For artists who love working with color and fabric, improvisation is a skill that can be extremely helpful in creating unique and exciting pieces. Improvisation is the art of creating something on the spot, without any preconceived ideas or plans. It can be a valuable tool for artists who want to expand their creativity, break out of their comfort zones, and try new things. In this article, we’ll explore five practical exercises that can help artists develop their improvisational skills and create dynamic quilts or other works of art.
1. Blind Contour Drawing
Blind contour drawing is a technique where an artist draws a subject without looking at the paper. The artist focuses solely on the subject and tries to create a drawing that is as accurate as possible. This exercise can be challenging but is an excellent way to improve hand-eye coordination and to train the mind to work quickly and efficiently.
To begin this exercise, select a colorful object that you find visually interesting. Then, sit down in front of the object, and without looking at the paper, begin drawing the object. Try to capture the shape, texture, and color of the object without lifting the pen or pencil from the paper. This exercise can be done with any medium, such as pencils, charcoal, or colored pencils. Quilters can practice this technique in their quilting design books and take objects from nature to work with.
2. Color Wheel Challenge
The color wheel challenge is an exercise that can help artists develop a greater understanding of color theory and how different colors interact with each other. To begin, select two colors from the color wheel and use only those colors to create a quilt design. The challenge is to create a piece that is visually appealing and interesting using only those colors.
Once you have completed the first challenge, select another color set and repeat the process. Continue until you have created a work of art using every color on the color wheel. This exercise can be done with any medium, such as fabric, paint, pastels, or colored pencils.
3. Paint Swatch Challenge
The paint swatch challenge is an exercise that can help artists develop their color intuition and improvisational skills. To begin, select several paint swatches of different colors and lay them out on a table or workspace. Then, select one swatch and try to match the color using the materials available to you.
This exercise can be done with any medium, such as paint, pastels, or colored pencils. The challenge is to create a piece that accurately matches the color on the swatch, and to do so quickly and efficiently. If you have spare fabrics on hand, you can also use different colors of fabric to do the swatch challenge.
4. Mixed Media Challenge
The mixed media challenge is an exercise that can help artists break out of their comfort zones and try new things. To begin, select several different materials, such as paint, collage, pastels, and markers. Then, create a work of art using all of the materials available to you.
This exercise can be challenging, but it can also be a lot of fun. The key is to be open to the creative process and to allow yourself to experiment with different materials and techniques. This is also a great way to take a break from quilting, allowing you to bring other art techniques to your quilting later.
5. Collaborative Exercise
The collaborative exercise is an exercise that can help artists develop their communication skills and work collaboratively with others. To begin, select a partner and sit down together in front of a blank canvas, paper, or lay your fabric swatches out on the table. Then, take turns adding to the piece, one person at a time. The challenge is to work together to create a piece that is visually interesting and cohesive. This exercise can be a lot of fun and can lead to some unexpected and exciting results. For quilters, this activity might work best with a shared design book or advanced quilters might even try collaborative piecing.