Wednesday, May 21, 2014

challenging the muse

I don't do theme challenges any more but I remember that it used to be a good way to stretch when I was first starting to move away from traditional quilts. There are a couple I remember specifically.

Our original crit group, formed in 1997, met quarterly at the beginning, and each quarter, we had a challenge based on a quote or a phrase each of us pulled out of a hat, so to speak. I pulled this phrase:
 The past is over; the future hasn't started yet, and as you
experience the present it becomes the past. All you have
is this moment: all you have is now.

Carpe Diem

About the same time (actually, 1998) the guild I belonged to threw out a challenge for a special exhibit at their quilt show.  The theme was "flora and fauna"  and the pieces had to be, I think, 18" x 18" or some such size.  Immediately, an image came to mind and I had a wonderful time making my piece.  It was the only one that did not depict plants and animals. It still makes me giggle (and I wonder where the whimsical young woman who made that piece has gone.)

Flora and Fauna Give a Party

While I don't like themes or challenges set by other people, I still believe it is a good way to wake up the sleeping muse if you close your eyes and pick a phrase or a word from the newspaper and do some free association.

How do you feel about themes?  Do you find them helpful or annoying, or both?


Judy Sall Fiber Art said...

I have participated in one "out of the bag" challenge with our local quilters' guild, and found it to be a little frustrating. I tend to do my best work when I have a vision of what I want to accomplish, then work in that direction. Or, as I am currently doing, I get a notion about something and play "what if?" to see what happens when I try something I haven't tried before. But then I mostly don't do quilt projects anymore, unless you want to call my coiled fabric bowls 'quilted'! I do know that all work and no play makes my projects a little more stilted, so I let myself cut loose when I feel the urge, and just play without caring what comes of it. I think we all need to dabble in the finger paints from time to time, even if those finger paints are fabric, not paint! Enjoy...

Linda Hicks said...

Hi Rayna! Loved seeing these pieces...Made me wonder if I will ever evolve to do... Anyway, I don't particularly like themes in that I don't like pressure. I feel they can take away from whatever is a more personal exciting expression I should be working on or developing. Nevertheless, I believe both paths...all paths...are good...variety and all that. All can lead to an interesting quilt.

Connie Rose said...

I actually enjoyed most of the themed challenge quilts I did when I was in the Fiberactions online group. The stretching was fun, until it became not so. Which I suppose means that they became too much of an outside stressor, which is why I don't do these things any longer. My own internal pressure is quite enough, thank you very much! xoxo

Marianne said...

Super vos deux quilts. J'ai une position ambiguë avec les challenges. Dans mon club a chaque expo nous en avons un et des fois je déteste, des fois j'aime, mais le résultat est toujours une nouvelle découverte, une facette que peut être qu'on aurait pas exploitée donc en faire de temps en temps c'est bien

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