Sunday, November 29, 2009

The beginning of Winter

IMG_1857 The first rays of sun at dawn today.   This is a view we don’t get in summer as it’s hidden by leaves….the dark grey night sky being slowly lifted by the flash of white gold beneath.

And, ah, at last I have the dye studio put “to bed” for the winter…it’s great to see it clean and tidy.  Since the sun is so generous with its heat here in summer it seems right to use the high temperatures and humidity (so good for dye!) then - when they are both free and abundant.


I used the last of my dye concentrate (black)  to print up several yards of tree fabric for my industrial landscapes. Here “batching” on top of the computer – such a useful machine!….plenty of “free” heat (thank you Dell!)…..

I’ve made quite a bit of tree fabric this year;  I love the oxymoron of using nature inspired fabric in the industrial pieces.  


tracy st silos


As you can see in Tracy St Silo and Colliery below, I made the industrial architecture from fabric I’d monoprinted with leaf and branch shapes…my aim is this would be gradually realised – after the image as a whole had been observed.    I just hope I’m not being too subtle here!!   colliery detailExplanations are tedious for both the explainer and the explainee! (back to the dreary artist statement!)





I do have very mixed feelings about industrial sites, they definitely have a fascinating beauty with the colours of rust and tarnished metal, and with their intertwining shapes….but usually they are also designed to be extraordinarily unsympathetic towards the environment….maybe one day we can have both the interesting buildings and a reduced impact on nature.  For the time being, I’m  trying to bring the double message with these pieces.

And, if you have been, thanks for reading!   Elizabeth
Please do leave your comments..I won’t know if you are reading if I don’t hear from you!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Art is Everywhere

I was so fascinated yesterday when the workman fitting our new windows suggested he change the way the framing was done so that it would be more harmonious with the  siding on the house. 


After complimenting him (to his embarrassment as his mates were chortling!) on his application of one of the main principles of art to his work, I started thinking how true those principles are for many different situations.  It’s important that things are in harmony but too much and there’s no change – and no scientific discoveries….or we get bored and dull and life is grey.








affluentdetail2                                         We need some repetition in our lives,  rhythms like the rhythm of the seasons, the daily routines and rhythms of our lives…and we do need to be able to predict what will happen…But again, a little variety and syncopation keeps us interested and alert.  “They” used to think that human beings required perfect balance – stasis – to function best, but now it’s realised that being a little off kilter is actually much better for you!  Don’t always stand 4 square on 2 feet – try balancing on one leg for a while!




aqn ym collage 2



Things should be in proportion…we’ve lost that in many areas: houses with Giant “great rooms”  - more like grat(ing on the nerves) rooms,   while the kitchens  are pokey and the gardens practically non existent….Enormous televisions with very very small mindless programs, hype in so many things, but little substance,  and overpackaging!


And, oh the excessive twaddle up with which we have to put (thank you, Sir Winston!).    Let us artists lead the way to simplicity,directness and clarity and eschew all obfuscating redundancies!

Let us live by the principles of art!  And, if you have been, thanks for reading!  Elizabeth

and please, check out the Small Art Showcase my good friend Jeanne Williamson has organized..and now I need to go and check on those workmen!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Fresh and Loose

When I was a girl at a convent school being either fresh or loose was not considered a good thing!  but in art terms those are great qualities!  I’ve been reading about the last years of Matisse.  It’s so encouraging that there are so many examples of artists (in many media) producing wonderful work in their 70s and 80s.  No longer is commercial success a consideration.   At this time, a lifetime’s experience plus, strangely,  physical disability (e.g.having to paint with the brush attached to a long pole) leads the artist to produce work that is reduced to its essence.  It is both pared down and executed with the flair and panache and simplicity of the child but with the judgment, sensitivity and knowledge of a lifetime.

barton overture detail

I’ve never had the chance to jury anything major (a couple of minor experiences which were very interesting..e.g. reviewing bodies of work for inclusion into a juried art fair where the sheep are easily discerned from the wolves!), but have often been the “victim” of jurors!  so I was fascinated to read in this month’s Art in America an article by Peter Plagens about a recent visit to several artists’ studios in Mississippi to choose work for a museum invitational.   It’s a fascinating read. Looking initially at CDs from 115 artists,  he comments that “two thirds of the images were pure dross”.  (How I’d love to see a juror’s statement in a quilt catalogue that was that clear and open!!)  The rubbish included work such as overly sweet paintings of flowers or cute children and pets, trite photographs of “noble savages” (usually the disadvantaged), semi abstract sculptures, autumnal trees along a stream etc.  We’ve all seen the equivalent in quilt shows and magazines!  and apparently the main art world is no different, for Plagens comments “such junk is a constant in museum juried shows”.    And so he cuts down the 115 artists to 15  whose studios he decides to visit.  He adds that he felt that anyone with his background and experience in art would have picked most of the same people – that (like my experience with the art fair) it was not that difficult to reach a consensus..that maybe the process (to this point at least) was more objective that one would expect.

barton what pretty smoke detail

What’s most interesting is his thinking about the artists he ending up excluding from the show:  their lack was not that of skill or professionalism, education or training…but rather the antithesis:  the work was too predictable, too obviously slick or correct,  at times having a distinctly “commercial” feel to it.  Musing about the origins of this approach, he wonders if too much immersion in classes, in workshops and in reading magazines that have a similar aesthetic might not be the cause.  Then the work starts to feel jaded and formulaic.  Beware!

So let us all live a long time, work much, but freely and independently, and figure how we might tie a needle to the end of a long pole! Hang loose!   and thanks for reading!   Elizabeth

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Stitching and stretching not cogitating!

Well I’ve been working on a couple of small pieces for the Elusive Beauty show at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, UK.   Dominie Nash and I are showing work together so we decided to share some of our fabrics and also to work some of the pieces to a standard size so that they would hang well together.  We picked a fairly small size: 18” by 24” partly because then the work can be grouped easily, but also because shipping work overseas is getting more and more expensive.

I’ve just about finished one piece this week:

here’s my sketch based on a photograph I took when I went on the Thames boat trip upto Hampton Court – I love boat trips and it was a lovely day, gliding slowly along up and down river.

power station on the thames

I decided to reverse some of the values, and also the picture ratio….so this was the piece I ended up with:

thames power station





This is not my usual colour palette – which is good! a stretch is always good…Dominie and I had made the pink fabric together, also the black/white foreground and the green I used for the background.   I liked contrasting the large vertical units of the power station (which really does look a bit like a temple! – there are actually 4 towers but from the angle I took the picture only 3 could be seen)…with the much smaller but similar shaped pieces of the old river pilings along the front.   what’s fun is that it’s not really clear if it’s old pilings, or piles of people!!

All comments gratefully accepted!

Then I decided I would try to simplify one of my designs as my friend had suggested…she thought I always included too many details….well I don’t think I was that successful…

this was my design:


Now you couldn’t get much simpler than that!!! 

but this is what I ended up with:


hamilton small detail




I have no idea where all that detail came from – I’m going to have to speak to my imagination!!




and now I really do need to stretch physically – I’m having tremendous trouble bending over the sewing machine, if I have it lower, my neck is bad, higher and my shoulder is on fire….so any suggestions (short of a new body…which wouldn’t be a bad idea actually!) …gratefully accepted…

And now to try simplification again!!!  If you have been, thanks for reading!   Elizabeth

Monday, November 16, 2009

Some thoughts on Colour

I’ve always believed I’d make a more coherent piece if I planned my colour scheme out before laying scissors to fabric…but there is so much more to colour!  The more I look at and read about colour, the more I realise there is to learn – it’s a fascinating topic. It’s one of the first things that people respond to- in many situations, so how could we use it more effectively?  Charles Hawthorne, a much beloved art teacher, continually impressed on his students that they should “see color simply” and stay with simple color forms trying to create beautiful relationships between major areas of colour.  I think often we can get too bitty with colour – scattering it around here and I wrote the other day..let’s not be afraid of big chunks of it!!  It helps to establish the big masses of colour from the beginning and there are several wonderfully successful (in terms of the work, not their bank accounts I may add! – different things, alas, lead to success in that area) art quilters who do this


e.g. Dominie Nash
Stills from a life # 33

and Terry Jarrard-Dimond.tjd






and even I sometimes manage to do this!

hamilton bay small piece


Hamilton Bay: study

Looking out the back


In the right hand piece (Looking out the Back) I wanted to establish the pattern of orange shapes against the grey blue background.
As an aside: It might be interesting to revisit this piece in a more abstract way and focus on the colours and shapes alone, leaving out the representational details in the light of Hawthorne’s remarks trying to focus on the relationships between the major areas of colour.

I think that most work is more unified is there is a dominant colour…though it’s boring if one holds the value constant and only uses one piece of fabric…d’you remember those awful days when you only bought 3 fabrics to make a whole quilt from?  thank goodness today’s quilters are not so restricted!

Colour can do so much work in a piece: it can create different moods – a calm serene blue (cobalt), or a fresh invigorating blue (cerulean)….red for anger, or warmth, yellow for cheerfulness, green for hope and so on.  You can also use colour instead of perspective (always so obvious in art quilts and not easily incorporated into a piece) to indicate depth by making the background colours cooler and greyer.  Or deliberately flattening the depth to make a scene more abstract by having more intense colours in the background.

I wondered if color could also be used to indicate the weight and volume of a shape?  This is done in paint by varying the opacity and/or thickness of the medium.   As fiber artists we can choose a heavy damask, or a whispery light organza.



In Midwinter I used silk organza to suggest not only shadow, but also the ephemeral nature of the buildings against the harsh climate.
How about using color to indicate the effect of light?  The Impressionists felt that juxtapositions of color intensity and temperature are more effective than obvious value changes.  so instead of the shaded area being  darker, try using a cooler or less  saturated colour.


steelyardfrieze 300

Don’t be afraid of color! 

Yes, a tree can be blue and a sky pink!

Steelyard Frieze

If you want to convey atmosphere and a sense of space, then a luminous blending of one color into another will do this: a very low contrast and gradual shifting of hue and temperature.

In order to pull a piece together, painters will often glaze over the entire work with a soft transparent tone…can we do this?  Oh yes! we can overdye a whole piece (it works! I’ve done it more than once – in desperation rather than with deliberate planning (!) but the outcome is the same)….or we can overlay large areas with the silk organza.

Finally…shake it up!  don’t keep using the same colour palette…there’s a lot of them out there just waiting to be used!  If you have been, thanks for reading!  and now to dip into colour…………..Elizabeth

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Enigma of subtlety: adding mystery

A friend (thank you, Terry!) suggested I consider adding more mystery  to my work .  While I love intrigue and obfuscation, I have often been told I should be more subtle!   So I starting cogitating upon how this could be done…I’ve come up with a few ideas but would love input!!

Lost edges/dissolving
A technique much beloved of painters, where the edges of a form within the paint dissolve into the background.  Paula Nadelstern uses this method to disguise the real edges of her wonderful snow crystals. I used it in several of my shibori/discharge pieces.

In Botallack Mine the edges of the houses disappear into the outline of the headland.   

You can see that effect clearly in this detail (right) from The Arrogance of Calm where i’ve basically only indicated the roof.  It’s an effect that’s a little harder to do without surface design but could be managed by matching values: i.e. if the edge of the object is dark and the background is similarly dark, the one will flow into the other.  As well as adding mystery, it helps with the TOV (the track of vision) or the way your eyes flow through the piece. (His eyes fled to her heaving bosom – I love thinking concretely about these trite metaphors from romantic slush !).  Well…let your eyes float around my houses!!

Something is obscure when you’re not really sure what it is..could it be a group of houses? or a set of rhomboids?  If I don’t give you any clues…perhaps I’ll achieve more mystery.  Another way to obscure would be to introduce more shadows with strange amorphous things possibly happening within them.  How d’you cut an amorph though? I wonder if they sell amorphous templates? Somebody is sure to have thought of it in the name of free amorphous enterprise!

Picasso once defined all art as being abstract (because it’s never perfectly realistic) and no art as being abstract – because there are always associations and influences from the real world. But obviously there is a continuum and I’m looking for a way to push myself nearer to the abstract end.
There are many ways to abstract:  I think one that might be interesting to try would be to work through all the different elements and consider my original scene from the standpoint of one element only and deliberately ignore the rest: e.g. consider only shapes…or only values (that might be really interesting!!), only colour…or only texture…hmmm… my cogitation cogs are churning!


This is an easy way to drop detail and reduce an image to squares alone…put the image into Photoshop and then reduce the pixels.  What’s fascinating is how far you can simplify and still know what the image is.

Unusual angle of view
wow I got so many good ideas from this one! Look!! IMG_1839 IMG_1845

IMG_1847 and don’t even ask me how I managed a double exposure with a digital camera! “Time to Sew!”

always a favorite: (yes I’m in there, upside down..had to hang from the ceiling to get this shot!)

Gestalt – subtraction
I’m a great believer in getting rid of stuff in quilts and very good at telling others about it…need to exercise that on myself.  We know from Gestalt theory that we really need very little information to mk sns f thgs!

I could disguise one thing as another…is that a Dalmation or is it currant cake?  (the next time I see a Dalmation with a currant cake I’ll take a picture to illustrate this point! – or you can send yours in!)

I love this word…how to create an enigma…I shall need to go for a cogitating walk (the best kind) to figure out how this might be done…some kind of translation I think might be the starting point….

I have begun to try this: not so much spelling things out as merely hinting at them – e.g. instead of the edges of a window or a flower, just indicating the shadow on the window, the light on the flower.

Of course in language one should eschew obfuscation, but perhaps in visual terms??? One possibility might be to reverse things like Hockney did so amazingly in his reverse perspective paintings.

anyone for mystery?  let’s hear your plot!
And, if you have been…thanks for reading!  And now I’m off for my cogitating walk.   Elizabeth

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Knowledge is Queen

The dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham believed that artists should learn and take inspiration and understanding  from all art forms.   He collaborated with Robert Rauschenberg and John Cage to create exciting and innovative pieces.   As art quilters  (i.e. those who design their own compositions)  we are developing a relatively new art form and we can learn so much from the vast knowledge available to us in painting, music, sculpture, fashion, architecture and poetry as well as  textile traditions from around the world and the centuries.

I’ve found it so helpful in trying to explain composition to others to relate the ideas to musical composition.  We can all hear when a bar of rap music is interspersed into Mozart…and yet how many quilts have I seen where this would be a perfect analogy!  Of course you can mix the two…if you know what you’re doing!  And you know how to build a basic structure to support two such disparate elements…and how to interweave them so that they harmonize and reveal something about each other – I’m sure Bobby McFerrin could do it!

We can all hear the dullness of a funeral march rhythym and the excitement of syncopation…yet how many quilts are made with trees in a straight row, with exactly the same space between each?

From painting we can learn how to create the illusion of depth in a two dimensional space using devices such as overlap, reduced contrast in texture and hue and height.   From calligraphy we can learn about the elegance of line…and the spaces between the lines.  From sculpture we can get the sense of how to balance and proportion large shapes or masses within the piece – and how not to be afraid of Big Chunks of fabric!!

In architecture we see the importance of harmony – how often have we groaned at the spanish hacienda crossed with the georgian townhouse with a smidgen of ranch cabin thrown in?  Also from architecture is revealed the importance of a good basic structure to the piece…and from landscape architecture we discover how to make pathways that our eyes (if not our feet!) can follow to explore each part of the composition, and how  to avoid elements blocking our progress into and within the garden.  We also must not forget the “feature”!    In old garden designs, there was always a point to a winding path or allee….the “feature’ was usually a statue – often headless of course (though that state was not particularly required it could certainly be easily achieved with a quick swipe!).     The “feature” is now called, more prosaically, the “focal point/area” and there are  guidelines as to where it should be….though if you’re well balanced(! )and experimental…you can certainly create a surprise or two!

From fashion, especially high fashion and street fashion, so many possibilities for knowledge!  Balance and proportion of course, colour and texture…what will mix with what.  And the importance of taking risks, and then reigning them in…..  Though I’ve not yet discovered how to get the extra baggy knee high crotch underwear revealing style into my quilts….it might be worth considering!

And from poetry?  ah yes!! the best of all…how to winnow down the elements to produce a piece that perfectly   conveys the message in the most beautiful and concise way – nothing extra, nothing extraneous merely the essential distillation…

so now I’d better go and build my still…hmm I didn’t mention food and drink did I? ah can guess!

And, if you have been, thanks for reading!  and please do add your comments!  especially the 80 proof….. Elizabeth

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Charles Hawthorne on adding beauty

I’ve been reading some of the timeless advice given by Charles Hawthorne to artists (Hawthorne on Painting)..much of the book refers to specific paintings – which we can’t see – and so it’s hard to learn from them but there are so many good points overall.  I think often we get more focussed on entering shows and agonizing over rejects (yes, I too was rejected from Fibrearts International – but I know I’m in good company!) and finishing work for this or that event that we forget about the Main Task.  It’s hard sometimes to remember what it’s all about! 

Hawthorne points out that it’s important to look for subjects everywhere:
Anything under the sun is beautiful if you have the vision”. 
Dominie Nash and I have been exploring unlikely places for beauty and this will be the theme of our show at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, UK next year – if we can figure out a reasonable way to ship the quilts and also get them there and back through customs without being charged duty – I’ve heard horror stories!  We’re calling our show Elusive Beauty
I think we were both frustrated by the easy charm of landscapes and I certainly was well aware that some of my medieval street scenes were bordering on cute. Ugh! to be anything but Cute!   So now I’m quite fascinated by industrial landscapes – especially the ones that are disappearing so quickly in the western world: the steel mills and their immensity, the collieries with the winding wheel macabrely echoing the sinister wheel of fortune – O fortuna!  Dominie is exploring  clutter in domestic scenes: be careful if she visits you!

Hawthorne feels the goal of the artist is to provide art that helps people through the boring routine of their lives, to give them a jolt and make them take notice of what is around them.  Above all to make them believe  beauty can be found everywhere.  I’ve never understood why people would put up nothing more than a flat screen telly  on the walls in their homes, or even worse (or is it? hmmmm) some pallid reproduction of an improbably sweet scene (usually involving kittens – all very well in their way – but hardly a metaphor for glorious beauty!).  Don’t they know how much having a gorgeous art quilt on their walls would improve their lives?!!



It’s important, says Hawthorn, for artists to show people something they had not already seen.  We all know that kittens and babies are cute, so a piece that portrays just that will not add anything.  Whereas a quilt that makes a wonderful exciting pattern out of a pair of scissors and a pot of pencils will.


Nash: Stills from a Life #30, 79” square










                                                 Barton: Colliery  18”w, 24”h



Adding to the world by revealing the beauty of an ordinary or even ugly scene is almost alchemical!  This is literally turning lead into gold and it is something we actually can do if we just work, work work!   I guess I’d better get off this dratted computer then….! 
And, If you have been, thanks for reading!   Elizabeth

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Length of the Stitches


IMG_1831 My quilt show opened at Campus Gate Gallery, Young Harris, Ga last night with banjo music (as appropriate to the setting!).

IMG_1833  Many local visitors, college faculty and students came – including the ex poet laureate of Georgia (I’d love to think she rushed back home and composed a poem about the quilts!) and the president of the college – a nice honour.   It’s great to have quilts recognized as a real art form -worth visiting and respecting.  Of course the students came because it would help their grades!!  Good to think that art quilts help grades – another reason for making and showing!  


One of the local quilters asked me if I knew about the new sewing machines that had stitch regulators as she didn’t think the AQS judge would have liked my work as all my stitches weren’t exactly equal in length.  It was a kind thought….but I must admit I asked her why…now why should stitches all be of equal length? IMG_1834

I’ve always believed in asking “why?” when people tell me “and the rule is…”…..of course the answer was quite clear in this case? “because the judge wouldn’t like it”!   Ah yes…..I asked if she’d heard if they measured the brush strokes when painters submitted their work to a juried show.  No, she had not.   But a musician there told me that when banjo players enter competitions they too are held to a strict “traditional” standard.   Banjo music (and presumably quilting) as folk arts are now strictly defined.  Even though…the original folk artists had the freedom to make up the rules as they went along…we’ve actually taken the “folk” out of the equation and sterilized the art forms.  Sterilized  - as in no more creativity…..hmmm….

well…I for one will continue to be creative in my stitching! In all its ugly uneveness!

If you have been, thanks for listening – and remember those rules (if only to break them!).  Elizabeth

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Solo Show

You are all invited! I'm having a solo show - approximately 25 quilts - at the Campus Gate Gallery at Young Harris College, Young Harris, GA. The opening is on Thursday night: November 5th - Guy Fawkes day! I sure hope my quilts sparkle! Yesterday I drove upto Young Harris through the Smoky Mountains and it is a gorgeous time of year up here - oranges, golds and reds with a misty blue background. Nature does a good job with her split complementary colour schemes!
Take it from Ma Nature every time!

It's always a little nervewracking taking quilts to a show - not every gallery person understands the importance of getting the lighting right, not too much (especially not sunlight) and not too little - I remember a Jinny Beyer quilt show that was practically pitch dark....quilters feeling their way around it!!! She was using a lot of commercial fabric and (at least in those days) the dyes they use seem to be much more fugitive. It's important that our artwork will hold upto normal light exposure - anything that a watercolour painting or a photograph would survive. Fabric is not as delicate and friable as many people suppose - after all we have examples of blankets from South America that are thousands ofyears old. So if anyone wants to buy one of my quilts and carefully bury it for a thousand years...I think it will be just fine!

Putting art quilts on show,therefore, has a number of goals: it demonstrates that they are an exciting and viable medium within the art world - worthy of consideration alongside more traditional fine art forms. It opens people's eyes to the possibilities of fiber...all too easily dismissed because it has long been seen purely as a "domestic" domestic animals...something you use, but don't hang on the wall! Have you ever seen a cow's head mounted on a wall? but not 10 feet from where I'm sitting there's a deer head...and deer have not been so helpful to man! Fibre is a very versatile medium - it's not too easy to peel off a section of paint and move it! yet you can easily do that with fabric. Another reason for a quilt show is that it's so approachable a medium it brings people in to appreciate art who otherwise feel they cannot understand it. A soft introduction!
Seeing one'swork in a proper gallery setting is also very can see what holds up, what looks great across a long room...what might be a little weak. Also, I always try to ask people which is their favorite piece and why - it's good to learn how people see and interpret art. What might be quite clear to me as the maker, might not be communicated as well as I could hope.

And I'm looking forward to seeing how the curator arranges the show - it's always a suprise...and best left to an experienced "fresh" eye I think. He doesn't know that this is the one I sweated over so I want to give it pride of place...and this one just flowed out and so I might discount it. He (or she, but it happens to be he in this show) will judge the work solely on its visual impact and not on what's in my head. Instructive! It's SO hard to get away from what's in your head!

The show is up through December 5th, the gallery is open from 9-2, M-F. See you on Thursday!!....and start thinking about venues for your own quilt show! ( I found this one through a call for entries in Art Calendar).

If you have been, thanks for reading! Elizabeth

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The teacher returns and looks back…

It’s always fascinating how much a group of quilters can bond in a workshop and how you miss everyone (for a while!) when you get home.  I always long to know “the end of the story” so I’m hoping that all the ladies who participated in the Hudson River Valley workshop I just taught will send me pictures of their finished pieces. (hint!).

It was an excellent week with everyone making distinctly different work from very abstract to very literal, from graphic to mysterious to meditative.  Here are the pieces…some pinned together tops ready for stitching when the quilters get home, some completely stitched, and one or two…fastened together with that other method!










First – to set the scene…the fall colour looking south towards the Catskills from the Town Park at Greenville.
There are five roads that lead from the crossroads at Greenville, and every one had gorgeous views and colour.  Unfortunately for this tender Southern based quiltmaker, a little too chilly to sit and paint..but I’ll have a go at that later!

The quilts:




Chris worked on several pieces  all based on photographs from a trip to France.
Her quilts reflect her love of repetition and rhythm in the old bridges and buildings of the Dordogne…the images are doubled and trebled to convey her theme.  Chris also began a  jewel like small abstract based on the same idea.  Her use of the shibori fabric I took with me is quite masterly.  I was envious!  Great colour! excellent design and a lovely exposition of the main idea.




Marge planned a bold and adventurous piece in four parts, each quilt with  a different colour/value sequence using the same basic design – an abstract extraction from a photo of palm leaves.  On the right is the first piece complete, and on the left the beginning of the third piece..Marge worked like a demon!!  These were big pieces and all stitched together, amazing drama and verve…and the different elements glowed against the background.  I loved the energy of the pieces as well as her intelligent use of luminosity.





Another big piece!   Nancy planned a series of 4 waterlily quilts – this the largest one, then 3 smaller ones to accompany it.   Her use of value brought the flowers to life and they glowed against the dark blue background.  Notice how all the leaves are different, each with its own character  yet obviously belonging to the whole piece.  She achieved a lovely circular movement to the  overall composition which totally complemented her theme.



By contrast, Nancy’s friend Bonnie (of 46 years!) made a lovely subtle dusty desert piece conveying both the mystery of the cliff dwellers of the South East and the protective nature of the enveloping cliffs.  Their little homes intertwine in soft warm desert colours  enhanced by blue and green shadows.  Bonnie’s piece shows a very subtle and sophisticated use of line.   There are still more shadows and vegetation to come – on the right.  Bonnie became a design fiend, drawing out many different possibilities based on her south west theme….I hope she’ll now stay home for a year and make them all!!



Barbara is also a lover of the south west but came up with a very different interpretation.  Her use of the shibori fabric I had taken was extremely intelligent – she found lights and shades across the piece in order to create great depth in her image.   I loved the way the abstract patterns in the fabric suddenly popped and created the image.  This is only the first step in Barbara’s piece, she plans to cut the image apart and insert the grids of an old window from one of the adobe churches.  She has perfectly captured the intense bright light and dark shades of the area and her piece gives a lovely sense of place.




Laura wanted to create a mystical fantasy scene based on a particular fabric she’d had for many years, and the story of the unicorn.  Now a unicorn is a very ephemeral animal…so he is not literally portrayed, but we all could feel him being almost there in the scene.  Her piece conveyed a super atmosphere of delight in the possibility of such magical creatures.  The use of the shibori to create a sky full of Northern Lights was the perfect beginning to the piece…which ended with the sprinkling of stars….now can you see the unicorn??!! IMG_1823


Priscilla focused on designing, she had a sheaf of really lovely, intricate and intriguing possibilities and started on this very abstract piece towards the end of the week.  It’s going to be a very playful quilt with the motifs (drawn from a landscape) mischievously dancing their way around…simply by playing with values and angles a strong rhythm and movement is indicated.  I look forward to seeing the finished piece!



Margaret was very ambitious and very brave for she set herself the task of interpreting a Victorian painting of the Woodsman’s child asleep in the forest …..this is Margaret’s first art quilt.  A bold venture!  Which she tackled with great energy and persistence.   She developed a lovely warm palette which perfectly conveyed the theme of the nurturance of nature….there are many details to be added as Margaret is an experienced embroiderer and plans to fill this little woodland dell with wild flowers. It’s going to be a beautiful piece.




MaryAnn is a musician and her gorgeous meditative subtle piece about ripples on water has subtle contrasting rhythms and sonorities.   She was inspired both by a photograph of an archway over a sparkling rippling river and by the music of Debussy.   This piece beautifully conveyed the quiet deep calm rich depths of the main theme….there will be handstitching that complements and echoes the shapes.    I loved the depth of this piece, just like the clear notes of a Debussy piece with each sensitive solitary note being perfect in itself and yet part of an elegant phrase.





So – you can see we had a great week being inspired by dreams, impressions, photographs, fabric, music and fellowship!  (to say nothing of the wine!)



Here we are on the last night enjoying a well earned scrumptious dinner.



and that’s it for me teaching for this year…I only like to teach about four “away” matches, and one or two home ones per year…because my goal is (no, not a book I’m sorry!! I’ve been asked and told it would validate me….hmmmm)….to make better and better work all the time and there’s only One Way to do that:   Work, work, work……plus..the odd cup of tea of course.

If you have been – thanks for reading!!  Elizabeth