Thursday, August 16, 2012

inspiration vs. intent - let's talk

There's been quite a discussion on one of the lists about inspiration vs. intent aka improvisation vs. planning -- or what I call Ad Hoc design© vs. Slow Design©. Of course, despite what the planners-ahead really believe, there is no right or wrong way.  So I thought I'd share my ad hoc-slow design process with you as I work.

I've had some pieces on my sewing room design wall that have been sitting for a week (which is why you haven't heard from me). The pink traditional block was one of four originals. Two were redone for the book and that left me with two whole blocks and an unused bit (the light pink in the middle).
This is how it looked until last night, when I started to move things around. 
 I separated the units and what started as Ad Hoc Design moved into the Slow Design stage. (which is not to say I'm not still working at hoc - lol).  Everything but the little squares on the right were left over from something else and were in my box.  I had started with these two,which really didn't "go together."(ad hoc)

 I made the strip of squares on the right out of strips I had lying around.  And I added black and white to the pink and yellow horizontal strip you see below. (slow)

After trying them in a few different orders (slow) I moved them together and added another leftover strip at the bottom to see if it would work (ad hoc).

Then I decided I really needed some of that light pink/purple/turq from the original blocks, so I gritted my teeth and cut into one of them, to which I added strips(very slow).  Now I'm auditioning arrangements but chances are that neither of these will work in the end. This is why I take pictures.
 From looking at the photo I see what I couldn't see up close and I know what doesn't work and why.
But since I'm off to New York in a little while to meet my friend Pam, who is here from Montreal, visiting her daughter, I won't be doing any more of this today.  In fact, even if I weren't going to NY,
I have other things to do and can't work on one thing incessantly or I bore myself to death.
Nonetheless, I can't imagine working any other way.

What's your process? Do you start with a plan or an inspiration and fiddle with it as you go along? Or do you start without a plan and - uh - fiddle with it as you go along?  I'd really like to know - so please leave comments and let's talk.

20 comments:

Kathy said...

Definitely do not plan it out! Improv all the way. But there is very much a slow part and a fast part to the process. Even if there is a design plan in advance, I don't create to the exact shape, but to the idea of the plan. And perhaps spend a bit more time at the design wall in the slower phase!

patty a. said...

For me every project is different. I do a lot of visualizing in my head before I cut the first fabric in some cases, other times I have a rough idea that I throw on paper and then make adjustments as I proceed, and then there are the times which I have a group of special scraps that I arrange on the design wall, start to sew together and rearrange the remaining scraps and sew as I go along. For my charity quilts I just make simple quilts from patches I already have made up - these would be no brainer pieces - cute but quick and easy.

Nina-Marie said...

well first of all - thanks for showing the progression of this piece. Interesting!! and the reason its interesting to me is because I'm a planner - to the point of being a bit anal. I do at least 6 potential sketches - then do value sketches - then do a full size pattern which is just a sorta road map - not a pattern LOL! Now that said - a teacher that we both know btw - watching me work once said, "Ohhh you're one of those paper planner people" and promptly looked down her nose. Had to laugh at that - many many great artists did studies and sketches before their pieces of art was hung in the Louvre (grin)

Diane said...

Rayna - When I am ready to begin a project, I usually have been carrying around a 'sense' of what I would like to end up with for awhile. I also have collected pieces of what I would like to use or put together. Then I begin, and keep going - making decisions as I work. When I get to a place that is not working, I walk away and let it 'simmer' for awhile. I try to get back to it the next day, as my mind is still in the project. Then I continue on and see it through until completion. Even when I was designing applique patterns, I would use this same process. I rely on 'letting the piece speak to me'. Sometimes we just have to wait until it is quiet enough to hear. . .

Connie Rose said...

Oh, that list again, getting all huffy and opinionated about labels and rhetoric. IMO who cares what you call the process, or how long it takes? It's a design process, you start at one end and work til you get to the other. If you like it, great, if you don't you rework it before or after you've sewn it together. Isn't this the way it's always been?? LOL

Gerrie said...

I like what Connie said. I work both ways - sometimes from a plan and sometimes spontaneously. I am getting a kick out of the discussion on the list and that is all I am going to say in public about that.

Dianne Koppisch Hricko said...

I am improvisational all the way. Once I get something down on the fabric I can begin to react to it. My only pre planning is in deciding what color dyes to mix up to start the process. If I have to commit to a plan prior to starting it stops me dead. It would seem that I am basically a visual artist... I see it and then react to it. Most of my best break throughs occur when I have made some "mistake" and have to solve that problem.

Mia Bloom Designs said...

It depends on the project. If I'm working on a project to enter into a certain exhibit then I start with a plan. I have to admit that my plans usually change as I go. If I'm working on a project without a deadline or a specific exhibit then I play and see what turns out.

Thank you for showing your work in progress. I'm interested in seeing how others work.

Nina-Marie said...

Ohh Diane - I didn't know other people carried around their designs in their heads too - I do that but thought it was weird (grin). So glad I'm not the only one!

Also want to comment - I am VERY interested on how others create - but not to past judgement - just 'cause it fascinates me. Why is it that some people feel that everyone needs to be just like them or else they are obviously wrong, misguided or just stupid (this goes for a ton of things - spiritual beliefs, politics, family issues etc) Do they just have too much time on their hands? Just don't understand the negativity. . . . .

Cindy said...

Rayna,

This discussion is fascinating. I'm more in the improv camp and I love the way you describe your process--ad hoc vs. slow. I usually start out with an idea of what color combinations I'm interested in or shapes I'd like to explore, then I cut into my fabrics and see what happens! Some of my best pieces have resulted from "happy accidents" that I couldn't have planned if I tried. I find when I do try to plan a piece beforehand, it doesn't have that "spark" I'm looking for. Just the way I work, I guess. Thanks for sharing!

MariQuilts said...

My favourite way to work is improv as well. Sometimes I dive right into the fabric, other times things sit an simmer. I love having multiple projects on the go, because my creative brain is quite erratic.

I'm also a bit of a technique junkie...trying to incorprate them in different ways.

I can really see the value of making several sketches but I'd rather just start cutting and playing and see what happens.

Great discussion...I love hearing how other quilters approach their work.

Terry Grant said...

Depends entirely on what I am doing. There are some pieces where I really want to work out the drawing and details ahead and will do a pretty complete drawing to work from. Others I assemble in my head and then onto the wall. I am always open to sudden bursts of inspiration however! and things can be changed significantly midstream. I never work entirely improvisationally, but, then, that just isn't the kind of work I do. I think you need to work however feels right and however the piece itself calls for. Your work, and many others, would probably lose its life and sense of spontaneity entirely if you tried to draw it all out ahead of time.

Viva la difference!

magsramsay said...

All of the above! I surround myself with 'story boards' of inspirational photos, drawings and thumbnail sketches of various compositions around a particular theme. I then start composing with fabrics on the design wall, with a huge amount of tweaking along the way.
Sometimes it ends up nothing like the starting material but then thats the challenge(and joy) of scaling up.

Eva said...

Making a plan is the end of the job! I have so many sketches in my books which never became a template for artwork. Sometimes I took sketches and glued them on a board to paint over them. What inspires me most is photographs -- and even more: the places in which I took photographs. Actually, all my art is stolen. That's why it looks genuine sometimes. -- I start finishing a picture or a quilt the moment I start it.

tiedyejudy said...

I'm in the 'it depends' camp. For my landscape quilts, I do a line drawing, and I'm working from a photograph, but it still takes on a life of it's own as I progress. But there are some pieces I've done using the 'what if' method, auditioning pieces on the design board, studying, re-organizing, taking pix (which always helps me to see better!)... bottom line, it's good to not be locked into any one method, but to have a variety to choose from based on the project.

Aart said...

I also don't plan before I go sewing, read my blog, http://quiltaart.blogspot.nl/2012/07/compromissen.html. I had very ugly fabrics and with sewing, cutting, sewing, cutting and use different other fabrics made a beutyfull quilt.
http://quiltaart.blogspot.com

Karoda (nickname) said...

YES to all of it! I don't have a set process it is a combination of everything you've mentioned applied in varying ways. Maybe if some art sociologist was to study me, she could find some hard and fast rule to describe how I do what I do.

KrisR said...

I'm a 'fly by the seat of my pants' type of designer. I go until I like the look and then I stop. However....I'm very new to this type of quilting but I must say - I'm loving it!

Marit said...

Thanks for talking us through your process. I have been mulling over "process" thoughts during my last couple of projects. I try to plan it all out ahead of time, but usually just start to work on it because the sketches don't come together. Once I get a key part done, or while I am working on it, my brain is processing what options I have for the next part. I always figure that when something seems to go wrong, it leads me to trying something new to resolve it. Usually, the work ends up better than the original plan. I am a process worker... building on an idea as I go. I agree.... putting it on a design wall or looking at a picture of it helps a great deal. I am enjoying studying your blog and gallery.

Liz Plummer said...

Haven't been following the discussion, but I'm definitely an improvisational sort of person. The last quilt I finished, Birth of a City, is a prime example. I started off by playing with a thermofax screen on white fabric, adding and taking away colour till I didn't know what to do with it next. Looked at it for ages, ummed and aahed, finally superimposed a sort of map layout on top. Then added more colour. Then looked at it and saw stuff in it I hadn't seen before and turned it 90 degrees and it ended up with the title I gave it...