While I am able to make interesting art with lots of studies, pre-planned collages, or computer design work, what I really enjoy the most is doing artwork in a way that is improvisational. I like to start, not knowing where the artwork is going to end up.

This way of working involves doing something and then letting what you have done dictate what the next step is. It is risky, you make mistakes. Sometimes the project has to be ditched completely. But it is so thrilling when it works. As experience builds you learn to see what should go next before you actually do it. On of my favorite collage/painting artists does this very well. Jane Davies’ website and blog, Collage Journeys, documents this very well and she is a generous online teacher of her techniques. Exploring her posts is worth your while. Perhaps someday I will have the opportunity to learn from her in person.

In all my textile work/play, collage play, stitching, computer design, even the knitting and the needlepoint, I enjoy the process most when I start out not knowing where I am going to end up.


Improvisational Tapestry Knitting– the beginning of a sweater?..maybe a vest?

Knitting in progress


Needlepoint pillow in progress–after a Kaffee Fassett design

needlepoint in progress



It is harder for me to make large quilt art that way. There seems like more is at stake.  It takes more boldness to print many large digital pieces not knowing if you are actually going to use them. And arranging them on the design wall until you get a good composition is only part of the work. That part can be treated improvisationaly. But the the assembly and stitching needs to follow…….and it becomes less motivating to work. Still there are many decisions to be made about what kind and color of stitching, so that is sort of improv.

Final completion, although still interesting, becomes more of a chore–the excitement isn’t there as much. Usually there is a joy at seeing it come together, although sometimes it is anxiety about whether it has lived up to the idea’s potential–and whether I have really made a step up in my artistic development.

 I am seeking a way to work which keeps that “not knowing how it will turn out” interest longer. Sometimes I get that feeling when working with leftover pieces of printed fabric and trying new techniques, as with the Rock Sample Quartet.  This piece started out as total playing around and experimentation. Could i stitch on the heavily painted batting? Did stacking batting under the silk lead to a more 3-D effect?  Could I do anything interesting with the leftover prints?

This seems an ideal way to work and I think I need to practice it more.

Rock Samples Quartet

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