Risk Boosts Creativity

Carol LeBaron
3 min readJan 7, 2023
“Risk”

Blank canvas, piles of colored cloth, stacks of brightly colored thread, a beautiful piece of 22x30 200 pound Arches paper — even a delectable pile of fresh vegetables and pristine fruit waiting to be cut up and cooked into a meal for loved ones — all of these can be terrifying obstacles. You might think its wonderful to have all of these lovely things to that scream “fabulous results!” simply by their very existence!

Like the figure in my drawing, I often have this fear of taking the first action. John Cage said,”do something. Do something to it. Do something else to it.” Years ago, at 2:00 am before a final critique, I was in the screenprint studio at Rhode Island School of Design. A classmate had five pristine yards of very expensive fabric T pinned to the print table. She climbed up onto that table and proclaimed, “It’s ooooonly faaaabric!”

She then proceeded to lay her color down, rapidly, a bold statement, spontaneously and with joy. That girl went on to become a very well-known designer — now she is Design Director at an internationally known textile corporation.

She took a risk. I take that risk every day. Paper can be painted over. Cloth can be dyed, color removed, added, stitched over. Food is a little trickier for me, but I have learned to add no salt or spices until it is almost done. A cook I am not. Which is interesting because in the dye studio color comes to me without thought… the color, the numbers on the acid dye bottles, the salt and the vinegar measure themselves and the cloth takes on a life of its own under my fingers once I begin.

I knew when I sat down to write this that I wanted to talk about the way I feel in my drawing. I came across this image in a New Year sketchbook clear out. I have hundreds of sketchbooks with many loose pages falling from them. Periodically I like to take them out, look at them, find inspiration. Sometimes I stop amd work in them and reattach or newly attach drawings or collected items. The sketchbook is key to my process, always.

I begin my day with a single concept or idea, with a short meditation — but then, there are multiple roads that take me in different directions. Like a honeybee, I flit from kitchen to laundry to watercolor table to dye studio to the mailbox to the computer to the stitching… each stop can take a minute or an hour.

Sometimes I get lost and then I realize I need maybe a little more structure. Planning is difficult for me, but I am working on it. I need to find a way to balance planning with the creative jump.

I wonder, how do you do it?

Carol LeBaron

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