There’s Only Make

Today I made an array of beautiful hourglass blocks, shimmering like stained glass. Stitched into borders and positioned on my design wall, surrounding my quilt center, they await my decision. Attach them? Or not? The colors are clear. The sizing was perfect. The balance of color and value is as I want. And yet there is something wrong that I haven’t identified yet. And because I don’t know what it is, I don’t know how to fix it.

Sister Corita Kent, in Rule #8 for the Art Department of the Immaculate Heart College, said, “DON’T TRY TO CREATE AND ANALYSE AT THE SAME TIME. THEY’RE DIFFERENT PROCESSES.”

I know this is true. I know my best work occurs when my intellectual understanding and my inspiration meet at the same place as my technical skills. However, they don’t all get to the corner at the same time. Instead, there is usually one of them lagging behind while the others wait, not so patiently, tapping their toes and jingling the keys in their pockets.

In the morning I may know just what to do. Those jingling keys will have disturbed my sleep, leaving time for thoughts to shift between analysis and creative problem solving. In the end, I’ll resort to Rule #6: “NOTHING IS A MISTAKE. THERE’S NO WIN AND NO FAIL. THERE’S ONLY MAKE.”

15 thoughts on “There’s Only Make

  1. Thread crazy

    When I encounter a “problem/situation” I usually walk away and sleep on it. Most of the time I wake up with a solution or at least one that I am happy with. However, I’m still waiting on my solution to “the Good, the Bad and the Ugly!!!

  2. snarkyquilter

    These are good guidelines to create by. Another helpful, to me, resource is “Art and Fear,” which is from the perspective of a painter and a photographer. That book talks about getting over one’s fear of artistic failure and continuing to create.

    Here are some quotes from it:
    “Artmaking involves skills that can be learned. The conventional wisdom here is that while ‘craft’ can be taught, ‘art’ remains a magical gift bestowed only by the gods. Not so.” Art and Fear, page 3.

    ”Even talent is rarely indistinguishable, over the long run, from perseverance and lots of hard work.” Art and Fear, page 3.

    ”The function of the overwhelming majority of your artwork is simply to teach you how to make the small fraction of your artwork that soars.” Art and Fear, page 5.

    ”To all viewers but yourself, what matters is the product: the finished artwork. To you, and you along, what matters is the process.” Art and Fear, page 5.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Yep, I’m pretty sure I’ve read that book. I’m sort of in the canyon of artists’ self-help now, still eager to read all kinds of things relating to making, doing, and expressing fearlessly. Could probably distill it all into three words: “Get over yourself!” 🙂

  3. KerryCan

    I just love this, Melanie! That Sister Corita knows her stuff! Or at least she sees the world the way I do and that always makes me happy. Sometimes I think I take rule #7 a little too much to heart but I guess that’s better than the alternative. I hope you solved your problem!

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      Yes, rule 7… Sometimes I wish I knew how to quit. I have few deadlines or obligations other than those I make for myself. …

      As to solving my problem, I am still experimenting. But I am confident I’ll end up happy with whatever happens! 🙂


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