awakening dormancy

awakening dormancy

i rarely do the same subject two days in a row. i’ve probably only done it a handful of times in the seven years of STILL. but i lost my race against the sun today–i was unable to get an image arranged and photographed before i lost the light. i had actually spent the whole afternoon attending a workshop that had all the participants wandering along trails, trying to be quiet and present with nature, and as observant and curious as possible.  sounds like boot camp for STILL blog, doesn’t it?  i was actually a participant today and not the instructor. it was a nice feeling to be a student again. one of the topics we were encouraged to meditate on was the idea of dormancy. and how we might use dormancy in our creative practices. it occurred to me as i hiked that i am pretty good at creating semi-regular periods for rest/retreat/refueling/well-filling…whatever you want to call it. but actively retreating is still active. it’s still not the same thing as going dormant. i’m still not sure what dormancy looks like in a creative practice, other than maybe physically putting down the camera/brush/pen/loom/wheel  for a specified length of time. if we use the annual cycle of a tree as a metaphor for the creative practice then it might look something like this:

  • spring: sap starts to run, blossom appear, new growth emerges = creative ideas bud and blossom, project plans are made, materials prepped
  • summer: photosynthesis, photosynthesis, photosynthesis = make, make, make
  • fall: photosynthesis slows, sap starts to retreat, leaves turn color = edit, document, and share the work
  • winter: all energy stored in roots, tree winterizes itself using antifreeze in its veins,  goes dormant =  put away the art supplies, let the next project silently gather energy in winter stillness.

i honestly didn’t know where i was going with that metaphor. i just started typing. but now as i reread it, it’s pretty interesting. i don’t know if it’s exactly my creative process. a daily blog doesn’t leave room for dormancy. but is my dailiness interfering with my ability to expand my vision, to push my sap up into the highest branches of my creative tree? it’s a question worth pondering. do any of you have a creative routine that looks anything like this? i’m intrigued.



  • I love this metaphor! I didn’t know what to call my cycle of creative work but applying this idea makes so much sense. I am a textile artist and lately I have been berating myself for not doing work especially because I have an artist-in-residency coming up for a National Park and I feel the need to be creating before September when I go live in the park. But I should realize that maybe this is a dormant period before my creative explosion. I am going to ruminate on the importance of dormancy now instead of feeling guilty. Thank you for stopping and making me think.

    • This makes my day. I love making people think. Best compliment ever.
      Thank you,
      Mary Jo

  • Kate says:

    How about allowing for a period of dormancy on a daily basis since you produce/post an image every day of the year?
    (Guess that would be sleep!)


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