Thursday, May 3, 2012

I Must Ask . . . Do You Color Inside or Outside of the Lines?

Striving for excellence motivates you; striving for perfection is demoralizing. –Harriet Braiker

It's been three weeks since I asked you about your favorite breakfast foods. Three weeks! We've had breakfast for dinner twice since then. My lack of posting isn't for lack of questions, because I've got plenty of them. I keep a little list so I can think about what I want to ask a few days before. I've just been trying to do everything I want and need to do and not finding enough time for it all. This week, the first week of the month, is my busiest week. I work 40+ hours, and yet, I MUST ask you all a question today. But first, the back-story because this is how it works. I tell you a bit about what I'm thinking and then you answer my question on the topic.

About a month ago, I woke up with an idea for a quilt in my head. Michelle Thompson has designed the most adorable Sesame Street character patterns and I decided that I needed to make a quilt using them. Starting a quilt when I already have 10 in the works is nothing new. I do have a "no new projects" policy to try to curb this kind of thing, but I violate it pretty often. You know how it is when you get an idea, right? To add to the crazy, this quilt has an impossible deadline. I want to have it ready for the spring quilt shows the first of which is June 8-9. I finished my first block, Elmo on April 11th. He took roughly 10 hours to do. They all take roughly that long. Paper piecing. Meh. But, I figured if I finished one block every three days, I'd be in good shape to finish the quilt top by mid-May and have a couple of weeks to get it quilted and bound.

I'm four blocks in. I have eight to go and five weeks to the first quilt show. Cookie Monster, or rather, Cookie Monster's fabric and pattern have been sitting on my sewing table for 10 days waiting for me to start sewing. I can't seem to get a seam in edgewise around here. But I digress.

Before I finished the first block, I started planning sashing, borders, binding, the quilt label, and how I would quilt it. I spent hours browsing through the Moda Marbles at Web Fabrics, trying to decide which colors would best supplement those I already had to make the best and brightest Sesame Street characters. All of that planning was kind of hard to keep organized in my head. I needed someplace to put it. I needed to make a framework with it, so that I could know my next move.

I drew my layout on graph paper; I scanned it into my computer, colorized it in Microsoft Paint and started filling in the spaces with the blocks I'd finished so far. I wanted to have something to manipulate, which wouldn't take over my entire living room, could easily be altered and would help me decide where to place the finished blocks and to know what background colors to use for the next blocks based on what was already in place. Besides my virtual layout, I've started doodling out the quilting on my graph paper to see if what I want to do will work in the space I have. I'm not sure if it works, but that's a different post. Don't worry, there will be poll questions for that too.

This is my creative process. I like to have a plan, a goal in mind when I start something new. I work best when I have a framework where I can fill in the details as they come to me. I like to color inside the lines. For some people, that's not creativity. They like to have a go at a huge blank canvas and wherever it takes them is creativity. And that's OK. It's OK for me to be creative inside the lines and it is OK for you to be creative in a way that works for you.

I read an interview once, by Stephenie Meyer, where she talks about her creative process. She uses a very detailed outline when she writes because she likes to write the more interesting and vivid scenes first, the scenes that move the plot along. Once she gets those parts finished it is easier for her to write the transitional parts, the bridges that take from one part of the story to the next. She said that without an outline, writing the interesting stuff and then trying to put it together doesn't work. If you ask me, she likes to color inside the lines.

Today I must ask . . . do you like to color inside or outside of the lines? Are you an organized creator, going by a plan every step of the way? Do you prefer creative chaos, letting the project take you wherever it wants to go? Or are you somewhere in the middle, with a method to your madness? Vote in the poll and leave me a comment telling me your favorite way to create.


Ann Marie @ 16 Muddy Feet said...

I do a little inside coloring, but sometimes I LOVE to color outside the lines. Start sewing a seam, and just keep sewing, without hardly a plan at all, winging it as you go. I guess it really depends on the project, but for today, I am a rebel so it is OUTSIDE of the lines.

Jennifer Lovell said...

I color inside the lines. And, I can't create unless I have a clean room, and often a clean house, to start with. The mess that results along the way, fortunately is not an impediment, but it will need to be cleared away before I begin a new project : ).

It was fun to read from you today. Miss you!

Paulette said...

What a great question. I do a little of both, but, in general, it's organized chaos. I do not require a clean sewing room to start with (or goodness knows I'd never get anything done). With the current string project, I have a very general plan, and I absolutely love that I don't know what each one is going to look like, exactly, until I put the pieces together. Then I get a little zing of excitement/surprise when it does. I like the "sorta not knowing" part of the creative process, but I do like to have some parameters.

Gari Anne said...

I think I have to say I am way outside of the lines! When the Creative Muse visits me I have to drop what I am doing and create. Sometimes I plan, that is why I entered both in your survey, but that happens rarely! Have a great weekend!

Anonymous said...

You aksed if we Color Inside the Lines or outside the lines. I think you might have missed the 3rd and most important Option.

If you color inside some one else's lines, you're disciplined but more of a follower.
If you color outside of the lines, your undisciplined and maybe a little bit of a rebel.

If you create your own set of lines and stay with in them .. you are both Creative and disciplined enough to know your end goal.

I think you are one that Draw's your Own lines, but then colors inside that set of Lines so, the project turns out just the way you intended it to be.

Shay said...

I definitely colour inside the lines. Im such a goody two shoes !

whimsyfox said...

I try to color inside the lines (ie plan things out) but inevitably find that either a) I screwed up the math, b) I didn't have what I thought I had, 3) I mess up in some way no matter what or d) I can't replicate what I'm dreaming about in my head. So often I'll start planning but get bored and anxious and just get on with it.

I do tend to like a starting point (I am one of those most comfortable with a recipe) so I like project instructions, patterns, or at least examples. I never stick to it, but I don't like a blank canvas. Pinterest is my friend!