Life as an artist is an observant one. I often see things differently than most but I also sometimes let my busy everyday life get in the way. I attended a quilt guild meeting last night. We had a guest speaker who spoke about color and how it can be used.

It was a wonderful talk. One filled with info and encouragement for those that believe they know nothing about using color and the basic ideas of color theory.

I was taught a lot of what was discussed first by my artist mother then formally in art classes and at college. Yet even then I knew that if I could just observe what was around me from nature I would never go wrong.

When thinking of greens in particular to be used in an art work there really is no green that does not go with each other.  This was brought up in our lecture with the explanation that we live mostly in a green world around us everyday. I totally agree with this statement. It works especially well when the greens are analogous, meaning that they range in at least three hues on the color wheel.

Okay enough words here is a visual that I want to point to that explains this better. Below is a Van Gogh picture titled Green Wheatfield with Cypress.

First you see lots of greens, dang it fills two thirds of this painting. Yet it is not a flat opaque color of green. Looking at the foreground you see dark greens but there is stroke of blue to indicate it is in shadow, yellows and even a bit of orange other than the greens you can see.

The middle of the painting repeats these same colors without the blue. There are more orange and yellow greens. A new element is white added on top of the greens to indicate coolness. A middle ground can often be the focus of a picture. However here it is cooler, a way to show depth from the foreground to the background.

This is the way we see depth in nature too, when the light is not in high constrast. Van Gough also uses the texture of his pallet knife for this visual illusion. That is a different subject for another post.

Moving to the background you see yet another repeat of these greens. There are blue-black greens that mimic the dark greens in the foreground. Do you now see the yellows both on the rooftops and in the clouds? The blue of the sky is a clean bright blue but it is also in the greens. This is what makes the green color in this picture so interesting. They are clean, in the same hue as each other. This is what makes the painting so compelling.

How does this apply to quilts let alone art quilts? It is all the same, color rules no matter what you use to express your creative spirit. If you want clean and clear colors use analogues colors. I have discussed greens but they could be purple, reds or even blues.

I often start an art work thinking of the lighting and the mood I want to express in that work. I have found using low light greens with a bit of contrasting purple can evoke a sense of the serene. Think of moss green, olive green, light tans and browns and it is so serene. This was my intent with this work I call Serenity.


As you can see the background of this work is mostly muted olive green, yellow and purple. Yet the colors are all in the same tone with each other. None of the colors are brighter than the next. This evokes a quite and serene mood, one of calmness.  There is rhythm with the repeating lines of the poplar trees. To show that there is space between one set of trees from the other I used the same muted purple and some rosy pink in the background tree trunks.  The leaves are a muted blue green in different shades. I also have repeated the purple from the foreground in the small lavender colored trees in the background.   Finally I used cream for the foreground tree trunks and a light olive and yellow green for the leaves.  Color is important for each and every piece of art work. It evokes depth, feeling and mood. Next time you are looking at a piece of art or even a quilt perhaps you can see how the colors are being used to evoke depth, feeling or mood.



The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra. Jimmy Johnson

I have been thinking about what makes how I see things as an artist different from anyone else. Is it innate? Is it just the way I look at things? Or is it because I have tuned my senses to see that little extra.

My first sighting of fireflies for the season last night made me smile with joy. I know that most people smile at this same site so what makes it different for me? It brought up happy times with my daughter, catching them in her hand. Enjoying the damp sweet smelling grass on our feet and the wonder of the blinking yellow green light of the fireflies. 

As I enjoyed this memory an idea for a new piece of art came to mind. Dark blue sky, stars twinking, green meadow of tall grass, maybe some flowers among the grass, a blond young girl running with arms stretched high catching fireflies. 

Does this extra step, the movement from a personal memory to the visual creation including the colors of that memory for a piece of art make me different? I laugh because most of my good friends have called me “different” at one time or another. Yet I do identify with this because it helps to define me as an artist. 

However even though I know it is innate for me, I believe that everyone can try to see things in this same manner. I know that everyone can see something beautiful in everyday life if they only look. I have the ability to try and communicate that beauty to others in my art. I guess that is the extra, the thing that makes me different. 

I see things differently in ordinary things too. I can not tell you why but I can see a wave of tall grasses in a piece of upholstery trim. On the seascape I have been sharing I wanted something that would look like sea kelp. I had some hand dyed trim that arches, mimicking the movement of the sea. As I layed it down I realized that the color was too light. Fixed that with some alcohol dye pens making them a warm medium color. Here is the trim in it’s original form so you can see the slight changes I have made when you see the next picture. 

I have started adding beading, check out the turquoise green fan coral on the right hand side. There is a very large sea urchin with round disk beads too. The purple stitching is commonly known as the drizzle stitch. A simple cast on stitch used in knitting with the tail brought thru to the back with the line of knots twisting and turning. I just love how much texture this technique adds. 

I have added a few fish shaped beads in a moss green, light orange and a snowy white Mylar finish. I plan to add more fish all throughout the piece. I need to fill up the foreground with some more bead work and stitching. Then the true challenge will be knowing when to stop. 

What is creativity

Creativity is the expression of one’s imagination. This applies to everyday life, setting goals for your future or doing a new piece of art. I can imagine a better way to organize my bedroom closet, see my art hanging in an exhibit or touch a velvet and see the ridges and folds of rolling hills. 

Most people can imagine this same way. It does chaff me when people say they are not creative or artistic. This is because we all have the ability to image things, to daydream, to even draw a purple tree if you want. I do know that as in everything there are levels of ability. I certainly don’t consider myself a chief but I certainly can cook a fine dinner. 

I rely on my imagination, my creativity to see things that others do not. So can I say I am creative because I imagine things differently than others? I do believe I see things that others do not. Often when picking out fabric for my art quilts I am asked what I am going to make. I point to a color or drawn line that shows a sunrise, mountain ridge or lake front. Most reply they could see it now that I pointed that out but not before. I laugh when I say I see things in fabric. 

My current work is all imagined, an underwater seascape. I have done a series of these yet each is it’s own imagined world. I start with a commercial batik fabric as a background which sets the color pallet I will use.  Here is a picture showing the back of my  current work so you can see the turquoise, green and some gold I started with. 

 I lay loose threads, ribbons, speciality yarns across the fabric, trap them to the surface with a layer of toile loosly stitching this down. I had a wonderful moss green dyed velvet that I scrunched and folded in the foreground to emulate brain coral. A dark purple silk is next in front of the velvet along with another green fabric. Then layers of burnt out ribbon, more yarn and stitching. Lots of layers to show depth and interest. 

I have more to add to mostly the foreground on this piece but really enjoy showing how I go about using what I imagine to create my art. On a side note I have never dived and have not use pictures from divers for these underwater pieces. They are all from my imagination but have been complimented for the beauty of this work by those that do dive. 


This time of year everyone gets busy cleaning, organizing, getting rid of excess, waking up from the slumber of winter. We are sweeping out the dust, well at least thinking about doing that and seeing the first signs of a new season. 

Things change but follow a rythmn that ebbs and flows. They say you have to know where you are before you can change those things that don’t work for you. I see my art as an expression of what I believe myself to be. Sometimes that is correct other times that is not. 

But with the ebb and flow of each season I am invigorated with the promise of change. New growth, new green and bright flowers. But in contrast I am intrigued with the color of winter, ice and frozen reflections. I just completed a crazy quilt with the theme of a hidden garden for a calendar competition with a winter scene. 

It was hard to see beauty in the grays and stark white but as I worked it was easy to see the quiet and serenity in the color pallet. I had planned to add a pop of red with an embroidered cardinal. Yet as I look at this I see it is best not to add the bird. 


Bits and pieces

All of our lives are a combination as the Irish say of bits and pieces. A bit of a memory, a piece of a conversation, a color that flashes on the TV or a memory of the music you love.

I have a varied idea of art. I started with graphic design in college, did some painting, took a portrait drawing course and was still looking for what most artist’s call their “voice”.

This was my exploration or bits and pieces of finding myself as an artist. I became good friends with a co-worker who tried her best to convince me to look at quilting. Thank you Marci H., but I have yet to do a regular quilt.

Too static, too technical for my “can’t cut anything square personality”.  The next step was to be crazy quilts. A form of quilting that basically started during the Victorian age. You take bits and pieces of fabric from dresses, shirts or whatever before it is thrown out. You take them, do a patchwork of a quilt then add some embroidery to dress up the seams.

Today this form of creative exploration has morphed into what ever you want it to be on fabric. It does use the basis of traditional quilting, three layers and embroidery of some kind but also includes found objects, antique lace, buttons, beads to meet the creators voice.

I use cotton, hand dyed velvet and silk fabric sometimes with a printed image on fabric that is pieced onto a base of muslin. I then add trims, rick rack, or other laces to the seams, add embroidery, silk ribbon work. beads or buttons to embellish the block.

I have the wondrous fortune to meet once a month with like minded artists of this kind. We take part of a round robin by exchanging pieced blocks with each other to embellish for each other.

This way if there are 9 who are involved in a round robin, I have nine blocks that I pieced but only 8 of them have my own stitching on them. I just love how each and every one of them are different but each block has their own “signature”. I can look at one block and know that was done by Marci or Pam. And I have 9 blocks to make a small quilt but did not do all nine myself. This is a treasure for certain and I am blessed to have such company to call friends.

I love the no rules freedom that is crazy quilting. I also know that all the bits and pieces that I bring to my crazy quilting shows in my choices, colors and stitching. I know that these same crazy quilters can see me in their blocks by knowing my stitching choices, the type of trims and bead work in the same way I recognize their hand work.

Here are some examples of the crazy quilting I have done in the last several years. I truly love doing this art and will continue as long as there are bits and pieces to put down to fabric.

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Let me know what you think…Happy stitching.