I drive a LOT. On average for my “day” job I am on the road between 3,000 and 3,600 miles a month. I drive a LOT…did I say that already?
Driving is that time of the week when I let my mind wander to all the pretty things I can design and make. I come up with all sorts of ideas and often will pull over for a second to jot them down in my journal.
Then begins the frenzy – this all consuming step by step how to process in my head that is the reason I say I am “hyper-focused.”
Ever been there?
- I am going to spring clean the entire house. Then you get the curtains down and decide, that was a stupid idea and they lay in a corner until next spring…
- I am going to start walking. Then the alarm goes off and the bed feels so good, and you lay there until next year…
- I am going to only use my stash this year to make new quilts. Then you drive by a fabric shop and it is calling your name…
As I have grown, I have become better at “follow through,” mostly because I have a significant aversion to failing…even against myself. My motto for a very long time was “challenge accepted.” My husband even purchased me a shirt with the words on it for my birthday one year. Loose 100 pounds. Challenge accepted. Learn to lift weights. Challenge accepted. Run 26.2 miles. Challenge accepted.
But with the design process, I feel this constant battle within myself to complete EVERY SINGLE design I come up with. On some level, it feels like failure to me, if an “original” design doesn’t come to life. I hate how it feels.
For the last several years, I have “tried” to set yearly goals for my designing and making. Initially, I thought some of the goals were not necessarily related to my designing, but as I tried to live into them, I learned I was wrong. Example you ask? Only use my stash for making new quilts. But I “design” my own quilts. And when a new design comes into my head, the limited palette is NOT good. It ends up changing the design to something less appealing to make…and then, you guessed it, it doesn’t get made. So, I scrapped that idea. Well, I altered it. Now I try to only buy fabric for projects I am ready to make. And no more than four projects on deck. That does actually seem to be working better. Except four may be too many…I hate waste…especially wasting money.
This one may feel simple, but when it comes to actually designing quilts, it gets overwhelming. When I sit down to design a new quilt I begin with an idea. A block. A concept. An image. Something sparks it. Like this past month I have been trying to play around with the idea of a goat quilt. I actually have an entire goat quilt, like the Painted Cow, designed in my computer. And it would only take me about 5 hours to make the entire thing. The pattern is written too. And I can’t even force myself to make it.
Instead, I have my daughter teaching me to draw anime animals to try a different image of a goat. I sat Sunday afternoon and late in the evening drawing goats, and eyes, and ears, and horns…and nothing “felt” right. I even tried to give them hair to “mimic” thread painting.
As I asked my daughter for feedback, and boy is she good at giving it (wink), I decided to “take a break and just draw.” No limits. No “goals.” Just start doodling again.
I went right back to my fun little flowers you might remember from my Chicago Doodles. I had a blast…I couldn’t stop myself.
And then, an idea came to me. My little designs have three little dots and accent lines inside. But that would not work for thread painting. What if I connected them somehow. As I started to play around on paper with the idea, it didn’t take long for me to move to the computer and start sketching in Illustrator. As of last night, I have 7 pages of “templates” for raw edge applique and I am delighted! I couldn’t even sleep last night for thinking about layout and all the things I could do with these little guys to make projects.
So back to planning…and what last night taught me.
Start doodling and exploring and making and appreciating the journey. Every idea is NOT a good one. But every idea leads to the next, and that has value. It isn’t as if we are rejecting our “babies,” although each design idea can often feel that way. Instead, it is that sense that each idea that is birthed has the DNA of all the others living and bouncing around inside of it. Little things we learn along the way become absorbed and there comes a point where the journey gets muddy with all the twists and turns. And for me, Sunday night’s life lesson, that isn’t a bad thing. Embrace it. Own it. Call it what it is. Go with it. Trust it.