Saturday, August 13, 2005

Ebb and Flow

In these phases, when my non-quilting life consumes most of my time and I'm not getting any quilting time, I never quite know what to write about here. When I write about family stuff, I worry that the quilting folks among you will be bored silly. (As if you aren't most of the time here anyway, but I ignore that worry.)

Unlike some folks -- whose inner artistic contemplations I admire -- I don't typically have interesting philosophical thoughts and revelations about the artistic process. I'm thinking about what to make for dinner, whether Caroline has outgrown her school clothes, how I'll find time to finish the motion I'm supposed to be researching, whether the puppy needs more exercise and should I take her to the dog park, why that laurel bush in the corner of the yard has yellow leaves, and the question that almost always lurks in the back of my mind: Can I take a nap?

I try to remind myself that these outwardly unproductive times can actually turn out to be productive. The inability to find time to work on quilt projects seems to make my mind more eager, and I find myself coming up with new creative ideas and even, sometimes, solutions to creative problems that have been plaguing me. So, I guess I should consider these periods in my life as part of my own creative process. If not for the ebb, there wouldn't be flow.

I'm always drawn to new quilt books, and I'm lucky enough to belong to a guild with a massive library. Last week, I borrowed Velda Newman's two books and I've been reading them with great pleasure and interest. I've been thinking (in a general way, not a grand philosophical way) that LARGE quilts have huge impact. See? Not a huge revelation, but a small thought that if I'm going to take the time to work on something that I want to have a big impact, perhaps I need to consider the final size a bit more. Velda Newman's work is an obvious example of this...her work would be stunning even if smaller, but huge, it's breath-taking.

Remember my quilt "Smoke Signals?"

I really like how this turned out, but it's not that powerful. It's small, 29" x 38". I keep thinking I'm going to enter it somewhere, but I haven't...and in part, I think, it's because it doesn't strike me as big enough. Not just in size, but in impact.

Last year, I had a quilt in Pacific Quilt International...which was a big deal to me, as it was the first time I'd entered anything in a juried show. It was "Red Threads":

This is another quilt I'm proud of. It is one of my first wholly original designs, and it was my first effort at something realistic. It's also not very big, about 39" x 41". And, while I was thrilled to have something hanging at PIQF, I was disappointed to see it hanging. At that show, and most others, they hung the small quilts all together, fitted together almost like mosaic tiles on a long wall. There were tons of great, smaller quilts. But in that setting, you lost the impact of any one of them.

So, I'm thinking that the next quilt I do needs to be bigger.

And while I've been pondering that small but useful thought, I went with my friends Pat, Janet, Rita and Gerrie to hear a talk by San Francisco quilt artist Marcia Stein yesterday. You might know her work...she does wonderful, graphic portrayals of scenes and images that are realistic yet simplified in a dramatic way. Here are a few of my favorites:

In one of those synchronistic moments, she mentioned in her talk that she was heavily influenced by a class by Velda Newman and decided to make her quilts large to give them a strong impact.

Well, okay. I think I'm getting the idea. And I'll be ready to work on it, any minute now, as soon as I have time to turn on the "flow."


  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  2. Love your quilts and I remember them from the shows in which I have seen them.

    RE: Velda Newman's work:Why not make a moderately sized quilt with a big subject?

  3. I love Red Threads and Smoke Signals is fantastic. I am wondering if you are considering SS as a "study" and why you wouldn't go big with it? I have been having the same thoughts about the impact of the large, especially in a setting like PIQF. Keep up the good work!