Monthly Archives: January 2022

Slouching Into 2022

It’s close to the end of January and I haven’t really thought through my artistic goals for the coming year, much less considered my achievements in 2021. Somehow, there doesn’t seem to be a clear delineation between the years, just more of the same. In some ways I guess my goal is to just do the work, with no inspirational word of the year.

I know that sounds bleak, but I feel the need to be realistic about what I can achieve. I am optimistic about the renewed artistic curiosity mixed media is giving me. A whole new learning curve there, plus the supplies and products take up far less space than fabric and quilts. I’m certainly not giving up on quilting but my emphasis is shifting toward more personal, make what I feel like, work.

In years past I have created work with an eye to entering exhibits and shows, but I am kinda over that. Right now I have pieces in a regional and a national show, but I am entering far fewer shows. Why? One, I recognize that many exhibits prefer large pieces as they show much better. My work is getting smaller. Two, costs of entering shows and shipping (if the work is accepted) are getting higher, easily reaching $100 or more per item. If my work doesn’t sell and if I’m not trying to boost my name recognition, why bother?

I have drawn up a list of projects for 2022. Most are continuations of work I began in 2021: my unknown family series, my felted wool squares, and my small quilt tops. My first start of 2022 is a series of four strip scrap medallion log cabins. So far I have no must-make new project, but I have the fabric for several possibilities.

A blurry photo of all 25 felted wool embroidered squares.

The wool project is awaiting inspiration as to the best way to sew the squares to the background wool. That wool is soft and floppy despite repeated hot water washing and a spin through a hot dryer.

Unknown Family, panel 1

My family photo project is also awaiting some technical solutions as I try to combine fabric, paper, and old textiles. It occurs to me that the subdued color palette is tamping down my enthusiasm.

Gold log cabin, 25″ square

While in Florida I produced four small log cabin tops, ranging from 25 to 35 inches square. The one above is quilted; the others are in my quilting queue.

Speaking of that, I find myself with 5 or 6 other small tops to quilt, in addition to what I call my staircase top. I know I’ll quilt the last, but am wondering if I should use the small tops as quilt backs rather than spend more time on them. I have enough completed quilts I don’t totally love already.

My final goal for 2022 is to pare down the number of quilts I have, either by selling or gifting them. I’d love to finish 2022 with fewer quilts or at least no more quilts.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Fridays.

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Filed under Art quilts, Commentary, Completed Projects, In Process

Culture on the Gulf

To go with its upscale reputation, Naples, Florida, sports an impressive art museum/performance center that houses the Naples Philharmonic and the Baker Museum. My husband chauffeured me from Fort Myers to the museum so I could soak in more southwest Florida art. Unlike the collection of the Ringling Museum in Sarasota which features walls of European Madonnas, saints, and portraits bought in quantity; the Baker Museum has a more contemporary collection with many Mexican and American artists. The work is also more scaled for display in a modern private home.

I enjoyed browsing the permanent collection as well as special exhibits, especially one called Ocean Gleaning by Pam Longobardi. The museum is small enough you won’t suffer visual fatigue, yet diverse enough you can discover gems in each room. Too often I find smaller museums feel compelled to have third rate work by big name artists like Picasso rather than first rate work by lesser known figures. The Baker Museum has a few Chihuly sculptures that aren’t his best in my opinion, but the charm of other works make up for them.

Here are some works that caught my eye. Each photo is followed by the museum’s description. Be warned, there’s lots of photos.

And that’s not all. There are two additional galleries in the performance center with interesting cyanotype prints by Noelle Mason and wall sized charcoal drawings by Gonzalo Fuenmayor.

If you’ve stayed with me to this point, I offer the sunrise art we enjoyed on our trip north.

I am linking to Off The Wall Fridays.

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Filed under Exhibits

Getting Warmer

Just after Christmas my husband and I headed south to Fort Myers, Florida, for a stay at my brother in law’s condo. After enduring lots of traffic bottlenecks (no, not that one in Virginia thank goodness) we arrived to temperatures in the mid 70s and mostly sun.

I brought a few projects with me, including my long running felted wool embroidery, but I’m spending more time walking in SHORT SLEEVES and totally ignoring any inclination to find a fabric store.

Four of the circles I’ve begun embroidering.

So, the beach

Barefoot Beach in Bonita Springs

The Ringling Museum in Sarasota (go here for links to the collection)

Museum courtyard
View of Sarasota Bay from the 8,000 square foot terrace of Ca’ d’Zan, the Ringling’s palatial home

One advantage Florida has is year round locally grown vegetables. We went to Southern Fresh Farm for hydroponically grown tomatoes and lettuce. While there we sampled beers from the Crazy Dingo, conveniently located next door. I had to get a photo of this visual pun.

Because we drove I was able to pack my portable sewing machine and a bag of scrap strips, including already sewn together strips. After lots of mindless sewing I’ve composed four large log cabin blocks in yellow, blue, gold/brown, and red/orange. I have a vague idea of combining them into one, but that will wait until I’m back home.

The strip rows are sewn but are not joined together yet. The center is an orphan block.
One joy of working with scraps is remembering when I first used the fabrics. The middle of this one is cotton stamped with bleach and then stitched.

Most likely we are driving back to chilly Ohio as you read this. Next week I’ll tell you about another art museum I visited, and anything else we’ve done besides stuffing our faces with Gulf shrimp.

I’m linking to Off The Wall Friday. This week I learned that tangents are shapes that touch or connect in a way that is visually bothersome.

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Filed under Commentary, Everything Else

Gwen Marston’s “Minimal Quiltmaking”

Since I’m on vacation I’m republishing a post from 2014. I did meet Gwen in California and can say she was shyly elf-like.

Original Post:

Gwen Marston has been recognized for many decades as an influential quiltmaker. She developed her style early in her career or, as art quilters like to say, found her voice. Amish and what I call primitive quilts have been huge influences on her work. She quilts much of her work by hand.

Gwen’s most recent focus is minimal quilts. These are featured in her latest book, Minimal Quiltmaking. This is a process oriented book that articulates an approach to quilt design, not a quilt pattern book.

By minimal Gwen means quilts that have been stripped to their essence – sparse shapes done in solid colors. She divides her chapters into hard edge, minimal color, and art inspired quilts.  While she features many of her own quilts, she also gives space to quilts made by others in a minimal style.  This is helpful as it shows other quilt personalities.

Gwen’s process is partly intuitive, but not improvisational. She often begins with a traditional basic form – medallion, log cabin, strippy – and builds from there. She also uses pencil and fabric sketches. While she may begin with a plan, she believes one should remain open to opportunities that present themselves during the construction process.

As Gwen points out, designing a minimal quilt is hard, and it gets harder when you set limits such as using only one color or only pale neutrals.

gwenmarston Minimal in NeutralsMinimal in Neutrals by Gwen Marston

gwenmarston TurquoiseTurquoise by Gwen Marston

In the two quilts above, you can really see the difference in texture created by hand quilting versus machine quilting.  The neutrals one was hand quilted, and I just want to run my hands over it. You can see how much hand quilting adds to the piece below as well. I can’t believe I’d be advocating hand quilting, since I do only machine quilting, but there it is.

gwenmarston Medallion IIMedallion II by Gwen Marston

Minimal Purple Kristin ShieldsMinimal Purple by Kristin Shields (above) is an example of a hard edged quilt that combines hand and machine quilting. That may be the way I end up going on some quilts I have in process.

To get to the bottom line, is this book worth spending $24.95? The answer may depend on where you are in your quilting journey and what inspirational resources you already have. If you don’t have many, the photos are well worth the money. And if you want examples of stunning hand quilting, you’ll want the book for the last chapter alone. If you already have lots of quilt calendars that feature glorious old quilts or books of Amish quilts, you may want to borrow rather than buy this book, though I hope you’ll have the chance to spend some time browsing through it.

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Filed under Books