Saturday, July 02, 2005

Sometimes life is just full of synchronicity. I just got this book, "Nature's Studio," by Joan Colvin. And, aside from having lots of photos of gorgeous quilts, it amazes me how directly it addresses some of the issues we've been blogging about in the "blue teapot" discussions.

The book discusses a number of very relevant topics. There are actual section headings: What is a recognizable style; Are you ready to develop a style of your own?; Choosing a familiar subject to begin; What do you want to say about your tree?; Making the process fit your needs, and more.

But I was especially struck by Colvin's discussion of realism:

"My style is a kind of realism. I do not assume you will want to work the way I do. Consider this: if you have some large, simple colored shapes before you and they are gorgeous as is, you may wish to fasten them down as a wonderful abstraction. If a group of fabrics gets you thinking of something in the known world, and a little bit of detail will show this (that is, direct the viewer to the same conclusion), then your work becomes less abstract. Or the shapes may become recognizable but not in the usual context (symbolism). As the shapes gain more definition, the option for assigning meaning to them becomes narrower, and you can see how we get to realism or representational art. Should you get even realer than real, I call that surrealism.

"Now, we can work backward, too. Beginning with real objects or ideas, placing them in settings, removing detail, simplifying shapes, seeing essences -- here we come all the way back to the beautiful simple shapes I first mentioned. Nobody but you cares where you begin or end."

It's unusual for quilting books, but I find the text in this one as enlightening and interesting as the photos.


  1. Thank you so much for the quote from Joan. Perfectly said....and an excellent explanation of the different ways of working. BTW, since we know each other well...just want to add Joan is just like her work and her incredible woman.

  2. This is a great thread. I'm so glad you posted about this book. I think I need to get it.

  3. I just got this book Today! What a nice coincidence. I've always loved Joan's work, and this book looked too cool to pass up. I've only read the very beginning and it is summing up and stating so clearly all the stuff I've figured out about how the process from image in my head to image on my quilt needs to work.

  4. Joan is such a wonderful teacher. Her books aren't about quilting but about art and how to make it out of fabric. If you haven't taken a class with her, be sure to as she nurtures those just beginning to do their own thing and is excellent!