For years I kept journals -- in composition, spiral bound, and French graph paper books. This blog is an attempt to get back to writing and documenting the world around me using photos, newspaper headlines, and other articles.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Landscape Class

This weekend was the World Quilt Show in Manchester.  I signed up for a Jo Diggs Landscape and Beyond workshop.  The description and a picture of her work can be found in this link.  The description is pretty clear, but still, I wasn't exactly certain what to expect.  Never the less, I had my supplies ready by Friday night and had a hard time sleeping.  I kept dreaming of fabric.

I arrived at the hotel conference room in plenty of time.  If I wasn't the youngest lady in the class, then I was a close second.  We went around the room and introduced ourselves by our name and what we did during the day when we weren't quilting.  The other ladies led impressive lives.  I thought it interesting how many of them had very analytic and intellectual day jobs - computer programmer, librarian, and other professions.  Many were retired and quilted while their spouse golfed.  It was a fun group of women.

We started out by looking at examples different categories of quilts and their designs.  We looked at pictures, real quilts, and poster size reproduction.  Examples also came from magazines, catalogs and calendars.  Very thought provoking and creative juice instigating.  Then Jo showed us how to construct a landscape using fabric.  So inspiring how she combined fabrics and manipulated the patterns to get the effects that she wanted.  In no time she had made a mountain landscape.  What was really helpful -- after getting the basic design, she moved pieces around and introduced other bits of color to transform.

Then we took our photos and began cutting.  My first stab involved photos that I had taken from the top of the chair lift at Gunstock along with one in the Ashram's East Field.  I cut, moved paper, tried to line up horizontal lines, and came up with nothing but frustration.

So I moved on to my back up plan which were photos taken in Arizona in 2011.  The thing is, I generally do not take landscape pictures.  I like taking photographs of sculpture, or buildings...or Selim.  I haven't taken many landscapes or wide open spaces.  I didn't have a lot to work with.  The Arizona pictures I had 4x6 pictures made and then I color copied them and that helped.  I had sets of those plus some of the same copied in black and white.  I'm not so good at abstract.  I like pattern and straight lines.  So I began to cut up the pictures in 1 and 2 inch strips and in half.  I made a long row and underneath, flipped them upside down, but not in exact reflection.  But it looked to wide and short, so I added another right side up row.

Using black paper strips to tidy up the edges

At home, trimmed, and on my cutting mat

I had no idea what I was doing, but it was fun and challenging.  Jo came over and said that nobody had ever combined photos in that way before.  She liked how the white spaces repeated themselves, but not in a structured way.  She said that I had a lot to work with.  My next step is to take the collage to a photo/copy center and blow it up big.  I need two copies -- one for reference, and one to cut up and use for pattern pieces.

I think I may blow up one section really big and work on that, before I tackle the whole thing.  It seems to me that it would be easier to learn how to applique if I start with pieces that are relatively big.  Right now, if I didn't enlarge the image, I would be working with some really small pieces.  The whole piece is 22 x 10.

I left that alone and went to lunch and browse through the exhibit hall and vendors.  There was a section of Kaffe Fassett quilts.  I have books with those quilts, so it was fun to see them in real life.  Like any art form, some quilts speak to me and others, not so much.  There was a special series called Compelled - A Canadian Landscape Portrait by Anna Hergert that I loved.  Her work called my name loud and clear.  Also, I learned about some other fabric and quilt stores in my state that I will have to investigate.

Feeling a bit more hopeful about what I was doing in class, I went back and tried to work with the winter landscapes.  This time I cut three photos into two inch strips and worked on putting them together so that there was some horizontal line matched up as I moved from strip to strip.  I would arrange the photo strips, take a picture, and then rearrange.  It was fun.  I didn't get something that I liked as much as my morning project, but I definitely began to think in a new direction.  As I was driving back home today I knew Selim just wanted to get home.  So I didn't, but I was tempted many times to pull over to the side of the road and haul out my camera to get a landscape shot.

I feel energized and ready to expand my quilting.  If I enjoy these new projects, I think it will have a spillover effect on my photography as well.  I'm looking forward to a shift in my creative endeavors.

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