Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

The Sketchbook Page Today…

Saturday, February 21st, 2015



sketchbook today feb 22 blog_edited-1

With arrows, stars, words and comments, this is a typical sketchbook page.  They’re always in pencil, but I re-did this one for you in pen to get a clearer scan.  I understand my own handwriting and abbreviations in this aide memoire,  and even if it doesn’t mean much to you I’m happy to share these marks as part of my process.  You’re welcome to anything else you glean of the ideas they encapsulate 🙂  There is much reference to several previous works or things I’ve been working with in sample form.

I regret that my hand writing has deteriorated, partly age-related 🙂  but even more a sign of the times.   It is the nearest I ever come to journal keeping, but of course it is definitely not that.  I really don’t know how the beautiful artist journal keepers keep it up  🙂  This morning I was casually googling around holes, sheers, grids and marks, when a couple of ideas struck.  Not wanting to lose a second, and with the sketchbook upstairs as usual, I took a sheet of waste paper from the printer and jotted them down.  I’m a diagram person, and when epiphany strikes like that a simple diagram+words, stars and arrows captures it. One just might solve a nagging problem to do with using sheers that has long bothered me, and I must let Rosemary Claus-Gray know ….




Love Affair With a Special Fabric

Saturday, February 14th, 2015

A very special fabric and I were first introduced in 1990, and I’m still in love with it.  Its a cotton,  printed black with irregular tan coin spots, designed by and American designer, Jennifer Sampou for P&B Textiles in the early ’90’s.


I was living in the US when it was released, loved it at first sight and bought some on the spot realising it was the perfect border and sashing for this quilt, below, I was making at the time. “Through The Windows of My Mind” 1990, 256cm sq. became one of the earliest  Colour Memories quilts, inspired by the vegetation colours and landscape features of the remote tent camps we lived in for a couple of field seasons in the Northern Territory. This time, 1975-6, I now refer to as our Tent Period, and to me this quilt says it all.

Through The Windows of My Mind blog cropped-1

Several years later, I saw this fabric remaindered somewhere in the USA at $3/yd, so naturally I bought the remaining half bolt.  Although this fabric design was released in several colourways, the tan/black certainly is evocative of Australia’s sunburnt landscape and our national sense of colour; plus clearly in the minds of some it also referenced the dot paintings of some of our indigenous artists.  As Jennifer and her range were clearly American I am sure this is happy coincidence, and I think the black/tan colourway was actually too hard for American quiltmakers to use with their totally different ‘national colour palette’ – no wonder it was remaindered, imho.  Having about 9m of this fabric now, I began work on this 2m sq work, “Desert Wind” 1995, and I wish I had $1 for every time someone said something like “Oooh, so you do Aboriginal quilts, too !!”

Desert Wind copy blog

I understand the comment of course, but it’s never been said about this next one though, which to my mind might be more deserving.  Its title “Kimberley 2” 2002  90cm x 110cm refers to the Bungle Bungles rock formation located in the Purnululu National Park  up in the Kimberley region of Australia.


Kimberley 2 blog


I also used it as a background fabric to the blocks in this next quilt, “New Directions” 2002  96cm x 84cm    in which the lines and arrows represent people coming to our ancient continent from all directions over its entire  human history: the black/tan of course here signifies the original immigrants, our indigenous people who crossed the land bridges from Asia  perhaps at least 60,000 years ago.

New Directions blog

I still have about a metre of the fabric and eke it out,  and there are plenty of small bits in my scrap bag so pretty well every Ebb&Flow quilt has a little in it somewhere.  Some of it went into a bed quilt for our daughter a few years back, and there’s some on our bed, too.  I kick myself when I think of the 4 metres I used on the (never seen) back of “Desert Wind” .   I guess I naively assumed at the time that such a marvellous fabric would always be available … well of course, I now know that’s not true !   But what is true is that every now and then a fantastic fabric will come into my orbit;  I will instantly emotionally bond with it and recognising it as special, will buy as much as I can, at least 3 metres if possible.  I always make sure I have a credit card or some cash on me when I’m out and about in likely places.  Most important of all, I know I will use it because I love it.


Take #2 – What Was I Thinking ?

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

In looking through some old pics today I found this photo of an art quilt I made for a commission, in Denver CO, towards the end of 1993.  My husband and I were preparing to leave the USA to return to Australia, getting the house ready to put on the market, and managing children with different needs in different parts of the world. Altogether there was a lot going on in my life as is usual for me.   I always have time for a commission, though, and love the challenge, but I’m not often asked.

An interior designer asked me to meet her in a house and discuss ideas for a quilted textile art work commission. The owner wanted a sunset theme work for the living room, where the wall on which it was to be hung included a large 3″ deep alcove with curved top.  We had a discussion about whether to make (a) a rectangular shaped piece the length of the alcove from the point where the curved shape starts, to the foot of the shape; or (b)  to make a piece shaped to fit into the curved shape of the alcove.  I submitted both ways, but with everything going on in both of our lives, at least one of us got crossed wires about the final decision; and the look of astonishment on her face when I unfurled the work saying “Are ready for this?” is something I’ll never forget.  When I looked back at the paper work, on the whole the agreement/contract was vague in places and if I were to read it today it would be glaringly obvious, I’m sure.  I offered to make another, rectangular,quilt, but Cindy’s client wouldn’t hear of it and paid up.  I don’t know who stuffed up, but it didn’t matter once the client said he was happy anyway.  I hope he still is – I never knew his name.


Apart from the title – an inspiring and optimistic ‘Sunset 1’ , there is no info in my computer, but I’m sure I have paper work on it back in Australia.  From memory it is/was about 36″ x 42″.  I don’t have a detail shot of it – and have no recollection of what hanging apparatus I supplied – it was a long time ago!  I see nothing around it to suggest the alcove, so the photo must have been taken against a plain wall – probably in our own home.  To me now it is rather gauche, and I can see a lot wrong with the sky background to the wandering strips that by then had become part of my signature, but at the time I thought it was a pretty good fit with the rest of my work.



Marshland Sunset copy blog

Years later, I did another sunset piece on commission, “Marshland Sunset” 2007, documented in a series of posts on this blog entitled “Anatomy of a Commission” between March 11th and 27th, 2007.  At that time, I was blogging on Blogger and having troubles.  When I began blogging on my present website in 2008, the older posts were imported, but some irritating things happened in the crossover , so I’m sorry if you find things a little odd on your browser, as I did just now when checking out those posts.   The finished piece is 2′ x 3′.  Several fabrics were supplied by the owner and incorporated.  My technical abilities with strips had changed – I like to think improved.  The piece was machine quilted with gold thread.  I hope it is still happily housed in Florida, USA.

Marshland Sunset 2007, blog


Experimenting and Learning Through Projects And Collaborations

Saturday, December 6th, 2014

On the Quiltart list this morning a member described a group project which in truth is better termed a collaboration.  Whatever you call it though – this project required identification of common goals and comittment to achieving them through a group-made art quilt.  What was missing from the post is any analysis of  how the idea came up, how the group came to decide to carry it out, and why – what the expectations of the group were to start with.  Clearly some dropped out because of technical challenges faced, and others didn’t drop out because of  loyalties they felt to the group.  Deeper examination before hand, though, might have meant the project didn’t happen at all and at least some of the group may not have learned what they did in the process.

Some of the real problems such projects can present are described in April’s words:  “We all learned quite a bit along the way as this piece was way outside the comfort zone of all of us. I think that the piece will be quite amazing when it is completed, but it has been quite a struggle seeing it to fruition. Some people dropped out as soon as things became difficult and challenging; and others stuck with it even though they had no real interest in the project, but they were reluctant to abandon the group. It has been an interesting example of group dynamics to say the least. But it doesn’t really matter, as we are all still close friends.”   You can visit the   April Sproule  post  to find out more about their project, and see pics of how it developed technically.   

In my early art quilt making days I belonged to a small SE Denver group we called “Quilt Explorations”, which we formed to explore non-traditional quiltmaking, and we focused on design in particular.  We often set ‘themes’ for monthly individual exploration, and participation was optional, so the results were truly individual, and varied depending on each person’s interest and drive, time available, etc. The most successful theme, where everyone was enthused to produce something, was based on the b/w picture of the front end of a gorgeous vintage car given to each of us by the member who suggested the exercise..  We each took some element from that photo on which to at least design a small quilt, even if  time was too short  to actually make it.  Everyone came back a month later with at least the design, most had started and some had completed a small quilt.  After 2 months we had a collection of  about 10 finished quilts.  At the next group exhibition these were all hung together to show the diversity of results  when people work from exactly the same initial image.  I don’t still have that photo, but found this image of the kind of pic we all received:vintage car - strip lighting 2 blog


In about 1991-2 I was in love with inserted straight strips, having not yet heard of life-transforming freehand or improvisational piecing which prompted the technical experiments to achieve the curvy inset strips characteristic of my 1992+ Colour Memories quilts.  With strips on my mind ,the headlights of the car caught my attention.  I produced this small wall quilt about  50cm sq.  I called ‘Strip Lighting’


Strip Lighting


We never did a group collaboration – I doubt anyone would have suggested it as were were all clearly set along our own paths when the group came together,  and such a project would have felt a diversion of dubious value from our individual goals. I have never been drawn to a collaborative project to produce a work / works of art, and maybe will explore this in a later post…. and perhaps I need to do some self examination on the matter first!


Look Forward to Resuming Work

Saturday, October 4th, 2014

Since shoulder joint surgery 4 weeks ago, I haven’t been able to do any quilting or sewing, but rehab’s going well, and it won’t be long before I am making some new work.  First up will be finishing off one of the pieces for the Golden Textures exhibition in Wangaratta next February.  I posted about this piece here .   It’s about 3/4 done, and I hope my ‘hand’ doesn’t show up in stitch differences – my handwriting is far from recognizable at this stage! But every day brings new improvements so we’ll see.

Posaplato Dos detail blog copy

The detail from a piece I did some years back includes many of the elements that I’m looking at combining –  holes of course, glitter, needle woven stitchery and grid – one of the most enduring elements in my quilts.  During this week I have looked at  several artists whose works paintings, installations and sculptures are in linear or grid formats, and I have found my work has something in common with each of them:   Alan Shields, Chuck Close, Carl Andre, Guillermo Kuitka, James Sienna, Julie S Graham, Sol LeWitt, Sean Scully and Agnes Martin, whose work I had known of for many years.  Looking at images of their work and  reading about each has given me some inspiration and urged me to think about my next moves.   Roll on the day I can draw diagrams, use my cutter and scissors, sew at my machine, wield my iron, and make up some of my ideas.


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