Monday, July 28, 2014

Blog Hop: My Creative Process

So many of us love to see each other's creative processes.  It's inspirational and instructive, isn't it?  There's a blog hop going to share creative process details, and my friend Helen Conway tagged me to answer the following questions. (You can see her post here.)  You can follow the links at the end to to see others who've shared their creative processes too.  

What am I working on?

Well, as usual, I have a bunch of different projects going.  I tend to think of the concept of "working on" something as a fairly loose one, so it includes projects that I'm actively spending time on plus a few extra that are percolating in my mind.

I've not had a lot of quilt projects on the front burner lately.  I finished this art quilt recently, after it sat in my closet for literally years.  But at some point I realized how to solve the problem that had stumped me -- how to make the roses for this rose bush-- so it was fun and satisfying to actually get it finished.

I have a more traditional quilt in progress, too ... Well, if you consider  "sandwiched and sitting on the sewing machine ready to be quilted" as "in progress" which I do.  I can't tell you how many days over the past few weeks I've planned to get to quilting on it as soon as I finish the morning's chores... And then the day gets away from me, and there it still sits.  Ah well, it won't fly away.
(Har har har, see that is a flying geese quilt?!  Hilarious, aren't I?)

I've actually been spending more time working on sketching than quilting in recent months.  I'm enjoying the process of developing my drawing skills and learning new things all the time, and I continue to amaze myself at how just DOING it helps me get better.  I've been on a recent kick drawing bits of plants from my garden. I have to say that one of the things I love about sitting down to sketch something is that it's done pretty immediately.  It's great for immediate gratification purposes, especially compared to the process of making a quilt.

and more... 

and more.

I've written here about how the process of learning to sketch has taught me a lot of interesting and surprising things about myself -- not the least of which is I CAN LEARN THIS!  (I thought it was a matter of either having the talent, or not.  But no.  It's a learnable skill.  Brenda Swenson, an artist I admire tremendously, recently said something that really struck me:  The talent you need to have is the willingness to learn and persistence.  It's so true.  But one thing I've learned is that I love drawing buildings.... trying to figure out the perspective, drawing the little details....I love it.  Who knew?! 
Another project on the "in process" pile is an exploration into crossing the sketching over into quilting.  I had this sketch printed on fabric via, and I'm going to try quilting it as a whole cloth quilt and see how it turns out. 

Funnily enough, I've recently returned to making books -- something I did a lot of almost 20 years ago.  I used to teach making book, in fact.  But then I got burned out after a lot of teaching, and I went through a "but what are they FOR" crisis with the artist books I was making and exhibiting, and I veered off into quilting.  But sketching seems to inevitably lead to the search for the perfect sketchbook, which got me into messing about with making my own sketchbooks and some very fun collagey books I call Jumbly Journals. 

One of the things I'm enjoying about making these is that they combine a whole lot of things I love:  books, sewing, paper, collage, journaling, and I even incorporate sketches on some pages, too.
Here's a glimpse of some pages from a trip I took a few months back to Poulsbo, Washington.  I journalled on the back of that big postcard and that funny photo.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

That may be the sort of question others would be better answering -- it's sort of like trying to describe one's own style.  It's more easily visible to others, I suppose.  But I have learned to relax and not worry about what sets my work apart from anyone else's, because I figure it'll become apparent because the work is MINE.  One interesting aspect about sketching is that I have become a lot more comfortable with just drawing the way I do, and embracing the resulting wonkiness as part of my own voice right now.  The sketches, or the quilts, or whatever else I produce, shows my tastes and choices and skills ... and even if it's quirky and not perfect, it's mine, and that's a good thing.

Why do I write/create what I do?

If you're a creative person, you've probably had someone say to you, "But how do you find the time?" And if you're like me, the answer has something to do with the fact that creativity is just essential.  It's kind of like oxygen.  I can't NOT do creative things because it's too important to me.  

And another part of the answer to this is that I'm all about the fun.  I am lucky that I can earn money in other ways and don't have to make my art about generating income.  That means that I'm doing this just for me.  And mostly, I'm making art -- whether through quilts or sketches or books -- to relax and have fun and play with colors and fabrics and papers and paints.  When I find myself feeling like I'm doing something because I HAVE to, whether because of a deadline, or some external factor, I look hard at how and why I put myself in that position.   

So, I don't make quilts about political messages or sketch scenes that I don't find attractive.  I admire that others do that and can use their art to communicate difficult messages.  I deal with those subjects in my work and through other avenues.  But the creative part is for my enjoyment, so Me, I'm just in it for fun.

How does your writing/creative process work?

I don't have any one process. But probably the common denominator is that something visual will inspire me.  Sometimes it's color.  Sometimes it's a piece of fabric.  Sometimes it will be an idea in my head that leads me to pull out fabrics or start thinking about colors... But I think it starts with the visual concept first.  

I don't really have one type of quilt methodology because I tend to make all sorts of types of things.  So sometimes I start with a photo that I want to translate into fabric.  Sometimes I start with fabric and start pinning it up onto my design wall to see what happens.  

With sketching, I've been known to sit myself somewhere -- where ever there's a bench or a cafe table, say -- and the look around for something to sketch that interests me or presents a challenge.  

I used to get myself worried that I must not be an Artist because I didn't have ONE method or style that defined my work, or ONE medium I was obsessed with mastering, or ONE coherent body of work that looked like it went together.  I thought I had to find my ONE magical, perfect process and then that's what I'd do to produce beautiful work and I'd be happy for the rest of my life.  But I think I've determine that it's not going to work like that, for me at least.  So I'm quite happy just trying different things and going as the mood strikes me.  In "artist-speak" I guess you'd call that "intuitive."  But I just call it doing what I feel like when I feel like it.  

I'd love to see your comments about how you approach your process, and whether you battle with perfectionism, or the belief that you had to do things a certain way, or develop a certain style...  

For more great blogging on the creative process, check out my friend Terry Grant's blog next Monday -- she'll be posting about her creative process!  And here are some links to other artists who have described their processes, too:

Rayna Gillman
Gerrie Congdon
Susan Lenz
Jeannine at Distilled from Stars


  1. Your sketches are enchanting and I definitely have seen so much improvement over the time you have been sharing them. You are becoming a pro at this. Hugs!!

  2. I love your sketches a lot! They are inspiring to me and show me other ways of expression.

    While I was reading I also was thinking how nice it would be making a quilt with some of them (through, of course) and then I read the thing about your other project (the house, etc) This looked to me like a nice connection... thinking on similar stuff.

    Thanks for sharing.
    best regards,

  3. Thanks for talking about your process. It is so interesting to see how others approach their creative life. I am also a "do what I feel like" person. I need to create, but it can be beads, embroidery, knitting, quilting whatever. Even gardening to a design in my head will 'scratch the itch' so to speak.

  4. This is a great post about creativity. I have watched your drawing skills grow and take off. they are amazing!