Courage

Well practiced artists can move along for hours, days, months without giving the need for courage a thought.  Well, at least I can.  And I haven’t heard this topic come up often, so I think I am ok in this perspective.

Mostly, it is our own courage that is an issue.  A friend of mine recently showed a successful art quilt at our local quilt group.  She and I are the experienced art quilters in this traditional guild.  The others were appreciative of the finished piece.  But as she shared about her process, she talked about not being happy with it after the binding was attached.  So she decided to overdye the whole piece.  I was immediately taken with the courage of that action, but it was regarded as a matter of course to the others.  And so she did not elaborate.  I was still digesting the courage to take a good quilt and subject it to a dye bath in the hopes that there will be a better quilt in the end.  So no questions from me.

Several weeks ago I faced a moment of courage.  I was working on a piece inspired by a local mill wheel.  There was a due date on this project, so extended contemplation was not on the schedule.  I had pieced and painted a pleasing background.  Then I stitched the wheel shape on top.  And it all went static. I was heart sick. I left the piece on the work table.  The next day I hung it on the design wall.  I looked at it.  I avoided it.  I decided to start an entirely different piece.

Two days later, the aha moment struck:  cut it up and rearrange it.  This has worked for me in the past.  It has also failed.  I am better at engaging this step when I have more distance from the piecing and painting efforts.  But the due date demanded a decision.  I hesitated with rotary cutter in hand.  I sighed.  And I cut 4″ strips from the center out. 

As I moved the strips around, I found a pleasing arrangement that suggested energy and movement.  I began to think about where and how I would add the wheat.  I was back in the zone.

Neither artist was plunging into deep unknown territory.  Each possessed skill and experience.  But each risked the loss of valued work.  Courage was summoned.  Better art evolved.

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