How to begin every textile art project with confidence

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As a textile art teacher, I often see people getting ‘stuck’ with their art making.

They’ll get off to an enthusiastic start, then begin to doubt themselves. Unsure how to move forward, they grind to a halt and unfinished projects pile up.

Does this feel like you?

Over the years of creating my own artwork, I’ve learnt the simplest way to avoid these blockages. And I’d love you to try it out too.

My big tip is this: allow time for creative play

I’ve seen, time and time again, how freeing this approach can be. Before you begin a project in earnest, allow yourself the space and time for creative play.

Remove any pressure to be creating ‘art’. Ask yourself as many questions as possible, then enjoy using creative play to answer them.

  • Which colours am I drawn to today?
  • What happens if I inject a different colour?
  • If I print in that colour, how will it affect my background painting?
  • What type of paints do I want to work with?
  • What scale do I feel like working in – large or small?
  • Which thread colours do I find most pleasing?
  • What happens if I add mark-making?
  • What atmosphere do I want to conjure up?

When you do begin your artwork, having allowed plenty of time for pressure-free experimentation, it will flow so easily.

Gone are those moments of doubt.

Instead, you’ll feel relaxed, with a sense that you know what you’re doing and where you’re going. No more stop-starting and ‘what ifs’.

You’ll be in blissful creative flow!

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Each project is a stepping-stone to the next

So, you’ve thoroughly enjoyed your textile art project and seen it all the way through to completion. Excellent.

Before you move on, it’s a good idea to stop and think what you like about it. Even more valuable is anything you don’t like about it. Make as many notes as you can.

All of this is juicy material for your next session of creative play.

The confidence-killer you need to avoid

There’s one thing that can ruin the confidence you’ve built up, and that’s comparison.

A quick browse of other artists on social media can plunge you into feelings of insecurity and angst. Somehow theirs seems… ‘better’. They just seem to know what they’re doing!

This is where I need to stop you. And bring you back to you.

First of all, remember that what you see on social media is carefully curated content. They’re showing you what they want you to see.

By all means take inspiration and ideas from others, whether on social media or in a gallery or a book.

But remember that fabulous art doesn’t happen by chance. Artists don’t just sit down, blessed with sheer talent, and start creating. There’s so much that will have gone before.

I always think that the final artwork you see is the tip of the iceberg. All the play, workings out, doubts, questions and failures are things we don’t see – the rest of the iceberg.

So, take a deep breath, smile and enjoy some creative play. And make the art that comes from inside you.