Stress.  We all suffer from it at some point in time – and it’s usually to satisfy external demands.

It’s way too easy to say ‘if you have an itch, scratch it’ – so to advise ‘soldiering on’ as an effective cure for stress caused by our work is equally ludicrous.

The best way to cure the stress our work can produce is to really analyse why it’s happening.

Is it from pressure to win a competition or be juried into an exhibition or to sell or become an ‘influencer’ with a huge social media following?  Stress will always be at the centre of your world if those are your markers for creating textile and fibre art – and it will become an exhausting, ever-downward spiral.

In itself, creating art should be a regenerative, stress-relieving process – not one continually stoking those pressure-fuelled fires.  Why stress making art?

Perhaps the sight of the true end-game, the rationale for creating art in the first place, has been lost.  That weight of expectation, whether self-imposed or external is just too much.  Creating textile and fibre art should be an expression of passion and the need to tell a story through the mediums we love.  It’s a choice – stress or passion.

How do you know you’re working with passion?  That’s easy.  When time stands still, and ideas flow so fast your fingers can’t keep up with ways to express them.  When colliding ideas connect and start to make sense, taking you on a journey of pure contentment.  When colours and textures start to homogenize and coalesce into your story.  And then you come back down to earth and find that four hours have just slipped by.  That’s when you know.

And the reason I know?  Because it happens to me.

I’ve taken the time to really understand why I do what I do because I’ve felt that stress.  Is that a luxury?  No, definitely not.  It was a necessity.

Yesterday was a perfect example.  I usually stick to a very simple, self-imposed routine of exercise, writing and stitching.  But I had this urge to paint and embroider into it, so the exercise and writing simply went out the window.   That’s my choice.

I make time to listen to those urges because, for me, it means something’s trying to rise to the surface.  It might be good, it might not.  But I have to give it the time and freedom to express itself.

And I produced some OK work – but what it actually did was to set me off in a direction I’m fairly confident will produce some exquisite, new work.

No pressure, no stress, just pure contentment in the process of creating.

It’s easy when you know how.

cathy jack coupland