Every once in awhile the top of my head blows off. Then, for the time being, my mind is consumed with its latest creative explosion that generously rearranges my life into new patterns of seeing, doing, being. In the fall of 1997, at the urging of several teacher friends, one of those sustained explosions detonated when I began attending a series of art and writing workshops led by two very remarkable women, Joni Chancer and Gina Rester-Zodrow, who opened for me many windows of creative possibility, among them the image at left – my favorite watercolor collage created during one of the first workshops. 

At one workshop we were invited to introduce ourselves using three words that caught our attention as we reflected on a large sheet of many words. Two of the words that stood out to me were chaos and creation. When it came my turn, I somewhat foolishly introduced myself by saying that although there wasn’t any chaos in my life at the moment (even though I’d experienced a lot in the recent past), there wasn’t any need to fear it. Speaking obliquely out of my own experience of renewed creativity coming out of that recent chaos, I confidently continued that we needed to turn and embrace the chaos because it was at the beginning of creation. Well, let’s just say from that moment on the top of my head blew off in a graced creative explosion – with a bit of collateral damage.

A magazine article on scanning fabric to create one’s own decorative collage papers crossed my path. I thought to myself I HAVE FABRIC! And we had a nice flatbed scanner. So I began experimenting with scanning fabric. But just scanning flat fabric had its inspirational limits. It wasn’t long before I realized it was possible to place three-dimensional objects on the bed of the scanner and drape them with fabric. Much more complex compositions could be created and scanned. Anything and everything small and portable became ammunition for this latest creative explosion. My husband’s computer office downstairs began to look like the creative chaos of my art studio upstairs. 

The operative words here are his office. At the time, I used my husband’s computer when necessary which wasn’t all that often. When I became interested in using the computer and scanner to create art he thought it was a great opportunity to buy himself a new computer and printer so I could have exclusive use of his old ones. That meant adding another desk to his office for my computer, scanner and printer. The fabric and ephemera gathered to create scannable art spilled here and there. It was creative bliss for me.

But not so much for my  introverted, intellectually focused, thoughtful, caring husband.  Upgrading computer stuff was a happy option for him. but living with the resultant chaos of my creative process wasn’t. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but his fuse was getting shorter. With no end to the creative chaos in sight, he went into therapy to figure out how to evict me from his office.

When we sat down to talk through his concern, I totally got his need to not have that kind of chaos in his space because his creative process flourishes in solitude without distractions. The solution was sublime. We moved all my computer stuff to the other end of the house, to a room between the dining room and the garage which was both larger and more conducive to my creative chaos. It was a win/win for both of us.  

There was no explosion between us. Just a graced detonation honoring and making room for the unique explosions of the Spirited partnership of creativity we both enjoy in very different ways.

Has an event or experience ever led to a creative explosion in your life? Was it an artistic or intellectual explosion? How did it change your life? How did that change impact others? What would you create today as a reminder of that explosion?

PS – Visit my website store to see some of my scanner art now available as Art Cards.



9 comments to Explosion

  • cynthia thomas

    i’m in the midst of a creative explosion & i’m grappling with how i want to handle it. on nov. 15, i’m going to oregon to my brother’s open house celebrating 25 yrs. of business. i’m making some jackets because it will probably be cold there. so i have sewing supplies strewn all over my studio, & it’s starting to encroach on my living space. therere’s only about a 12″ x 30″ cleared space on my cutting table.

    my dilemma is that yesterday i saw a pieced knit jacket in a store that i fell in love with. it was $60, too much for my budget. my next stop yesterday was the fabric store. i bought half yard pieces of 4 different knits to make a copy of this jacket (for only $11).

    i now have too much going on. i feel paralyzed because my brain is on overload. i see 2 solutions: 1) put away the started jacket that’s warm & practical & start the nonfunctional but very pretty jacket that i’m dying to make.
    2) finish the warm, practical jacket & make the pretty one later for another occasion. i haven’t decided yet which path to take but it will come to me when i’m ready.

  • Kit Ripley

    I LOVE your scanned composition cards!!

  • Kit Ripley

    @ Cynthia: My recommendation is to go with the creative pieced jacket right away! The creative passion is like a puppy…it’s so demanding that you won’t be able to enjoy your brother’s open house unless you feed it first. Besides…practicality is over-rated anyway!

  • Lynne

    Amen to Kit! You go girl to Cynthia!

  • deanna j bowling

    I agree with Kit. The creative passion is like a puppy [or a small child]. There is no rest until the passion is “satisfied”.

    The room it takes for me to be creative depends upon what I am doing. If it is sewing for myself, or making say a valance for one of our room’s windows, I can usually corral it within my own room. But if Dede has asked me to do something for the household, like re-hanging art or family photos, I can take up the whole house doing so. When Dede asks me to do something bigger than my room allows, I usually have to wait until she is traveling for a few days, and then get the ‘mess’ cleaned up before she get’s home.

    Love, hugs and prayers,


  • Lee Hodges

    Not that you need mo e input Cynthia, but I totally ag ee with the othe s abt going with the jacket you a e dying to make now. If you put it off, that passion about the non-functional jacket will not exist when you have time to make it. That passion will cool off. Then you will not even want to make it, and you will have bot the mateial fo nothing. Make it while you ae excited. It will be soul-satisfying. Put on laye s fo wa mth.

  • Lee Hodges

    you_ ca_ds a_e magnificent! Love the “Eden” s_ies.

  • Ginny

    I had no idea what an explosion of chaos was going to ensue from adopting two little boys to add to our household of two parents and two nice, neat quiet girls. If God creates in chaos – He is in overdrive at our house. Legos invade every room, tape and scissors disappear, pet rats, also boys, have come to live in the boys room – so now we have 4 boys in one room – all 4 are messy. I find that my creativity is constantly stretched as I find ways to contain and (sort of) organize and manage all the art materials, toys, sports equipment, clothing and various accessories that come along with four kids. It is usually a mildly controlled chaos. Somewhere under the legos are my sewing materials – I visit them from time to time. Since I do not have enough time to unearth my fabric and machine and still have time to sew, I just buy craft books, and turn down pages and put in sticky notes, awaiting the day when the chaos calms or someone moves out and I have a room to takeover for my craft stuff… Either that or I will take over the garden shed!

  • cynthia thomas

    thanks to all for your feedback! here’s what i decided. first, i cleared off my cutting table, put away stuff from last project. then decided to finish practical jacket first. then i can make jacket i love if there’s time (&there might be time). i decided to do it this way because having more ufo’s is like doing too many projects at one time. they hang over my head like a dark cloud. also, i’ve already made the jewelry for the practical jacket. there isn’t time to make jewelry for pretty jacket. & i won’t wear it without the “proper ” jewelry to match. i’m happy with my decision. in fact, with space to work, i sewed this afternoon & made good progress. i’m in a good space & looking forward to sewing more tomorrow. cynthia

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