CREATIVITY is the soul reflected

Master Painter

Master Painter
Prairie Sunrise by Charlie Clark

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Plain and Simple

I've been rereading a book that years ago made such an impact: Plain and Simple: a woman's journey to the Amish by Sue Bender

Lately I've been drawn back to the Amish, as I have been various times through my life. Recent trips to Yoder, KS, an Amish community may have triggered it. Seeing their simple, basic life. The practical hardware store, horse and buggy transportation, a country store where I found fabric, canning lids and rings, where there is no television. And the Quilts on Parade….our main reason for visiting this little town on the prairie. 

Was it a coincidence, then, that as I looked through my bookshelf for something to read when I finished my last book that my eyes fell upon Plain and Simple

A restlessness has seeped into my life lately, after months of mostly sedentary life. Content during that time to read, scrapbook, surf the 'net, I balked at physical activity. Then the days became warmer, and green sprigs poking through the ground in my herb and flowerbeds beckoned me. It was as if they cried, "Help! Clean away the leaves and debris so I can stretch and feel the sun."

Spring is a piece of God's patchwork. Spring, summer, fall, winter. A definite pattern. And yet, within it, differences, tension and harmony: calm spring days when one feels at peace with the world. Turbulent spring storms that threaten to destroy everything with their wind, hail, pounding rain.

Awakening of life, growth, waning and dying. 

Bender's description of the Amish quilts: 

"The relationship of the individual parts to the whole, the proportion, the way the inner and outer borders reacted with each other was a balancing act between tension and harmony."
"How could pared down and daring go together?…calm and intense at the same time?" 

Nature's pallette: Brilliant indigo iris that looks like velvet, pale apricot tree blossoms; vivid red tulips, soft lavender phlox.


Sometimes I think I am learning, as I grow older and (I hope!) wiser. But I used to relate all too well to Bender and her lifestyle, rushing toward goals, not stopping to smell these spring flowers, busy busy busy, trying to do it all.

Bender: "I wanted it all, a glutton for new experience…accumulating choices was a way of not having to make a choice…I pushed myself, trying to make each piece (of pottery) more original than the previous one." 

Ah! So me. My cooking, my art, my life. The other night, as we were cleaning up after dinner, Charlie said to me, "You always make it so complicated." I told him I don't know how not to.

When I discovered Simple Scrapbooking and The Big Picture
, a style taught by Stacy Julian and a few others, it was another Aha! I was drawn to the basic, uncluttered, simple approach to scrapbooking.

When the magazine SS was discontinued a year ago, I mourned. Then I rediscovered Cathy Zielske
and, going back through my collection of the old SS books and magazines, rediscovered what had drawn me there in the first place. I had been lured away by the plethora of scrapbook products flooding the market: embellishments, bling, tools. Not to say these are bad, but read on….

The cliche' "back to basics" (photo, paper, story) within a simple pattern speaks to me. I've always been attracted to the nine-patch quilt pattern more than any other. After reading Plain and Simple, I understand. It is ordinary, common, providing a framework within which to be free. Sounds contradictory, but it is not. I've been doing some layouts based on Cathy Zielske's digital templates that are the framework for her page designs I like so much. They are so freeing.

Freedom to be creative within a framework, just as the Amish women use quilting stitches (feather, tulip, wreath, pineapple, star) in their seemingly austere, minimalistic quilts to exercise their creative selves. Often their flower gardens are reflections not of a rigid lifestyle, but of vibrant color and artistic expression. 

I balked at first at using the scrapbooking templates. I didn't want cookie cutter, look-alike pages. But then I discovered they are like using a recipe to cook or a pattern to sew: again, they provide the basic framework, freeing me from that initial hard decision. I can vary the photos, the fonts, the colors, the text within to put my own stamp on a page.

This thought process leads into more I want to say, but as always, I have more to say than space and time allow. So, I will continue this another day because it seems I am leaving this unfinished. 

Meanwhile, Ali Edwards, a "life artist" and scrapbooker I find so inspiring along with Cathy Z, is exploring something that fits well here. She and Cathy are both doing "Week in the Life" projects this week. Read their blogs and tune in here later to see how it all fits together—part of the whole pattern of life and creativity, The Big Picture

Now I'm going out to check the progress of the garden Charlie's been planting. From the window I can see the rows of green already making a pattern within the square of the whole.

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