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The following short articles have been taken from my blog (mothballed for the present time). I hope you find them interesting and useful.

How to revive a creative project when it has gone stale

Frenetic Haste vs Procrastination

Taming your Perfectionist - the process of Active Imagination

The meaning and uses of failure

How to revive a creative project when it has gone stale

The energy was flowing on my latest project - a children's picture book - when I had to take a week off to go to the city. The city was great, I saw some intriguing art and had a great time with my friends. I arrived home eager to get back to my picture book, but to my dismay I found the energy had gone flat. What to do?

I remembered a great story that addresses this issue from Clarissa Pinkola Estes called the Three Golden Hairs. In the story an old man collapses across the hearth of a cottage. The woman inside takes him onto her lap and rocks him all night long. As she rocks and comforts the man, he grows younger until by daybreak he is a golden haired child. The woman then plucks out three of the child's golden hairs and throws them on the floor, ting, ting, ting.

So there was my teaching story, but what to do about my project? I decided the rocking could mean just spending time with it, not trying to do anything, just being with the work I had already done and the ideas sketched out. I spread it all out in my studio and just sat with it, I noticed details I had forgotten, challenges that had found solutions and appreciated the end result of some of the more laborious processes. I played with some of the coloured papers I had prepared and found unexpected pairings.

Next the three golden hairs. What needed to be thrown away? One answer was the elephant. I had been looking forward to doing an elephant, but I saw it didn't fit. There were rhythms and patterns in the book, the lion echoed the cat, but the elephant did not echo the dog, however a hyaena might. So the elephant went.

The other thing I needed to throw away was my desire for detail. The collage technique I am using does not allow for a great deal of detail, certainly not the same level I am used to in my etchings where I can add in all kinds of small humorous extras. So I let go of that and re-oriented myself to what collage was giving me - lovely bold colour, texture and impact. Lastly, I sharpened up the text and revisited the rhythm of page design.

Phew! And after all that I once more feel excited and yes scared, hopeful and back on track.

Etchings by artist and printmaker Jay Linden
The girl from nowhere