Category Archives: Journals

Arbor Lane Initial Sketch

Arbor Lane’s humble beginning started with this lovely rough sketch.  Every one of my quilt designs starts with my own hand, pencil, and paper.  I spend so much of my day at the computer, I welcome the back-to-basics of sketching and playing in my journal.  And that’s exactly what I was doing here:  dreaming of a medallion design I would love to make.

I wanted it to be a quilt that a beginner could make, especially since the blocks are pre-cut.  While the piecing and applique would be simple, I wanted a sophisticated look to the quilt.  No sampler look here:  I wanted a beautiful harmony in the design.

Ten designs were ultimately offered to JoAnn’s, and they selected mine.  The process was much like Project Runway, but we were each in our own studio, sketching, measuring, coloring, and giving it our all.  Our own version of Tim Gunn would guide us in the right direction:  center design too similar to what had been done before, tweaking color schemes, sending block designs every week to my tester Scarlette for her wonderful work.  Every moment of dreaming, design, and making Arbor Lane was a joy.  I learned much and grew as a designer and an entrepreneur

See that vase and those birds?  While JoAnn’s didn’t use them, I did later in my table runner series.  The vase shows up in Petite Pineapples and a simple version of the birds is in Winter Bird and Petite Pineapples.  You never know where a creative journey will take you.

Remember, you have until the end of the week to guess how long it took me to make Arbor Lane:  cutting, piecing, and applique.  Some lovely fall fabric could be coming your way!

Confused about Color?

I put together a list of the many resources I’ve created over the Color Mastery journey and put them into one place for you.  Wow.  No excuses not to have outstanding color in your quilts any more!

Color Tips for Quilters by Maria Peagler

Colorful Quilt Inspiration

One of the questions I’m most often asked is “Where do you get your inspiration?”

My short answer?  “Everywhere.”

That’s usually not the answer people are looking for.  They want specifics, like publication name, date, and page number, so they can see it too.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.

I don’t rely on any one source for inspiration, as I don’t want to be too heavily influenced by any one artist, quiltmaker, or writer.  I want my work to be uniquely my own, taking inspiration from the corner bakery, blooming Tulip Magnolia, sunset over the Appalachians, and smiles on my beautiful children’s faces, as only I see them.  My quilts are an expression of the beauty I see in everyday life.

I do capture much of that beauty in my journals, so I can refer back to it later.  That’s where photographs, magazine images, fabric swatch exercises, and sketches come to live and gather and multiply into stunning quilts.

I’m truly amazed every time I sit down to design a quilt.  I never run out of ideas, color palettes, or possibilities.  I’ve heard other writers complain of writer’s block, but that was never a luxury I allowed myself.  I continued writing, pushing through the fear of “this sounds awful” to some really great stuff.  That doesn’t happen when I design a quilt.  It’s all joy.  Playing with color, shape, and fabric is as good as it gets.

Quilting Unit Study for Homeschoolers in E-book Form

Quilting Unit Study by Maria Peagler

I’m proud to announce my Quilting Unit Study for Homeschool Families is now available as an e-book on Smashwords.  No matter what e-reader you use, the file format you need is there.  Kindle, Stanza, Palm, PC, Mac, Sony, or even for online reading.  They’ve got it all.

The cutie on the cover?  My little guy, about three years ago.  We had just finished a week of giggles, excitement, and a lot of pink fabric during the first offering of Quilt Camp I held at my home for a few girls whose parents won the event at a silent auction.  He was totally outnumbered by the girls, but didn’t mind.  In the photo he’s adding a bit of tying on his quilt.  He’s graduated since to one with American flags and Harley-Davidson motorcycles and sleeps with it every night.  Still a quilter, though.

The quilt pictured on the cover is the Doll Quilt from Color Mastery, a great project for children, or the Brownie Troop/Homeschool Mother/Craft Queen looking for a quilting project to do with their children.  Hmm, wonder how I would know that?

Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks: Old Glory is Mine!

old-glory-by-maria-peagler

When Carolyn Beam from Quiltmaker asked me to participate in their 100 Blocks issue I was thrilled to contribute, as Quiltmaker is the magazine I recommend most to my students.  It’s a great learning tool, and their 100 Blocks collector’s issue does not disappoint.  It’s packed with appliqued, pieced, and mixed-technique blocks, so no matter what your taste, you’ll find something that you love and can’t wait to make.

qm100blockscover200px

Here’s a sneak peak at the behind-the-scenes detail of my block:

Inspiration: I used my color journal as I discuss in Color Mastery:  10 Principles for Creating Stunning Quilts.  You would think I already know what’s in my own journals as often as I write about them.  I was wowed by how many patriotic quilts and memorabilia I had pasted in those pages.  I have three patriotic quilts in my den (above the mantel, over the sofa, and on the foyer wall), but I knew a patriotic block would be a classic that quilters would love to make and use often.  I do wish I could have included photos of my journals here, but they are at Quilter’s Newsletter being photographed for an upcoming excerpt of my book.

Design: I adore simple, elegant blocks, and do not enjoy making quilt blocks with a lot of tiny little pieces.  It’s actually far more difficult to design a simple block that looks sophisticated than it is to make one with 70 pieces.  This one came together after I remembered my mission:  Connecting, Playing, and Longevity.  Old Glory connects me with so many other women of generations past who honored their country by making patriotic quilts.  Playing?  I had fun playing with the pinwheel design in the star area of the block.  I played with several options and decided on this version after I loved the movement it created.  And what block design could have more longevity than a patriotic block?  It’s one that will be made again and again.

Colors:
Red, white and blue of course, but which ones?  The flag block needs high contrast for each part of the design to show well.  I mapped the hue, value, and intensity of each color, so I’d know exactly which ones would work together to create harmony.  Blue is the easiest, as navy is the classic dark, dull blue used in most flags and quilt blocks.  So what about the red and white?  I went to my stash and found two red fabrics:  both pure red (no orange or raspberry hues) and they were a dull intensity and medium value.  The white fabrics were both bright white and would be more intense than cream or off white, but were needed to balance the navy and red.  I adore how they all coordinate to give a crisp look.

Construction: Here’s a secret:  all 1/4″ seams are not created equal.  For this block, and others I’m making for a quilt I designed for a fabric manufacturer’s block of the month, I find a true 1/4″ seam works well for strip piecing.  However, when you piece triangles, a scant 1/4″ is far more accurate, as a true 1/4″ makes the block too small.  Try it on the Old Glory block and it you’ll find this method works beautifully and gives super-accurate results.

I envision Old Glory set in a quilt with alternating plain blocks and lots of gorgeous feather quilting.  Wouldn’t it look great for July 4th?

Follow the 100 Blocks Blog Tour daily Nov. 9-13 at  for inspiration, ideas and giveaways! The collector’s issue is in your local quilt shop, or purchase it at the Quiltmaker website.

Here’s your own chance to win the issue and make your own quilt using Old Glory!  Leave a comment telling me how you would use Old Glory in your quilt or project, and I’ll choose a winner Thursday.  Watch here for your name to be announced!

Self-Portrait

I took this photo of me around Mother’s Day.  I’m in my bedroom, painted a creamy yellow color, which I love but so many find it difficult to get right.  Behind me is a quilt made for me by my bee group:  we each asked for specific blocks that we would put into a quilt, and I wanted house blocks.  The whole notion of home and nesting I love, and this quilt hangs in my room to remind me of home, family and friends.  Many made the traditional Schoolhouse block, but Ginger made a Mayan ruin reminiscent of her trips to Mexico, Cheryl made a birdhouse, and my funky home sits in the center.

My boys’ artwork and photos are tucked into every nook of my dresser, which we’ve had since our first apartment.  It was our first big purchase, and was oversized for a tiny apartment, but has proven durable and fit into our homes since.  The artwork is my favorite way to greet the day, and includes a bookmark from kindergarten, a Mother’s day bonnet made from a paper plate, a sonogram photo of a baby that didn’t make it to us, birth announcements, and even my own class photo from first grade.  I take a copy of this and show it to the students I speak to at schools.  Giggles abound as they try to pick me out of the class photos, and it helps to show them that even adults were kids once!

I could have all these precious items in an album, but I prefer to have them out where I can see them everyday, touch them, and remind me of what a delightful and abundant life I have.

Magical Moments

Sketching mesmerizes people.  When people learn I’m a quilter, they often offer comments such as, “Oh, my grandmother did that,” or “I’ve always wanted to learn how to do that.”

But tell them I sketch, or even better if they see me sketching, and they are truly facsinated.  They stop what they are doing to watch me or even come over to watch my penstrokes on the page.  Sketching really does attract a crowd.

My friend Karin took these photos at Symphony on the Green, including these of my family:

An orchestra, art, family, and a beautiful day.  A perfect summer recipe.

And a by-the-way note:  Annette, one of my students at the Stitching Barn Color Mastery class, tried my recipe for the Five Bean Pot from my May/June email newsletter.  She noticed, however, it called for only four cans of beans.  The can of baked beans is the large, double can, and I count that as the fifth can of beans.  Since I have kids at home, I try to make my recipes as kid-friendly as possible, so that’s why only four types of beans in the Five Bean Pot recipe.

Annette loved the recipe and you will too!  You can see my newsletters over here.  And sign up for them here.

Nesting

I feel like Dorothy after she dreams of faraway places and travels to Oz, only to find out there really is “no place like home.”  I adored every moment of my book tour, all the women (and men) I got to know personally, their stories and quilts, and spring Quilt Market was a fantastic experience.

And now . . . home.  I’ve been hiking among the mountain laurel and ferns.  Sketching every day.  My goal is to sketch each day in June.  To walk in my community and find the everyday gems I’m usually too busy to stop and appreciate.

I’m cooking – a lot.  Nothing like food on the road to make me crave my own healthy cooking.  Today my younger son and I made mini-pizzas for lunch, including our own pizza dough from scratch.  “It’s as fun to make as it is to eat!”  Yep, he really did say that.

And quilting.  Even some hand work at night.  Nothing I can share now, but I promise you’ll see it soon.

The pool every day.  I’m getting golden brown even though I use an SPF 50 sunscreen.  Today we were forced to take a break because it was raining – a downpour really.  So, we sat on the screened porch and napped instead.

This weekend I’ll be at Lake Oconee in Eatonton at the Stitching Barn teaching my Color Mastery workshop.  Join me and shop owner Becky Pittman for a fun-filled Saturday.  Call 706.485.0028 to sign up or just say hi to Becky.  Her shop is brand new this is grand opening week, so stop by, fondle fabric, and enjoy a bit of retail therapy.  I will.

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.

From Sketchbook to Art Quilt

(You’re gonna want to scroll down for this one.) So what does all this stuff about sketching have to do with quilting? It prepares you for the single moment that inspiration strikes. I want to make a quilt of a house, a bird, a cup of coffee. I want to make a bow-tie quilt, log cabin. I can’t wait to use that new fabric. Now you have a rich repository from which to draw images from. You’ve “filled the well” as Julia Cameron would say in her seminal work, The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity [10th Anniversary Edition] .

Here’s one path from sketch to original art quilt. I started with several thumbnail sketches, not really sure how I wanted to capture this gorgeous valley.

First Thumbnail

First Thumbnail

Second Thumbnail

Second Thumbnail

Third Thumbnail

Third Thumbnail

Fourth Thumbnail

Fourth Thumbnail

I went with thumbnail #3, as I loved the vertical composition and the feeling I was at the top of the peak looking down. I captured the image on muslin using watercolor crayons, and here it is being auditioned for a border to serve as a frame:

Final Piece:  Which Border?

Final Piece: Which Border?

And here it is on my design wall ready to be quilted:

Art Quilt on Design Wall

Art Quilt on Design Wall

All the preparation in my sketchbooks readied me for this quilt. Funny, it didn’t feel like preparation. It felt more like time was flying by, being the in flow, capturing the images and moments that held meaning for me. Truly, the best part of being an artist. Dreaming, sketching, and quilting.

I love my job, don’t you?

Note of interest: The tiny building in the background (best seen in Thumbnail #1) burned to the ground months after I did this sketch. It was a local restaurant that held many memories for me and neighbors in my community. Now it has been immortalized in a work of art. See what I mean by capturing meaning? I had no idea of the unfortunate event that would come, nor do you ever know all the layers a work of art potentially holds. Until you actually create it.

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.

Keeping a Journal Podcast

It’s here! My podcast is here! I’m excited to share with you the first Quilts and Creativity Podcast: Episode 1: Keeping a Journal. I’m new to podcasting, so it’s just me, no background music or other fancy additions. Just great content. The Keeping a Journal podcast talks about how to keep a journal, different types, and the progression I’ve seen in my art since dedicating myself to journal keeping. I’ll be posting photos and links that I discuss in the podcast, so tune it and enjoy!

Color Studies in My Journal

Color Studies in My Journal




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