Posts Tagged ‘studio art quilts’

I have many painter friends, and I am active in the local art world as well as the community of Art Quilters.  So when Plein Air West Reading loosened its rules this year, I decided to take up the challenge.

This is the second year of the event. For 2017 only 80% of your piece has to be completed outdoors.  The rest can be in the studio.

Here’s what I did: limited my palate to blacks, whites and grays, and pre-fused some workable size pieces to take with me. I packed a scissors, tracing paper, parchment paper, drawing paper, muslin and pencil and set up a small table near an outlet so I could plug in my iron.

I started as any Plein Air artist would: made a sketch.  For me, the sketch had to be the same size as the finished piece would be.  And I worked as I always do: traced the shapes in the drawing from the sketch (the buildings, the sky etc) and cut them out in fabric.

Honestly the experience did me more good than I thought it would.  As in all plein air work, the values are higher keyed (brighter — more white) than when translated through a photograph.  Since values are my most difficult artistic component, it was a useful adjustment to work outside. Also, of course, you can walk around and better see what you are trying to depict than when working from a photo.

The most difficult part was trying to keep the pieces from moving in the slightest breeze.  A pin or two helped here. And I don’t know how I could do this without an extension cord and iron fairly handy. I used it by heating it up, unplugging and bringing over to my work — still hot enough to activate the fusing and hold the fabric pieces down. But I couldn’t be too very far from it.

Of course I finished the pieces in my studio: using my sewing machine for the quilting and binding. I also took photos, printed them on cloth, and places them in key spots.  Those I printed in color, so the works were desaturated with bits of color.

These will be shown June 17 at Art of the Avenue in West Reading.  Just look for the Art Quilts in the Plein Air display.  I doubt there will be any others.  But maybe next year!

When I joined SAQA, Studio Art Quilt Associated in 2009, I began to hear about a special level of membership, now called Juried Artist Members.

At first I thought: I’ll never be able to achieve that!

Then over time the idea began to intrigue me.

What is a Juried Artist Member?

SAQA created the designation:

“ . . . as a tool to help the collector choose new artists to purchase or to assess the importance of your collections.  SAQA offers members the opportunity to have their work juried in order to achieve Juried Artist Member status.  This status means that in the view of the jurors, the artist is producing and documenting his or her work at a high professional standard.  What could be more useful to the collector, than the assurance that an artist has created and will continue to create top-quality work and is recognized, by his or her peers, as a professional?  SAQA offers collectors an enormous advantage because we have access to the online directory of Juried Artist Members.”

In fact the jurying process was indeed very rigorous. The first time I applied, I was not accepted.

But I applied a second time, and was just notified that I was accepted!

Notice the stipulation that the work is being documented at a high professional standard.

Writing artist statements, and keep accurate records is part of being a professional artist. I have heard that it is now being taught as such in art schools.  True?

Anyway, here is my new JAM profile.


Someone asked me how I get ideas for my art?

Occasionally the animus will be a gob-smack, awestruck moment.  An example was our visit to the Angel Oak in South Carolina this summer.  It is the oldest living thing east of the Mississippi, and experiencing it by walking around its immense, twisted limbs made me feel the weight of history and the wonder of nature. It was almost as if I could see tableaus of history in the deeply grooved bark. The truck was scarred. Some long limbs were propped up on posts to support their immense weight. I breathed in the fragrance. Yes, I was awestruck.

I’ll include the sketch I made on the spot and my first study for “Angel Oak.” The final piece, which will be very large, is not complete yet.  When it is done I’ll post that too.

One such moment can lead to other, related pieces. I’m paying more attention to old trees, and also dead and rotting wood. I’ll include a sketch of our wood pile.  Let’s see where this takes me next.

More commonly, my inspiration is not so momentous.  A glint of sunlight on the road was the inspiration for Country Road, a smaller piece. I’ll include my sketch and the final piece. Sometimes it is a trick of sun and shadow, a worn surface, or the shapes in a landscape. I try to pay attention to my gut response to a visual stimulus and take it from there.



Angel Oak Study country road 12 x 12





A quilting friend called me out recently for, essentially, being guilty of unimaginative quilting on my Studio Art Quilts.

Quilting is the stitching that holds the layers of a quilt together.  That is true whether speaking of traditional quilts, or Art Quilts, which is what I make.  They are quilts for the wall, not the bed.

She was right. For my free motion stitching I was basically using only either stippling or straight rows of stitches.

II started studying free motion quilting patterns, and I decided to be more imaginative with quilting my areas. I still wanted to make sure the quilting was appropriate for my composition and design. For example, I wouldn’t want to use a flowery quilting pattern on a brick wall. Probably not, that is!

I found to be very useful. Leah Day is a good teacher, and her little videos of each design she comes up with were all the instruction I needed to get started. I also follow her on Pinterest.

Here are a few details of my pieces since I’ve been working harder on this aspect of my work.

quilting detail tree branchQuilting detail black and whitequilting detail, black and white 2

Art of the State -- PA

I was amazed and honored to be accepted into this year’s Art of the State, the premier state-wide art competition in Pennsylvania. Only 122 works were chosen out of almost 1800 entries. The show runs from June 22 to Sept 14, 2014 at the State Museum of Pennsylvania in Harrisburg.
The piece that was accepted is called Not So Empty Lot. I thought it was completed a couple of years ago, but something was bugging me. So I made a small but significant change in it last year, and – voila – it is much better. Now I am really happy with it. An added bonus is that I was able to change the date on it. An artist dates a work by the most recent addition or correction to the piece.
I am not using borders on my pieces anymore, but on this piece I decided to leave it on. The border is itself quilted, and because of the colors I feel it is an integral part of the piece. In this case, I think that was the right decision.

SAQA Conference, Alexandria, VA

I recently attended the national conference of SAQA, Studio Art Quilt Associates. I’ve been a member for several years, but only recently have decided to get more active. It is an important national organization of artists who work in the same media as I do: Studio Art Quilts.
I belong to a number of art organizations. Most include artists of many different artistic media. For most issues of composition and design, that works well. But sometimes it really does help to get in touch with the latest trends in my media. Workshops included “Critiquing Contemporary Quilt Art,” a local artists panel (the conference was held in Alexandria, VA), “Navigating the Gallery Scene: Clues to Help Find Your Niche,” “What is an Artistic Voice and Why do I Need One?” “Textile Futures: Four Overlapping Directions.”
This was the 25th Anniversary of SAQA, and the founding president, Yvonne Porcella gave a talk, “SAQA Retrospective: The Way We Were.” There was also a panel of past presidents who addressed such questions as “What was your greatest challenge?” and “Where would you like to see SAQA 25 years from now?”
I was thrilled by the opportunity to meet my heroes like Yvonne Porcella, plus Katie Pasquini Masopust, Terrie Hancock Mangat and Judith Content.
A special event was an auction of donated works by SAQA members. They were to be small – just 8 x 10. All were matted. One of Yvonne Porcella’s sold for $1000! And the overall total generated for SAQA was over $10,000. I was thrilled when my “Metadata” sold for $100 to Terrie Mangat! (Metadata is pictured).
I’m already looking forward to the 2015 conference in Portland, Oregon!


We recently re-photographed a number of my Studio Art Quilt pieces. This was based on acquiring new knowledge about what is expected on a professional level.
The background we were using wasn’t completely white.
The photo shows a detail of the old (on the left) and new photos (on the right) side by side.
I had submitted an application to become a “Juried Art Member” or, yes, a JAM, of SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates). I was rejected, but the feedback they gave me really helped me improve – especially in the area of the photographs of my work.
In addition we are now using four lights, two on each side, for more even lighting. This is important especially for large pieces. Our next purchase will be for “daylight” bulbs for the lights, to further improve the lighting.