I’ve always thought there were at least two kinds of creators — those who start with an idea and those who don’t. These approaches are inherently alien to each other and sometimes one camp fails to recognize the strengths of the other. Both are valid, of course. And, as valid approaches, either can bring honest expression forward.
This quilt started out as response to the George Zimmerman acquittal (one on left, below). It was about outrage. And grief. But somewhere along the line I dropped that idea and let the thing be about the darkening time of the year… December in New England. The lengthening night is keenly felt in these parts, but because of the crazy freight train that is the holidays (comin’ straight at ya!), many of us squash the mammalian instinct to curl up in the dark and quiet down. To listen to ourselves breathe. To listen, period. For this reason, and this reason alone, December can be stressful.
I enjoyed layering up the dark. Adding ecru and navy blue “X’s” for stars. And ‘finishing’ the house with shutters and a window box. Making all the layers cohere was a task (one of the downsides of being an improv quilter, I might add), but even that became a useful exercise, as it allowed me to sit with the metaphor of creating unity from disparate parts. Integration.
Just as extroverts have their need for solitude and introverts like the occasional party, the line between artistic approaches is far from clear cut: planners wing it and improv folks plot. But, I would venture to say that we possess one basic tendency or the other. And more — that getting comfortable with one’s basic tendency is essential to success.
None of the above is new for me. What IS new is this idea that the approach we abide in might dramatically change how we describe our work. People who form an idea and then strive to express it, might talk about the how forming the intention to say something is essential. People who discover their idea as they work might talk about how being open to what arises is all important. Maybe these commitments ultimately end up in the same place, when true and practiced, but do they impose noticeable differences? I am wondering.
But not for long, probably, because this has gotten to a place of abstraction that is mental and potentially boring. Though I would love to hear reader’s thoughts.
I have to add one more thing, because it bears on honesty in one’s art. Blogging in a public forum, or a even semi-private one, can dampen one’s level of disclosure. Unavoidable choices about what is or isn’t revealed must be made, and may turn on concerns that have nothing to do with the level of honesty in one’s work: a commitment to protect children’s privacy (even if they don’t!), for instance, or a refusal to be public about some personal issues (even if they are informing one’s work). I find this part of blogging difficult. The WISH to be free with my thoughts almost always feels at odds with the NEED to stay bounded.