Sunday, August 25, 2013

Change Partners and Dance

When I got tired of doing finely detailed pencil portraits... (and developed arthritis in my drawing hand)

I did something a bit different. I worked with watercolors and made some abstract 3-D pieces.

Some of them made it into art shows and were exhibited.  I was attending the opening of one gallery show and I was chatting with John Hatch, one of my former Art professors from college, and one of my colleagues, a fellow painter.

"What do you do," she asked him, "when you get stuck?"

John gestured to me with his thumb, as if he were hitchhiking. "You do what this one does." He turned to me and smiled. "Change partners and dance." With that, he took me into his arms, twirled me around a couple of steps, kissed me on the cheek and sailed off. He was then about 77 years old, and he was that kind of guy. Everybody loved him, and he loved everybody.

It was the most succinct and eloquent piece of advice I had ever heard, and I never forgot it (how could I?). Someday I'm going to have to make a word quilt out of it, but that's another story.

Change partners and dance. It sounds so easy, and yet it isn't. How do you find a new partner to keep dancing in a crowded room, or even an empty one?

What he meant, I am quite sure (and I can't ask, he died in 1998), was that you had to look at things differently. It can be hard to do, you get stuck in a rut, and you keep doing the same thing over and over. You may be good at doing the same thing over and over, but to get out of the rut you have to know you're in one.

How you "reframe" a problem can really pay off. There's a new book by Tina Seeling, "inGenius: A Crash Course on Creativity" that focuses on this idea. You can (and should) read the article in Fast Company, "How Reframing a Problem Unlocks Innovation."

Seelig writes, "The simple process of asking "Why" expands the landscape of solutions for a problem."

I've solved lots of quilt design problems by asking "Why?"

"Why do I have to have the background fabric in The Black Box Quilt run perfectly vertical?"

"Why do I have to use the same fabric as background all over in a quilt?"

"Why does the dog need to be centered?"

"Why do I have to make the letters the same size?"

"Why do I have to make the letters easy to see?"

"Why do I have to rip this seam?"**

Please read the article about Reframing. I promise it will be worthwhile.

** Regular readers will recognize these questions, and my responses to them.


Poppy Q said...

Wow you are very talented Lynne, the portrait is awesome.

Julie and Poppy Q

Quiltdivajulie said...

GREAT post!

Susan R said...

What can I say? After spending the past 1 reading your blog, reading the article, printing it out, reading another article and then subscribing to "Fast Company" - I forgot all the notes I almost forgot were I started! tee-hee

Thank you again (yes I'm a regular reader of your blog) for inspiring me!!


Susan R said...

Geeze.....I have to learn to write. Insert "Hour" and "Oh" into the sentence above.

Susan with a red face....

Just Ducky said...

Not only that but you have changed the medium in which you work. Pencil drawings, 3D in what looks like colored paper, to quilts, more traditional and then your free piece. You are not bound Lynne, you are a free, creative spirit.

Kathy said...

Great post! I am sharing it with some of my other quilting buddies.

Kathy said...

Great post! I am sharing it with some of my other quilting buddies.

MariQuilts said...

What a fabulous much food for thought. I'm so happy to have found your blog. I know I'll be stopping by often.