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!
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.
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.
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.
Interested in starting your own color journal from Color Mastery? Email me photos of your journal with the book and I’ll post them to the Color Mastery book blog! Send them to info [at] colormastery [dot] com.
(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.
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:
And here it is on my design wall ready to be quilted:
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.
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.
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.
I also like to cut swatches and selvedges from fabrics I buy when I travel:
I promised in my podcast I would post an early sketch I did before I was keeping any kind of a journal. I did this sketch over nine years ago, and it’s imperfect, but I love it. It’s from a childhood photo of me wearing my dad’s sport coat and hat (when men still wore that stuff). The drawing represents a new beginning in my art – getting back to drawing. I did this sketch in a spiral notebook and I’m so glad I did, or else I’m sure I wouldn’t have kept up with it.
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 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.