Sometimes you have to throw all the pieces up in the air and start fresh to have
a creative breakthrough. Sometimes you have to throw the dice... or the
colors....on the table and then let someone else play around with the random
results. This is why a Round Robin quilt project is great for beginners: because
they get to see how different people can interpret the same set of colors,
fabrics or guidelines.
For 15 years I belonged to a weekly figure painting group. It was truly fascinating. We would come and set up our easels and paints around a live model, and then we'd paint for 3 hours with one 15 minute break. I was always amazed after an hour and a half, how we all had interpreted the model in completely different ways. If I saw something I liked, I could try to incorporate that idea into my work in the second half of the painting session. It was a great learning experience.
Today I had an experience that made me think about this as a part of the creative process - i.e. interacting with others as a work is in progress. The work in process was - Sophie's hair! That girl has the thickest hair I have ever seen - and it is curly! Since I have straight hair, it is a learning curve for me. (but it is fun, because I always wished I had wavy hair as a kid)
Every few months we start struggling with brushing her hair, and we realize it is time for a trim. Today she ended up with a new stylist, and I gave my usual explanation of how we wanted Sophie's hair cut. Instead of being the helicopter hair mommie, I went and sat in the waiting area and worked on editing my photos on my iPhone. I noticed the stylist was layering Sophie's hair and thinning it out pretty aggressively, but I decided to just let her go and see how it turned out. Wow! Sophie and I were so happy with the results! She has this really cute layered haircut and it is a brand new look for her. I had to throw the pieces and step back, so something new could happen. It really got me thinking about my own creative process: how much do I stifle innovation by having expectations and trying to control the outcome?
Hey, I know that this may sound very familiar to many of you, but it is always worth a reminder to throw the dice and let the random results stimulate a new way of thinking. One way to play around with this in a small quilt group is to take a photograph, blow it up, and cut it into several pieces. Each person takes one segment or strip of the image and makes a segment representing that image, and then they are all joined together to make one big quilt. (This one is Jennings Homestead by Suzanne Mouton Riggio and 26 members of the Milwaukee Art Quilters, Wisconsin)
I love seeing these quilts win in the Group Quilt category in Houston, because you can see the personality of each quiltmaker shining through each segment, and yet they come together in a harmonious composition.
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