Same ~ Same ~ Different

As I wrote recently, I learned a lot at my mother’s elbow, usually unintentionally. Long ago, I sat at her elbow at the dining room table. We were each engrossed with crayons, coloring our separate pages in my coloring book. One by one, she picked out different colors, laying down thin perpendicular lines until she’d created a multicolor plaid shirt on the little boy chasing his dog. As a kindergartner, I was totally in awe of such creative magic.   

Years later when coloring with my two oldest grandchildren, I reached down into my box of “memory crayons” and colored a plaid shirt on my side of the coloring book just like my mom had. Kevin and Judy had exactly the same thrilled reaction. Same act of creativity. Same response. Different generations.

Recently, I’ve had a same ~ same ~ different experience with my art partner Lee when she wanted to learn how to make banners. While the glorious pattern she designed was advanced even for me, the big challenge for both of us was exploring together the very different ways in which we approach our creativity. In short, Lee’s a painter, and I’m a cutter and paster. Therefore, how we typically solved problems is different.

If a particular area of the design needed to be adjusted, Lee’s inclination was just to paint it larger, or smaller, as need be. But a banner design is like a giant puzzle. Change one piece of the puzzle and other pieces have to be changed as well. From a cut and paste graphic approach that means redrawing the master pattern so the design pieces fit snugly together. At this point in the process, her spontaneous, organic approach to banner making wasn’t as useful as my methodical, precise approach.

Eventually, we got the whole design ironed on the moire background. Once we hung the banner on my design wall, Lee’s painterly genius for understanding color and value began to emerge. She could expertly read which pieces needed to be color adjusted so elements of the image advanced or receded. Ordinarily, I’d have worked out those details on the master pattern before I ever took scissors to pattern or fabric. But now I got to learn about dealing with those details after the fact, and learning the advantages, and pleasures, of solving those problems spontaneously as a banner maker.

As we looked at the banner from a distance, Lee could see where a particular piece needed to advance or recede. Pressing the banner against the wall, I’d quickly trace the pattern piece then cut out  the sheer fabric. Finger pressing  the overlay in place, I’d iron it on the hanging banner, using the wall as a pressing surface. I was learning to be more painterly as a banner maker…and enjoying it.

I think we each learned a lot about our own creative preferences in the process of exploring the other’s approach. Same art activity. Same beautiful result. Different creative process. I’m awed by the results!

 Have you ever experienced awe at someone’s elbow? Or someone at yours? Have you ever tackled an activity, art or otherwise, that was outside your area of personal preference? What did you learn about yourself  through the experience? Were you awed by the results?

PS – Grace Church, Ventura, CA is the home of Lee’s banner. How many different images can you find in this complex image?  Go to the Links box to the right to visit Lee’s website.


7 comments to Same ~ Same ~ Different

  • cynthia thomas

    if lee decides to publish a pattern on her banner, i want to buy one! very beautiful. cynthia

  • Kay Galloway

    Loved the banner and the description of the joint process. We are all wired differently ands have different talents, and it is why working carefully and thoughtfully together is so crucial to the success of all human endeavor..from banner-sized projects to world peace.

  • Jan

    My current learning is being forced by my 9yo grandson and 7yo granddaughter. I’ve typically been a very methodical, pattern-following sewist (just as I can only cook something for which I have a recipe). But the g’kids design things – toys, Hallowe’en costumes – and have no doubt in Grandma’s ability to make anything! So I have to stretch my brain and rise to the task. Seeing their pride in their creations makes the stretching worthwhile!

  • Patricia Conder McWane

    I love the banner. I wish I could have been there for the experience of being at the elbows of both of you. I so enjoyed your banner workshop we had at FCC-Benton. I would love to do that again; maybe when you venture across the states to NC we could arrange a stopover!!

  • While in San Francisco one year, I had the opportunity to experience a homeless plunge. We spent one night and a day creating a homeless experience with teenagers so they could understand what life was like on the streets. Sleeping in a hallway, no way to shower or brush teeth in the morning, we were on the streets looking for a shelter to eat breakfast and to figure out what we would do with the next 12 hours.

    Within 30 minutes we met Mississippi. He claimed the state of his birth as his name. Mississippi took us to St. Antony’s Shelter and then began to show us life on the street. His art – survival. His canvas – Market St. and the Tenderloin. We learned a lot that day at his elbow. It was a one day encounter. I’ve not seen him since we left him at 6pm that night. My life was changed in the encounter as I see my art is building relationships and bringing people together.

    And of course, Lynne, I’ve learned a tremendous amount about my art from you as well. Your latte elbows and ability to ask questions have shaped my ability to continue to create on the different life canvases that God places in my life. Thanks.

  • Deanna J Bowling

    The Ventura Healing Room has moved to a new location. I thought I knew where it was, and took off to go over there for prayers. As it turns out, I was wrong about the location. When I decided, oh well, and started back home, I decided to stop at the Presto Pasta on Telephone Road. When I arrived, I saw one of the homeless men who I have seen here and there for quite awhile now. In following your tradition, I stopped to talk to him. I tried to get him to talk to me for a little while, but it was apparent that he didn’t want to get deep into his story, and also that my being there was making him uncomfortable. So I laid my hand on his shoulder and prayed for him, that he would be able to see past the hurt and pain in his past, into the future and the promises for good that God has in store for him. After he said, unprompted, Amen, I went on into the restaurant to eat, and he was gone when I got through with my meal. When I got home, I remembered that I had promised Mark Thomas that I would pray over Communion, and then forgotten to. While I was praying, part of what I was asking of the Lord was how He would let me know when the Holy Spirit was visiting me. Then I saw an image in one of the stones that face our fireplace that I have never seen before. When I took a pencil and drew a picture of the image, it turned out to be of the homeless man who I had visited with, with the addition of a pair of eye glasses. I took it that the glasses were to confirm my prayer for the man to be “able to see past the hurt and pain in his past” (I’ve never seen the man wearing eye glasses.) Very very interesting. The homeless man told me during our brief discussion that he has been on the streets for 8 years, after having problems with his family. The scriptures about the prodigal son, and Joseph, came to mind.

  • Kit Ripley

    What a wonderful piece of collaboration. I LOVE the new banner!

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