frida patchwork

Challenge Method: Moving to the beyond by doing something different (add or subtract) or Exit formula procrastination. 

Hi all. Well, that was a long wait was it not? I can assure you I was well aware of the days that have flown by since my last post.  Well, I'm back.  Great to be here.  

Funny how a long bout of procrastination fills your brain with so many excuses that you feel there is no ladder tall enough to climb you out of the proverbial poo.  They enter your brain like a fog. 

Oh, I must finish this washing/cooking/cleaning/walking the dog first and then I will be clear to begin creating... 

If I sort out the bills, emails and oh, sort out my sock drawer, then I will have everything out of the way to begin working again.   

I'm sure my dad is going to ring me if I set up my easel and begin painting, as will Ben, Jane and the physio, so I better ring them all first so I don't get interrupted... 

And then you receive a message on your phone, that automatically means you check your art page, then the feed. Even worse the mindless scrolling of social media art pages comparing your work to others and therefore just becoming so overwhelmed that you wonder why you had even thought you had 'minuscule particles of talent' in the first place.  Hours have passed and the day ends.     

I am putting my hand up to all of these excuses. I wonder which one you relate to? 

Have you taken a look at some of the creatives doing interviews? Really interesting lot. Their pearls of wisdom are pretty spot on. A couple of them are talking about one technique I swear by. My first Beyond project was based on this technique. This is the story of:

The Frida coat (starting a project when you have no real project)    


Method: Change, take away, add.

Most creative, regardless of their field and genre start their careers with a subconscious 'formula' that has worked well numerous times and has lead to success. A repeating theme, a 'signature' look, melodic stanza or beat. It may be a way of painting, writing a rhythm, a method of acting, dancing or sculptural shape.  

We've all seen paintings by an artist that look exactly the same, just slightly changed, or a music tune from a singer where the whole album is a repetitive beat regardless of how many songs are in it.

What about the novelist we like to follow; have you ever had that feeling you've 'read this one before?' The 'formula' may have achieved in the past positive comments, awards and accolades from fellow artistes and industry circles.  Safe. 

Over the years I've had people say 'oh, we love your cute little people' or 'you would call your work naive, then?' My jaw tightens, I smile sweetly then go and sit in front of my figures (little people, my giddy aunt. Thanks awfully) who stare back at me looking basic, bland and cute (really???) Mmmm. Formula. But, it works. Doesn't it? (a little voice echoes 'same.same.same')

Time for a change.

If you had to take away, change one thing out of your 'usual' what would it be? Regardless of the field, you work in.  Now change two 'usual'. For example, the materials you work with, the theme or method. Add something totally unexpected.

This where I introduce the Frida coat. An event spurred the first project; my fancy dress party where we had to be something beginning with a 'J, F or P'.    I changed my materials and methods to textiles, fabric paint, needle and thread.


I changed my theme to 'appropriation/appreciation of a well-known figure and my 'totally unexpected' was added three-dimensional rosettes and ribbons. I should mention, I do not sew. I am physically one-handed, textile basic and dimensionally challenged. But keen.

frida patchwork













I used vintage tablecloths as my textile substrate, Posca pens for line and quality soft aware fabric paints for colour. I attached three-dimensional flowers to some of the lapel and some silver recycled jewellery roses randomly here and there.  There were a few times where I felt overwhelmed and the sewing by hand gave me RSI for days after, but oh my, when I was finished I felt like I had achieved something. Finally.  The drought was over.  The response to the coat was such a positive one and I found a cool rose headdress.  Slap on some bright lippy, spray the hair black and there I was. I now have a Frida coat to wear if I go somewhere where the bohemian artists congregate.     




Therefore, give it a go. If you have stared creative staleness for a while now, retain one or two of the methods that you know in your gut work, without becoming a formula. Add or subtract a few new techniques and get back to the wonder of trying something new. You used to enjoy that as a child; why not now? Here are some starters that may just help. Only a few but you get the gist:

Visual Art: Canvas and realistically painted subject- switch to canvas and poured paint/monoprint (less prescriptive). Wipe back, away, create your subject by subtraction.  Take away brushes. Use cotton buds, scraps of cloth instead of brushes. Even branches with cloth tied to them. If you still want to work with the same subject, the fact that you have started a painting that way will free you up.  Don't be tempted to add too much back into it, if you decide to add brush strokes.  Drawing; add a light wash to your line, subtract line and draw with erasers. 

Textile/Craft specific: Change the type of craft or find a way to create your 'usual' in another way; ie stuffed object into a narrative toy commemorating an event. Use a different substrate or starting point, add another transparent layer, colour or add another technique, like wrapping, natural dyes, objects on objects. Add an era, take away a shape or cut out a shaped design. Subtract. Add.

Music: I may not be a musician but I know a few. If you can't change the instrument, change the genre, tempo or beat. Subtract the voice, go instrumental or add an extra sound, another layer of voice/s. The writer of music? Do a narrative, create a painting in words. Some of the most successful bands, soloists have subtly added a theme, event or historical figure. Others have subtracted rhyme, verse and even fewer vocals. 

I'm not a Rod Stewart fan usually, but the song created for him in 1975 by the Sutherland Brothers 'Sailing' had fewer lyrics and some strong musical moments in it, with that beautiful high note I will never forget.  One of his most successful pieces and definitely memorable. The Beatles and the Rolling Stones were masters at adding, subtracting in their music; be it tempo, theme or beat. The albums we remember the most were not full of 'sameness' but 'challenge'.  Even subtracting melody and using spoken word works well for some. Some thoughts at least.

Writer/Novelist /Poet: I have to be honest here and admit I have been known to purchase ALL the books of certain authors, been inspired by particular prose or verse by a specific person for years. I used to be an author groupie.  There is one, however, who used to be a favourite author who now churns out at least five a year. More if he co-writes with someone else. I stopped reading his novels after it was like reading the same story only with a different name, location and weapon.  Not that there is anything wrong with that, but do you think his novels now hold the same passion,  plot and page-turn quality of his first bestseller? Mmmm. 

Suggestions: Add an era, real event or scenario that are contemporary and relatable.   I wonder how many pieces are written about the pandemic or even a period of isolation? Subtract the 'who done it' ending by starting with the villain and seeing it through his eyes. Write a poem that is as short as a haiku, or as long as a ballad or a book. 

Actor /Screenwriter/Director/ Performer: The suggestions I make here are only thoughts and at least get your mind untangled a little. Think about the film professionals you admire the most. Do they always go down the same formula road? Do the actors we know who have had long, fabulous careers choose scripts that are always of a particular genre? I can think of at least a dozen who were so popular for a short while, particularly in comedy or romance; we now don't see them anymore. If you always are a comedic filmer, try at least a reflective, quieter scenario. Do you act in comedy because you feel comfortable in that role? Switch, be the straight act.

Having said that, do it with a safe, less public arena until you are more comfortable in your new persona. Dancer, another type of performer? Add an element (person? costume, era or genre) Subtract; rely less on your upper or lower limbs, take away voice (mime), take away backing music in parts. Director; known for your lighting? Or even, sadly, still trying to find a voice, an audience? Add a distinguishable trademark (not asking you to always chop off someone's body parts, here) or framed shot or opening sequence. Subtract scenes, light, sound, colour.     

After a few of the 'something different, add and subtract 

Be careful not to rely on this method too much; you need to know when to pull back, to perhaps take some of the things you have learnt and combining the 'best bits' for an even better beyond. Work this way for as long as you need, change it, record the process so you know what works the best. For you.

 One of our creatives Virginia said having other creatives with you involved in the process is also good. If you are at that stage where you feel strong enough to listen openly without feeling too vulnerable. Ask their opinion on what they would subtract and what they would add. Before you start the process.   

Enjoy. If you enjoy this challenge, let me know how you go on our FB site.                                      

Cheers my creative lovelies