The Creative Process (or lack thereof) On Art Quilts

Dear you,

I started a comment game on my Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/freckledots). Here are the details: So starting right now, continue to comment for a chance to win a custom designed wall quilt from Freckle Dots! This can be a tee shirt quilt or a pattern created original design. This is a $75 value. You’ll have to give me some time to finish it, as I have 6 lined up in my commission line right now. You can comment as many times as you like, because the last comment on September 21, 2012 by 12 am will be the winner! Keep the conversation going!

I have been struggling with my “creative process.” All of the books I’ve read say to “start with a drawing” and then use a fabric wall, layouts, samples, etc., etc. before beginning any quilt project. Well, in my business I am usually told, “This is what I want, can you do it?” and my reply is “Yes.” Many times I’m given creative license on my commission, so I take it. But I have only ever drawn out one quilt, and it didn’t work out the way I wanted it to. I went a completely different route with it and loved it.

My creative process involves seeing an image in my mind, then finding the fabric I want or going with “happy accidents.” It also involves me cutting out the squares larger than I think I will need them, then adapting to make them more uniform. But I don’t plan. I can’t plan. It hurts. 😉 Most of my quilts develop as they are made. It makes for frustration occasionally and redesign sometimes, but most of the time they come together quite nicely. I also never settle on a quilt stitch design or pattern until I actually have the top done.

So with that said, why do I beat myself up over the design process? Because all the experts say it should be done one way, and I just don’t do it that way. Am I wrong? Not according to one expert. Bozena Wojtaszek from Lodz, Poland was featured in the recent edition (Summer 2012) of Art Quilting Studio magazine. The article “Translating Emotions into Art” was very thought-provoking when it came to her Creative Process section. Wojtaszek says that, “The one thing that is constant (and it always surprises my viewers) is that I don’t start with drawing – I can’t draw.” (Art Quilting Studio, Summer 2012. “Translating Emotions into Art.” Pg. 38, My creative process.) Well, now there was a hallelujah moment for me!

Wojtaszek goes on to say that she sketches a plan, but goes through “tons of pictures” and drawings to find elements and then relies on the fabric to go from there. My creative process isn’t wrong. It isn’t unnatural. It’s mine. It works for me. I will also sketch an outline of my quilt and make notes on dimensions, piece sizes, sashing, and more to find what will work to get a good size out of my quilts. Then I look through various stitch designs to find what I love and what will speak best on the quilt. Sometimes it’s as simple as an outline, other times it requires a free-motion design.

Most recently finished tee shirt quilt

Quilting was dictated by the heart pattern on sashing and outlining of images

More examples of outlined images

When I approach my art quilt for the first time, I think I will follow my original process. I will look at pictures that I take, approach it with an open mind and envision what I want. Then I will do an outline sketch with ideas and notes, but I’m not going to stress over it! The quilt will be what it and I want it to be. I don’t think any creative process is wrong, as long as it reaches the desired results! IS  there a right or a wrong way in art? I think a lot of art snobs will tell you there is, but I concur to disagree. Happy creating.

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