Monday, October 20, 2014

I Keep Falling In and Out of Love With You

Last week I was in a restaurant and Alicia Keys Fallin' was one of the selections on the musak playing in the background. It wormed itself back into my head (I remember it being an earworm before!) and I've caught myself humming it many times over the past few days. I think Alicia understands relationships and got it right. "I keep fallin' in and out of love with you..."

This blog isn't about love or marriage. I've been married for almost 32 years, and while I know that the words are true I know better than to write about my marriage! Suffice it to say that like any lasting marriage there have been ups and downs, twists and turns, challenges and victories. A good marriage does not necessarily mean that everything is perfect, every hour of the day, forever and ever. Mignon McLaughlin said, "A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person."  Truer words were never spoken and I think that they apply to our relationship with art as well.

I fell in love with fibre arts, specifically embroidery and quilting as a child. My paternal grandmother lived with us and she was always sewing, quilting, crocheting, tatting....she did it all. I took to the tools she used as soon as I was old enough to hold them. Fabric and threads are just in my blood. In my late teens I became an artistic bigamist. I fell in love with calligraphy. Both of those interests sustained me, challenged me, fulfilled me, frustrated me, created a vocation and defined me for decades.

Yes, there have been brief affairs with other crafts and hobbies but none of the others have had staying power. The dalliances have ended when It became apparent that the hobby was all flash and no dance. They were mere crushes, they didn't have enough depth for the long haul. Now this is not to say that my interests in fibre arts and calligraphy haven't evolved over time. Any marriage has to evolve as the partners grow and change. I've added scads of other interesting skills and materials to each, but by and large, if you want to hold my interest you have to feed back to the first loves. Bookbinding does that. Beading does that. Zentangle does that.

I've been an avid tangler for four years now. I was introduced to it by C.C. Sadler at a calligraphy conference. I know it had been around for a while before she showed me the work she was doing but it had never seemed relevant to me. And then it did. Tangling has helped me relax, focus, keep my hands in motion when arthritis threatens to ruin a day, strengthened my understanding of design, allowed me to work with symbol and pattern, taken me back to being an avid photographer and introduced me to a whole new group of friends. The work I have done with Zentangle has fed back into my fibre arts work by reinspiring my design choices and has helped to change the way I approach calligraphic tools and materials.

But the truth is that last winter I began to think that I was beginning to fall out of love with tangling and most everything else I was doing and that I needed a change, a big change. Everything felt a little flat, a bit too routine. I was just going through the motions.  I've seen other people post messages about being in a rut or just not feeling they could work anymore and they've wondered what to do about it. And I have to say that I think you have to be proactive as much as you can if you find that your art (or your marriage for that matter) has fallen a little flat. So what did I do? As they say, this wasn't my 'first trip to this rodeo'. I've been in that place before and I now have faith that if I hang in there long enough I'll find my way again especially if I actively search it out. And so I did a bunch of things like taking classes, buying new art materials, changing my colour choices, reading, walking, travelling, tidying. They all worked to some degree. Gelli printing was a big help especially when I bought new colours. But still I felt like I was faking it most of the time.

And then one day this summer I saw that there was a new Facebook group called Square One. The concept was interesting and I was staying open to possibilities so I joined up. The idea was to get back to the basics of Zentangle, to create on the original tiles with the official tangles as a focus. Black and white only, no colour. Such a simple thing and yet isn't it always the simple things that make us fall in love again! And what has happened has made me feel engaged with tangling and has reinvigorated my calligraphy and my fibre arts work. For me being in love with one aspect of my work always casts a better light on the rest of my work, makes me feel stronger and more capable. I can't wait for Friday morning to see what the focus tangle of the week is. I've challenged myself to approach the tangles with fresh eyes. And my work has changed, shifted, been recharged. Truthfully I am surprised at how bold some of it is. I've put a new album of my Square One work up on my Facebook page if you want to see what I've been tangling. So this blog is my way of thanking the two women who started this group and have kept us all on the simple path. They have created a supportive and caring group who encourage and inspire. Chris Titus and Jenny Perruzzi have changed the way I work and have put that spring back in my artistic step.

I offer this advice for those of you who are in a creative low spot. Keep showing up and trying new things. Stay open to the possibilities that present themselves but also actively seek them out. Some day, some day soon, you will be offered a chance to fall in love all over again with your art, to remember what  attracted you to it in the first place and to move forward in the relationship you've built with it.

I leave you with the wise words of Alicia Keys. I always like to share my earworms!

I keep on fallin'
In and out of love
With you
Sometimes I love ya
Sometimes u make me blue
Sometimes I feel good
At times I feel used
Lovin you darlin'
Makes me so confused

I keep on
In and out of love with you
I never loved someone
The way that I love you

Oh, oh , I never felt this way
How do you give me so much pleasure
And cause me so much pain
Just when I think
I've taken more than would a fool
I start fallin' back in love with you

I keep on
In and out of love with you
I never loved someone
The way that I love you


  1. Cherryl, I have followed you for a while now and have some of your books. I like your blog and look forward to your writings. I find that this particular article seemed to be so much like me, as I am sure many others will find to be the same. You have been a great inspiration to me and I hope someday to meet you. This past summer has been busy with selling and buying a house. Visiting your blog your blog and reading your article has spurred me to get moving, set up my workroom, pick up a tile and pen and get going. I also love your writing style. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings, it is refreshing.

  2. Absolutely awesome post!
    Ellen Darby


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