…but I’m not creative…


weeks-sketching One of the most frustrating things I hear on a regular basis in the quilting classes I teach is the sentence above or it’s close cousin, “I’m not good with color.” I talk about this in my Craftsy class a bit. I mention that I was one of those kids who was not labeled a gifted artist in kindergarten so I assumed that I had no artistic talent. That belief continued until I was in my mid-20s. It was a sentence in Betty Edwards’ seminal book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain that truly changed my life. I wanted to get a masters degree in a design field but had not background in art or design. I got this book to learn how to draw so I could put together a portfolio to get into grad school. Betty Edwards wrote that while the brilliance of Picasso or someone of that level of artistic achievement may well be innate, the rest of us can learn to draw, not to his level perhaps, but to a level of competency through education and practice. It can be learned. One’s gifts are not fixed. We can learn new skills, including creative thinking, design and, yes, color. Although the topic of the article Giving Good Praise to Girls: What Messages Stick is on how to praise girls, I found that as I read it, it also pertains to many of the students who take my quilting classes. Many of you know that Bill and I emphasize experimenting and maquettes to see what works as opposed to making decisions in your head. So I particularly liked this quote from the article, “If you have little failures along the way and have them understand that’s part of learning, and that you can actually derive useful information about what to do next, that’s really useful.” It’s not about knowing what decision to make. It’s about being willing to try a variety of options so you KNOW what will work best.

2 thoughts on “…but I’m not creative…

  1. Sadly, I’ve found the statements about “I’m not creative” or “I’m not good with color” to come from the mouths of many of the female quilters I’ve encountered, but not from the guys. I’ve talked with my mom, Violet Newby, also a quilter, about this quite a lot, and she thinks it’s a struggle frequently, but not exclusively, plaguing women because they’ve been taught to doubt themselves, or rather, not to trust their own voice. She taught my older brother and me to value our voices, and for that I’m eternally grateful. Do you also find this to be true?

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