Friday, December 30, 2016

The Color of the Year

Electric Fields    (currently in the SAQA Concrete and Grassland show)

The color of the year 2017 is forecast to be a nice spring green...
I don't know if the idea is to try to bring hope to us! Or just to take our minds off politics...but I do love the color and it will be great to be able to get some things in that color.  I'd dearly love a spring green bra!!!!  Black/beige or white just is so uninspiring!  At least with quilts one can use any color at all!!

People often ask me "well, just how do I work in a series"?
Find a theme!!   And, while there are very many good themes, color is a great one.   We nearly all of us have a favorite color and a significant emotional attachment to it...I know when I see this light yellow green I feel has a real emotional impact on me - there is so much hope and promise and lightness to it.  Of course that's just're obviously going  to respond differently both to it and to other colors...but what a great starting point for a series?

I decided to look through my  image files and see just how often I had used my lovely yellow greens:

A Summer Day Long Age (in the PGQ collection)
The above quilt (to me) is really a very narrative piece...I wanted to suggest a very active summer day..with a quiet clear summer night...or, perhaps, reflections dancing in water!

April Rains (private collection)
 And this green does look so fresh and positive!!! Color has such a profound effect on our emotions..and it very often is the reason we choose art work, clothing, furniture, even books with spring green jackets!

Emerald City (newly returned from Art in Embassies)
Again there's a sense of place....the house hidden in the trees....
But below a very different bold approach.  I had just seen the new Beverly Pepper giant strong iron sculpture outside our local art museum - she's into her 90s and her work is muscular!
ForceField 2 
 Alas, Forcefield has never appealed to any juror....perhaps it's just a bit too foreceful?

The one above, just a little fellow...but again I like that sense of place...a hint at a house with the pink..not much...come into the cool shade....
Green Mansions
The one above was always one of my's somewhere in Atlanta...I hope it's being enjoyed!!  I really do like to just suggest dwellings don't I?  it's worthwhile arranging a series of your artworks and seeing if you can detect more themes beyond the one  (in this case color) by which you selected them....  apart from Forcefield, I can see clearly how I love to show houses/homes in the middle of green....and then I remember how as a child living in a grey old city I really yearned  to live in the country surrounded by trees.  Well, you can create anything with your imagination!

Take a look at your work...have you been working in series all along?  What does the work say about you and your hopes?  What colors do you keep coming back to?   And where will you go next?

I can't say I'm really looking forward to next year (!) but I am always going to enjoy learning, creating and cogitating!  To say nothing of a nice cup of tea......which is a jolly good idea!

If you have been, thanks for reading!!!  All good wishes for 2017!  Elizabeth

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Two new classes......Modern Improv Quilts and a Masterclass

The word spire comes from inspire!!  Reach for the top...and a good way to reach higher is with taking classes   - I'd be most embarrassed to tell you just how many classes I am already taking or signed up for in the near future!!  Let's just say they cover a wide variety of topics and I  love learning new things and becoming more skilful.
I've been listening to a wonderful series of interviews with musicians (high recommended if you love classical music) called Living the Classical Life.   Yesterday I listened to an interview with Roger Chase, the British violist and teacher, and he talked about the incredible pleasure of being by oneself for a couple of hours, working at something and actually achieving it - just a great feeling of satisfaction and personal fulfillment.

So where is this leading??? you might well ask!   Actually I just wanted to let you know about two new classes I have starting in January.

Modern Quilts
I've been interested in watching the development of the "modern" quilt movement...the idea is of spare elegance, lots of negative space and breathing room, nothing fussy, but beautifully balanced.
Not so happy, though, at seeing some wrong turns being made in people publishing books and patterns called "modern" that are basically watered down versions of traditional quilts.
So I thought it would be very worthwhile to write a class about how to design these quilt for yourself!
You don't need the latest pattern; from a few basic principles and design ideas, you can create a great many different quilts.   And then (oh yes, there's always an "and then"!) I felt that since at least part of the modern quilt movement was to make it easy and fun for the younger quilter (the one with the full time job and little children), that I should go over the basics of improvisation in quilting too.
so the class is called: Mod Meets Improv!    And it's on the website.

My yearlong masterclass has been very successful, so I'm running it again in 2017.
 (see below a nice quotes from current students ).
Each month, I issue an assignment that is specifically related to some design principle e.g. depth, value, movement etc.   You can work abstractly or realistically or somewhere between the two, any size, any method of construction.   After thinking about the assignment, you send in 3 sketches for critique (gentle!  and as anonymous as you wish), then you refine and choose one and block out the quilt on the design wall, take a picture...and send it to me.  More suggestions...and finally at the end of the month the finished work.
This all takes place on a private blog which can be viewed by class members only....but everyone in the class can see what everyone else is doing.  it's a very safe place to take risks for you can submit the work anonymously and it's absolutely fascinating to see what everyone else does.
I've received rave reviews for the class!!  You don't have to make a quilt every month, by the way...sometimes life just gets in the way....but you can always see what other folk are doing.
Next class starts Jan 1.   (be a good christmas present!).

If you're interested in more information, please just contact me directly:
elizabethyork100 AT yahoo will find me!  (link up on side bar too).
why York?  well I was born and raised there!!  and learned to enjoy a nice cuppa tea ...hmm
now what a good idea!!!
If you have been, thanks for reading!!!  Elizabeth

quote 1: 
--> This has been the best learning experience I have had. It has stretched my thinking process and strengthened my design process.  It has been very enjoyable experience.  I like the way the class is set up, the ability to see everyone’s work, and your comments.  I have enjoyed the references to other artist’s work.  The paintings were such a spark for my imagination.
quote 2:

I have had a great year of learning and creating and it is all due to your Master Class assignments, your superior teaching methods, the critiques, and the inspiration you offer because of your love of Art, Music and Life. I highly value your opinion. I am in awe of how you critique each work and offer concrete (artistic) suggestions in detail and clear explanations as how to improve one’s design. It is one thing to know when a quilt or sketch is not working but it takes great knowledge of composition, keen observational skills and great patience to explain exactly what change is needed to make the piece stronger. Your “cut to the chase” and “to the point” suggestions are so helpful and are right on the mark. All of this is given as a gift to the students while allowing them to work in their own unique style. Bravo!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Art show entries are designed by sadists!!!

I've just spent ages resizing and relabeling and reresizing and rerelabelling images for entry to an art show and I'm convinced that the people that organize these things are sadists!!
And I still havn't got the first image successfully and correctly up on the entry website.

Why do they   torture us so???  D'you think they enjoy it??? I'm beginning  to wonder.......

This particular show wants the images labeled - not only with the name of the piece, but also with its width and height...furthermore,  there have to be little underscores (not just a hyphen which much easier to do!!) between all the pieces of information.   I've encountered this before of course...and I remember in the old days one was trying to cram all that information on the edges of a little slide.
"Please label the slide with the name of  the piece, alternating between capitals and lower case, then underscore then give the height, width and depth in that order in both inches and centimetres then underscore then your name and the name of your grandmother underscore and your shoe size!!"
I suppose at least they said "please"!!

Have you noticed - their entry system never reads the size of the piece in the same way that your computer's photo manipulation program does?   I think those entry websites just randomly decide when they will reject your image in terms of size.
And they do it in a different way each time!  You can have two images your computer describes as 5 megabytes, whereas their website will consider one to be 3.7 mb and  the other is 6.1!!!

More sizing problems
The show I'm trying to enter is an all media 6mb image was rejected...."you can only have 5 mb for your piece"...but if I was entering a video I could have 250 mb!!!!
Hmm maybe I could just walk around my quilt and take a little video of it - aha! then my sizing problems would be over!!!

Number of entries
The show request three entries...with a full and detail image of both.
BUT the entry website only permits 3 images!!! 
Of course if I entered by video, I could walk around my piece and the suddenly zoom in to get the detail shot....!!!!

There was a Help link.
So I clicked on that and gave them ALL my info, yes...including the fact that my grandmother liked a particular brand of tea...only to be lead to a page that said:
Select the answer to your problem from the following possibilities!!!!

D'you think the fates are telling me  that I shouldn't enter this show???
and! I get to pay $45 for this privilege...hmm maybe the problem is my masochism not their sadism!!

I think a nice cuppa tea is called for, don't you?
If you have been, thanks for reading!!  Elizabeth
PS This was not a SAQA show which by contrast was beautifully straight forward.
PPS.  I decided in the end that the Fates were right!

 Quilts related to the one at the top...

Remembered Lines approx 7ft wide - Quilt National a few years back

Black and White, No Grey   38"w, 53"h

Friday, November 18, 2016

Atlantic Center for the Arts, New Smyrna Beach, Fl

I've often heard about the Atlantic Center for the Arts and so I was very happy to be invited there by the Florida branch of SAQA to give a workshop this last week.
It's a super place!!!  If ever you have a chance to take a workshop!
The center is a collection of arts and music and dance buildings  nestled in the native palmetto forest of Florida - it's so good to see there is a bit of the real Florida left!
There are boardwalks between the buildings, so you feel like you are floating along!
it was a great class - on design.  I threw the participants in at the deep end and they all swam like fish to the finish line!  Here are some of their designs and their blocked out quilts:

 above the sketches, below the quilt.....

on the left, the design... happy campanologist!!

on the right, the moth design in fabric....and below and potential design (in 3 different value ways) of a detail of the moth...

the moth design above has a real Japanese feel to it....I love abstract work like this.

 Above  a design derived from  a photo of dock pilings and their reflections and below the quilt...
great colors....and so unusual!

 Above are several designs based on a painting...and below the quilt in progress... beautiful movement...and looks a bit like Miro!! though that was not the original inspiration at all.....

One student had the most beautifully printed fabrics - images of spires... it was very difficult to arrange them all in the same orientation, the same light direction and in an interesting way...however the final result was quite stunning!!!  

 This one came out beautifully ...but it was taken down before I could get it photographed!!!  so you'll just have to trust was a photo of the shadows of trees on other tree trunks and was really amazing...
and the sketches look like little Clyfford Stills....

now I wonder if his inspiration was a similar phenomenon?

 a very elegant rendition in 3 values of the photograph....there are so many possibilities for this idea....I love it just as it is though.

And look at all the designs this student got from one photograph!!! and there were even more...
here are a couple of them worked out in fabric:

the one on the left isn't complete of course, the one on the right looks like a Klimt!!

 On the right the original photograph and then the's important to simplify...bring shapes together and repeat both shapes and lines...and NOT worry about details!!

Ellen organized this whole workshop and it was beautifully smooth...and yet very low key...but very efficient..we were all so comfortable and accomplished an enormous amount in just 3 days....

somehow I didn't get a picture of Ellen's quilt...
but I'm sure she'll be putting one up on her blog site

it was a gorgeous mix of red-orange and of the most beautiful complementary pairs.
a big thank you to Ellen for setting up this workshop!

I really liked the series that this lady proposed...of people having problems with the the windy city!!  The city will be the back drop for all the various windy is the first character!!

 Above another design...people losing their umbrellas...this is going to be a wonderful series....and she amazed me by carefully cutting out all those swirls of wind, one by one!!
 sometimes the simplest designs are the most elegant...above on the right is the design...and on the bottom left, it's beginning to be transformed into fabric....
 all from one photo!!!  don't they look wonderful?   

  I really like the ense of something going on in those left hand windows...adding a little mystery is very important to good design...and, nice perspective!!!

Another beautiful simple design...this lady has a whole series like this...and they're going to be really amazing hanging in a long line...
you really do not need a lot of fussy detail to make a great quilt.

What a lovely calm little scene...two inspiration images added together to make something new and fresh.....

 this piece is inspired by the boardwalks and forest of the ACA...I love the play of light and shade...and the boardwalk heading off into the mysterious unknown...

and there were several more!! but some people had  them whipped off the wall before I could get to them...!!!  What was really nice was the range of work, and the personal references within all those dreary it is when you see a row of people all holding up identical quilts that they've made!!!  Every one of these quilts tells a story for the particular person who made it.....
thank you ladies!! you were great!    

and now, phew, I need a nice cuppa tea....I hope you've enjoyed the quilt show!
If you have been, thanks for reading!   Elizabeth

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Adding mystery

WE all love a mystery!  mystery will keep us looking at something...trying to puzzle it out.  Just consider the popularity of mystery stories, tv shows, movies etc....the very word "secret" has such fascinating possibilities!!My favorite book as a child was The Secret Garden .   It's a wonderful story about a hidden neglected garden that three very different children bring back to life....I always hoped I'd find such a garden!!
One of the ways of telling if your art quilt is successful is to see if people want to look at it, and having started to they stay and ponder over it? How can you keep them there?  Well you could have a sign that says Everyone who stands at looks at this quilt for 10 minutes will be entered into a million $ drawing!! but that might be beyond most of our capabilities!!  Interesting idea though - to offer an inducement for looking!!
But another way is to add some mystery to the work.
 I've come up with a few ways you might do it....see if you can think of any more.  Next time you go to a quilt show, or an art show for that matter, make a note of which pieces hold your attention and why.  Let's all steal those artists' secrets!!

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.

Obscurity 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.  One of the things about such unnamed shapes is that the viewer can put their own ideas into a piece...and see what they want to see.  And seeing what they really want to see...will keep them looking!

Abstracting 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 ......between the two.  And, in any case,  I think it's really rather tiresome the way that people just seem driven to classify things.

There are many ways to abstract:  an interesting way would be to work through all the five elements  (shape, line, value, color, texture) considering the 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.     Certainly many artists have done this.
Look at Sean Scully's paintings of stripes - they're  derived from old houses, doors, walls made from strips of wood - he took the shapes ...and some of the texture...and used that for his paintings. He completely stripped away all the rest of the context.

I love reducing things to black and white! 

This is an easy way to drop detail and reduce an image to squares alone…put the image into Photoshop or GIMP 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

Reflections always a favorite:    Reflections in rounded objects are really mysterious!!

Close ups

 What are those things?     What is that texture?  

Gestalt – subtraction I’m a great believer in getting rid of stuff in quilts.  We know from Gestalt theory that we really need very little information to mk sns f thgs!
we don't need everything spelled out for us....and we are likely to stay with a piece longer if everything isn't spelled out.  You don't need to quilt every brick, add every window and branch and all the separate petals of a flower.

Disguise I could disguise one thing as another…is that a Dalmation or is it currant cake?
Is it a gold fish or a flower?    Is there a person hiding in the bushes, or just a lot of strange shadows?
Remember that quilt that looked like flowers but when you got closer, it was all insects arranged into flower shapes??

Enigma I love this word…how to create an enigma…an enigma is a puzzle...a visual illusion - you think you know what it is, but is it really?  Like the two profiles that make a vase if you gaze at the negative space between them.

Subtlety not  spelling  out but merely hinting – e.g. instead of the edges of a window or a flower, just indicating the shadow on the window, the light on the flower.

Obfuscation 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.  something truly the Surrealist paintings of Magriite.

So what d'you think? would adding some mystery help?  And can you come up with any other ways of creating it?
If you have been…thanks for reading!  I apologize for radio silence!!  First I wasn't well (am fine now thank you!) and then I had to finish writing a new course for
And I'll tell you all about it on my next blog!


Sunday, October 16, 2016

New paintings and quilts at Lyndon House Art Center, Athens, GA

This coming Saturday, Oct 22, 2016 will be the annual art fair at Lyndon House Art Center in downtown Athens.
it's going to be a fabulous day with over 80 individual artists, lots of live music and, yes, food!
The best of Athens come out for this occasion....and the artwork will be very varied in price and type so as to suit everyone.

I have a bunch of new paintings and some new quilts, also some older work that will be for sale for ridiculous prices!   Something for every wall, and every pocket..  Please come and see!
The fun starts at 10 am and if I know anything about events at Lyndon House, the parking will go pretty quickly....of course there will be considerable turnaround during the day...but the early birds get both worms and parking!   Lyndon House has also arranged with all the nearby businesses and organizations for extra parking, of course.

Here are some of my new paintings  and a couple of new quilts:

 This is a 12" square acrylic...we have a pond in our neighborhood and I love to look at it in many different lights on my daily walk.
$100.  I hope to have 3 more little acrylic landscapes by Saturday...they'll make a nice set!

Watercolors range from $25 to $150...depending on size, age and whether framed or not.
This painting on the right and the one above are two of several I've done of the UGA golf course...I took some Canadian friends round there earlier this year - had never been before!  And the grounds are lots more photographs to work from...

 Our summer trip to the south Carolina coast had me inspired by the the shadows you get in the early morning and late in the day.....

below, more dunes, palm trees in the wind and a storm brewing - quite prescient as it turned out!
Painting the studio
Another stormy sky.....

More hydrangeas, and some Black eyed Susans...

A very bright light day where the sun dazzles...

 Imagining some of the golf course trees in the winter...there are lovely little copses of trees standing on slight rises.....
also did a painting of the pond at the golf course....which I don't have a picture of ....yet!

Looking out from the art room window at Athens Academy with a strange chiaroscuro sky....
The view from an upstairs window in early those delicate yellow greens...

A tiny little abstract based on autumn foliage...

And a very little quilted wall hanging:

And here's a medium size one...yes it IS a quilt - or fiber collage as some prefer to call these "art quilts" that hang on the wall.

Thank you for working your way down and looking at all the pictures!!!  I hope to see you at the art show.....if you can't come, and are interested in any of these pieces, please just write to me - my email link is on the side bar near the top.
Also, all comments are received with great delight!!! 
If you have been, thanks for looking!!  Elizabeth