Friday, October 23, 2009

Hudson River Valley

I’m going to be away next week teaching a workshop at The Greenville Arms in the Hudson River Valley.  I’ve heard so much about this venue from other teachers that I think it’s going to be a great week especially since I just discovered – reading about them online – that they are also the Chocolate Center of the World!!  since as we all know chocolate is one of the Most beneficial medicines there is, it’s going to be a healthy week too.

And, a little known fact about me is that I worked for a year after leaving high school in a chocolate factory! Unfortunately they wouldn’t allow me on the main factory floor, they said creative types like me always messed things up!


This quilt is happily titled “A Glow of Expectancy”  -  notice all those lovely chocolate colours!






I’m teaching a workshop called From Inspiration to fulfillment.   The subtitle was originally Seven Steps to a Successful Quilt, then I started counting up the steps and realized I had a sub-step here, and a leap there!!  and the number was actually unimportant anyway!   The workshop teaches how to take organized steps from one task to another so that the quilt making journey is one of exciting discoveries, rather than frustration and despair!   I devised this class after about 10 years of looking for it myself at many different quilt events.  I felt that there must be some kind of structure possible that would guide one on the journey (not lead one by the nose you understand!!! I’d surely hate that)…but a structure that would say: these are the decisions you should make,  this is the most efficient order in which to make them and this is how to make them.  I took a number of art classes too to see if they were giving out that information there and withholding it from the quilters (!!!) but  I didn’t find that they were significantly better.   There seemed to be just two types of classes: the ones where you copied a sample the instructor had made, and the ones where they said “well, what are you waiting for – just do it!”.

So, I started reading and reading and reading… and as I read I realized that the information was available;  it just needed extracting, simplifying and clarifying.  And that’s what I try to do in my classes.  Because the workshop works from the first to the last step, you can take it regardless of your level of experience…obviously those with more experience will tackle a more complex design, those who work fast will come up with many designs, those who are beginners will work with a simpler exposition of their main idea.  And it’s great to have so many different people in the class, for then everyone’s varied knowledge informs everyone else.

So since you won’t be wasting time reading this blog for a week (unless you want to go back in time and read old posts!), I hope you’ll be crouched over a hot sewing machine, reading art books…and enjoying a nice cup of tea!   When I get back, I’ll post some pictures from the workshop.  

If you have been, thanks for reading!  Elizabeth

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Work to please yourself


I was reading about the Canadian painter A C Leighton (1901-1965) and some of the advice he gave other painters many years ago and I felt it strongly applied to art quilts.

He emphasized that the true artist should really be working to please one person only: him or herself. 
This is difficult to follow when you are not sure whether or not you’re making the right decisions in a piece.
  I don’t think that you can always “trust yourself” if you don’t have the skills and information but,
once you have some basic knowledge…or, know where to get it then Please Yourself! 
If you do work from your own heart it’s going to be much more valid, more honest, fresher, less stale. 
Don’t ever follow trends! For example, I go through phases where only certain colours or colour
schemes really excite me..if I’m out of step with the fashion at that time – tant pis!
I may be passed over for a show or a prize or a sale…but I’m speaking in my own voice.
A C Leighton went on to say that it’s important to set a high goal, to feel like you’ve really achieved
something and not to aim for the merely pretty.

waterlilies   I have been guilty of the “merely pretty” from time to time…
thinking that such a piece might gain acceptance…but you know,
it rarely does.  Overall it’s the individuality of a piece that stands out.
  Bland pallid imitative work is often praised in magazines but
is never going to please anyone for long.  I know when we’ve
bought (by mistake!) a sweet pretty painting, it soon means
nothing more than wallpaper. 
Or worse, ends up sickening and cloying the appetite!
Leighton urges that one Be Oneself and bring real character to the work.

He advocates continually studying and gaining knowledge and skill in designing and composing work
and in the use of colour.  The use of phenomena such as simultaneous contrast etc can help us to really
make a piece much stronger.  There are many techniques out there that can aid in conveying the idea
much more effectively and it’s important to be aware of them.
Some of Leighton’s specific advice in this regard is particularly interesting e.g. he felt that "Edges must
be held by tone values, not lines." In quilting since we work mainly with shapes, this is much less of an
issue for us though it’s helpful to remember that we are working with shapes when sketching out a design. 

cityofmistsrephoto I love what he says about colour because it’s something I’ve railed against !!
Especially when I see  “Best Use of Colour Prize” going to some rainbow
hideosity!: "The use of reds, yellows or blues in profusion is not good art,
but if considerable grey is added, this softens their effect and shows
them to advantage."
Yes!!!   And he goes on to note that:  "One can live longest with the greys."
Be subtle!!  Dye your own fabric and be sure to use neutrals in every piece.

Leighton stated that "Only top paintings hold interest for any length of time." 
This is something I’ve been so aware of in my own collection of paintings. 
The really good ones keep on giving you something
every time you look at them, the bland stuff is ending up in the guest room
or worse yet! The guest bathroom!!!
Some has even gone to the Salvation Army…..

Another bon mot: "The public cannot be expected to jury." The prize I most dread getting is
“People’s Choice”!!  You know how it is always  The Most Accessible piece that gets
this prize, a piece that too obviously panders to the public taste and the LCD!!
And finally he commented: "Don't do poor work, and if you do, don't let it out."
I try not to do this …that is one thing about quilts, if they don’t please as art, they will
be perfectly good as a lap quilt.  I love to see pieces I made years ago hanging in people’s
houses…I sneakily take a look and see if they are still okay I get quite a kick of pleasure.
If they’re not, I suggest moving them to the guest room!!

Some of the best advice is that given by the old art teachers: Robert Henri: The Art Spirit,
Hawthorne on Painting, Edgar Whitney and AC Leighton.
And, If you have been, thanks for reading!  Elizabeth 

PS thank you for all your ideas for a title for the show of work that Dominie Nash and I 
will have at FOQ in Birmingham, UK next year…havn’t yet seen the perfect one..but I’m cogitating!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Festival of Quilts, UK

I’m happy to say that Dominie Nash and I are going to have a show/exhibition of our quilts at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, UK next August.  And, of course, I have to write an artist statement!!  To be sure, it will be succinct!
Before that we have to think up a title…I’m all in favour of the minimalist approach to titles for shows but something catchy or clever seems to be in vogue and also de rigueur!  yes, you guessed it..I think they’re redundant, but what can I say?  I was told my approach to this was “boring”!! (which, by the way, was the only word my children were forbidden to say when young!).

So I’ve been looking at Dominie’s and my work to figure out similarities and differences.  Dominie has been working on a series of still lifes…that she thoughtfully calls “Stills from a Life” – I like her anagrammatic thinking!   Here’s a typical example:

nash interlocking still

I’ve been focusing on two main themes this last year: industrial landscapes, their unexpected, often unseen, beauty and the sharp contrast between the industrial artifacts and the natural landscape.  The other focus has been more more a abstract (at times playful) examination of the patterns and forms seen in  old timbered buildings. 

what lovely smoke full

On the left,
What Pretty Smoke!  separateandtogether


On the right:
Separate and Together.







We have both taken somewhat unexpected approaches to the kinds of subjects usually seen in art quilts, but almost from opposite angles. 
Dominie is concerned with the interior life…the intertwining interlocking elements and the puzzle of arranging them into a satisfying relationship:
It’s surprising to look at  familiar objects in a new context,such as setting up a still life composition. Often the homeliest or most ordinary things have the most  interesting shapes and patterns when abstracted and made to interact with each other.”

I’m more of an outdoor person…and very restless.  I’m both concerned about environmental issues but also intrigued by the beauty of old industrial landscapes;  I deplore the destruction of  natural beauty, but also the pulling down (or blowing up!) of monuments like the old colliery winding wheels, the strange pipes and gantries of archaic power or chemical plants…I love the beauty of the old mills with their rows of elegant windows and great towering chimneys.  I need to walk around looking at all the angles, clambering up and down…I especially like a distant view.  

With the more abstract black and white timbering work, it’s the puzzle of balancing the restless churning flow of the beams that fascinates.   So now I need to distill all of the above into about three words!!  All suggestions gratefully received!!   If you have been, thanks for reading…..Elizabeth

PS Come and see us!  Gallery G28!!!   18th or 19th to the 21st of August, 2010

Friday, October 16, 2009

Artist Statements….. why?

Does anybody actually read them? I know when I get a catalogue with goofy little self serving meaningless art talk paragraphs straight from a session with the morning hour of soul searching recommended by somebody who made a lot of money out of telling people what to do….when I see those statements that rely heavily on Kinkadian metaphor…my eyes glaze over. Was the artist Really thinking that stuff when they were making the piece? I rarely come across an Artist’s Soulful Statement (ASS) that actually engages me. I know nobody ever read mine because I wrote it as a total ironic spoof of artspeak, complete gobbledygook! Which surely someone would have mentioned….hmmm or would they? No, I’m sure their eyes just glazed over too.

There are all sorts of advice about writing ASS including things like thinking of your three favorite colours (what real artist limits her/himself to three anyway?) and then writing statements about them…you’d be better off painting three walls in the bathroom in those shades.   And we pretty much all know the prosaic stuff about describing the work (pointless, it’s already there in picture or actual form). They also recommend you write in glowing terms, in the first person and present tense – aha!! It’s a personal endorsement! “I used this product and it worked for me, therefore buy!”  Well, perhaps that has its place!

Why make the work?
According to the “experts” include why, how and goals in the ASS. However, I would challenge that…anyone who has ever wanted to make anything knows that the “why” boils down to a basic human instinct…to make things (useful, decorative), to leave marks (to communicate). It’s satisfying to look at something and say: “I made that”. I never read any statement that said anything any different. Why we make this thing or that is, of course,  the result of personal enquiry or experience…What would happen if I did this or that? Or: I need to explore/express these things that happened. But to the viewer, that is really immaterial – I don’t want to experience the piece from someone else’s point of view, in fact I find that quite distracting…and to learn that a certain image is the result, say, of a fascination with a particular tv show as a child is completely banal. Move on!!

When given a chance to ask the artist about the work personally most people’s questions are completely fatuous  giving no indication as to what amazing information should go into the ASS.  In fact, they usually want to know whether or not you would accept the honour of quilting unfinished tops their ancestors (who probably knew better than to finish them!) left behind, or which exact fabric was it that you bought that must be the secret of your success!

How d’you make the work?
The real question in the viewer’s mind is simply: “how d’you do that?”  And (I’m sure you’ve noticed) the artists  never actually tell you how they do do it!!! Even if you take a class with them they don’t! Probably because, by the time that artist is showing work at a level where ASS are required, there are layers and layers of experience, years of work and trial and error, mistakes made and hopefully learned from…all of which has built up into a semi automatic ability to respond to scissors and cloth, or brushes and paint etc,  in a creative way. So the real, the only, answer to the question of How? Is “because I’ve done it, over and over and over…”

And the point is?
The question the artist should ask is: what is the point of the artist’s statement? Yes, I want them to look at the work longer…will “explaining” it to them do that? No it will just make them spend more time on the statement! So perhaps the ideal statement would be: “just look at the work, enjoy it, puzzle over it, marvel if you can..stay with it a little longer!”

And now to revise my statement…..if you have been, thanks for reading!   Elizabeth
PS. I finally updated my website: new images on the Industrial Landscape, Buildings and Watercolor pages.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Improving compositions: Extreme Doggie Makeover

I occasionally teach a workshop called: Extreme Doggie Makeover. I love doing this because there are usually several gems in the group that just need a little extra work to really shine. Rarely is the piece beyond all help – though there have been a few!!! Actually, the main block is more usually in the maker, rather than the quilt. It’s important to be willing to look at the quilt in a new light and to release old expectations or desires to hold onto a certain “precious” fabric or pieced section. Always remember what happened to Gollum and his Precious!!

Here are a few makeover ideas….I’ll revisit this topic in a week or two or so as it’s an interesting one.

Very often the quilt has simply “growed too much” and needs pruning so that the main lines and theme can be in greater focus. Take a photo of the quilt, print out several copies, make two L-shaped “borders” and try different ways of cropping. As you discover different ways to reduce the excess fat, trim it off, center the remaining image onto another piece of paper so as to isolate it. Then pin all those possibilities up on the wall and review…..try not to make any judgments until you have them all up at the same time. Remember it’s important to make Visual decisions visually…don’t think you’ll remember what crop A looked like when you’re down to crop D!! do print and cut them all out. Then arrange them in order of how much they interest, entice and please you. At least 3 times I’ve discovered that cutting off all the “foreground” area of a quilt has vastly improved it. (Petergate)

petergate from slide

Originally this piece to the left had about 1/3 as much again in the foreground…a beautifully shiboried piece of fabric that took me ages to make!  so I was very reluctant to dispense with it….but cutting it off brought the viewer right into the old street and immensely improved the composition.    

The same thing with the piece below…I’d added way too much other stuff:

waiting for dawn  wait

So I cropped off all those side sections that had no relationship to what was going on in the middle.


Many pieces don’t work because there isn’t sufficient value contrast. The easiest way to assess this is to photograph the piece and then in Photoshop (Image, Adjustments, Brightness, Contrast) increase the contrast and see if that helps. If you don’t have Photoshop, then take a picture of the piece, photocopy your picture in black and white only…and see if it’s mainly mid gray tones. That’s a clue!! Then try shading some areas, and lightening others. If you have neither Photoshop nor camera (I notice readers of this blog from some very remote areas! – and thank you for reading), then look critically through narrowed eyes at the piece. Do the darks and lights stand out? If not….take some small pieces of very light value and very dark value cloth in the same hues as the quilt…and overlay them in the darker/lighter areas to just punch up the contrast a little.

Overly busy areas
Sometimes the quilt just can’t breathe, you’ve got too much going on everywhere…the viewer is dazzled by the confusion of pattern and image. Are there areas that you could take out, replacing the excessive pattern with either solid, or softly modulated colour? Stay within the quilt’s colour scheme (and I do hope you had one!) and pin over some of the areas that are not important with other fabrics…follow the hues and values dictated, but keep the intensity and texture low.

Do your eyes continually go to an odd corner or shape? Something that is not part of the main theme, but intrudes itself annoyingly? Can you shift that element slightly, or tone it down?  Try covering it up and see if that improves the piece.

Is the quilt too symmetrical? Is the focal area slap bang in the middle? Most people are more attracted by a slightly asymmetrical composition. A little tension adds so much interest. Can you add an area to the side of the focal point so as to shift its central position? Or if the trees or other vertical elements are lined up too symmetrically can you move one or two? Or add in another?

I hope I’ve been able to make some useful suggestions and those doggies are leaving the parlour and going straight to the nearest show!

And, if you have been, thanks for reading!! Elizabeth

Monday, October 12, 2009

Risks: are we being rewarded for being too cautious?

I was reading a review in Art in America (a magazine I thoroughly recommend, much more interesting than the latest way to piece a heart or how to glue candy floss onto your quilt) about Dana Schulz by reviewer Zach Feuer.  He stated that it was “fun to watch artists take risks, especially after they have established themselves in a market that tends to reward the cautious nurturing of a signature style”.

It struck me that all the players in the quilt world  (makers, viewers and judges) do tend to encourage far too much caution..time and again I have looked at the latest catalogue or slide review and thought why the imp arn’t these people trying anything new?  A style is established, success is found with it and then it seems people  sit back and keep on churning out endless reproductions.  Don’t they get bored?  What happens to the zest and excitement of the early discovery steps?   A period of consolidation and exploration is all right for a while, but once the formula has been worked out, it is oh so easy to overwork it and produce nothing but potboilers.  Old tired chewy tasteless hens of quilts.  There’s a group I belong to and when we meet to share slides/images I almost get a feeling that I’ve gone back in time.  Didn’t I see these pieces last year? and the year before that?  How about just pushing it a little?  yes, it’s risky but without risk…there’s no progress, no new discovery, no fresh statement about the chosen content.

Part of the problem of course is the audience…I know many people who still prefer Michael’s James pallid beautiful striped worms to the bold shock of the Swedish ikon inspired pieces to which  he suddenly shifted…it’s hard  to go to a minor key when you’ve always composed in a major one…but contrast energizes both the artist and the viewer.

  And the jurors: given a choice between an established accomplished piece that smoothly reiterates an old idea and a raw, perhaps unresolved, attempt at a different way of examining the original theme…which would they choose?  Are they being too timid?  I must applaud the QN ‘09 jurors who state in the introduction to the catalogue that they were deliberately trying to avoid including those who only entered the tried and true. Let’s  hope that this jumpstarts the many wonderful artists who have settled too comfortably in their cosy cushioned corners,  into exciting new work!

And now, I’m off to take risks…well at least to try!  If you have been, thanks for reading!   Elizabeth

Friday, October 9, 2009

The importance of shows: Always Say Yes!

Last night Mary Porter’s and my show of paintings and quilts opened at Aurum Studios Gallery (their website is sadly in need of updating, but the directions to the gallery are correct!). There was a goodly attendance and a nice fat red dot appeared under one of my watercolours, plus a nibble at one of Mary’s paintings (enquiring minds asking what a nibble looks like should know that they’re usually transparent!).

It’s always lovely to see the work hung well in a nice gallery. I have been lucky enough to have a one or two person show almost every year since 1995 – two years after I started making art quilts. Having a show forces you to keep working, to stop making excuses to yourself about being busy or tired, it makes you finish up pieces…even if that means cutting out the 1/4 of it that’s the “good bit” and discarding the rest! A show puts a real obligation on you to justify every piece, make each one as strong as you can and to avoid trite and sentimental expressions of ideas. It makes you focus in on what is important. It’s also both a great fillip (wow i did all this!) when you can fill a room with colour and light and interested people, and a hard look at critical reality (oh no that piece in the corner looks really weak, never again will I try to make a flower quilt that way).

People have asked me: how d’you get shows? Keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities. My very first show at a really nice private college happened when I met someone who casually mentioned that one of their duties was arranging shows in the college gallery. I asked her if she’d ever considered showing quilts…and followed up with a few postcards. About 3 months later I got a call, someone had had to pull out of their show in one month’s time, would I be interested? Always Say Yes!! Even if you have to work night and day to get the work out there. Another show happened when I visited the loo in the art department at the university and saw an application form for a show at an art center in Atlanta scrunched up on the floor!

A couple of times I’ve entered art shows where the Best of Show prize was a solo show…either at that same center or at another gallery and I was lucky enough to win both. Keep your eyes open. Most colleges and universities have several galleries and love to change the exhibits monthly, most towns have Art Centers, most towns have small private galleries. My next show is at a private college in North Georgia – Young Harris College – they put out a call for artists on Art Calendar which I found online.

black&whiteno grey300

Another excellent event this week was finishing another black and white piece. I wasn’t sure if that particular series had come to an end because the industrial landscapes had been quite magnetic at attracting my attention for several months. Taking another look at my quilt in Quilt National ‘09, I realised I wanted to push several elements that were in it further. I had quilted most of it in black and white, using only a little red thread at the end. This time I wanted to have much more of the red, big juicy stitches that leapt across the fabric! Also I want to play around with the red at the top to give a sense of curves to the piece and I wanted to try to get more flow into it. I’ve entered it into a good show, so fingers are duly crossed!! to say nothing of other portions of my anatomy…maybe it’s time to go and look at another loo floor for an opportunity!

And, if you have been, thanks for reading! Elizabeth

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Recommended reading: shapes not lines!

I’ve mentioned Robert Genn’s twice weekly newsletter before – much of what he writes is great cogitation material.   (do sign up!!! it’s free, short and easily deleted  - would that more in life was!)  Yesterday, for example, Genn talked about how lucky fiber artists are in that they work with shape, not line, and moreover, moveable shapes!!!  Imagine trying to move a piece of paint! 

I try to emphasize shape over line in my workshops, it’s difficult to make an strong composition from lines alone and yet many people try. In most two dimensional visual arts we are only playing with five variables: line, shape, value, color and texture.    Robert Genn  quoted the watercolourist Ted Kautzky: “Subject matter is not nearly as important as the arrangement of the elements into a pattern. ”    When I teach a workshop I emphasise making a value pattern of the Shapes in the sketch.  The sketches are usually lines, and if you are looking at a sketch like this:

IMG what you are seeing is dark lines threading their way around a white background….but is that what most people are thinking of making?  NO.  They are trying to translate those lines into shapes in their minds and assess whether or not this is an interesting composition/arrangement.   IMG_0001

It’s much easier if you shade in the values so you can see SHAPES, after all we cut out Shapes from fabric – not long skinny lines!  (apart from Eileen Lauterborn of course!)


To the right was one possibility for shape arrangement….and from this I made the quilt Flora and Ferra (below left).

flora and ferra k 300 again   



On the right above, I reversed the values….and that led to the quilt below: 5 Mills Rampant ….(thinking it looked somewhat heraldic!)    in which I played with the same shapes, but alternating reverse values.

five mills rampant 300 

Look for shapes not lines….if your subject matter yields only lines, then look for different inspiration, suggest Genn.    If you look at the inspiration (whether in reality or in a photograph)  through the wrong end of binoculars or with squinted down eyes, it’s easier to see both shapes and values.  Try to forget you are looking at boats in a harbour, or flowers in a vase…think of the objects only in terms of their shapes.  Notice how the shapes vary in size and regularity…the odder the shape the more interesting!  Notice how one shape interlocks with another….Dominie Nash, the art quilter, does this very well.  As does Milton Avery, the painter.

Robert Genn considers that as fiber artists we have a real advantage over painters when it comes to composing our shapes – so let’s do it!!

And, if you have been, thanks for reading!!!  Elizabeth

Monday, October 5, 2009

Art and Craft

Years ago there was a perennial bewhiskered question as to whether “art quilts” were art or craft.  Such a pointless question I thought – just assess the piece for what it is in itself, d’you like it? does it work? is it satisfying and interesting?  would it give you something new every time you looked at it?  but people always seemed to want to argue that a given item had to be one or the other.   Getting into a metaphorical bath (not easy! especially with Archimedes looking over my shoulder)  - Eureka! I finally saw a clear way of expressing the truth, clearly and succinctly.

  I realised that artiness and craftiness are probably orthogonal (or as near as dammit).   I’m defining “artiness”  as the quality of being art (whatever that is!), of course,  and “craftiness” as the level of quality of craft – not something to do with Brutus or Cassius or that lot!

So, any given piece can be low or high  (or medium) on either axis.


Piece A therefore would be low on art and low on craft….a rubbish piece of something thrown together poorly that doesn’t do anyone any good not even the cat.   There are many examples of this to be found, usually in doctors’ waiting rooms – and not a comfort!!! 

Piece B being High on Art and low on Craft might be considered “Sloppy Craft”  described by Crafts magazine as “how practice make imperfect”…if this was deliberately done, of course!And there has been a lot of discussion in the art world as to how one can tell if it’s deliberate sloppiness, practiced sloppiness or plain old sloppy sloppiness! Stuff that’s interesting to see in a museum, but not anything you’d really want on your mantelpiece.

A piece in the C area would be very well crafted, but poorly conceived in art terms – many of these items we see in any craft show.  Overall ugly or trite, but beautifully put together.

And D – what we all hope for – is a piece that is both very successful as art, being a strong fascinating composition with a single notable theme – and absolutely gorgeously made so that the workmanship adds to the piece rather than detracting…something that will last a long long time.

Now I shall go for a walk and hope that someone will ask me – are quilts art or craft???  I’m waiting!

and, if you have been, thanks for reading!  Elizabeth

Friday, October 2, 2009

Colour and Quilts

I received an email from Ritamary in Dublin asking me to write about how I used colour in my quilts.  I love getting a question as a starting point for a post…so please do! 

Colour: When I first started making art quilts I used every colour I could – I blasted them all in – after all we were not allowed to do this in traditional quilts -  you were only were supposed to use 4 fabrics I was told!! Along with a bunch of other useless “rules”  long broken and forgotten.

Here is a very early quilt I made in the Nancy Crow class I took in 1993;  I used as many colours as I could!


I’m glad to say that I do appear at least to have a dominant colour (blue)!  plus a strong complementary red.  I do really like that combination and used it  again in a more recent piece:

strangebeautyOf course now I think the piece above left  would have been a lot stronger without that border…but that was another thing you were “supposed” to do and it took me a while to stop!!  12 years in a convent school was bound to have had an effect! 



While my very first theme was windows and I’ve pretty much stuck to some aspect of architecture since,  my work is a lot more organized now.   I found Nancy Crow’s improvisational approach extremely exciting and seductive  but I found it difficult to control without a fairly obvious grid (as above).  I did not want to copy Nancy’s own solutions to the problem of how to arrange what she later came to call motifs.   So I chose the buildings that I had grown up in in a medieval town as a way to compose my windows.


But back to colour. It was always important to me to get the impression of light into the quilt.  I think this was because I grew up in a town in the north of England, little light, a lot of grey…and the windows were always so important.   So whatever colour scheme I choose, I use a wide range of values to depict that light/dark contrast.   383214-R1-E006


Here’s a slightly later piece…I deliberately worked with the sandstone colour that was my starting point…my theme was that of Petra, the “rose-red city” but I took only the colour of the stone.   Then chose other colours to relate to it…I feel I controlled the range of colours much better here by choosing a dominant colour from the  outset.  383214-R1-E019


This is a picture of the town where I went to university (Leeds) – again I loved this combination of greys…so I made a series of pieces all using grey.  Again I was choosing only the colour from my inspiration theme:  Below is City of Mists.

cityofmists 72 pixels



At one point I was filled with anger at some political upheavals at work that led to the ruin of a perfectly good operating system and the resignation of several key people.  Furthermore while we were wrangling in interminable meetings about procedure, work that should have been done was left undone. I saw red!!  And made a series of red quilts as a result: red shift 5



So in answer to Ritamary’s question – I often choose the colour first, inspired by a particular scene, or quality of light, or the mood I’m in, or for its graphic quality: currently I’m totally intrigued by black and white.

I could show many many other examples…but this post would get too lengthy! So please make comments or ask questions….if there’s more you wish to know, or say! Meanwhile, if you have been, thanks for reading!