I've been in a number of conversations this year with other artists, talking about the variety of ways in which we work. A subtle thread that I have noticed is that most people think the way they do it is the "right" way. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised - don't most of us think our way is best?
I have always been a strong believer in setting an intention for a body of work and then working toward that intention. Usually my intention revolves around a theme or creating a certain feeling. I don't usually draw sketches or plan the entire piece - I have a general idea where I want to go and then let the cloth and my intuition guide me as it evolves. It was easy for me to think that my way was superior, because I was working with intention rather than just letting it happen. And someone who works in a more spontaneous approach could easily feel their way is superior because it is more intuitive and free.
Earlier this year I came to realize the value of working in a more spontaneous manner. I worked on several pieces that did not start with a theme or focus- I was playing with color and technique. I realized how freeing that was and how much I enjoyed it. I found that working more loosely helped bring out my creativity and led to inspiration on my "intentional" pieces. It brought me back to my watercolor days, when my favorite way to paint was to put on music, grab some brushes and just paint.
I used to see it in a black and white way - some people work with intention, others don't. I have come to see it as more of a continuum with those who work very serendipitously with no "plan" at one end and those who draw sketches, make mock-ups, etc. at the other end. And many of us fall somewhere in between. I guess I have come to value all ways of working. No way is better than another. And I now like to vary my approach, depending on the project. It is up to us to find the approach that brings out our creativity and honor others, whatever their approach.