Tag Archives: Masterclass

November Sketch Time

Sketchtime for the MasterClass has rolled around again; this time we were given three photos as starters. Here is the one I chose to work with.

Class photo

I was immediately struck by old white  iron fence posts, secondarily by the way they disappeared under the walkway with its fence. So I started sketching. I’ll spare you the first 4-5 dismal failures. I finally had a progression of three that might work with tweaking, and I presented them in what I thought was least to best.

sketch 1

Sketch 1

sketch 2

Sketch 2

Sketch 3

Sketch 3

Here was my thinking. Sketch 1 had an intruding curving shape (meant to be abstracted from the various roads in the photo) plus a confusing mass of perspective/non perspective–I needed to go one way or the other and chose non-perspective. In sketch 2 I decided to add details from the buildings that had increasingly interested me as I looked at the photo over and over. It ended up a little too formally balanced for my taste. On to sketch 3 where I thought I had nailed it. I kept one of the buildings I had liked, realized it stood alone and added the three pillars on the left.

Interestingly, the comments were the reverse of my judgments. The curve shape made the first more interesting by contrasting to other straight lines; repeating triangles in sketch 2 was a good move, and in the third one, the right side object was unrelated.

This would not be the first time I’ve stumbled on contrast-for-interest Vs. intrusive-and-unrelated. And not only in art, but in writing. I’d come up with one theory: don’t introduce difference without repeating it somewhere else. Obviously, that isn’t a complete answer. I did notice some curving lines in Sketch 1 that were almost accidental; perhaps they keep the big curved shape from standing alone and intruding? And I am beginning to like Sketch 1 more.

So what I’m wondering is how others deal with creating contrast for interest without intruding something unrelated. My current hypothesis is that the difference between an artist and a wanna-be is the intuitive recognition of the difference.

Inviting comments and linking with Off the Wall Friday in hopes of insight.



Filed under design

Lost Edges, Top Finished

The Masterclass is drawing to a close. We have October’s assignment and then will get November’s. December is a time for comment on work we didn’t have time to post for the monthly finishes. It has been good.

I have the top finished for the September project and have received its comments. While it might not have had lost and found edges as it was blocked, it now is an “interesting solution to the lost edges problem.”

Finished top

13 x 14

I like seeing how much a few simple shapes can accomplish. I guess one thing I forego, then, is the high praise of more detail to see the longer one looks.

I hadn’t quilted it yet because I couldn’t decide between two options. Elizabeth suggested a third. I’d thought of stitch in the ditch around the pieces or short lines in the spaces, horizontal in the aqua and circular echos in the lavender and window like lines in the “buildings.” I’d thought of matching thread.  Elizabeth suggested more stripes in aqua or variegated thread, an all over design instead of three separate ones. That would be easier than all the color changes I was considering. I’m not sure I want light thread on the dark fabric. I’ll think on it.

The circle is inset; the right green “beam” is inserted. The others are needle turn appliqued.  I need more practice on acute angle stitching–this was my first try at that.

I don’t have a title yet; could use Lines and Circles #3. But Elizabeth suggested a series, so it should be a first, not a third. The floor is open for suggestions.

I foresee taking Elizabeth’s class about working in a series. I’ve read her book, but there is so much benefit in doing the lessons and getting the comment that it would not seem redundant. But it won’t be immediately as I am ready for a break from monthly projects.

Linking with Off the Wall Friday and Sew Solid Sunday


Filed under design, quilting

Return to the MasterClass

1/12/16  Reawakening this post for Val’s Tuesday Archives (Button in sidebar)

After a break in completing assignments, I’m back this June with a finish for the Masterclass.

First the sketch that both my commenting classmates and I preferred:

sketchI never was happy with the upper three curves.  Design often results this way for me.  I get an idea, but it doesn’t fill the whole quilt. What to do with the space left over?

I solved this one with a batik.

Finished quilt

I had nothing in mind except shapes, colors and values when I made it; however, looking at it makes me think of riding a roller coaster. Do you see it? Or something else? I could make “Roller Coaster” the title, but it would shut off other observations. I really hate coming up with titles!

Now to wait a day or two for July’s assignment. It’s good t be back in production mode.

Linking up to NinaMarie’s Off the Wall


Filed under design, quilting


It is May and a new assignment for the masterclass–from a photograph subtract items, move items around, and add personal reaction.

zen garden

Well, that was fun to do. One thing that interests me is what I didn’t think of moving: Elizabeth suggested moving the front hedge and path. There is more moving and shading to be done, and maybe yet more.

I’d say this is the first time I’ve sketched without any thought to fabric or construction method (even though I’ve read advice to avoid such thoughts). So now that I think of blocking out a quilt, I am stumped. I have some used kimono fabric that might make a floral tree; I have a palette in mind: tans, peach, light aquas and greens. Darker green moss. Batiks.

But it looks like an applique project, and I don’t wanna.

It also looks too much toward realistic (for my taste anyway). And I missed one of the points of the assignment: find unexpected beauty and show its beauty. Nothing unexpected about beauty in a Japanese zen garden. And the emotion I’d be adding, tranquiltiy–also pretty ho-hum, common.

Perhaps it is a good thing this is a month I don’t have time to finish on schedule. I’ll let it sit a while and see what my subconscious offers me.


Filed under design

A “Little Quilt” for Guild

Traingles #1

16 x 17

This is the color scheme I had in mind when making sketches for the masterclass (one of three sketches shown on previous post). The assignment included that we do three value possibilities. It is a good thing because I might have missed the one that reverses dark and light. But meanwhile, I needed to make a little quilt for the guild raffle by tonight. I’d been thinking ever since last year’s, but no ideas pleased me till this one. So without waiting for instructor comment, I made this one. I’ll still make another for class and block it out by the 20th (if I get all my bindings and hanging sleeves finished for the quilt show). And I’ll use the dark background.

At guild tonight the “little quilt” chair announced that we had had 42 to offer last year (where we made about $700.00). But this year she has 69.  I might not have rushed to finish if I had known how many quilts had been given already, but I’m not sorry to have finished.

I can’t wait to see them all.

The only rule for the Little Quilts is that they be less than 20 inches on any side. They can be true miniatures, patchwork, applique, traditional or modern.

It works like this: Each quilt has a number and there is a baggie with the same number. People buy tickets (Ours are $2.00 each with reductions for multiple purchases.) They put their tickets into the baggie that corresponds with the quilt they want. The drawing comes in the last hours of the quilt show–a number is drawn for each quilt.

Technical detailsl. I didn’t try slash and insert. Instead I made paper templates. Remembering the lost inches on the previous Bridge Line quilt, I added 7/8 inch to the side legs of the triangles. Some were perfect, but most were too large.  This time instead of losing inches, I gained them. The drawing for the templates was for 15 1/2 x 15 1/2. Nothing like overcompensating. In the absence of a math formula, it is trial and error. Quilting was done with a walking foot.

I don’t love the lower left–I’ll be playing more with positioning and sizing that triangle.



Filed under design, quilting

Minimalism’s Challenges

I really like minimalist abstract painting, and it seems it should readily translate into quilts. However, I’m puzzled by how to keep minimalism from being boring. And how to handle the empty space so that it looks intended and not just forgotten.

The starter for April’s Masterclass assignment seemed to suggest minimalism:one shape, another similar, another a little bit different, and some lines attaching them.

April's sketch

I liked this one best of the three I submitted, as did Elizabeth. (I’ve made enough instructor comments–not on art–to know that ‘best of three’ is not much praise for the whole set.)

After seeing everyone else’s sketches, I wondered if I had taken the instructions too literally. Almost everyone else had lines through shapes that broke them up into more shapes with shading. After I saw the first five, I almost redid mine, but didn’t really have time or another idea that didn’t feel like copying. So I left it. And I will tweak it according to most of the suggestions.  One I am not sure about: making the rectangle out of small pieces of the same value. I think that would contradict my attempt at minimalism. Or maybe this sketch already has too much to even think minimalist thoughts. I maybe shouldn’t have layered anything so as to keep it flat.

One of the recommended tweaks is to move the bottom triangle left; I can do that with no problem, but I was already concerned about the triangle’s unbalance. Maybe I’ll get an idea as I move pieces around.

I like the challenge of finding and solving design problems.


Filed under design

Bridge Lines Completed

1/12/16 Reviving this post for Val’s Quilting Archives (button in sidebar)

Lines instead of shapes was the March lesson. (Previous posts here and here) And after getting this one assembled, I can definitely see the construction value of shapes and the design value of lines.

Finished piece

The construction was a royal pain. There is a world of difference between slash-and-insert for improv and for a predetermined design.  I laid out the pieces, marked placement with pins, and carefully analyzed the design for order of slashing and sewing.  I didn’t quite use templates. I put pins along the edge of the piece to be inserted then used ruler and rotary cutter to cut 1/4 inch inside the line. I thought that would maintain the proportions and line ups. No.  Soon the pins marking various pieces’ placements became more and more approximate and the edge more and more raggedy. What started as 21 x 25 to allow leeway toward a goal of 18 x 24 ended up 17 x 22. (What math am I missing to explain this loss? It doesn’t seem like it should have happened.)

Next the quilting. I had planned to do only stitch in the ditch so used a batting that allowed for unquilted spaces up to 12 inches. But as I was stitching I got the idea of ghost ladders in the bigger spaces.  (I wonder if the idea was inspired by having browsed Leah Day’s filler designs and practicing “Josh’s Ladders” on a fire truck block? Or if it came from looking at the ladders and empty spaces. I’ll never know because I can’t go back and not know the Josh’s Ladders filler.  I wonder too if this in-process shift from plain to ladders is what people mean when they say “The quilt told me what it wanted.”)

I had a couple doubts about the quilting: should I add one more ladder in the upper left corner? Should I change the quilting in the white area? However, I got my comments from Elizabeth who approved the quilting as is. I am not one for ripping out quilting needlessly, so I’l be glad to take her word on it. She also approved the limited palette for such a complex design. I wish I could say that was exactly why I used it. 🙂

Linking up with Nina-Marie’s Off the Wall Friday. Go visit!

4/13/14 Linking with  the monthly Sew Solid Sunday–button in the sidebar


Filed under design, quilting

Creating moving shapes

If ever there was doubt that I am a process person (there wasn’t), it would have been erased this month. In the MasterClass, it was time to submit a blocked out design. I’d experimented and failed and was ready to chop the piece into smaller pieces and make a scrap quilt from them after it got its comments. Even though this experiment had failed, I felt I’d learned plenty from the discussions and the trying, was ready figuratively to crumble the paper and throw it into the trash.

Motion sketchLet’s back track. First the sketch. It began to show motion, but the lines stopped it, and the lines and shapes were unrelated. It sat, glaring at me, till  duh-piphany. Make the opening bigger so the shape can fall through. Led to ‘fall through the cracks.’ Led to ‘hole in the net.’ Cheers for stream of consciousness. All this led to a new sketch and a new goal. Could I show motion straight down instead of lateral or top to bottom on the page?

Led to this sketch. Sketch 2

The dark circle was supposed to retreat beneath the light circle around it. I needed to fill space so enlarged the larger circle to an oval. Uh oh. Fried egg. Silly me thought it might be less obvious in fabric.

First fabric block out

It wasn’t.

And instead of receding, the purple bounced up. I submitted it anyway, just to be finished and ready for next month’s lesson.

But like any good instructor, Elizabeth gave some suggestions and said, “Try again.”

It morphed into this:

Second blocked out design

I did give up on the downward movement (it may be possible, but not for this piece) and went for spiral. Now on to a finished product after all.

March ETA link to FlickR photo of finish. I am not usually a fan of hanging threads, but they seeemed to fit “Hole in the Safety Net.”


Filed under design, quilting

Lines and Circles

January's project

January’s project, 9 x 14

First I read Elizabeth Barton’s Inspired to Design, which led me to follow her blog. And her blog announced a year-long, online Master Class on art quilt design. The time was right: I needed to add doing and receiving commentary to reading about design.

January’s project focused on value but started with a photograph. I started with this photograph of the land boat in the Lan Su Chinese Garden.

Land boat

See the heron?

The quilt viewer does not need to know that the quilt started with this photo; therefore the quilt is not named “Land Boat” but “Lines and Circles” (unless I think of something more creative–any suggestions?). Meanwhile, readers interested in process might want to know. We sketched major value blocks and drew shapes, then abandoned the photo and adjusted values and shapes into a design we could quilt. We could be representative or not.

Between cropping the photo, adjusting the slant, and moving the pomegranates, I thought I had gotten free of the photo. But when Elizabeth suggested bright colors, I realized I was stuck in the browns and greens of the photograph–my only planned color change had been to brighten the pomegranates to a more burnt orange than the brown of the photo.

I began to think differently and after considering a couple bright combinations, decided on primary colors–red, blue and yellow. It was a challenge to work with various values of yellow and red; blue came easily. I made the background and quilted it, and then I added the circles. That consruction allowed me to fix a problem Elizabeth noted in my submitted final. Three of the circles ended up in a horizontal line. By making two into pairs, one addition up and one down, I hope I’ve fixed that a little. I can still see the straight row, but it no longer glares.

Elizabeth’s most recent blog entry  on color and value was a fitting conclusion to the January segment of the workshop. I am eager to hear what our starter will be for February.

You can see another from the Masterclass at Off the Wall Friday plus peek at other art quilts. Then there is NewFO to browse and more buttons to the right.


Filed under design, quilting