Detail from "Rain Dance," an original quilt by Sherrie Spangler

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Kristin, creativity, and spring

This is my friend Kristin and the fabulously colorful and spring-like quilt top that she just pieced and is going to donate to the Gig Harbor Comfort Quilt project after it's quilted. It makes me happy just looking at those color choices and movement.

She showed it this week at quilt guild, then said (after hearing our very creative speaker, Kathy McNeil) that she has no creativity herself. She said she can copy or follow a pattern, but that she can't create her own designs. I hear that over and over from so many quilters who do great work.

That got me thinking (because creativity is one area where I don't have a problem despite my many other insufficiencies), and I've come up with a few jumping off ideas for quilters who think they're not creative.

1. Try setting parameters, such as a size and a focal color ... Maybe say you'll do a 12x12-inch piece exploring orange. You could layer circles of various orange fabrics, overlapping or lining them up. Then try adding one small circle -- or square or strip or squiggle -- of another color, like blue. Don't labor over this -- just cut and arrange. Then move on to different colors, staying within the 12x12 size. When you have a stack of color explorations, you could piece the blocks together, maybe cutting a few into rectangles first for variety.

Here are two color explorations I did years ago, allowing myself to add some accent colors but keeping the main focus on blues and greens. I just layered the scraps directly onto batting, covered the whole thing with Sulky Solvy, pinned, quilted, and washed away the Solvy. You wouldn't need the Solvy if you didn't have a lot of little wiggly pieces.

2. Another parameter could be a time limit. Give yourself one hour to make a 12x12-inch quilt block with whatever scraps you can grab from your sewing table or the floor. A series of these could be turned into an interesting quilt. A time limit like this frees you from endless ruminating and forces you to act instinctively. If you feel blocked, JUST DO IT ANYWAY!

Just take that first step and keep moving. (This is the path beside our house today in between cloudbursts.)

I believe everyone is born with seeds of creativity, but our society does a great job of inadvertently squelching them in a lot of kids. I was lucky enough to get free Saturday art classes at the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh from 4th-9th grade, then got a scholarship to take art classes at Carnegie-Mellon University in 10th and 11th grades. On the other hand, in early grade school the nuns told me not to sing out loud during the Christmas musical because I was making everything sound off-key. They announced this in front of the whole class, and I've hardly sung in public since. I can't even bring myself to join in with friends doing goofy songs.

Meanwhile, spring is springing here in the wet Northwest. These are a few shots from my backyard today. The colors are waaaay different from last month's red rocks and blue skies of Sedona.

Have a colorful day


tiedyejudy said...

I love your tips, and they apply to anyone not just quilters. I was very fortunate to have had a Mom who nurtured my creativity from a very early age, and it has been a part of my life ever since. But I have met so many people who are convinced that they are not creative, so therefore don't try to do anything that would prove them wrong. I like your exercises, and may just have to give them a try! Meanwhile, I do hope the sun pops its head out up your way soon!

Julia DesertSpring said...

I'm glad that you supported my creativity, even though I didn't turn out to be much of an artist (and no singing/dancing for me!). I seem to remember you singing something to the tune of The Beatles' "I Will"... was it something off of a Baby Blues comic strip? I have a fleeting memory of those together somehow. My memory is set in the kitchen in El Paso... Do you remember that or is my brain making things up?

sonja said...

I agree about creativity in all and the secret just might be somewhere between just do it, have fun, and being available for inspiration. tomorrow it might be in the garden so flexible is a good habit for both body and mind....also not being curious or a feared of comparison and critics, inner and out there, keep many lovely folks stunted. when I have a conversation with doubting Tomasinas,I feel it one of my life's missions to speak the words that plant the seeds of " what if"..... it is then the persons task to water and feed it!
end of missal, Sonja

Sherrie Spangler said...

Julia -- You're definitely imagining that one. You do have a CREATIVE imagination :)