Welcome to Improv Mondays, a weekly series exploring improvisation in quilt making. Your comments on improv and courage last week were out-of-this-world fantastic - thank you! Some of you are new to improv, and some more experienced, but all of your insights add significantly to the discussion, which leads me to ask... Is improv quilting for beginners? Not according to this post on How To Quilt:
You won’t find many new quilters who are into improv quilting, but it is a term you might run across. Improv quilting is freeform in many ways.
It’s a tough one for beginning quilters to start with unless they are heavily geared toward art. Beginners tend to work best with straight lines and straight seams – few of which exist in improv quilting.
What's wrong with this statement?
Everything! It may be true that the more we improvise the easier it is to trust the process, as many of you pointed out last week, but improv is definitely for beginners. There can be no denying that cultivating the Buddhist concept of "beginner's mind" is essential for modern improv quilting. According to Wikipedia...
Shoshin, or beginner's mind, refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and a lack of preconceptions.
So when you are improvising, try your best to let go of any preconceived outcomes. Often we judge our results as failures, only because they don't match our expectations.
If you are predicting a negative outcome, or any outcome before you even begin, first remind yourself that you can not predict the future. Then sit down at your sewing machine and get comfortable with being at the edge of the unknown by getting curious. Ask yourself, “I wonder what will happen if I do this? or this?” and so on. A beginner's mind is a curious mind. Here's an outstanding talk on beginner's mind if you want more!
It is often the people who have never made a quilt who are the most open to the process of improvisation, because they don't have to fight down THE RULES.
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, in the expert's mind there are few. ~ Shunryu Suzuki
Being an expert quilt maker, or sewer can be an asset, but only when we can separate skills and techniques from THE RULES and expectations of ourselves and others. More about THE RULES next week!
What's your experience as a beginner or as an expert? How do you cultivate beginner's mind when you quilt or create? Can you let go of preconceived outcomes? What happens when you do?