabbit holes to go down/visit, but I've been eyeing my copy of Jack Lenor Larsen's Beyond Craft the Art Fabric for several days now. I guess it's time to finally pick it up. Thanks for the inspiration!

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  10. Thanks! The Larson book is fabulous and thank you for mentioning it--I definitely should have included it and The Art Fabric: Mainstream in my selected bibliography. Did you spot it in one of my photos??

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  11. This is a wonderful post and reminds me how important every day work is. So often I get lost inside my own thoughts and feel the frustration of not being able to move forward from there.

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  13. Thanks Tommye for this wonderful post full of resources. And, thank you for posting pictures of your library chock full of books not all beautifully lined up but alive and ready to be pulled out to read! I feel lots better about my bookshelf. Now to get to that tapestry diary before January is over.
    Janette Gross

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  14. Tommye, this is wonderful! We share the same wistful hope that the answers to all our questions might be found in books! And I agree that writing is a great way to sort and sift through one’s ideas in preparation for designing new work. Thanks for reminding me about several of these resources. I’m seriously considering joining British Tapestry Group now—their publication is very nice. Great post!

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  15. Thank you, Janette. Yes, my books are sort of willy-nilly on the bookshelves, aren't they! I try to keep them organized by at least category but that's not always the case. I can't tell you how many times I've searched and searched and searched for the book that was just "right there!" but then I'll find I've put it into whatever empty space that was available at the time.

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  16. Molly! Thank you so much for your comment. The British Tapestry Group's resources online are super, as is the printed Tapestry Journal. We're all so fortunate to have online resources to delve into--so different than when I began tapestry weaving in the late 1980s.

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  17. You named my two favorites: Julia Cameron and morning pages and Betty Edwards and The Artist Within. Thanks for affirming these two and the value of daily practice.

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  18. Thanks, Linda. Yes, both of those have been mainstay books for me, too.

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  19. Tommye:
    I'm a newbie to tapestry weaving and have fallen into the rabbit hole many times looking at various tapestry artists especially with the ATA website. As I begin to understand the structure of tapestry weaving, it is helping me to understand better how to design a project. I will have to check out the exercises in Betty Edwards book. I played with her first book but have not looked at "The Artist within". Thanks for your wonderful post.

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    1. Thank you, Ann. Definitely take a look at Drawing on the Artist Within. So many good exercises in it in addition to the one I mentioned in the post.

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  20. Thank you Tommye for today’s blog and for your continuing sharing of your creative endeavors. I have been following your blog for many years, and always find them to be relevant and full of information. I have ‘Yellow is the new Blue’ sitting by me every day. It is amazing. Also for the wonderful sharing of your resources.

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  21. Sue, Thanks for the thoughts! Isn't "Yellow....' wonderful?!

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  22. Thank you for sharing your list of books- many years of reading/browsing!

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  23. I remember ITNET - of course, now it stands for something IT related rather than tapestry. Did they publish International Tapestry Journal? I keep saying that I am going to join British Tapestry Group to get Tapestry Weaver magazine, but I'm trying so hard not to bring anymore "stuff" into the house this year. I too have stacks of old Handwovens, Weavers Journals, Fiber Arts, and SSDs. I could pull out any one of them and it would be like new to me, so I am holding off on subscribing to any more magazines this year! I still appreciate your list of books. Since I work at a university, I could always try to get whatever our large library doesn't have on interlibrary loan. Thank you!

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    1. Yes, International Tapestry Journal was from ITNET. The ability to get the books at the university and/or through interlibrary loan is so helpful when I’m not sure if I need a book. But unfortunately there’s the impulse to buy when I come across a newly published one that looks intriguing!

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  24. Tommye, thank you for sharing your creativity with books and magazines. We are so fortunate to live in a time where we have the benefits of both online and in person options. I have to admit that as much as I use technology, I find a good solid book or magazine in my hands is more inspiring. I especially love some of the recent books that have fabric/textured covers. What a joy to hold these beauties.

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    1. You are so right, Regina. There’s nothing like holding a book and keeping your fingers in past paste you might want to flip back to quickly. I also put in small post-it-notes throughout.

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  25. As a life long voracious reader, I have only in recent years started to attempt to gain some measure of artful inspiration from writers such as yourself. Thank you for your insight and sharing your book list.

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  26. Wonderful! Thank you for sharing. I have many of the books you mention, except Betty Edwards “The Artist Within”. Think I’ll give it a try. The weather is cold and snowy here today...think I’ll grab a book off the shelf and see where it takes me. Or maybe wander through my journals from the past 20 years. You’ve given me much to explore.

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    1. Bonnie, if you wander through your journals you might want to put in some post it notes at pints you’d like to reconsider in the “now”—maybe see how those are the same or different than how you’re looking or feeling about something currently. I reviewed about 20 years of past journals last year and it was interesting to see how my rhino had changed in some ways, but how much consistency there also was with design ideas.

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    2. Good grief... no rhino but ideas. My spell check is going well today!

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  27. Wow Tommye! I have learned countless things from you over the years, and today's blog post was no exception. I love the gesture drawing idea especially and how you developed those drawings into tapestries. Isn't it amazing that a simple "nugget" derived from a book (or a blog!) can serve to transform one's creative process in such positive ways? That is the genius of this blog tour!

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    1. Ellen, thank you so much for the comments. The gesture drawings were such a good exercise. Those really got me to looking at the fiddleheads in a different way.

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  28. Tommye, I do know where to start! Great informative post, as usual! I have been a follower of you and your blog for years, because you so generously share your process, and this was no exception. I am a lover of books and the rabbit holes they lead me to. I am going to check into a few of your recommendations. Also agree with the morning pages routine and will check out Betty Edwards. I am a painter and a weaver who started to look at tapestry as a way to integrate both a few years ago, but life took precedence for a while, as it does. So dipping my toes in the water again. Anyway, thank you for an inspiring read.

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    1. Carol, thanks for following me blog through the years. It's been a good way to process ideas along with share about the process of doing. Being a painter and a weaver, as you are, tapestry is certainly the way to satisfy both urges--image making and object making!

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  29. Tommye, thank you so much for sharing your love of books and your list of them to boot! I confess that I've also searched, high and low, for the "key" to creativity between the covers. And that I'm finally getting to a place in my life where I realize the creative comes from between my ears but that *that* relies of good feeding by viewing, reading, seeing, hearing..all the sense. Including touching the pages of these wonderful works. Love that you've posted and shared on your website the list as well. Thank you again, so much, for such an inspiring read!

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    1. Thank you Susan. I like your comment about "good feeding" of the senses as being key to creativity. You are so right about that.

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  30. Love your website. It has given me a great place to start. I have been working on a tapestry diary for this new year and I’ve been afraid of running out of inspiration. Now I know to look to my bookshelves. Thanks.

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  31. What a wonderful blog post! And thank you for sharing your list of books. Reading for inspiration is something I have always done too.

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    1. Julia, thank for the comment! What books do you recommend?

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    2. Tommye,
      I like and have read several times these books:
      Walking in This World: The Practical Art of Creativity by Julia Cameron
      Twyla Tharp The Creative Habit
      Narratives by Susan Martin Maffei
      Woven Worlds: Ten Years of En Plein Air Tapestries by Cresside Collette
      and many others mentioned by you.

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  32. Thank you for the ideas and inspiration. I struggle with design ideas & it's so interesting to see how others create!

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  33. Thank you for commenting, Cooky. I also struggle with design ideas and remembering that there are resources I can use to nudge me along is always helpful.

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  34. Thanks for this post, Tommye! I'll be looking for several of the books you mention, especially "Drawing on the artist Within."

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    1. Kate, I think you'll really enjoy seeing the wealth of info in Drawing on the Artist Within!

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  35. Wow! As a fellow "bookaholic" I so loved your post. I frequently have my head in a book and the hours drift by.
    So great to know so many of us have the same passion. Many thanks for your wonderful blog and positive habits.
    I did morning pages for many years to help get through hard times. With your comments I think I will resume them again as a creative tool
    Cheers!

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    1. Thank you, Victoria! Those morning pages really have been helpful to me in lots of ways. Just like the tapestry diary work, sometimes it seems like a chore to do the writing--one more time! But if I continue to do it, it really is good for me.

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  36. Thank you for all the wonderful resources. I loved seeing how you incorporate books into your process. I love books and am always on the look out for new ones!

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    1. Lindsay, thank you for your comment. Sometimes there aren't enough hours in the day to get to all of the reading I want to do. I'm sure it is for you, too.

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  37. For I few years I regularly did morning pages and then slowly dropped the habit thanks for reminding me of the benifit of this practice. I will try Edwards book. I also am intrigued about the many other books you suggested which I have not read. I love books and tapestry.

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    1. Thanks for your thoughts about morning pages. I've really found that the morning pages get me centered for the day's tasks. Sometimes they're almost mostly "to do" lists but at least it gets the thoughts racing around in my head out and in a form I can consider easier.

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  38. Thank you for writing this post. Also, I just unpack our library in the studio space I share with my husband. I found how you use your photographs helpful using the quick draw method interesting. I am a photographer as well as weaver. I have yet to read Twyla Tharp's book, The Creative Habit, Michael J Gelb's book, How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci, and Philippe Petit's book, Creativity-the perfect crime. Right now I am reading Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Issacson. Carolyn Cogan

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    1. Great listing of other books to take a look at, Carolyn! I have Twyla Tharp's book in my digital books--need to take a look at it again. I didn't know of the Gelb book or the Petit one. Thanks for mentioning those!

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  39. Thank you for saying how important books are to your process. I also write and look to books to learn more about how to create. I really like your observation that creativity can't be learned from a book, you have to do it. Thank you!

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    1. Lu, thank you for your thoughts. Even though I know I can't learn to be more creative from a book (other than knowing I must be WORKING!) I've found that the books, Trust the Process and View from the Studio Door both have exercises that get me to the working stage with a bit of a twist. Just as the Edwards book does. Sometimes I stay in the rut I create for myself by working in my own "tried and true" manner when designing. Should call it "tried and tired" instead!

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  40. Tommye, thank you for all your references! Such an amazing and resource filled blog. I will try the 1minute sketches, a great idea?

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    1. Alison, thanks for your thanks! I hope you'll find the 1-minute sketches helpful. The soft vine charcoal was nice to use since the line it makes is one that, by the nature of the medium, lends itself to being used with speed and gave a varied weight of darkness.

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  41. Thank you for sharing! There are definitely a few books here I'd like to take a look at. There have been a few ideas kicking around in my head that I've been struggling with? unsure of? stressing over? I'm not sure of the right way to express it, but they haven't been wanting to unstuck from my brain, and I look forward to looking at some of these resources you be mentioned.

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    1. Sarah, getting the ideas unstuck from the head and onto paper and then to threads--always a goal I'm working toward. Doesn't come easy for me all the time but I know some strategies to help the process.

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  42. I am a relative newcomer to the passion that is tapestry weaving and your article opens up so many new sources of inspiration for me. Thank you! I will have to be mindful of keeping a balanced approach though, between creative thinking, reading, planning and leaving time for the actual execution of projects. It can be daunting at times when juggling this with a full time day job as well, but so rewarding!

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    1. Marlena, are you ever right about having all these ideas and activities to juggle with your full time day job, I know it's really a challenge. When I was still a full-time teacher my studio hours were limited to weekends and during holiday breaks. I longed for the days when I could be in the studio and sometimes it was overwhelming to get there--what to do first?

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  43. Tommye, I've also been doing morning pages for more years than I can remember, and can't imagine who I would be without that very simple but profound practice. Some days it's about my weaving life, some days it's about my other work as a teacher of children, and some days it's about the laundry or the shopping I need to do-- it's all good. Thanks for sharing, once again, in your very generous way.

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    1. Katie, thanks for sharing about your morning pages practice and the impact it has had for you. I hope I’ll find the grit to carry on doing them for years to come.

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  44. Reading can be a dangerous distraction for me. I'm best off just working, which is what really gets me going. I did appreciate all your resources and links. The current tapestry is so graceful and elegant. I hadn't even thought of making a tapestry a month ago- I'm just learning to weave. I wanted to make some shapes, so I started researching tapestry so I could learn to change colors, and oh my goodness, a whole new world opened up. I had no idea...anyway, lovely work here.

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    1. Susan, welcome, welcome to the wonderful world of tapestry! I hope your plunge into tapestry will be rewarding for you. The ATA website has so many resources as well as multiple links to other places.

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  45. So much good info in this post! I really like the idea of the gesture drawings and will be getting a copy of Edwards's Drawing on the Artist Within.

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    1. Beth, I hope you’ll find the Edwards book exercises helpful. I know I have... others beyond the one I’ve mentioned.

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  46. Very inspiring post with a lot of good ideas. Being new to tapestry weaving I am always looking for for ways to prompt my creativity.

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    2. Martha, thanks for your comment. I hope you'll find many happy hours in tapestry!

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  47. Thanks so much for sharing your resources. Can’t wait to check out your book list. I too have a slew of books and magazines. Started reading “Visual Intelligence-Change Your Perception, Change Your Life” by Amy E. Herman. It’s helping me to be more observant. Love idea of quick sketches and using a timer is a great idea. Will give it a try. You reminded me that overthinking a design project is frustrating and I can be more productive and produce more ideas to pool from thru quick sketching. Thanks again.

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    1. Lori, thank you for commenting. I’ll take a look for the Amy Herman book you mentioned.

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  48. tommye I love your tapestries and so I found myself surprised that you, a master are still looking for help with the process. It's both reassuring and a little scary to think that I won't suddenly just know how to design. thank you for writing.

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    1. Kate, I struggle all the time to find ideas and then to figure out the best way to represent them in tapestry. Please be reassured that even if "suddenly" doesn't happen for knowing how to design there are many ways to get there. Don't give up at first (or second or twentieth!) try! Sometimes letting something alone overnight or over a weekend, then looking at it again will let you know what's right and/or wrong about a design that's developing.

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  49. I have some photos that inspire me and have wondered how best to distill them for tapestry. The suggestions from Betty Edwards book might be just the thing. Thanks for the heads up on some excellent books for my ever expanding library. PS: I have loved your work for decades.

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  50. Thanks for this article Tommy’s. I’m also inspired by reading bios of other weavers and artists.i include that in my definition of the design, creative process when asks. Thought the pic of your journals to be thought provoking for me. It’s something that I always think is a great idea, but ever do (many pretty journals owned with only the first few pages with entries). Your article is food for thought. Linda R.

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    1. Thank you Linda. I also have lots of blank pages in many journals. Also in sketchbooks. I realized that when I review through them recently--thought, "Well, don't need to ever buy another one--just start using the blank pages in all of these!"

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  51. “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work” Thomas Edison
    Yes, though books can inspire and be helpful there is nothing that really gets me inspired like being there in the studio, at the loom or with a paintbrush in my hand.

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  52. Books....If I collect any more books on art, techniques or creativity I might have to reinforce the floor of my house! but like you I find them so inspirational. And you've given me a few new titles to check out. Thank you.

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    1. Agnes, I have given books away--and found myself re-buying the same title after awhile!

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  53. At this very moment I am moving to a condo...and I feel reassured and vindicated that it is right that I have so many books in my library! Thank you for this wonderful list of new titles to explore!

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    1. Laura, it's right, right, right to have many books! I hope your move will be a good one and that having the reason to reassemble your books in the new space will give you a chance to take a look at some that you've not read in some time.

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  54. Tommye fabulous information. so looking forward to your class with Weavers of Orlando!

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    1. Thanks, Cynthia! I'm also looking forward to coming to Orlando for the class.

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  55. Thanks Tommye for your wonderful blog. I too love reading books and have a lot of the same ones but you gave me a few to add to my list,

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    1. Dinah, thanks so much! I'd love to know of others you have that I've missed.

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  56. Oh books. If only I was adept enough to read while weaving...

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    1. Janet, my solution is to listen to audio books! I listen to either books or music most of the time while I'm weaving, in fact. My listening isn't usually about creativity or design, though... I'm addicted to Scandinavian mystery/crime writers!

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  57. Thanks so very much for your wonderful article with so many resources. I read Julia Cameron's book and journaled for a year, but exactly a year later I stopped. I have again begun sporadically to do it mostly on days I don't work. It certainly does help focus my mind and my day. Thanks again! Joy

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    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Joy. I'd started morning pages about three years before beginning them again in 2009--kept it up for a few months and stopped. But when I picked it back up again, seemed to click for me. Now I do it right away--even getting up earlier to be sure I have about 30 minutes of extra time if I've got to be leaving the house early. I need to focus and this helps me do that, for sure!

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  58. Hello Tommye - thank you for such a useful and interesting post - so many publications and associations that I hadn't heard of - so many great resources for me to explore. As a new tapestry weaver (one year old ��) I am soaking it all up and excited to try out new ideas... thanks again! Helen

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    1. Thanks, Helen! I hope you're getting great ideas from this week's blog tour. Happy many more years of tapestry weaving to you!

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  59. Tommye - Thank you for sharing some of your wonderful resources. There are so many ways to get inspired, and putting that into practice and establishing a process is the challenge and the goal.

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    1. Martha, thanks so much. You're comment "...establishing a process is the challenge and the goal." is definitely true!

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  60. Thanks Tommye, Great book list and encouragement to not just look at designs, but to look within. I have read the Artist's Way and used to do the daily writing. Maybe I'll get back to it.

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    1. Bonni, thanks for the thoughts. Yep, looking within is something I have to continue to remind myself to do--but then to put something out there in a tangible form that I can see and consider for me to realize what I need to do.

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  61. Thanks for sharing your inspiration and design process! I will have to check out some of these resources!

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    1. Biggie, have fun taking a plunge into some of the resources!

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  62. Thank you for this, Tommye. What a generous write up of resources and inspiration. Just lovely.

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    1. Thank YOU, Janna Maria, for organizing this year's blog tour! You've worked so hard to get it all together and many people are benefiting from your efforts.

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  63. Wow, loved seeing your creative process here. Thanks for writing!

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    1. Thank you for taking a look, Brenda. I hope some of these resources will be helpful for you.

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  64. Thanks you for this, I can't wait to test out some of your book recommendations!

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    1. Have a good time taking a look at the recommendations, Anette!

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  65. Thanks, Tommye. I really enjoyed your thoughts and lots of book suggestions to explore. I was amazed at how many were new to me since I thought I was the queen of all of the books.

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    1. Gloria, I'm sure you've got many books I don't have! I always love to hear about new ones--and about old ones I haven't seen, also. So much good information in older publications even if they don't have the glossy colors of contemporary ones.

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  66. Thank you, Tommye, for a great article. All of us new weavers want to learn, learn, learn when we should just weave, weave, weave. I have begun to see design in everything around me. I'll be at your workshop in Florida in February and am looking forward to learning lots.

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    1. Thank you for your comment, Nancy. I sought out everything I could find about tapestry when I was learning. Yes you need to weave, weave, weave as you say. But we need to see lots of tapestries, too, I think. Books and online give one aspect but can’t replace the information one gets from the objects. I craved seeing real tapestries when I was learning — and still do!

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  67. This is interesting and thought provoking. And prompts me to get back to "morning pages". Thanks!

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    1. Heather! Happy renewed morning page writing to you!

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  68. A wealth of further reading here. I like your connection of words and pictures and ideas and weaving and design.

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  69. I love your work! I also loved all your comments on books. The next book is always The One that might awaken my muse! Thank you for all the inspiration, I would love to see your work in person some time.

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    1. Thanks so much! Yes, even though I wrote what I did... I continue to think The One is still about to be written!

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  70. Thank you Tommye. I have books and magazines that I haven't thought to go to for a long while. Must dig them out now and enjoy them again.

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    1. Mara, whenever I give myself time to sit down and dive into what I've got stacked around and about it's always inspiring. I can flip through 20 year old magazines for hours on end, post-it-notes in hand to stick to park articles I absolutely need to find again.

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  71. Love seeing your library and cozy reading corner. esp loved seeing how your refine your drawings. Been starting the 3 pages in the morning and helps to see others doing it as well. Gives me a kick on lazy mornings... Thanks

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    1. Thanks, Beth. Yes, those three pages also gives me a jump start to a morning. First task of the day--after making coffee, that is!

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  72. Perfect post for me. I was just trying to choose some books on inspiration and creative process to suggest to my book group who do not consider themselves creative . I can't wait for the discussion that will follow . Hmm , now which book ?

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    1. Thanks for your comment, Peg. You might want to recommend the Shawn McNiff book, Trust the Process, to your book group. Lots of inspirational thoughts about creativity (of course, all those books have lots of inspirational messages!)

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    2. Thanks , Wasn't sure where to start .That sounds great !

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  73. Thanks for your great blog!

    Your process reminds me of a technique a lady I used to know recommended. She wasn’t a weaver but every morning, first thing, would sit down with a pen and blank paper and stream of consciousness for 20mins. No longer. She said it was a great way to sort out her mind. Clarify. Deal with. Plan. And sometimes just explore feelings and thoughts as they came. Nothing was out of bounds.

    I do and be by doing. Sometimes that doing will work. Sometimes that doing will be a complete disaster.

    Thanks again! And happy reading. Happy weaving.



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    1. Meisha, I like your comment: "I do and be by doing." Whether or not the result of the doing is successful or a disaster--neither would be possible without the doing, would it. Just like I can't plan designs in my mind--have to see something and then respond to it. I know others can conceptualize and visualize internally, then execute. But I can't. Neither way is right or wrong--just more of our human differences!

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  74. Tommye, ThankYou, Thank You, Thank You for the reminder about how we must take “Action!”. I too am a book freak and ideas are flowing all the time, but I can really get bogged down with planning and not “action”. It was bad enough when there were just books, but now the internet rabbit hole is even deeper. I know parents are having to limit “tech time” with their kids, so I guess I will have to set a timer for this kid so that I don’t get lost in yet another “time waster”. Journaling is another great help that I must start “doing”....hopefully, it will record a lot of “Action” in the future.


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    1. Action! Alice, definitely, the planning is well and good but getting something done, even when it's not yet the best, is the only way I can move ahead.

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  75. What a great blog! I tried gesture drawing today for a design based on a photograph and am very happy with the result.

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  76. What a grand marriage of textiles and books. Loved the morning writing - how I admire your consistency. Vowing to do more gesture drawing and perhaps paintings of textile ideas. Thank you for this.

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    1. Thanks, Cate! The consistency for morning pages is hard won... it's a struggle sometimes, that's for sure. But I plug away at it.

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  77. I'm looking up at my copy of The Mind's Best Work right now. Love that book!

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    1. Anne! Glad you like The Mind's Best Work. It's one I need to dig back into again. My first copy was one I marked up throughout--loaned (gave) it to someone and years later reordered this used hard copy.

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  78. I love Betty Edwards' books. I haven't even got through the whole Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain book before I started my drawing class at college several years ago, but the exercises that I did helped me tremendously. Thank you for sharing your ideas about inspiration and information on good books to read.

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    1. Thank you. Betty Edwards' book about color is also a good one. Even though she has primarily painting exercises the color theory applies to yarns, and she has interesting way to approach it.

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  79. Thank you for the suggestions. I am in my last year of work, looking forward to the time and space to explore my potential as a tapestry artist

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    1. I hope your future explorations of tapestry will be meaningful and fulfilling for you! I really can't stress enough all of the resources there are at the American Tapestry Alliance website. Just the years' compilation of educational articles alone are enough to keep one's mind busy for quite awhile.

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  80. Wonderful list of resources. Thanks for sharing. I started doing morning pages last year after being introduced to Julie Camron’s books, and they are a great aid to helping me think through things. Interested in the Betty Edwards book you mentioned in the blog. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain is already on my shelf, and did not get purged when I downsize for my last move.

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    1. I think you might like the Drawing on the Artist Within book if you liked the other one by Edwards. I feel it's more to the point of exercises that can stretch one's thoughts and abilities rather than giving ways/reasons that everyone can make artwork. I mentioned before to someone that I have a digital copy of the book I can dip into from any mobile device... and do pretty often!

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  81. Tommye, I loved seeing many of my favorite books on your shelves! I also enjoyed seeing how your writing, journaling and sketching is part of your design process. Thank you!

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  82. Thank you, Tommye. I enjoyed the opportunity to peek into your bookcases! So nice to see some of your fiddle head fern sketches again. Your process with that one idea is inspiring. There is so much to be gained by going deeper and deeper into something that is so interesting to you.

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    1. Nancy, thanks so much for taking a look! Hope you're doing great.

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  83. Thank you for all of the recommendations.

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  84. Thanks for reminding me about the Jilly Cameron and Betty Edwards books, definitely time to re-read. The morning pages are such a great habit and yet I find I drift away from it -then back again - and off! So many other great suggestions, thanks again.

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  85. Thanks for taking a look at my post, Rita. I know the Cameron and Edwards books are older ones now... but they still have such valuable information!

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  86. This was a most inspiring post. I am recently retired and yearning to use my love of fiber to express myself. Without an art background I am not always sure where to begin. Thanks for the wonderful tips!!!

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    1. Kathy, I’m glad you found it to be a helpful post!

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  87. Your methods and process have been helpful, especially for someone not artistically schooled

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  88. r.w.phillips15@gmail.comJanuary 28, 2018 at 2:23 PM

    Thanks for the words about where not to find creativity.

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    1. Well, looking for creativity anywhere and everywhere is good to do. Finding it within is most important.

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  89. Thanks for the book recommendations! I'm just now taking a drawing class with an eye to using that skill for designing for tapestry (and another eye towards using it just to seeing/looking at the world more carefully), and I appreciate the recommendation for Edwards for that. Does anyone know if the Lurie-Larochette books are actually for sale anywhere? I've seen them mentioned before but have never heard of/found a source.

    Thanks again! I always enjoy your blog,
    Carolyn

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    1. Carolyn, The Lurie-Larochette books are listed here: http://www.lurie-larochettetapestries.com/publications.html I'm not sure if they're still in print but you can check with their site to see. I didn't mention the Water Songs book but it's also very inspirational.
      Thanks for visiting my blog!

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  90. I agree that reading a book won't make you more creative, but it can be inspiring if you move past the inspiration and act on it... do something, *make* something... thanks for the book suggestions. I have some of the books you mentioned, thanks for the list! :)

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    1. Jessica, yes--act on it! Doing something gets one moving in the right direction. A friend of mine says, "Any forward gear will do!"

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  91. I find all your posts so inspiring and I'm learning to look at things a little differently. I'm adding your book suggestions to my list.
    Mary

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  92. reblue1973@gmail.comJanuary 28, 2018 at 7:15 PM

    Tommye, Thank you for sharing so much with us! Seeing your books, magazines, and journals and reading your words is very inspiring. I am getting back to fiber and tapestry after not doing much for years. I have been following your work when possible. It was fun to see the structure behind it!
    Mary Mason Banks

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    1. Thanks for taking a look into my world, Mary!

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  93. Thank you for all the information, your book list looks very intriguing I think I will have to add a few to my collection. I am a book-a-holic just love to touch the pages and see the authors inspirations and ideas. And sometimes just sometimes an idea will come to me and I will remember reading something about it and have to go back to the book and mull it all over again.
    Luanne McCollum

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  94. Thanks for sharing! I don’t typically look into book to draw creativity from. I will definitely look into your suggestions.

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    1. If you take a look at what the Edwards book in particular contains I think you might find it interesting, Ashley. Thanks for taking a look at my post!

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  95. I have favorite books as well, Paging through them is always inspiring. Thanks you for sharing and for the links.

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  96. Thank you for sharing your space and experience!!

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  97. Thank you for that great list of reading materials.!

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  98. Thank you for this post! So many intriguing books to check out, but I appreciate the reminder to just do the work too.
    I've done morning pages on and off for years--it is hard to be consistent with a "day" job, but I find they help me, and help more when I make the attempt to do them regularly. A pleasant surprise to see that so many people here seem to be using them as well.
    And I envy you your reading corner -- it looks like a wonderful place to curl up with a good book.

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    1. Thanks, Lee. I love to sit in that little chair and have a cup of tea and read for a few minutes. Need to do it every day like the morning pages, in fact!

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  99. Thank you for putting into words so much of this magical, oft times mystical, work of developing ideas and inspiration for weaving. It is so true that the best thing to get unstuck is probably not reading another book, but stepping into a place of action. Doing the work to explore, push, develop. Thank you for this wonderful article.

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    1. Jeanine, thanks so much for your comment. I hope you enjoyed all of the blog posts from the ATA blog tour. It was interesting to read each person's contribution.

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