Every New Year’s Day I make the same resolution! No, not the one about better time management – that’s a given! – but the one abut Taking More Risks. Both with and within the work.
There are so many quotes about the importance of taking risks, you wonder how many writers just write about it, rather than doing it! However, it is only by taking a chance on something new discoveries are made. It’s very easy to fall into a pattern of producing variations on a successful piece – you just have to look at any quilt show, magazine, catalogue or book to see that!
Taking risks involves letting go of the security of past successes; continuing to make the same things over and over (even though they get into shows) can be stifling to an artist. To be creative is to be a risk-taker. It’s not creative to repeat. Refining and developing, however, are good…but at some point I think everyone needs to look at what they’ve been doing and see whether growth is really taking place, or whether one is plateauing. (flatlining? eek!!).
How do creativity and risk-taking work together? Pablo Picasso said: "Every act of creation is also an act of destruction." A creative person will take the risk of breaking away from an established pattern in order to explore new possibilities. I’m trying to work myself up to this!!
William Styron felt that "the pain (of the creative process) comes from the 'extraordinary risk' from 'plunging into unknown territory' not 'really knowing whether you're going to come out alive.'" No wonder it’s a scary proposition! I don’t think I’ll be able to go that far. But looking at my work over the last year or so, and looking at what I admire in other people’s work…and..coming to the realization that what I love is space, airiness, light and empty landscapes, I think I want to open up the quilt spaces a little more. I want to try to dispense with the details (like windows and chimneys) that I wonder if I might have hid behind. Yes, it’s a risk…but…
Picasso again: “Success is dangerous. One begins to copy oneself, and to copy oneself is more dangerous than to copy others. It leads to sterility.”
As Lee Krasner said: “We get used to a certain kind of color of form or format, and it's acceptable. And to puncture that is sticking your neck out a bit. (But) then pretty soon, that's very acceptable.” So I’m going to try some new formats, some new colour schemes. Several of you remarked on the pink I used in the last industrial piece – great! It’s about contrast..pink and industry? Leaves and branches and rusty corrosion?
And it’s important for me to follow Bridget Riley’s ideas that “nature is not landscape, but the dynamism of visual forces.. an event rather than an appearance. These forces can only be tackled by treating color and form as ultimate identities, freeing them from all descriptive or functional roles.” That statement is such a challenge, and one I hope I can rise to!
If you have been, thanks for reading! and think about taking a risk with your own work…especially if you’ve made a dozen or so pieces that are very much in the same mode. And write and tell us all how you did it!