The Blue Door, AP # 66


Being Stretched

Since May 2016 I have had the amazing opportunity to attend classes at the Woodland Ridge Retreat. While there I have studied under Rayna Gillman, Lisa Binkley, and Pam Beal. Pam taught the class Minimalist Design, Maximum Impact.

Opening oneself up to new ideas can be scary and exciting at the same time.

Pam’s class stretched me in ways that made me feel uncomfortable. She nudged me to think outside the box, use unconventional materials and incorporate blank or negative space.

The small expressions of art that developed from those trying moments will be the focus of my attention over the next several postings.

First Up

The first to take shape was Blue Door.

Blue Door, AP # 66
Blue Door, AP # 66

Near the center is a stitched together grouping of blue and teal strips. The denim colored pieces were the inspiration for my small quilt’s name. They are the doorway to my new adventure.

By attending this class I was in essence opening a new door.

A door that led me into a hallway filled with apprehension, inspiration and intrigue.

How fitting to name the first minimalist art quilt to evolve from Pam’s class

Blue Door.

A Closer Look

Let’s take an even closer look.

Immediately surrounding the door are two thin strips of a soft gray fabric. Those slivers of light surrounding the door represent the opportunities just waiting to burst through and enlighten my exploration.

Apprehension

Next to the rays of light are black fabric. The black symbolizes the apprehension I often feel before I open new doors. As my heart beats faster and my muscles begin to tighten I feel as if I’m surrounded by darkness…unable to focus.

The Handle

In the lower right corner is a small green rectangle. This added pop of color is the handle to my door.

Stitched on top of the green fabric is an iridescent bead. The bead, with its shiny facade, beckons me to open the door.

Aha Moments

I reach for the door and turn the knob. As the door creaks open the fog or darkness begins to fade and is replaced by an even brighter light. The bright light that expands my way of thinking is represented by the two larger strips of the same soft gray fabric.

Filtering through the bright light are the “aha” moments when the uncertainty begins to unravel. Understanding new concepts is not something that happens all at once. The learning comes slowly. Those glimmers or breakthroughs are identified by the blue and teal print fabrics.

Hand Quilting

Throughout the entire miniature art quilt you will see rows of carefully placed hand stitching. The thread colors selected were meant to quietly compliment the fabrics without drawing unnecessary attention.

Finishing Touches

Blue Door, AP # 66 measures 12” long and 8 3/4” wide. A single layer of cotton batting secretly rests between the quilt top and the black cotton backing. A sleeve for hanging and a label were added to the back.

New Opportunities

The process of creating my small art quilt took me on a journey that opened opportunities for greater growth in my exploration of the arts. I’m very pleased with its outcome.

Your Reaction Please!

Now that you have met Blue Door what are your thoughts?

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A QAL Project For Me, Day 6


Day 6

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Mystery QAL Day 6, Plan of Attack

With a new day comes a new strategy. Let’s compare the Day 5 and Day 6 design wall photos.

If we divide the right photo into vertical thirds it will be easier to identify the changes.

Let’s look at the left section first. In that area there are three changes to note.

  1. A yellow border was added around the bottom improv circle block.
  2. A blue border was added around the block directly to its right.
  3. The block in the bottom right corner was moved over from the center section.

In the center section the only change made was the addition of a yellow border around the bottom block.

Now, for the right section there are two changes

  1. The improv circle block in the bottom left corner now has a blue border.
  2. A green border was added to the bottom right improv block.

Are You Lost?

Could you stay with me or did I loose you? I really didn’t mean to confuse you if I did. I just thought it would be fun to dissect and compare the two photos. I know I’m a nut when it comes to details, but what can I say! I’m a detailed oriented, spreadsheet packing numbers person. I guess it comes from being a bookkeeper for darn near three decades.

All kidding aside, the process of analyzing your original art piece is a very important exercise. This activity helps to identify the areas that are working as well as the ones that need more attention. Hopefully through careful examination you are able to achieve a much more pleasing outcome.

More Applications

This technique can also be used when selecting your fabrics. Next time you are pulling fabrics for a project lay the fabrics on a surface and take two photos; one in color and one in mono tone. Then compare the two. Ask yourself this question, “Did I achieve an even distribution of light, medium and dark fabrics?” If you can’t answer yes, then rethink your color value choices.

The same principal can be applied when choosing colors for an individual block. Before cutting those fabrics do a color value test. I think you may be surprised at how strongly some of your colors fight against each other and how some of the colors simply get lost because there isn’t enough contrast.

Even if you have already made the investment in fabric, don’t be afraid to make some changes. Better to do it now than press on and be unhappy with your project in the end. If you use this technique, when creating your next block or quilt, I think you will be much happier with the overall outcome.

Let’s Take One More Look

Remember how we did the color value experiment in Day 5? The examination showed obvious issues that needed to be addressed. Well, lets compare a mono print of Days 5 and Days 6 to see how well I did or did not do at finding remedies.

Comparing Day 5, which is on the left, and Day 6, over on the right, at first glance it looks like not too much has changed. However, if I look more closely I can see that even though the blocks are pretty much in their same arrangement the appearance of some of them has changed.

All of the changes took place in the very bottom row. In the left photo pretty much everything reflects a dark value. On the right I see that the blocks have taken on an alternating dark, medium, dark, medium, etc., pattern. By adding a medium valued border to every other block I have achieved more interest. While I would like to think that this was enough of a change my hunch is that I could do even better. Let’s see what happens next time.

Thank You!

Anyway, thank you so much for sticking with me and allowing me to over analyze my design. I really appreciate the time we had to spend together and I look forward to our next visit. Talk with you soon! 🙂

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A QAL Project For Me, Day 5


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Mystery QAL Day 5 Agenda

Day 5

Doesn’t seem possible but I’m already working on Day 5 of my journey to create my Mystery QAL original art piece. So many things have already been accomplished and yet there is so much left to do. I’m so thankful that I took notes as well as many photos. Without them I would be lost when it comes to sharing my progress.

Let’s Get Started

Yesterday I had so much fun exploring the technique of creating and stitching curved strips As a result, I decided to continue my experiment by making two more blocks today. Using a section of this recently made multi-colored, strip for the center

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Mystery QAL Day Four, Pieced Strips

I first surrounded it with a border of dark blue fabric. Next I cut and pieced orange curvy strips on the outside edges. This is how the first block looked when it was complete.

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Mystery QAL Day 5, Orange Curvy Block

The second block was made pretty much the same way with the same center strip only this time the first border was fashioned from magenta colored fabric. Added next were curvy strips of lime green. Take a look at the second finished unit.

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Mystery QAL Day 5, Second Curvy Strip Block

I am absolutely thrilled with the outcome for both of them. The color combinations as well as the curvy lines will add so much interest. These two blocks will make awesome additions to my original art piece.

A Facelift

After finishing those two sections I decided to work with a previously started block. You can see it in its original state in the photo below. If you look toward the center of the design wall you will see an angled, strip-pieced unit surrounded by a magenta border.

Mystery-QAL-Day-Four-End-0f-Day

Mystery QAL Day 4, Design Board

To finish the block off I decided to use some of the curvy, pieced strips I had created previously. To the top and bottom edges I added my blue and purple curvy, pieced strips.

Mystery-QAL-Day 5-Block-Progress
Mystery QAL Day 5, Block Progress

I’m much happier with this block now that I have given it more attention.

Let’s Compare Day 4 and Day 5

The above two photos show my design boards from Day 4 and Day 5. I’m sharing both of them to make it easier to notice my changes. Comparing the two you will notice that in the Day 5 photo I have created and added five more units, including the three described above. I’ve also subtracted the random sections of the multi-colored strips and moved most of the building blocks to new areas. These changes have begun to make my original art piece look more organized.

Color vs. Mono Tone

One of the very helpful tips I learned while studying with Rayna Gillman is to not only take color photos of your work but to also take additional photos using the mono feature on your camera. The mono version helps to visualize the distribution of your light, medium and dark colored fabrics. Ultimately an even distribution would provide the best possible outcome. This arrangement encourages your eyes to travel around your piece. Having too much of one intensity in an area tends to keep your eyes from moving about the art piece or quilt. This creates stagnation.

Shown above are two photos. The one on the left is my Day 5 design wall in color. The photo on the right is the same photo only seen in mono tones. As I look at the photo on the left it appears that I have done a pretty good job at distributing the rainbow of colors. It also looks like my lights, mediums and darks are equally as well disbursed.

Now lets take a look at the photo on the right. When I look at the photo on the right I get a totally different feeling. In this photo I obviously can’t see color. I do see line movement as well as color value. With all of the pretty colors removed its much easier to analyze the impact of my art piece on my eyes. It’s as if all the prettiness has been striped away and all that remains are the conflicts created by my fabrics values. To put it another way, there’s no makeup to coverup the flaws.

The photo on the right shows that while the top half of my art piece appears to have a fairly evenly distributed arrangement of color value the bottom half tells a different story. In that section the darks are more concentrated.

This comparison helps me to not only look at color and value but it also helps to identify my problem areas. Locating what otherwise might be overlooked gives me ample information to formulate my next moves in the days ahead .

Thank You!

Anyway, thank you so much for sticking with me and allowing me to over analyze my design. I really appreciate the time we had to spend together and I look forward to our next visit. Talk with you soon! 🙂

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A QAL Project For Me, Day 4


Day 4

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My mapped-out outline for Day 4, as shown above, was to continue the process of creating additional building blocks. Yet to be explored was the construction of curved pieces. I originally learned how to make these while studying Rayna Gillman’s book Create Your Own Free-Form Quilts: A Stress-Free Journey to Original Design. With the mindset that we should strive to continually learn new things, I decided to explore Cindy’s techniques for curved strips.

Beginning on page 56 she walks her reader through the six easy steps. Each time I have attempted to make these I have grown to better understand the method.

Mystery-QAL-Day-Four-Curved-Pieces-Before-Sewing
Mystery QAL Day 4, Curved Pieces Before Sewing

Here are four strips waiting to be sewn together. Its hard to imagine how they can be be stitched but it really works.

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Mystery QAL Day 4, Stitched Curved Strips

This is how the strips looked after they were sewn together and the photo below shows how they looked after being pressed.

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Mystery QAL Day 4, Pressed Curved Strips

Using four different color combinations I was able to end up with eight brand new curved strips.

With the curved strips finally tackled it was time to make a commitment on some of the auditioned fabrics. Shown below are two of the blocks that received new borders.

One More Project

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Mystery QAL Day Four, Pieced Strips

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Fabrics Selected for My Mystery QAL Piece

Before calling it quits for the day I decided to stitch together one very long strip of pieced fabrics to be used as a building block for future units. When choosing the colors I tried to make certain I used as many of my previously selected fabrics as possible.

Let’s Compare

The two photos above show a comparison of Day 3 and Day 4’s progress. Day 4 definitely looks more crowded and shows a lot more activity.

Here’s a recap of Day 4 as per my notes.

Mystery-QAL-Day-4-Recap.jpg

Did you see the comment labeled #11? I think it’s funny that I thought it was pertinent to include it. Who makes a note about cleaning their iron??? LOL!

Well, that’s it for today! Time to ponder my next moves.

Thank You

Thank you so much for sharing your time with me! I love receiving your comments and interacting with you. Your participation makes this journey more interesting than you could ever imagine. I look forward to each of our visits. 🙂

Talk with you soon!

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A QAL Project For Me, Day 3


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I’m so excited to share more of my Mystery QAL adventures. I’m using Cindy Grisdela’s book  titled Artful Improv: Explore Color Recipes, Building Blocks & Free-Motion Quilting as a reference. This is Day 3!

A Diary

As you can see from the photo above, by the time Day 3 rolled around I had started keeping notes on my progress. I don’t always immediately share my projects on my blog; without notes and photos I would have a hard time remembering what I did on any given day. Writing about my progress gives me a wonderful opportunity to document my art pieces; to record part of my own history.

These posts are a great place for me to refer back to. I can revisit them at anytime to analyze my outcomes and learn from my disappointments; one could say this is my public diary.

I chose to write my notes on recycled paper. I buy my batting by the roll. As the material unfurls a continuous feed of brown paper accumulates. Rather than toss the paper into a re-cycle bin I roll it up and save it for future use.

When I decided to begin taking notes I thought it would be fun to use the saved paper. So, that’s why you will be seeing most of my notes written on the brown paper. Now back to Day 3.

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Day 3 of my Mystery QAL Project

Day 3

Shared above is a photo of my design wall at the end of Day 3. The board saw many, many versions before I called it a day. The most noticeable changes are the eight filler fabrics I decided to audition. There is one in the top left corner. Just to the right of that is a lime green piece under one of my angled blocks and there is another bright green fabric resting beneath a severed strip from one my angled pieces blocks. I’ll let you find the other five. Also new on the board is three additional improv circle blocks, and a few new angled strip blocks.

Each one of the new additions helped to reinvent my evolving art piece. I was very happy with my progress and so thrilled with the color combinations.

Before we continue lets talk a little bit about the improv circle blocks. The improv circle blocks have turned out to be one of my new-found favorite techniques. I’m so amazed at how four squares of differently colored fabrics can be turned into such interesting designs.

I don’t know why I haven’t thought about using this method to create such interesting circles. Maybe it’s because my focus typically is directed toward angular lines rather than curves. Both, meaning circles and curved lines, if not repeated adequately throughout an original art piece could demand all of the eye’s attention. Typically that is not an artist’s desired outcome. But oh how much impact they can have when used properly.

In the quilt pattern world there are many beautiful quilt blocks. Some of the blocks are labor intensive. In contrast, with the wonky circles it takes relatively very little time to turn squares of fabric into an abstract design. This abstract design adds just as much punch, in my eyes. 🙂 Of course you could say my opinion is ever so slightly slanted toward the abstract direction. 🙂 Don’t get me wrong…I think quilts created from patterns, with specific intended dimensions demand just as much praise as my wonky creations. I just happen to prefer abstract art. Moving on!

Well, that’s it for today! Time to ponder my next moves.

Thank You

Thank you so much for sharing your time with me! I love receiving your comments and interacting with you. Your participation makes this journey more interesting than you could ever imagine. I look forward to each of our visits. 🙂

Talk with you soon!

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