Tag Archives: night

Musings on creativity – 2 basic styles?

"December House"

“December House”

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.


This post’s quilt started as the left-most house


pattern stars, rhinestone stars, polka dots and stitches


checked shutters made from a former Anne Taylor skirt – a small remnant of life as a downtown lawyer

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.


pre-shutters, with some REAL shadows


with patchworked seat

had to add shadow under moon to interrupt vine - otherwise it would look like a lollipop

shadow under moon added to avoid its resembling a lollipop


house needed the fanning foliage to look like it belonged

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.

crossing over


After a two week break from computer screens, I am not unlike Jack, above, pausing at the edge, wondering how to re-enter.

Happy New Year, all!

I look forward to another year of sharing ideas, inspiration, techniques, and support on the worldwide web!


I have spent a lot of time quilting and knitting by the fire over the last two weeks.


This was how we saw C. for the most part – on his way out – to job or friends.


I baked 12 varieties this year.  This is the third year in a row that I vowed I wouldn’t.











where-are-my-slippersEvery two-footed member of our family got slippers for Christmas.  I seriously think Jack is wondering why he didn’t get any.  It’s not the cookies he’s wondering about — it’s the missing set of slippers!


“I heard a Crow elder say… ‘You know, I think if people stay somewhere long enough — even white people — the spirits will begin to speak to them.  It’s the power of the spirits coming up from the land.  The spirits and the old powers aren’t lost, they just need people to be around long enough and the spirits will begin to influence them.'”

Gary Snyder, “The Practice of the Wild”

It is strange to think that the house we live in has stood for more than 200 years.  When it was first built, this area was farmland, and Route 9 was a dirt carriage track to Boston (the “Old Post Road”).  The beech tree that I so admire in a neighbor’s backyard may have been here even longer.  What is 20 years in comparison?  (And, actually, 2012 only makes 19).

Still, nearly two decades is long-ish in the arc of a human life, and very long in my particular life when moves were very frequent as a child.

The warmth of spring was unsettling (again) today.  What is the mass-pleasure about ‘nice’ weather, anyway?  I sometimes get the feeling that no one would care if climate change utterly destroyed life as we know it, as long as we didn’t have to wear mittens!

So, I was up.  I thought it was K’s restless legs that had me downstairs at 1:00, 2:00 a.m., but maybe it was one of the ‘old powers’ — drawing me to the window, and finally, outside, to capture this shot of the full moon just minutes before the sky clouded over fully and rain began to spatter.