Sunday, August 30, 2009


When I lived in Calif, I liked to stop by the San Jose Quilt Museum whenever I was in the area. Two exhibits there etched in my brain and left me teary-eyed and in awe: Nancy Crow and Susan Shie. My work had more in common with Susan's with its wild spontaneity, heavy stitching and embellishment. In many ways Nancy's work was a polar opposite with its clean yet complicated piecing, but it had a huge impact on me. I've admired her work for years and often thought she must have tricks for that involved piecing.

I was thrilled to see Jean Wells' new book Intuitive Color and Design. Jean studied with Nancy and shares techniques to achieve that improvisational look.

I've been working through the exercises in the book, learning a variety of piecing techniques.

Angle Piecing:

Curved Line Piecing:

Narrow Insert Piecing:

And Detail Piecing using irregular scraps:

I have been having a blast playing with these and am eager to try putting together different bits. I have a feeling they will be serving as backgrounds for more layers for me, but I'll see where it goes.

I highly recommend Jean's book. Clear instructions and lots of great photos of quilts.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Cloth, Paper, Scissors article

I'm excited to see my article about using prompts to spark design ideas in the upcoming Sept/Oct. Cloth, Paper, Scissors. They did a beautiful job with the layout and the photos, so I'm very pleased with the final results.

These are a couple of the pieces in the article:

You can read about the process of using prompts here, and more in the article of course.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Life snuck up and sapped me of all creativity for the last week or so. The best I could muster were a few pages in my Inspiration book. My friend Martha shared her wonderful design journal with me recently, and I was inspired to start one of my own. This is just the bare bones beginning of flipping through magazines to pull out what caught my interest, good mindless fun when the energy level is low.


Nature patterns:

Irregular grids:


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Pod Painting

I finished another in my pod series, and this one is probably my favorite so far. It's rare for me to be really, really happy with one of my pieces, but this one does it for me (at least it does this week). I like the amount of negative space in this one and the way it is just one step away from being abstract. The focus on the solitary pod captures my mood for the month of July when I was retreating from all things social.

For those of you interested, here is the process I use, more or less--it's hardly a science.

I use 5 colors: Cad. red, Alizarin Crimson, Cad. Yellow Med, Cerulean blue, and Ultramarine blue, plus Titanium white. I start by loosely getting paint on the canvas. It's very watered down at this point and I let the drips occur naturally.

I decided I liked the canvas better flipped upside down, so rotated it and started loosely defining a pod. At this point, I knew I liked the idea of a solitary pod with lots of negative space all around it.

Bill Parks taught me to totally shake things up when I feel stuck. It has to be with big gestures--adding a bright color, painting out an entire area, something to completely redefine the painting. I didn't know where I wanted this to go, so I turned the canvas upside down again. I started toning down the canvas with grayed colors.

I started liking the composition, so began focusing on value and simplifying some areas. At this point I mix my paints with either matte medium or glazing medium to give them more richness.

Last steps are defining detail, intensifying or de-intensifying colors and values, and thinking about edges.

And close up: