Have you ever made a Vision Board?  I paid good money to go on a workshop for one and most of the time was spent sat on the floor with our eyes closed, being told to picture what we wanted to achieve in our lives.  We then had to find pictures in magazines to match the pictures in our heads.  It was a bust!  A complete and total bust.  There wasn’t a single image in my head at all!  I felt such a failure.

When designing our quilts or doing any sort of creative work, we are often asked to picture things that we can’t actually see. We are often told to close our eyes and imagine something with the expectation that we will be able to see it in our mind’s eye.

Apparently it is “normal” that people will be able to conjure up these images – most people can do it.

But not me!

I think in words not pictures! When I try to explain to people the response is often that I am weird, or that I MUST be able to see something. It is difficult trying to explain to people that you are different from them. It was only last month that I found out that other people live life this way too. Apparently I, along with those others, experience “aphantasia” the word given to this recently acknowledged state of being. It is good that others are becoming aware that there are people who do not see pictures in their mind. “Close your eye and picture ….” is an instruction that is meaningless to me – I close my eye and tell a story! This is why photographs are so important to me – I can’t hold the image of someone or some thing in my head.

This can be an irritation or an embarrassment – it’s no good asking me to describe someone after they have left the room! And it can be a cause of great distress as I can’t bring to mind people who are no longer with us.

Since reading about this last month I have been giving it lots of thought. Since my childhood, people have always said that I MUST be able to see pictures. And these days they still say it – after all, how else do I design my own quilts.

So, how do I design my quilts? I am not really sure! Maybe this is why I like Improv so much! Letting the design find its own route!

When I try to picture someone there is no image, but it is as though I am describing them –the items that I can remember about them at any rate.  Embarrassingly, if you were to ask me to describe my children to you after they left the room I wouldn’t be able to.  But thankfully I do recognise them when they come back!

It’s the same if I am trying to design a quilt. Basically I start having a conversation with myself! I think about the colours and my knowledge of which colours go together, I think about proportion and shape – I guess it is quite a scientific process really.

Here’s a Wordcloud of what might have been going on in my mind when I was designing a piece recently

I don’t ever see the quilt “fully formed” until it’s pieced and I am stood in front of it. Once it is out of sight I have to go back to describing it in my head in words – there’s no hope for me if I lose a quilt and have to describe it to someone!

I did eventually manage to get a Vision Board – and guess what?  It is all words and no pictures!  I love it.  I walk downstairs every morning and read it and celebrate what I have achieved, and put one foot in front of the other towards the next steps on my Vision Board