art quilt birch trees

I’ve just returned from a retreat with the Professional Art Quilters Alliance (PAQA) (an Illinois-based group I recently joined.)

I got to know many incredible quilt artists, enjoyed the beautiful, sunny view of Lake Michigan and learned a lot from our instructor, Denise Havlan, a nationally-recognized, award-winning artist.

art quilt birch treesI took my machine and a memory quilt project to work on in my spare time (2 half-days) but 1 full day was spent creating this beautiful art quilt with Denise’s helpful instruction. This piece started with a colorful background fabric (orange, yellow, green.) Denise instructed us in using a variety of paints and other colorants to create the dark area in the background for depth, then creating the birch trees from white fabric. We finished by adding shadows, highlights, wildflowers and other accents. We added batting, backing and did some quilting.  I have to tell you—-I LOVE my little quilt! It will had some bright color to my home for spring. And I would love to make another “Birch Trees” quilt—-it was such fun!

Photos can be combined into a beautiful art quilt!

I once had an inquiry about commission for an art quilt essentially designed by the customer. She asked if I could combine 3 images into a single picture for an art quilt. The quilt was a gift for a friend and the first image was his view from his home. Nice, huh?

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The next image is a photograph of a sunset taken through a shop window so there’s lots of reflection. It’s a beautiful sunset–not sure if it was a painting or a print of some sort.

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Then she included this image of 3 horses running through a stream.




 

 

So the request for the commission was to combine these 3 images into a single image.

Here is my art quilt:

Amy Cavaness Designs art quilt of horses

I tried to replicate the outline of the mountains from the “view” photograph, with the beautiful sunset colors in the sky and mountains. I couldn’t find a fabric for the sky that I liked or thought would work, so I got creative with my watercolor pencils! They were my tenuous, early effort at fabric painting.

The horses running through the water fit nicely in the foreground. I did the whole quilt in raw edge applique. You can see in the background I used both hand-dyed and commercial print cottons. I did use a bit of watercolor pencil for shading on the horses. They weren’t large enough to do the shading with piecing.

raw-edge applique horses detail

 

This piece was made about 6 or 7 years ago and was one of my early landscapes. The water and rocks came from “themed fabrics” that I cut up and rearranged and appliqued to mimic the picture. I’m not a big fan of using these fabrics anymore—I’m liking the challenge of creating the artwork through interpreting with fabric. It’s like a painter cutting out pictures from a magazine vs using paint to create their image. Both are fine—it just depends on what the artist wants to use. I do like how this came out, and the customer was very pleased with the finished piece—as was the recipient.

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Here are a couple of my landscape quilts/wall hangings.

The one of the left was a commission. A gal sent me 3 pictures she wanted combined into 1 picture.  The 3 are shown together above the wallhanging.  One is a picture (taken through a glass window) of a sunset.  Below it is a painting of 3 horses running through water.  The 3rd is a photo of her friend’s view from his house.

The job was to combine the 3 pictures into a single landscape, which I think I did successfully.  (She was quite thrilled with the result!)  The wall hanging is all fabric.  I used a combination of commercial prints and batiks and hand-dyed cottons.  I also painted (with water color pencils) the sunset, as I couldn’t find a fabric that looked like what I needed.  “When in need, make it yourself!”

The landscape on the right is also created completely in fabric and thread (as that is what I do!)  I made this for my cousin’s 50th birthday.  He lives in Phoenix and I found a photo on Google Earth of Camel Back Mountain there.  I used the photo as inspiration for my artwork.  I have to say, this was the hardest landscape I have ever done.  I will also admit that I like how it came out!

Batiks and hand-dyes were a great source for most of the fabrics. I also did a lot of thread painting for details like grasses. (See the detailed photo)  And, once again, I painted the sunset with my water color pencils.  I love the challenge of finding just the right textures and colors in various fabrics to create pieces of my pictures, but the skies, if I want them to look somewhat realistic, have been too much of a challenge to find!

I had scraps of fabric from my experiments with the sky and decided to use a piece for my label on the back, which is also pictured.

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 Dad and Jack

I’ve documented my process here on my blog and it’s finally finished!


I used the dark blue from the bottom of the quilt on the back.
I put a rod pocket across the top and I added a couple of other special touches.  I added a pocket to hold the copy of the photograph.  I also added a label for the name of the quilt, my name and date, and that this quilt was a gift for my father’s 85th birthday.

I absolutely loved working on this project.  It was like a jigsaw puzzle—-I kept thinking “OK, I’ll just add this one more detail” before I could get out of my studio.

The fabric pieces were an interesting challenge.  I love using hand-dyed and batiks, with all kinds of variations in color and tone.  Finding just the right piece can be overwhelming, but having my fabrics sorted by shade to start with really helps.  I keep in mind that I will be doing some stitching where needed for extra detail.

And the stitching===it’s so meditative. I do free-motion stitching throughout.  Sometimes when I do these quilts I use fine clear thread, but on this piece I used colored thread, changing as I needed to.  I don’t worry about matching the fabric exactly—a little contrast adds interest.

I’m looking forward to doing more portraits and landscapes in fabric.  I think this may be a new direction for my business!

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WELCOME SPRING/SUMMER!

Here in north-central Illinois, the winters are long. And just when we thought winter would never end…………Spring arrived!

The WETTEST SPRING ON RECORD!! *sigh*

We haven’t particularly enjoyed the rain, but the flowers sure have! Combined with last year’s good dose of fertilizer compliments of our horses ; ) our garden has burst into bloom.

Thought I’d share a few bright pictures until my next tutorial (which will be VERY soon!)

The Sew What Blog Tour is visiting soon, so I’ve got to do some work!