Improvise or plan

I’m into the last couple months of prepping for my exhibit (details below). I’m trying to make some smaller pieces to hang along with my large art quilts. I’m currently working on a pitcher plant (work in progress pictured). When I started it, I thought it would be small and quick. In reality, its neither.

Making art can give your brain respite to think deeply about things. During all of this creating, I’ve been thinking about what and who I am, to include why and how I make art. I’ve also been listening to podcasts, my favorite is “Creative Pep Talk” with Andy Pizza. In one of his recent podcasts, he discussed how artists can fall into two categories; planners or improvisors.

I frequently say I’m a recovering perfectionist. People comment all they time how  organized I am (note: they haven’t seen my desk/studio). While I listened to Andy, I immediately thought … “I’m a planner … right?” Then I thought … “wait a minute!”

A planner charts things out and follows the plan. An improvisor just wings it. I realized I’m a little of both, but definitely use more improvise than planning. I never thought about it before. Sure you can look at my post from last week and see the line drawing I used to create this piece. I followed the layout pretty well, but I had no idea what my background would be until much later. I’m also adding more groundcover elements and will just improvise those when I got to that stage of the process.

This quilt is a bit more “planned” than most. Usually I start with just an idea (vision) stuck in head. Then stumble through the process, re-evaluating myself at each new layer of design.

Andy suggests, whether you a plan or improvise your art, you should try to occasionally stretch yourself and do the opposite. That’s scary for me to think about, I’m comfortable at what I’m doing. But, that’s his whole point though, in order to grow/improve you have to challenge yourself… hmmm, can I do it?

This revelation makes me happy to note that I’m not such a control freak anymore. I don’t criticize myself (as much) if I go off plan, because I know how to improv my way out of a predicament. This is good news.

What about you? Do you improvise or plan?


As Nature Speaks, a dialog with an art quilter
Featuring the artwork of Nanette S. Zeller
Oct 11- Nov 24, 2018
Page-Walker Arts & History Center, Cary, NC


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