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Archive for the ‘Master Class’ Category

Time passes, months roll by, and the Master Class continues, with assignments due on a regular basis. Our sketch is due the 10th of the month, the blocked out quilt is due the 20th, and the final is due the end of the month. I work hard to meet as many of the deadlines as I can, sometimes I do better than others. The deadlines are a great motivator for me to set aside time and make the space to create.

color scheme

April’s assignment was focused on color – my favorite! With as much as I love color and think I know a lot about it, I still learned a lot in this month’s lesson, and it rocked my world. Don’t be literal with color. The assignment was to pick out a color scheme, and make a sketch, and then put the two together. I knew I wanted to try to do a bristlecone pine tree quilt. What kind of color scheme could I do that wasn’t green and brown? I looked online for inspiration, and saw some great tree paintings, using brilliant oranges and reds for the trees. From one of the paintings, I came up with the analogous color scheme above, mostly orange, with green as the compliment, and the dark red as the accent color.

APR SLJ sketch 3 value sketch

For my sketch, I drew inspiration from a photo I had taken of a bristlecone on one of our many visits to see the ancient trees. In the first round of critique, my teacher commented on not needing the sliver of tree to the left (again, this theme with making art – you don’t need to be literal! Do what makes a good design. But I digress).  She encouraged me to add shadows to the trees, and to mimic the lines in the tree in the background landscape. And lastly, she commented on the leaf area looking clumpy. I agree with that! Making leaves on trees is always a challenge for me. This gave me something to ponder … how to make the leaves less clumpy?!

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For the next step, I modified my sketch, incorporating the suggested changes. I enlarged my 5″x8″ sketch to 10″x16″, and was ready to select my colors!

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I pulled out all my warms reds to oranges and laid them out. I took a photo and converted to grayscale to get a sense of value. I continued to select and sort, and take a photo and look and sort and rearrange until I had a smaller selection. For each fabric I matched it to an area on my value sketch.

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Okay – this part took forever – and I would be curious to hear how you do this part if you have a better or different way! I took tracing paper, and traced each value/color piece on my sketch, basically making puzzle pieces. I cut out each tracing paper puzzle piece, then using that as a template, cut out each fabric puzzle piece, and then laid out on the background fabric in the position it was going to go.

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Here is my blocked out piece for the second assignment due date of the month. I was so pleased with how it came out! After lots and lots of cutting and arranging, seeing it all together, the color scheme and design seemed to just make the quilt sing.

I always eagerly await the teacher’s comments, and was totally blown away when this is what she posted:

I love it!  the colors are wonderful…and you conveyed the slight anthropomorphic feel very well. everything is nicely balanced with the shadows and the “tail” (!).

I really like the mystery of it….and also the richness of those gradated colors.  It wouldn’t have half the impact if you’d used a mix of many different colors….the yellows to oranges in particular are so rich especially placed against those cool greens – nicely done!   You totally got the point of this exercise.

Wow! No further work needed, just carry on, except, the tree seemed to be listed to the right. I adjusted it a bit, rotating it to the left, and started to glue. Usually with raw edge applique, I use fusible webbing, but one of the women in our quilt group had said she likes to use basting glue, as it isn’t as stiff as the fusible webbing and gives a more natural look to the quilt. I was encouraged to try and was excited to try it on this quilt.

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This part also took forever, carefully gluing down each little piece, lifting and gluing and placing back in the right place and adjusting and checking and making sure I got glue in all the areas it needed to go. The quilting came together quickly, and the little but mighty bristlecone pine tree quilt was done.

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I am so pleased with how it turned out! And can see how it would be fun to work in a series when the correct subject is chosen. I could do many many more bristlecone pine tree quilts!

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I’m in the middle of my next quilt as part of the Master Class I am taking, focusing on lines. I’ve made a sketch of a mountain scene, and am in the process of turning it into a quilt. It’s quite challenging, but feels good to be stretching my skills and doing something that is hard to do (once the quilt is all the way finished I’ll have a proper post sharing more detail!).

MAR SLJ sketch 4

As I started pulling together fabrics to use, I realized I needed a few additional colors. So last Sunday, I had some free time to dye. Thinking of mountains, I wanted to dye a range of blacks and greys and maroons, with a few greens thrown in for the valley.

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I started by dyeing a value gradation of the three colors I wanted to make, using Better Black, Brushed Steel, and Sangria procion dyes.

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And then I got more playful. In the past, I’ve kept meticulous notes and followed careful directions to achieve specific colors. This time, I mixed and played at random, each new color a a delightful surprise.

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I started with a bit of the black, and added a bit of golden yellow to lighten it. I then played around with adding golden yellow and sangria and brushed steel in varying amounts to various colors. I generally know how I got to each one, but it would be hard to recreate each specifically. Maybe that is a bit of the magic and why I love dyeing fabric so much. Each piece of fabric is unique and perfect and there won’t be another like it.

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And then my favorite piece. Inspired by directions in Gloria Loughman’s book Radiant Landscapes, where she shares how to dye a gradient. For my last rectangle of fabric, I took the remaining black, grey and maroon, and dyed them in a gradient. I want to dye a lot more pieces like this. The possibilities for quilting and design are endless.

As for finishing my March Master Class assignment by the due date … I am very behind. Life got busy this month with fun and work commitments, and my extra energy and time for quilting hasn’t materialized. How do you catch up on projects when you get behind?

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February’s assignment was to explore the picture plane with shape, structure, and balance. A good design is an interesting design, with the shape and structure drawing the viewer in.

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Poppies are one of my most favorite wildflowers, so I chose to make a quilt filled with poppies. I was also stoked at the opportunity to practice sketching. For my birthday last year, Aaron gave me Law’s Guide to Nature Drawing, and I’ve been itching to give it a try. I printed a photograph of poppies that I took, and started to sketch. I was thrilled at how following the steps in the book produced such realistic looking poppies. And I don’t even know how to draw!

FEB SLJ sketch 2

For the Master Class, each month is divided into three assignments. The first assignment was the sketch. I photocopied my poppies and played around with arranging them in different patterns and backgrounds. Above is the one I liked the most. The teacher’s comments were to try adding to the design with flowers in different directions and with stalks that bend a little. She encouraged me to show something different about poppies that I have observed myself.

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I went back to my inspiration photo, and drew more poppies! I looked for poppies of different shapes and sizes to include in my design, drawing some that were facing the sun and some with petals that were more open.

FEB SLJ block

For the second deadline, I turned in my blocked out quilt. I continued to play around with the background design and color choice. The teacher’s critique here was to soften the background and really keep the focus on the poppies. I really like how she phrased this, so I’ll share it here, “It’s important to capture their essence, how they hold themselves and move in the breeze…rather than botanical details..” She ended with the encouragement to put my time into a lot of poppies!

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So I went back to the drawing board! I looked for as many shapes and poppies to capture from the photo. This time I spotted the smaller poppies, that were still buds or just starting to bloom. Then I cut out as many poppies as I had patience and time.

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For the assembly of the quilt, first I pieced the background and quilted the fabric layers. Then I arranged the poppies onto the quilt, and stitched them down in raw edge applique.

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As I placed them, I continued to keep my inspiration photo handy, to check placement in order to really capture how they hold themselves and move in the breeze.

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I like how the quilting adds the needed details to bring each poppy petal to life. I thought about making each petal a separate piece of fabric, but chose not to for simplicity. That would have made the small pieces of fabric that make up each flower really overwhelming!

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The final quilt is small, 12″ x 16″. The teacher’s final encouragement was simply to suggest trying to make it as a larger quilt. That would be a really neat exercise, to try to enlarge the quilt. I wonder what I would change or keep the same? Probably adding more poppies would be good!

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A little bit more about my inspiration. In September 2015, our family property where I grew up burned in the Butte Fire, as I’ve shared before. My mom spread poppy wildflower seeds, and in the first spring after the fire, they came up with abandon along the creek. This photo was taken in May 2016 when we visited the property. It was the first time I had seen the property since right after the fire. My first emotion was intense grief, when I saw how so much had changed and now looked different. But after spending the day there, hiking around, visiting, working, laughing and hanging out, my sadness went away and I felt comforted. The property still gave me the same sense of home. On the surface it felt and looked different, but the heart of the land was still there. The curve of the hill and the breadth of the sky was still the same. That’s what I attempted to share with this quilt. My memory of the sadness of what was lost combined with hope for the future and what awaits us just around the corner. Just as the poppies lean in towards the sun, ever hopeful and brave. Let’s all lean in towards the sun, bringing much needed color and joy to the world.

 

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I shared in my intentions for the year that I am taking an online class with Elizabeth Barton. January was the first assignment of the year. We were tasked with learning to see, sketch and use value. Working from a photograph, I made a sketch of the Point Reyes Lighthouse that we visited over Christmas.

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The assignment challenged us to use only one color in light, medium, and dark values. I chose to use black, which meant I needed to dye some fabric!

img_2288It’s been ages since I had a dye session, maybe almost a year! It felt pleasurable, like seeing an old friend, pulling out my supplies and making magic in the kitchen. I dyed two colors, black and blue, in an eight value color way.

img_2300Black is such a fascinating color when reduced into values. It brings out the colors that make it black. Here, I discovered gray black tones of purple!

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I had my sketch and I had my fabric, and then I pulled it all together. The assignments are divided into three parts throughout the month, first we turn in our sketch and receive feedback, then we turn in the blocked quilt, and have a second chance for feedback and making changes, and then at the end of the month we turn in our finished quilt.

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The blocked stage isn’t stitched or secured down so that there is the opportunity to shift and make changes. The main lesson I learned in my design is that the literal truth seen in the photograph doesn’t necessarily make for a pleasing or interesting design. Small changes can be made to make the design a good one. I guess that’s why they call it artistic license!

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This piece is small, 11″ x 15″, and the quilting came together quickly. Swirls and squiggles and wavy lines. I was trying to evoke the craggy rocks, breaking waves, and fog-filled sky.

img_2380The lighthouse looks little, perched on its craggy rocks against the grandeur of the ocean and sky. That’s how I remember it in real life, and how I wanted it to be seen in the quilt.

img_2403Here’s another picture of the lighthouse from when we visited last December. There are more than 300 steps to walk down to reach the lighthouse.

img_4021When the lighthouse was in operation, a lone individual would live there for months on end. Now that would be a wild job. Just you, the rocks, and the surf.

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