Thursday, April 18, 2013

Florida Workshop

Just got back from a really nice workshop in Florida - I was blessed with a most gracious hostess and so was able to see something of the area from both land and water - absolutely gorgeous as you can see.

  Since I teach design workshops, everybody comes up with a different idea and it's so much fun seeing those ideas flower around me! Of course there isn't a whole lot one can achieve in fabric in a short workshop, but nearly everyone left the workshop with a sheaf of designs - enough for a whole series.
 We discussed the why when what and how of a series and then they designed and designed and designed - and nobody complained about working with pencil and paper!  all the art books I've read say that once you have a good strong design 80% of the work is done....the rest is just flow..... This is just the beginning of Kimberly's design which was quite large...there will be many more of the "god's eye" shape...Kimberly also makes dolls
 and clothing - didn't get a picture of the latter though - however she had a different really interesting outfit on every day made from embroidered tablecloths. A great often see them in garage sales and they're usually made from beautiful soft drapey linen.  I'm going to steal that idea, Kimberly!

Susan is a scuba diver and her series of pieces are going to be about the sensations felt as you enter the water - this (again) is just the beginning but already you get the feeling of the water...

 Arlene derived her series from the architecture of the spacious church hall in which we had the workshop - a really great room with windows down both sides and an outside patio for lunch!  Can't do better than this.  Again she had many designs and this is just the first 10% of the very first one....I think they will really convey the sense of windows and space and also are reminiscent of many views of windows and fire escapes from her early life in NYC.  I really feel that it is the early shapes and lines that stick with us the most.  I was raised in an old city (Roman, from about 56AD) and those early visual memories are strong and come out in much of my work.
Carol has a joyous sense of colour and loves circles...surrounding a color with its complementary makes it really glow as you can see here (on the left).  Below are Glenda's value sketches for her portrait of a jazz singer.  It's important to place the highest value contrast in the focal area of a piece.

Lenore was working on two tree scenes at once - you can build a series sequentially or simultaneously or a combination of the two, whatever works best for you.  Isn't this little piece so elegant?  The tree as dancer.

 Christine loves garlic!  She envisages a whole series based on this wonderful vegetable.  A great idea, and a unique one.  Jurors love seeing something quite different as I learned yesterday when I picked up my First Place award from a local art show - yes a quilt beat out all the paintings and photographs!!  Fiber is Now.  The subject of my quilt was something unexpected and that's a way to grab attention.  I hope Christine finishes her wonderful garlic you can see she has gridded her small sketch in order to be able to determine the size and shape of each piece of fabric.
 Jan is enamoured of the beautiful patterns you see on much more subtle and intricate that butterflies....I think this is going to be such a delicate and intriguing series.

 And Pinky is the Heron Lady...this is the first one of herons at different times of day...when you make a series about a bird, it's important to narrow the topic down.  There are so many different possibilities for a bird series and the quilts will work together so much better if there are other common themes.
 Roberta was working on developing different structures for a series of abstract quilts...this one is harmonious but not boring, balanced but not too symmetrical.  It has great rhythms and some depth - all you could ask for!
 Pam had several different ideas, all connected to the water in one way or another...this is the beginning of an abstract sailboat piece - when sewn together the yellow lines will be much skinnier of course.  I really like the way it references the sail boat against a stormy sky without spelling it out.
 Ellen completed one block in a complex abstract design and was already started on the next one...she picked green for her dominant color.  it's always helpful to have one dominant color for a quilt, that really helps to pull a piece together.  isn't this a fascinating block? With pencil and paper and a little time we can draw out so many better ideas than you could find in any magazine!  Try it!!
Joy came up with a very different inspiration - a favorite old car..she's taken just a part of the car and made large and small blocks, rotating the small ones around the large...I love the sense of movement this creates.

so a really great week...with plenty of cogitation upon the view at the top of this blog...with a beer of course!!  So, if you have been, thanks for reading!!
PS my new book Inspired to Design is now'll find it at your favorite quilt store, or write me if you'd like an autographed copy.  There's an email link at the top right of this blog, or you can reach me at


Anonymous said...

I felt we were blessed to have such an interesting and capable teacher at our local gulld. Elizabeth is a fine teacher and my work will only be stronger for her influences

Pam in SW FL

Elsie Montgomery said...

Thank you for this inspiring post! I agree that your class changed the way I think about design. Yes, I could take the Quilt University class, but are there any trips to western Canada on your calendar?

Elizabeth Barton said...

Thank you Pam!!
LC - nothing at present but you never know...I did teach at Canmore many years ago when they used to have an annual conference there. I'm having a show in La Conner, WA this Fall and they may organize a workshop.
A trip to Vancouver would be very nice!! I would relax my "non-stop flights only" rule for that!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Elizabeth, for such thoughtful comments about our class. I learned a new way to get into designing and enjoyed every minute, even the challenging ones! Thank you so much!