Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Changes ahead in my online classes

Back from hiking in the Smokies...
a gorgeous day to walk in the Pisgah forest and visit Looking Glass Falls, NC

......but now and back to business...

Alas, Quilt University will be no more after this year..December will mark its end.

My three different workshops, Inspired to Design, Working in Series and Dyeing to Design, are all scheduled to run through to December.  A new course will start  each month with enrollment opening about 6 weeks prior to that.

These are the starting dates:

5/10 Inspired to Design
6/14 Working in Series
7/19  Dyeing to Design

8/23  Inspired to Design
9/20  Working in Series
so if you've been dithering about joining up!  or repeating a class you enjoyed, then now is the time!
  There are so many things I have loved about QU:
 The daily - often hourly! - contact with students all around the world
the fact that words are the main vehicle of communication, rather than short bursts of video - words that I put together slowly over several months when writing the lessons - together with lots of photos of course!  
And the words as I answer each student's questions and comments through the course of the day.
  I like being able to think about things.
  I don't want to plan a tight script then act it out on video like those awful fake "reality" shows!  
I like the spontaneity of the give and take in the Discussion Forum.

I really liked working for the Millers - a creative team
 Personal contact, very hands on and individual and committed to QU.

I have looked into some commercial online teaching but, for me, they are just that: very commercial. Huge organizations with organizational structures etc etc....I quit my "other" job to get away from all that!!

so if anyone has any ideas to suggest - an organization similar to QU, or a way to do it myself that doesn't require me to be an IT expert!!  then I'd be most grateful!   Or if someone has ambitions to run something like QU......I don't know if Roger Miller is selling the business but he can be contacted at dean@quiltuniversity.com
A big thank you to everyone who has, is or will be taking a class with me!! It's been a great three years.

PS - my book is out!  Inspired to Design, 7 steps to successful quilts.   If you email me  I can tell you how to obtain an autographed, dedicated copy directly from me - or support your local quilt store and ask them to stock it (it's published by C&T), or there is that online company.....
and, if you have been, thank you for reading! 

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 idea...you 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 series...as 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 moths..so 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 available....you'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 elizabethyork100atyahoo.com

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Checking out the MFA exit show

I love to go and see MFA exit shows - see what the young folk are getting up to!  Are any of them using fiber, and, if so, in any innovative way?  It's great to see energy in art work, unabashed vigor, boldness (to the point of leaping of cliffs!) and freshness.  Of course there is always plenty of angst too!  I remember one workshop I taught where half the class were young scholarship students instead of a full class of mature ladies - and I thought oh great! there'll be energy and unbridled excitement!  Well the excitement was pretty much all in the mature ladies, and the young folk were full of agony and self involvement.  Of course that was just a couple of weeks and the MFA students have a couple of years and several professors to encourage them to look outward.

The local art museum where the show is held has had a multi-million dollar expansion in the last couple of years and is really a fun place to visit with a lot to see - and Art is for Everyone!


There were a lot of paintings and nothing was subdued or timid about them! Christine Roman's fabric (scraps from family clothing) and
paint collages are complex and exciting.  She describes them as joyful with menacing overtones!  Variety and tension!  She considers people capable of both cruelty and compassion and with a mixture of structure (she writes about a grid underlying the composition) and intuition hopes to reveal it.

The circular motifs occur throughout the piece in lots of different sizes and contrast with the strange black beetley things...the whole parcel is wrapped up with the skinny black lines.   She conveys joy well with the lifting up feeling created by the large balloon shape, but you're definitely aware of the black beyond!

Stacey Elder's work has a similar appearance to Roman's - perhaps they worked side by side?  I don't see that happening in the week long workshops I teach, but two years in the same program must inevitably lead to some connectiveness.  I read all the time abut how artists influence each other greatly - I wish as art quilters we all had the amount of time, opportunity and energy these graduate students have!!  Of course - without the angst!  No more sturm und drang!
Stacey describes her work as a fun and spontaneous abstraction - but she also has the same dark space beyond  and we're carefully led towards it - with towering cliffs around us! She states that "stacks of fabric generate the repetition of pattern and color" but I'm not sure if these fabrics are literally stacked onto the painting as a collage (though one can see some polka dots in the top left hand corner), or were more of an inspiration.  As she layers on the fabric and the paint she aims towards an organized composition at each point in her additive process.  She feels that in this way the final result will be balanced and resolved..

Onto the next gallery!  and there I found more fibre.  Two quilts made by Mae Ling Cann from North Carolina.  (sorry I cannot persuade blogger to line them up!)Cann feels that the "traditions of heritage quilts bring to light questions of personal heritage in contrast to popular history and the irreconcilable differences that can exist between the two".  I read this statement several times and still could not grasp the meaning! The quilts are very powerful (though would have been more powerful had they had traditional craftsmanship - surely an art education should encourage Technique as well as content?)  Also I didn't see how the images referred to the artist statement.  However I did appreciate the shock value and the sense of getting into bed with the enemy, accepting bigotry and repression as a cozy bed partner.  There are many metaphorical layers of meaning that you could read into the images.  I don't remember exactly what the words on the headboards said, I remember feeling  they were unnecessary and were better edited out.  


 Jamie Bull's Lady Beasts dominate the last gallery.  They are intended to exude power, sexuality and aggression, warning those who would limit the feminine perspective!
 ( I included the guard so you can see how huge these beasts are!   

Like Roman, Jamie also intends to dazzle and delight while at the same time projecting a subversive element - watch out!!  These are truly beasts!
Overall a great show!! and there were other pieces too well deserving of study - but not so connected with fiber.  I did wonder if these pieces would be juried into Quilt National - I do think it's time we shook up some of the old conceptions!!  what do you think?
And, if you have been, thanks for reading!    Elizabeth

PS - the head board close up explains the dualistic nature of the swastika symbol:

It's very frustrating but my images keep uploading sideways - if anyone know how to alter orientation in blogger - I can't find it on any menu - I'd be most grateful.  It took me repeating and repeating all the images this morning to get them eventually suddenly inexplicably! to orient in the correct way.   Apologies if you get a crick in your neck!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Playing Card art challenge...the process of making the piece

I know that Sue Pierce pretty much did all you could do with quilts and playing cards with her wonderful Full Deck show....but when our local alternative gallery, Athens Institute of Contemporary Art (ATHICA) had the same idea and asked 53 local artists of all media to make a playing card piece, I couldn't resist the challenge.  I hadn't known Sue when she chose her artists (sadly!  I asked her later why she hadn't asked me - she said "but I didn't know you Elizabeth"!! yes it's all in whom you know! ) However, since ATHICA does know me (they currently have two large industrial landscape quilts I made on show), I was asked this time around.
I chose the 4 of Diamonds and this is my preliminary sketch, I'd had the house sketch on the "inspiration" wall for about 3 years!! and though it had the nice graphic quality I wanted for the playing card, plus with houses there were opportunities for diamond shaped windows!

 I wanted to use playing card "colors": blue, gold, black, red and white....so tried at first putting in the values this way....the gold at the back really leapt forward and was very confusing, ..so I had several more goes and finally settled on the one below.   

I picked out my fabric, decided on the size of the piece - as you can see 1" on the sketch = 3" in real life...this would bring it to about 18 x 30.....
we had to make the art piece to certain proportions that would reduce to a playing card size - and yes there are going to be decks available.  alas this is the second opening I will miss this spring!! so I sure hope somebody save a deck for me!!
I thought the four diamond windows would be the first thing I should make:
 Then I placed a piece of white fabric on the design wall for the background and began to add the shapes working from back to front....
As you can see I mark out the four edges of the quilt first with long strings of fabric...the side ones are weighted so they hang straight.     Adding a few more....

 It's good to stand back and look at the piece properly every few additions just as a painter does...didn't like that dark red in the middle when I stood back, warm colors advance...so changed it to blue.

also I wanted to soften the very bold effect of the gold fabric and break up that huge shape a little, so added more sections on top.
 It's beginning to have character ...a nice clean look..but perhaps the black to the left of the large blue grey house is too strong...trying a slightly lighter value...
Now connecting the two sides with more of the same tone, I want this to work as a whole...I'm also eginning to add some secondary diamond shapes here and there, but not red!

Putting in the foreground color...I sketched it a dark value because I want to have the 4 of diamonds emblem dark over light on top and light over dark on the bottom.. 

Got the diamonds in place, not sure abut the other non-diamond windows...so moved those of until I had the basic shapes sewn together...

Sewing the top together, then reviewed it and decided to continue the diamond theme - both with the other windows which are all either actual diamonds or sections of diamonds.  then I thought about adding the trees and realised adding more different shapes would simply take away from what I had, so I left the tree idea for another day - and probably a bigger quilt. I quilted it in red with diamonds - all over!  Here's the finished piece:
As you can see I also added extra diamonds to the other two corners....I did this to help balance out the design - but not too symmetrically would have been boring!  and I do hate to be boring!!
so...what d'you think?   anyone for bridge? 
And, if you have been, thanks for reading!   Elizabeth

PS my next Dyeing to Design class starts at Quilt University  this Friday.  There's still time to enroll.  It's 5 lessons over 7 weeks of dyeing, surface design and art quilt design .  I cover dyeing a full spectrum from 6 basic dyes, gradation dyeing, arashi shibori, and several kinds of screen printing AND how to design quilts based on each of the five elements : value, color, line, shape and texture which participants will create with dye on their fabric.  The goal is to learn both ways of getting color on cloth AND the best ways to use the subsequent cloth when designing your own quilts.
  Quilt University cannot be beat for its value and international coverage and is a real tribute to its founder, Carol Miller who persuaded me to write for her.   Also I actually appear on video - several times!! Thanks to intrepid photographer Julia Triebes!!