Many years ago, I took a studio art class at the School Of Visual Arts. After a long day as a video editor, where I sat before several screens watching the same thing over and over again, I would run to the studio and plunge into a series of quick sketches that would help me transition from the street to the studio. Students never knew who or what the subjects would be so we really had to let go of whatever happened during the day and just 'be'. This is not an easy thing for me to do and it was really difficult back then as we were buying our house and let's just say that the stress level was a wee bit high. But here I was in a studio with a blank sheet of paper and a piece of charcoal in hand and somehow I could let stuff go. And go it did. Our instructors usually said very little - sometimes just 'ok' at which point I would drop my charcoal, look at my watch and see that two hours had passed.
I started out designing quilts with a quadrille pad and a pencil. Having bought the house in the suburbs, I became a long distance railroad commuter. Sketching patterns during the ride would make time fly, unlike reading the latest best seller or the morning paper. As soon as I had settled into my seat, coffee at my side, I would get out my sketchbook and start drawing patterns. A moment later - I'd swear it was just a moment later - darkness would descend over our train, indicating passage into Grand Central Station and the trip was done, a trip nearly 75 minutes long. Truly, I had lost all concept of time.
A few years into quilting, I bought Barbara Brackman's Block Base which was a blast. I would 'sketch' for hours on my computer with infinite variations of block arrangements and combinations, colors ways and patterns, as well as print templates and calculate yardage. But I didn't get a lot of actual quilting done, nor did I ever have the same feeling I did when I sketched my patterns. In fact I felt a little bit grumpy. I gave it up once we bought a Mac because they are incompatible and honestly, I've never missed it. As long as I have Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns or Maggie Malone's 1,001 Patchwork Designs on my nighttable, a sketchbook and pencil in my hand, I'm a happy girl.
Apparently, that is a pretty accurate statement. Betty Edwards, author of Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain, writes that when we give ourselves over to artistic pursuits, our nonverbal, intuitive and holistic right hemisphere takes over, giving the analytical, rational, logical left hemisphere a well-deserved break. The sense of time is greatly diminished. Works for me.
So I'm designing a quilt for my grandniece (did I actually write that?) and since she will be a July baby (my favorite month), I've been looking for some summery patterns. Purple is going to be her color. I've had some trouble committing to a pattern, but I think it's because I've gotten back in to sketching and it's fun. This is Summer Garden (#2284b).
And that's why sometimes it's good to do it the old school way. If you've hit a bump on your creative path, go back to the way you used to do stuff. Look at your early quilts or your sketch books if you've got them. Revisit some simple patterns or remake your first quilt. Turn off your screens (not right now, finish reading this first) and get back to basics. Your brain will thank you.