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Poppies!

I’ve always loved working with textiles. I’m a painter by trade and worked as a scenic artist in the theatre for many years. But, when I got back to working with fabric, I found my love. Part of what I love is that the way I create detail with the prints and colors that someone else designed keeps me loose and free in a way that holding a paintbrush and zoning in on small details inhibits. Not that you can’t be loose and free with painting, and in fact, painting scenery requires it. But fabric—it’s a whole new world.  I love that I layer tons of different prints to create a field or a sky or in this case, that line where they both mesh together. Where a close up view of tall grass breaks the straight horizon line you might see from a distance and the blues and greens blend together. I love all the fun prints that make that happen. So, when it came to these poppies, I decided they needed to be more solid in color.  A bold pop of brilliant red with no print to help make them blend. I wanted them to stand out. To stand strong against the meshing of the field and sky. Blocky stems and large, rounded, more abstract flower shapes make them the focal point of this piece. I used orange thread on the poppies to add a touch of highlight to the two red fabrics. The background was stitched in lighter weight blues and greens to add a hint of the sky and grass textures. Heavier weight dark blue and dark green threads finished it off, sketching in stem outlines and a horizontal bold skyline to offset the horizontal stitching of the grass and stems. A little abstract but fully recognizable.

 

  

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The Bear/Sloth/Octopus/Shapeshifter

Okay, it really is a bear, people. But, apparently it’s many things to many people because those are all the animals people in the studio thought this piece portrayed. I was only slightly offended at the octopus, though the person saw it upside down as I was trying to show it to them and I guess the fur looked like tentacles.  The sloth–somewhat understandable I suppose.  I was intrigued by the idea of a shapeshifter and that may be a subject for a future piece! That said, this piece has garnered tons and tons of attention. Perhaps it’s because it’s different than a lot of the pieces I make in that it’s more realistic in it’s woodland color palette and style, or maybe it’s the more details stitching in the face or maybe it just stands out in the studio against all the ocean colors.  Whatever it might be, I always love when a piece gets lots of attention.  And I do love this bear. I never could decide if he was a brown bear or a full on grizzly…I’ll leave that up to the new owner.  I used six colors of thread to create his powerful face and am very happy with how it all came together. I used a cream color thread to stitch all the fur and the hint of redwoods behind him, and then focused the attention on his face to bring out his bold, strong shapeshifter-at-heart personality. He needs a name.  Maybe I’ll ask his new owner what that will be.

The first seven images are the different layers of thread as I worked up to the finished face.  The others are finished details.  Enjoy!

Lots of stitching on the ear to create depth. And I love the hint of the trees in the background.
Love his serious face! It’s completely freehanded, so it’s always a surprise to me how their personalities develop.

 

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The Bus at the Beach.

I started with a strip quilt for the sky, ocean, sunset reflection, sand and parking lot.

Very few things scream Southern California beach culture like an old VW bus.  Especially with a surfboard strapped to the top. I know they came from Germany and originated with no thought of the hippie life, but here, they are nostalgic and look their best with a peace sign wheel cover on the front up against an ocean backdrop. We used to have a white one and though we got tired of repairing it on a regular basis, I do miss roadtripping in it.  This quilt was inspired by all the times I’ve seen one, often with the baby blue accents, parked at a beach while a surfer gets ready to head out to catch some waves.  I designed it so you would only see half of the classic front end, with it’s signature circle headlights, the old 1960’s split window and of course, a surfboard leaning up against it.  You can see the parking lot and posts and in the background, the beautiful California sunset coming to an end.  This surfer is heading out for a famous sunset surfing session to relax after a day of work.

I have an awesome homemade frame I use to stretch my quilts out so I can create the appliqué design while being able to step back and look at it vertically. Next, I added the sun and the bus.

The background is a strip quilt and I gradated the colors to capture the darkening sky at dusk and the sunset reflecting off the water. I pieced together the strips and the parking lot colors.  The sun, posts and bus are all appliqué. I love the contrasting colors, the larger, rounder shapes of the sun and the bus against the angular lines of the sunset. My backgrounds are often a little impressionistic while the appliqué details clarify what you need to know about the scene. This quilt didn’t last long, and I truly think it is because it’s such a classic, nostalgic image.  If you’ve been here in San Diego for any length of time, you’ve seen this play out in person. It still makes me smile.

Next, I added the fun details on the VW bus. The bumper, headlight, peace sign, and the surf board.
The back is a fun stylized sun batik. always love to see the stitching on the backs of my quilts.
A little close-up so you can see the stitching from the back a little better.
My quilts have a thin layer of all cotton batting so they are nice and warm, but light enough to fold up and carry with you.

 

 

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