Category Archives: Artist Dates

Artist Dates

Easy Applique Blocks Book Launch Party

Welcome to the launch party for Kay Mackenzie’s terrific new book, Easy Applique Blocks: 50 Designs in 5 Sizes from Martingale & Company / That Patchwork Place!

Easy Applique Blocks: 50 Designs in 5 Sizes

I’m pleased to host Kay here at Quilts and Creativity, and to be the first stop on her Book-A-Round blog tour. You’ll get to meet Kay, hear the first-hand dish on her new book on appliqué, enjoy quiltini cocktails and tasty treats (recipes follow), and everyone gets a gift from Kay and a chance to win a copy of Easy Applique Blocks. Wow – what a party!

Let’s Meet Kay

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Kay Mackenzie and I first met through our mutual friend and photographer, Gregory Case (The Photo Man for The Quilt Show). He introduced us and then we ran into each other at 2008 Spring Quilt Market twice!

Maria: Kay, please tell us a little about yourself, what drew you to appliqué, and your previous authoring/publishing work.

Kay: I grew up in North Carolina, went to school in Colorado, then lived in Los Angeles for a number of years. During all that time I had not one stitch of quilting heritage. I started in a beginning quilting class about 17 years ago after I got married and we were living in central Ohio. When I told my instructor that I enjoyed the Dresden Plate the most out of all the blocks in the sampler, she told me, “You just might be an appliqué person.” I still wonder whether that observation shaped my destiny, because it turned out to be so true!

A peculiar combination of interests in my strange brain led me to become an appliqué designer and a publisher of books for quilters… quilting, computer illustration, writing, editing, typography, and page layout all combined!

My company is Quilt Puppy Publications & Designs with six titles in print. Up until now my most famous books have been Teapots to Appliqué (now out of print) and Teapots 2 to Appliqué. Quilter love teapots (of course I had to put a couple of them in Easy Appliqué Blocks too).

You might ask, who’s the Quilt Puppy? He’s Willie, my little papillon dog! He’s been my boon companion in the sewing room for 14 years now.

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Willie thinks that boxes of scraps are very comfy.

Ever since I started designing and publishing, I had it as a goal to be traditionally published also. I’m so very excited that my flip-side goal has come true with Easy Appliqué Blocks!

Maria: What I love about your new book is it gives quilters an EZ Button for applique. So many of my friends and students are hesitant to try the “A” word (as they like to call appliqué), and you’ve given them a no-excuses guide. You offer 50 designs for people who don’t feel confident about drawing their own, each design is in 5 sizes so you don’t have to enlarge or reduce, and you even offer different methods for applique, understanding that no one method works for everyone.

Kay: I love that! An EZ button! It’s so true! Easy Appliqué Blocks has a whole library of fresh new appliqué block designs, easy to sew, in a variety of styles ranging from traditional-looking to modern, fun, and whimsical. Something for everyone.

Appliqué fans can use their own favorite method, or learn about a new one, because the book includes detailed, illustrated instructions for three kinds of appliqué. For hand stitchers, there’s freezer-paper-on-top and back-basting (aka no-template) preparation, plus information on hand-stitching smooth curves, pointy points, and sharp notches. There’s also an overview of raw-edge fusible machine appliqué.

The bonus CD makes it a breeze! It works with PC or Mac. No more more trips to the copy shop, figuring of percentages, distortion, crooked enlarging, or tracing reversed patterns. The patterns print out ‘like butter.’ Stick the CD into your computer and print out the blocks you’ve chosen in the size you want, from 6″ up to 12″. Larger sizes will automatically print in sections that will tape back together perfectly. Reversed versions are also included.

Maria: What do you find is the biggest obstacle quilters have with applique, and how have you addressed it with your book?

Kay: Yes, the infamous “A” word thing :). I think the biggest obstacle that quilters have with appliqué is when they haven’t been shown the little things that can make a big difference. They spend a lot of time on their appliqué but aren’t happy with the results. That can lead to frustration. In this new book, I share every single thing I know about appliqué, with lots of details and illustrations that will help with smooth curves, pointy points, and sharp notches.

The second biggest obstacle is thinking they need to appliqué a certain way, or that one way is better than another. If they prefer handwork, good! If they’d rather appliqué by machine, also good! It’s all good.

Maria: How is Easy Appliqué Blocks different from other applique books?

Kay: It’s like a block library or resource center for appliqué fans. The variety of designs is right there at their fingertips whenever they need one block or many. I can’t wait to see quilters unleash their creativity and go to town with the blocks! Besides the 50 blocks, the instructions for three kinds of appliqué are great… I’m especially excited about the section on back-basting, because I think that method has been flying along under the radar. And, the bonus CD is such an added value. It was my concept and I’m so happy that Martingale went with it. They did a fantastic job.

Party Refreshments

Quiltini Cocktail

  • martini glass
  • Ocean Spray cranberry cocktail juice
  • Lemon-lime soda or club soda

Mix half cranberry cocktail juice with half lemon-lime or club soda. Stir. Enjoy.

Cheese Puffs

Crispy/airy/chewy, delicious and savory bites of flavor!

  • 2 sticks butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 lb. sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cayenne pepper (if you like spicy, use 1/2 tsp.)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, not sifted
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Grate cheese. (For best results, do not use pre-grated cheese.) Cream cheese together with butter. Mix dry ingredients together and add in 3 parts to cheese mixture. Roll into little marbles and place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake about 12 minutes at 350 degrees. They should not get too brown. Cool slightly on cookie sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Brownie Pizza

  • 1 package devil’s food cake mix w/pudding
  • 5 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 12-round pizza pan with vegetable oil. Place cake mix, melted butter, milk, egg, and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Blend on low speed for 30 seconds. Stop, scrape down the sides, and beat 1-2 minutes more on medium speed. Pour brownie batter into pan. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Immediately top with chocolate chips, walnuts, and any other delicious toppings you desire.

What’s a Party without Gifts?

Kay is offering everyone at the party this gift: a downloadable Table of Contents plus the Introduction and How to Use the CD. You get the first look at Kay’s great new book! Here’s the link:


Easy Applique Blocks Table of Contents/Introduction/How to Use The CD

Win a Copy of Easy Appliqué Blocks

Kay is giving away an autographed copy of her brand new book to one lucky winner here at Quilts and Creativity. You must comment today by 6:30 p.m. EST to win, and I’ll select the winner at 7:00p.m. Leave a comment telling Kay what sounds most interesting about her book, and the name of your local quilt guild. Good luck!

Host your own Easy Appliqué Blocks party at your quilt guild or bee: members bring a completed block from the book, serve the quiltinis, cheese puffs, and brownie pizza, put all the blocks together in a top, and draw names for the winner! What a fun girls’ nite out!

Here’s where to find the book: Ask for Easy Appliqué Blocks at your favorite quilt shop. It’s also available from the Martingale website, Amazon, and Kay’s website.

Kay: Thank you so much Maria for throwing a terrific party! Readers, thanks for coming along on this first stop in the Book-A-Round. There are 9 more stops to go, so start off at All About Appliqué through April 5 and I’ll shoot you off through the blogosphere to the next location. See you there!

Maria: Thanks Kay for stopping by and joining us. Wishing you and your readers much fun and success with appliqué in Easy Appliqué Blocks: 50 Designs in 5 Sizes.

Chatting About Color at the Book Launch Party

I’ve got an entire gallery of photos from the book launch party over at the Color Mastery book blog.  Here are the personal ones:

My younger son announcing the winners of door prizes.  He was all smiles, sneaking sweet treats, picking out fat quarters, and giving me hugs throughout the evening.

My older son would quietly rub my shoulders as I was signing and talking; he was also the photographer for the evening.

My husband David talking to one of my best quilting friends, Pat.  They were both so proud and thrilled for me.

My friend and cheerleader Kay and her granddaughter.  Thank you, Kay, for the wonderful book title!  Kay attended a quilting retreat last year at my home, during which I floated several titles for the book.  Later that week Kay sweetly suggested several other titles, which were terrific, and Color Mastery was the winner!

And finally . . . me.  I’m all smiles after all the two years of loving working that went into Color Mastery.  It was a night to celebrate it all.  Thank you to everyone who came out to support me, Jeanne, and quilting.  Jeanne was thrilled with the shop’s sales that evening.  I was giddy over the book’s sales, and quilters had a blast eating, drinking, and getting tips about color.

I’d be delighted to visit your local quilt shop and do a book signing, lecture, or class.  Tell them about the book, and show them the blog.  I’ve got a page at the book blog just for quilt shops.  I look forward to seeing you at your local shop or quilt guild!

February Newsletter Hot Off the Press

February’s Quilts & Creativity newsletter went out this week, and I can’t wait for you to see it. It includes last-minute details on my book launch this Friday, an opportunity to win a color consultation with me, the scoop on fresh, innovative spring color palettes, a sneak peek at a new product I’ll be announcing at the end of this month, an opportunity for me to visit your bee group in March, and a fabulous burger recipe.

I’ve really changed the way I develop and offer lessons on this blog. I save the detailed lessons for my newsletter, as it’s easier to give a deep treatment to subjects in a format that spans several pages. I chat about personal stuff, announcements, ideas, and anything else that comes to mind on the blog. But if you want the lessons, sign up for the newsletter by clicking on the Newsletter tab at the top of the blog.

You can see back issues of the Quilts & Creativity newsletter here.

Top Ten Reasons to Independently Publish

One of the big questions any author considers is “who’s the best publisher for my book?”  After writing eight books, being published by four different publishers, and independently publishing my own books, my answer has changed over time.  I’ve been published by big houses like Tab and McGraw-Hill, I’ve had a literary agent, and I’ve published myself.  Color Mastery I published through my own “indie press,” Willow Ridge Press, and here are my top ten reasons why:

  1. Present Innovative Content. Groundbreaking ideas rarely come from big, established companies, because they’re too entrenched in their own systems.  Color Mastery takes a totally unique and innovative approach to not only color in quilting, but how it provides a road map and focuses on exercises and building great color skills.
  2. Hire the Best. I’ve published two books on my own, and managed a publishing group, and I know how essential hiring the best talent is to the outcome of any book.  Many self-publishers do everything themselves and that’s a mistake.  I hired the best quilt photographer, illustrator, book designer, technical editor, and content editor I could find.  And it shows.  Color Mastery is beautiful, a great read, has excellent photos, and easy-to-follow instructions.
  3. Know Your Audience. That’s the first rule for any writing, is to know who you’re writing for.  I know from my quilting classes that all quilters, from newbies to art quilters, have burning questions about color.  I also know they make a diverse range of quilts, from originally-designed art quilts to baby quilts to reproduction quilts, and they all need color advice.  Color Mastery includes color wisdom any quilter can use, not just quilters who want to make vibrant, in-your-face with color quilts.
  4. Become an Entrepreneur. The world of publishing is much more accessible with the internet.  I can talk to a printer in China, my photographer in California, and my Brazilian illustrator in Washington state easily.  And I can develop distributions channels far more efficient than other companies, saving you money and making the book more affordable.
  5. Develop Relationships. I meet everyone involved in the quilting industry, from quilters in my classes, to shop owners, quilting wholesalers, book authors, pattern designers, and fabric manufacturers.  Because I’m involved in every aspect of my book, from content, to print, to sales and distribution, I’ve met wonderful people I never would have as an author insulated from the industry.
  6. Get the Attention You Deserve.  My literary agent represented over 100 authors.  Big publishing companies produce hundreds of products, from books to CDs, each year, and you get a miniscule slice of their attention.  Most authors don’t realize how little time they’ll actually spend with their editors.  By publishing myself, I get face time with my team when I need it.  I don’t feel lost in a revolving door of authors and products.
  7. Build an Evergreen Title. What’s that?  An evergreen title is one that stays in print a long time, rather than being a fad than lasts only a year or two.  After writing a couple of books, I realized it took just as much effort to write a book that would last for 10 or 20 years as it did to write a book about a fad that would last only one to two years.  And when I buy books, I go for longevity as well.  Trends are fun, but the good stuff lasts and hold lessons for me for years to come.
  8. Earn More. Most authors are horribly surprised at how tiny their royalty checks are and how long it takes to actually get them.  It’s not unusual to wait 18 months to two years for your first royalty check – the author is the last to be paid in the publishing chain.  And if you get an advance, you may never earn more than that.  Most authors also don’t realize they must buy copies of their own books from the publisher, so if you want to speak and sell your books, you must buy them first.  As an independent publisher, I keep far more of my books’ earnings, and I get them sooner.  However, as the publisher I also put up the capital to hire the team and print the book.  Ultimately, I made an investment in myself.
  9. Turn Your Book into Opportunities. A book is just the beginning of my career, and it serves as the ultimate business card.  From one book I’ll develop additional products, book speaking engagements, be offered opportunities to design quilts, fabric, and who knows what else?  Because I have closer relationships with players in the industry, I’m one of the first they think of when it comes to partnerships.
  10. Own the Copyright. Never, ever write a book and let the publisher own the copyright.  I’m devastated when I see women work tirelessly to develop a book and the quilt projects in it, only to practically give it away to a publisher who then owns the copyright.  Basically, you’ve just done a “work for hire” and you have no rights whatsoever to that work ever again.  I value my work and talent far more than that, and so should you.  Don’t give your work away.

I know I had loads of questions as a newbie author, and it’s tough to know who to trust.  Join me over at LibraryThing’s author chat and I’ll be happy to answer any question you have about quilting, writing, or the publishing process.  See you there!

Everything You Wanted to Know About Color . . . .

Ok, well maybe not everything.  After all, it’s only an hour.  But what an hour it will be.  I’ll be chatting with Morna McEver Golletz in the Professional Quilter Cafe, and of course the topic will be my favorite:  color in quilts.  What an artist date!

What I’m most excited about is having a one-on-one where we can really dig deep into the subject.  Color is so intimidating for most quilters that this is a jewel of an opportunity to really “get” color in a way they never have before.

And since this is a Professional Quilter teleclass, we’ll be talking about color not just for quilters, but also for instructors who teach color classes, pattern designers and how they can use color more effectively in their samples, and for shop owners and how they can really help their customers in choosing colors for their quilts.

Hope you can join us.  It’s only $9.95 and that’s for both the teleclass and downloadable MP3.  You can’t even buy a dinner out for that.  So stay home on Thursday, Jan. 15 and join us at 8p.m. Eastern.  Here’s the link.  See you there!

Holiday Goodies in My November Newsletter

The November issue is out, and I included some incredible articles:

  • how to keep a color journal
  • how to orchestrate the colors in a “blended-type” quilt
  • a fabulous source for free machine quilting patterns
  • my favorite cranberry sauce recipe
  • details on my Twelve Days of Christmas giveaway

You are on the email list, right?  Well, if not, you can sign up here.  Really.  Great stuff this month.  Hope you don’t miss it.

Quilt Project Runway: Color Trends

Color trends are a dichotomous lot.  They seem to diverge in different directions, with no rhyme or reason as to why they came about.  2009 will be no different, but here are the color predictions from Michael Miller Fabrics:
  • black & yellow color scheme (look for these in Vera Bradley handbags)
  • grey
  • orchid (a dull, medium, red-violet for all you Color Masters)
  • jeweltones in red, blue, and green

Why these colors?  They trickle down from Paris runways, and seep into fashion, magazines, and the ultimate arbiter of all things designer:  Target.  Really.  When you see Rubbermaid, Daytimers, and hangers at Target in trendy colors, you know those are what’s hot.

Here are some quilts from Michael Miller’s newest fabric lines:

Multimedia message, originally uploaded by Colorful Quilter.

Multimedia message, originally uploaded by Colorful Quilter.

Multimedia message, originally uploaded by Colorful Quilter.

Multimedia message, originally uploaded by Colorful Quilter.

Multimedia message, originally uploaded by Colorful Quilter.

Quilt Project Runway: Katie Pasquini Masopust

Katie Pasquini Masopust has a new book on creative quilt design called Design Explorations for the Creative Quilter: Easy-to-Follow Lessons for Dynamic Art Quilts. All about taking inspiration from photos and artwork and using them as a source for your quilts. Katie professes not be good at drawing realistically, so she takes her photographs and sketches and turns them into abstract art.  How’s that for turning a challenge into an opportunity?

Also learned that Katie machine quilts her quilts in sections, Marti Michell-style: Machine Quilting in Sections. Her art quilts aren’t that large by most quilting standards, but she says it makes quilting much easier.

I have Katie’s previous book, Color and Composition for the Creative Quilter: Improve Any Quilt with Easy-to-Follow Lessons and enjoyed the quilts and the lessons in the book.  Even though I didn’t want to make her quilts, I did learn from the exercises.  That’s what I believe the best quilting books do:  teach you how to improve the quilts you want to make, not how to make someone else’s quilt.   While the Fall Quilt Market 2008 Schoolhouse session I attended was short, Katie showed impressive innovation, humor and accessibility.  She doesn’t get so serious about her art quilts that she forgets to have fun with them and her students.

Lights – Camera – Showtime!

Multimedia message, originally uploaded by Colorful Quilter.

Ready?  Set?  Go!

Multimedia message, originally uploaded by Colorful Quilter.

Ever wonder what happens before all the glitz and glamour of Quilt Market?  Here are two wonderful and generous ladies,  Eileen Sullivan of The Designer’s Workshop, and Jennifer Armor of Jennifer Armor Garments, setting up their booth.

And here we are later when everything’s looking beautiful, well-lit, and gorgeous at a book signing for Color Mastery.  Oops – our photographer was so excited she couldn’t stand still when shooting!

Multimedia message, originally uploaded by Colorful Quilter.

Up next:  photos of new quilts from the best and latest designers!

Behind the Scenes at Fall Quilt Market 2008

Multimedia message, originally uploaded by Colorful Quilter.

I’m in Houston, TX this week and I’ll be giving you a behind-the-scenes look at the giant trade show to the quilting trade: Fall Quilt Market.  From this show come the new fabrics, books, patterns, and designers you’ll be seeing in your quilt shop in 2009.  And you’ll hear about them here first!

All the commotion starts tomorrow, so today I hit three art museums in Houston’s Museum District:  the Lawndale, the Center for Contemporary Craft, and the phenomenal Museum of Fine Art.  It was there that I actually gasped when I turned corner after corner to see artists whose works I had seen scattered throughout different museums and exhibitions, but never together in one place:  Monet, Matisse, Renoir, Van Gogh, Botecelli, Munch, Jacob Lawrence, Romare Bearden, Carrie Mae Weems, Mary Cassett, Georgia O’Keefe, William de Kooning,  and the list goes on.  It was terrific and a great way to start this trip:  inspired by the best.

In the photo above I’m in the neon underground tunnel connecting the two buildings that make up the MFA. Truly, if you are ever in Houston, this is a must see!

Don’t Miss My Guest Post Over at All About Applique!

Kay Mackenzie, author of the upcoming book Easy Appliqué Blocks: 50 Designs in 5 Sizes (Martingale) invited me to be a guest over at her fantastic All About Applique blog.  I reveal my top three tips for getting great color in applique quilts, as well as some storyline about me.   You can read my post here.

A Quilt with a View

All quilted and ready for facing. Sometimes I love the backs of my quilts even more than the front, because I can see the quilting so much better. I don’t want the quilting to overwhelm the design and colors on the front, but I sure do love the machine quilting detail you can see in the back.

Hmm, sounds like series potential there, doesn’t it?

Chatting about Color with Fabric Designer Elizabeth House

Today we have a special guest here at Quilts & Creativity:  Elizabeth House, student and designer of the newly-released LizzyDish from Andover fabrics.  I’ve always wondered how a fabric starts from an idea to actually making it onto the printing press, and Elizabeth shares her thoughts on design, color, and how she envisions using LizzyDish in projects.  Enjoy!

Q:  Please tell us a little about you:  how did you get started in quilting and fabric design?

A: My name is Elizabeth House, and I am from Humble, Texas. I’m graduating in December with a BFA in Printmaking. I am also a book artist, and textile designer. I have a real love for Vince Guaraldi, beautiful design, cleverness, and sleeping.

I got my start in the quilting world from my mother (editor’s note:  Cherri House of Cherry House Quilts). She has quilted for as long as I can remember, and for as long as I can remember I wanted to design the fabric she was using. I was very young when I decided that I wanted to design fabric, but it wasn’t until recently that I actually started quilting myself. I think almost a year to date! But I got my actual start in fabric design last year (2007) at Fall Market. You can read all about it here!

Q:  What was your inspiration for LizzyDish?

A: I have such a fascination with images from the 1950’s and 60’s. I feel like if there was a time in this past century that I could have been alive, like 20-30’s it would be those decades. A kid in the late 30’s and working in the 50’s.  Ok. I will put it like this: I would either like to have been a Vaudevillian, Fanny Bryce, OR, a 1950’s concept artist, Mary Blair. So, just add those things plus a love for entertaining, baking, cooking, all together party throwing and you have LizzyDish.

I wanted it to feel like you found it. You were handed down something or you went thrifting or garage sailing and there was a dish towel, a box of old recipe cards, a cook book, or a set of mixing bowls that reminded you of what was, how your mom, or your grandmother cared for things. I saw those things in my grandmother’s house. An exquisite attention to detail that we, for the most part, pay very little to no attention to. The mothers of the fifties were renaissance women. They wore aprons, everything matched, meals were timed. There is definitely a resurgence of this, the timing, the aprons, the details, but it was more of a calling then and I wanted LizzyDish to feel a part of that era. I want to be a modern renaissance woman of that same caliber.

Q:  You’ve written in your blog that you keep about 3-5 journals going at the same time.  Is one for color?  How do your journals influence/inspire your work?

A: It’s gotten a little out of control, the notebook thing. I keep one for a specific project that I am working on, which has grown into large sheets of folded paper that I keep meaning to bind, but have really been liking the ability to just lay them all out and look at them together… one is for notes… but I seem to be getting lazy, because they are all starting to blend together which requires me to carry all of them at all times. They greatly influence my work, I would never throw away any of my journals or sketch books. They are like lessons and I am grateful to be able to turn to them to gain inspiration, as well as avoid previous pitfalls.

Q:  You were inspired by Fiestaware, retro kitchen appliances,  and the state of Hawaii for your colors.  Can you elaborate on how you selected those colors?  Do you choose colors intuitively or use color theory to guide you?  How does your color chart guide you?

A:  I feel like the more familiar you are with color the more intuitively it comes. I don’t go about things looking for a triadic color scheme or to be monochromatic. It usually occurs to me later that I have created split compliments or analogous color ways with no actual intention. I would say color is probably one of the most important things to understand. For this group, because the inspiration for the images was so strong I wanted to play with colors of the same era.

For the color way Kitchennaire I wanted it to be kind of girly. I took inspiration from popular Fiesta Ware of the 50’s as well as the idea of a Barbie Homemaker. I like the image of that. Appliance is the retro appliance, the avocado green, and the ochre yellow, as well as a touch of the Rock and Roll-Space Age. Sunny Side Up! is based on the new state-hood of Hawaii as well as the Beach Party Movie craze. Elvis Presley, Gidget, Franky and Annette. There is a definite reason to each color. It took a while to get correct, but it was worth it. I feel it is a very sincere fabric collection

The color chart is a guide, after I choose colors in the beginning I place them all in the chart, and I take away and add from there. It’s just a key to the whole thing, like a color map.

Q:  Have you made any projects yet with the LizzyDish fabric?  How do you envision it being used?  What fabrics would you recommend to use with it?

A:  I have designed several projects, but I currently don’t have the fabric in my hot little hands. As soon as I do, all my sketches will come to fruition. As far as how I see it being used, I see it as much more than novelty prints. It would work in anything from quilts, to aprons, all the way to children’s wear. There are no limits to what LizzyDish can, and should be used for. I would use it with solids. But I am very excited to see what people create. If I had a house, I would upholster a breakfast area in it. I’ll be saving some yards for when that day comes.

Thanks Elizabeth for stopping by today and chatting with me about designing fabric.  It’s great insight to peak into the mind of a designer and see how a fabric goes from idea to the quilt shop!

Get Some Perspective in Your Quilting

Multimedia message, originally uploaded by Colorful Quilter.
In class this week, Patsy wasn’t sure if she had enough contrast between her bird and the background elements.  So I shared one of my favorite and easy tips:  take a photo of your work and look at it with your digital camera.  You get distance from your work, and you can differentiate colors much more easily.  So, if you don’t have enough contrast, or one fabric refuses to play well with others, the camera tells you so.
You can also look at your quilt in the mirror and it gives you the same perspective.  Try it, and see how it works for you.

The Aha Moment for Fiber Artists

Multimedia message, originally uploaded by Colorful Quilter.

My favorite insights as an instructor are when I see the actual moments my students really get it:  that singular moment when they realize they’ll never see color, fiber art, or quilting quite the same way.

We had lots of those moments in my Color for Fiber Artists workshop at the Sharptop Arts Center in Jasper.  This was a two-day class, and the first day is learning the vocabulary of color.  It can be a bit befuddling, as there are lots of terms to understand.  But the second day is when the light bulbs go off and I hear things like:

“I realized I was making the same quilts over and over again, using the same colors.”

“I’m so glad I took this class.  I never would have imagined putting those colors together.”

Multimedia message, originally uploaded by Colorful Quilter.

We created one of these fiber art pieces for each color harmony, starting with the same main color.  When you finish, you have a sampling of what’s possible around the color wheel using the same color as the starting point.  It was an exercise that really opened the eyes of the fantastic ladies taking the class.

Multimedia message, originally uploaded by Colorful Quilter.

Multimedia message, originally uploaded by Colorful Quilter.

These are my birds, and I started with the same red-violet fabric each time.  Because it’s a tertiary color, it’s difficult for most people to identify, and it’s complement is yellow-green, also a challenging color because it’s so bright.  I pulled off the contrast well, but they are all too cool.  Too much green, and not enough reds and oranges for me.  The challenge is to use fabrics in your stash, and I brought my scraps with me and let students use those as well as their own.  I will probably tweak these later.

I took these photos on my camera phone and uploaded them via Flickr, all from my cell phone.  Technology makes my life and my work so much more fun!

New Monthly Email Newsletter

You can now sign up for my brand new monthly email newsletter and have it delivered directly to your Inbox.  Each month I’ll be covering quilting techniques, news, and opening up the world of creativity and color to my subscribers.  Note this is different than subscribing to this blog:  the blog I update several times a week with news about my life and quilting; the email newsetter will be more how-to type information, including:

  • a breakdown of a popular trend in quilting and how you can achieve those same color results (next month:  Blended Quilts and How You Can Get That Look!)
  • latest quilting news
  • recipes
  • upcoming classes and shows

Click on the Email Newsletter tab in my blog header to sign up.  Let’s make a date to meet in your Inbox!

A Rich Sketching Resource

Thumbnail Sketch by Maria Peagler
Thumbnail Sketch by Maria Peagler

If I’ve peaked your interest in sketching, check out Katherine Tyrrell’s blog Making a Mark. Katherine is a pastel and colored pencil artist who has developed a wealth of lessons on sketching and keeping a sketchbook. She doesn’t include quilters or fiber artists in her blog, only drawings and paintings, but don’t let that stop you. Her lessons apply well to our medium, and I know I could happily get lost in everything her site offers.

Pastels and Pencils – How to Sketch – advice and information by Katherine Tyrrell ASGFA

Capturing the Moments

A family day at a Braves game

A family day at a Braves game

At some point in my sketchbooks, I stopped using them as a place for only my ideas and inspiration, but also as a place to capture the daily moments of my life by drawing them. My husband had given me the book How to Make a Journal of Your Life , and it really enhanced my journaling style. Dan Price has been detailing the minutiae of his life for decades, drawing things as simple as the interior of the car as he rides with friends. His drawing style is simplistic and far from perfect, but that’s what makes it beautiful. He’s not attempting to create a masterpiece; rather, he’s making art of his everyday life in his own hand, his own style.

I still drew only sporadically until last year, when again my sweet husband gave me another book for Christmas: Danny Gregory’s Creative License, The: Giving Yourself Permission to Be The Artist You Truly Are. Danny begins drawing his days after his wife is hit by a subway train and becomes a paraplegic. Like Dan, he draws the little details that make up our lives: what he has for dinner, his dog, the interior of his medicine cabinet. And he is insistent that you make drawing a daily habit: do bad drawings, sketch things wrongly, but just do it and learn as you go.

I don’t sketch daily, but weekly, yes. Sometimes more than once a week. I draw more often when I’m on vacation, as I have more time and I want to remember the places I’ve been and what we were doing.

Eating out in St. Simon's Island

Eating out in St. Simon's Island

This journal I made by hand, after reading on WhipUp about a great book called How to Make Books (see the link in my sidebar). I made this little journal from old blue jeans, drawing paper and watercolor papers. It is always with me in my purse, and holds my sketches, summaries of books I’ve read, and even my grocery list. It’s a little journal of my life.

And now I draw things I would never have imagined as important or even beautiful.

Items on a side table next to a plan for a medallion quilt

Items on a side table next to a plan for a medallion quilt

But they are beautiful, because they are my life.

Imagineering in My Journals

Mind mapping my future

Mind mapping my future

I’ve always thought Disney had it right in calling their employees Imagineers. What a cool job title – getting paid to bring imagination to life. I do my own imagineering in my journals, using two techniques I talked about in my podcast: mind-mapping and 100 Questions.

Mindmeister is a great online resource for mind-mapping, but I must confess I enjoy the old colored pencil and paper method best. A wonderful book on both techniques is How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day .

This book really transformed how I approached ideas, and I must say I now delightfully imagineer far more ideas than I’ll ever be able to do. But a girl can dream, can’t she?

My Journals’ Evolution

As I continued to keep journals, I started adding my own ideas, designs, and dreams to them. I would still sometimes cut and paste from magazines and newspapers, referring to color schemes or styles of art I liked.

Here I liked the African women repeated across the page. Simple design, yet effective.

Images as Inspiration

Images as inspiration

I also like to cut swatches and selvedges from fabrics I buy when I travel:

Who Needs Travel Photos?

Who needs travel photos?

My Journals’ Humble Beginnings

Abstract drawing from my journal

Abstract drawing from my journal

Keeping a journal has transformed my art. It’s hard to believe initially I resisted keeping a journal of any kind, as writing is my profession and I didn’t want to do more of it at home. Surely I keep visual journals and sketchbooks as well, but I started by keeping a simple journal of things I was grateful for every day.

I tried to list 100 things to be grateful for in my life - went well over!

I tried to list 100 things to be grateful for in my life - went well over!

I got this idea from Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach, and also the idea of a Discovery Journal. From these humble beginnings came my sketchbooks and quilting journals I’ll be sharing with you later.