Monday, December 11, 2017

Christmas is closer than you think...

The last month has flown by, but I haven't had any studio time.  And now Christmas is sneaking up on me!
In my defense, in the last month I have spent two weeks in Maryland, working on Bruce's house getting it ready to sell, and one week in New Jersey, visiting Pop, attending a memorial service for Bruce, and visiting with old friends and cousins.
Brian and Pop
Grief is a funny thing.  In college, I took a class based on Elizabeth Kubler Ross' book On Death and Dying.  At the age of 19, death was certainly an abstract concept, and I found it academically interesting, but of course not personally applicable.  At 19, Brian (who was then my boyfriend, now my husband) and I were going to live forever.  My parents, although I thought of them as "old" (they were in their forties -- ancient!) were going to be with me forever.  But of course that is not true.  Loss is inevitable and is a part of life.  It is funny, though, as I lose each loved person, I find that I really do go through the stages of grief outlined by Kubler Ross.  Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  Not necessarily in a linear progression, but I have experienced all of them.  And although acceptance does finally arrive, sadness occaisionally comes creeping back.

I am ready to move into acceptance.  I think I'm almost there.  I didn't think I would be interested in celebrating Christmas this year, but much to my surprise I find that I am.  It's time to dig out a few decorations, write a few Christmas cards, wrap a few presents and shop for a few stocking stuffers.  And time to cherish those I love.  

Season greetings!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Texas Quilts: Art in Stitch Opens at Texas Tech

Texas Quilts: Art in Stitch, which opened in Abilene last September, has opened at the museum at Texas Tech University in Lubbock.
Tuning Fork #11 (red and gray quilt) with dinosaurs!
More Dinos and quilts.  Magnetic attraction is on this side of the gallery.
I am thrilled to have two of my pieces hanging in this show.  And to have them hanging with dinosaurs is a thrill.
Tuning Fork #11, far right
Magnetic Attraction, bottom left
Today's Quilts: Art in Stitch will be exhibited at the Museum from November 22, 2017 thru February 18, 2018. More than 30 pieces by 22 quilt artists are included. The SAQA Regional exhibit was curated by Gay Young and juried by Brenda Wyatt.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


Bruce, me, Brian in Japan, Christmas Day, 2014
An hour after I arrived home from Houston I received a terrible phone call.  My brother-in-law, Brian's identical twin, had died at his home in Maryland.  It was sudden.  It was unexpected.  And it was a horrid blow.

Bruce and Brian were very very close.  Naturally.  I don't entirely understand the "twin bond," but it was eerie how much they thought alike.  And acted alike.  Brian is inconsolable.

At the moment, we are trying to keep moving.  Brian is the executor of the will and there is so much to do.  The pain is there, bubbling to the surface periodically, but working keeps it temporarily at bay.  Yesterday, I even spent a few hours in the studio.  Grabbing the scraps from my last project, cutting, sewing, ironing, not thinking.  The piece in progress is looking very jagged.  Echoing the turmoil in my head.

It will get better, I know it will.  And we will get through the overwhelming amount of work that needs to be done.  But Bruce, we will miss you.  The world will never be the same.

NTAQ in November

NTAQ met on Monday and revealed the quilts made for the Modigliani challenge.  The inspiration piece was Gypsy Woman With Baby, painted in 1919.
As always, the members of NTAQ had some very interesting interpretations of the piece:
You can read about my piece, "Pods," here.

Report From International Quilt Festival

I had a wonderful time in Houston.  As always.
First of all, I won third place in Art: Abstract - Large.
Schist #2
My quilt was in very good company!  Quilts by Barbara Oliver Hartman, Betty Busby and me
I had four quilts in the show, if you count my celebrity auction piece:
My donation quilt for the auction
Wild Thing in Dinner@8
Volcano!  in Textile Posters
And I spent time with old friends.  And made a few new ones.
The Dinner@8 Bunch, photo by Jamie Fingal 
Annie, Suzan and Lauretta, photo courtesy of Lauretta Crites
Maria Shell demonstrating techniques from her new book
It was wild, it was wonderful, it was full of color and pattern and I enjoyed every minute!

Monday, October 30, 2017

Motivated by Modigliani

NTAQ's challenge for November is "Gypsy Woman with Baby" by Amedeo Modigliani.
Gypsy Woman with Baby (1919), Modigliani
Modigliani was an Italian painter known for his elongated figures.  It's a pretty distinctive style.  This particular painting hangs in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

When starting one of our group challenges I first look (squint) at the picture and try to decide what elements jump out at me.  In this painting I was struck by the gypsy's elongated face and hands and by the way Modigliani outlined each field of color with a thin black line.  Almost cartoonish.

I decided when we started our monthly challenges that I would stick to the artists' color choices.  More or less.  There are two reasons for this:
  1. It is one less decision to make when starting the piece.  The colors are already chosen for me.  
  2. It forces me to work with colors I wouldn't normally choose.  I generally lean towards the warm side of the color wheel.  But I have found that my palette has expanded since I started "forcing" myself to work with cooler colors.  Which is a wonderful thing.
So, elongation and black lines.  In teals and rusts.  Easy peasy.  And fun!  I pulled some fabrics (including some very nice pieces from the Urban Artifacts line by Leslie Tucker Jenison) and started to piece elongated curves.  And to add a few black lines.

The result was this small piece:
Pods, 22"w x 17"h, © 2017
I have tentatively named it Pods.  I need to come up with a better title.  Any suggestions?

After quilting the Canyon quilt I felt I needed to try quilting with curvy lines again.  Although I liked the way that piece turned out, the lines of quilting on it were pretty straight despite my curvy intentions.   So I got a little wild with this one.  More curves than straight lines.
I initially quilted it entirely in curved lines.  But when I looked at it the next morning, I HATED it.  Honestly hated it.  So I went back and quilted the entire piece again with straight lines.  I didn't rip the curved lines out -- I just quilted over them.  Much better.
I think part of the problem was the density of the quilting.  I like it dense, and it wasn't.   And I like the crossing and intermingling of the straight and curvy lines.

I'm off to Houston for International Quilt Festival tomorrow.  I can't wait to see all of the exhibits and to catch up with friends I haven't seen in ages.  And to find out what award I've won!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Mudcracks in the Canyon -- Finished!

Mudcracks in the Canyon, © 2017, Heather Pregger
I finished quilting "Mudcracks in the Canyon" yesterday, and it is trimmed down to it's finished size.  32"w x 48"h.  After I posted the pictures last week, I decided the cliffs and sky needed to be a little more prominent.  So I added a little more cliff/sky/cliff along the top of the quilt.  What do you think?

Those of you who follow my work know that I usually quilt in long straight lines, 1/8" or so apart.  For this quilt I decided to quilt a few curved lines, mixed in with the straight lines.  To represent the wind in the canyon.
Mudcracks, Detail
It's a pretty subtle difference.  But I mention it because I found the whole experience rather amusing.  Apparently, after 5 or so years of quilting long straight lines, I find it very difficult to quilt a curved line.  I'd start each line on the left side fully intending to make it swoop and sway and realize about halfway through that I was quilting a very straight line.  I really had to concentrate.

I do love the slight variation, even if it wasn't as dramatic as I originally intended.

I plan to enter this piece in "Life Along the Rio Grande," a SAQA regional show open to members who live in the states the Rio Grande crosses.  SAQA exhibits, both regional and international, are fabulous opportunities to show quilts.  Most shows travel to many venues, showing off our work to hundreds or even thousands of people.  It's great exposure.
The original photo, taken in 1988 in Santa Elena Canyon
I'm linking this post with Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday, Confessions of a Fiber Addict and Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday.  Go see all the wonderful work there!

And the winner is......

Kathy E!  I hope you enjoy your copy of Improv Patchwork: Dynamic Quilts Made With Line and Shape!

Thanks to everyone who left a comment!

Remember, you can buy the book on Amazon or at C&T Publishing.  And Maria will be at International Quilt Festival next week -- you can get a copy of it from her there!

Monday, October 23, 2017

Improv Patchwork Blog Hop: a Review and a Chance to Win a Copy!

Maria's New Book -- It's FABULOUS!
I remember walking into a class at the Crow Timber Frame Barn seven years ago.  It was an intermediate class with the famous Nancy Crow, and I was very much a beginning art quilter.  The class was filled with students who were far more advanced than I was, and I was thoroughly intimidated.  Everyone around me was cutting, sewing and pressing at lightening speed. I was literally too scared to move.

Luckily there was Maria Shell, sitting across the room.  She was one of the advanced students, and she took pity on me.  She patted me on the back and encouraged me to leap in and get to work.  She convinced me that I could do it.  And that class turned out to be one of the most exciting classes I’ve ever taken.  I’ve never looked back.

As Maria says in her new book, “A quitter rarely succeeds, and a finisher almost always ends up with something.”  And thanks to her, I did.

Maria does many things well.  She is an innovative quiltmaker, an inventive artist, a creative colorist and a great writer.  But I think one of her greatest strengths is her ability to teach the fundamentals of her art, and to encourage and nurture others to become better quilt makers.
Boulevard by Maria Shell
Her new book, Improv Patchwork: Dynamic Quilts Made With Line and Shape, is quite simply fabulous.  It is full of inspiration, encouragement and some of the clearest instructions I've ever read.  She takes the reader through the whole process of improvisational patchwork, starting with the basics:  selecting equipment, collecting supplies and organizing the workspace, color selection, palette building, rotary cutting (both with and without a ruler!) and pressing.  Then she gets into the really fun part: making prints from solid fabrics.  Stripes, polka dots, plaids, triangles, tracks, chevrons, herringbones  and checks — she shows how to make the pieces that will make quilts dynamic and successful.
Rattlesnake (detail) by Maria Shell, made with short-row stripes and triangles
Confetti (detail) by Maria Shell, made with polka dots
Don't miss the “tips” sections!  They may be my favorite parts of the book.  Read the tips and put them into practice — they will help you become a fearless quiltmaker like Maria!

If you are interested in improvisational piecing, you NEED THIS BOOK!   You can order it on Amazon or at C&T Publishing.

Or you can leave a comment at the end of this post to enter a drawing for a copy of the book!  Leave your comment by midnight Alaska time on October 26 and I will randomly select a winner.  USA residents will receive a hard copy of the book, international residents will receive the digital version.  Winners will be announced on October 27.  Good luck!
Roadrunner by Maria Shell
Be sure to visit the rest of the stops on the tour to learn more about Improv Patchwork!

October 16—C&T Publishing
October 18—Yvonne Fuchs at Quilting JetGirl
October 19—Amy Ellis at Amy’s Creative Side
October 20—Deborah Boschert at Deborah’s Journal
October 21—Kathy Doughty at Material Obsession
October 21— Terri Lucas at Generation Q Magazine 
October 22— Wendy Hill at Wendy Hill’s Blog—Fun Quilts Stuff & More 
October 23—Cindy Grisdela at Cindy Grisdela Art Quilts
October 24—Heather Pregger at Heather’s Blog
October 25—Maria Shell at Tales of a Stitcher 
Maria and I at International Quilt Festival, 2015
Don't forget to leave a comment for a chance to win!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Mudcracks in the Canyon

Thirty years ago I went rafting down the Rio Grande.  It was a wonderful trip -- beautiful canyons and valleys by day and the most vivid stars I'd ever seen at night.  I snapped a lot of pictures, of course.  This is one of them. 

I was fascinated by the pattern of the mud cracks then and I am fascinated still.  So I decided to try to recreate them in fabric.  After all, it's what I do.

I pulled fabrics and got to work.  The mud cracks went together quickly...
The black lines on the design wall are the finished size of the quilt.  It will be 32"w x 48"h after quilting.
Yesterday I pieced the green reeds on the side of the canyon and today I pieced the cliffs.  And then I put it together.
The finished top is 38"w x 54"h.  Hopefully that will leave me a lot of room for quilting and binding. I'm hoping to enter the quilt in a SAQA regional show, Life Along the Rio Grande.  The deadline is looming!

I'm linking up with Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday, Confessions of a Fiber Addict and Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday.  Go see all the wonderful work there!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Fiber Abstractions!

Last night was the opening reception of Fiber Abstractions at North Lake College in Irving.  The exhibit featured quilts by Carol Trice, Sue Benner, Barbara Oliver Hartman and me.
The usual suspects
North Lake College has a beautiful gallery, a big, bright and open space in the center of the campus.
North Lake College, Irving, Texas
Steven Benezue, the Gallery Director, did a wonderful job curating the exhibit. 
The artists with Steven
I snapped a few pictures before the show opened.
Work by (l to r) me, two by Barbara, two by me and Carol  
A quilt by Sue
Work by (l to r) Sue, Barbara and Carol
The Salt Marsh Quilt hung near the refreshment table
The jazz combo played all evening
The exhibit is open until November 9th.  And if I do say so myself, it is a wonderful selection of abstract quilts!

With two of my favorite quilt artists!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The Opening of Fiber Abstractions is Today!

The receptions is today at 4:30 pm at North Lake College.  I hope to see you there!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Inspired by Degas -- The Art With Fabric Blog Hop

Alida P of Tweety Loves Quilting has organized a blog hop featuring quilts inspired by works of art.  I was excited to be asked to participate.  I love to challenge myself by choosing a known object, for example a painting, a building, a sculpture or even another quilt, and using it as a jumping off point to make a unique piece of my own.

The theme this time around was Mother Nature.  I chose a painting that celebrates the female form.

This summer, the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, hosted an exhibition of paintings from the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC.  It included paintings by an amazing number of famous modern painters: Matisse, Van Gogh, Mondrian, Rothko, Monet, Manet and O’Keefe, and many many more.  One painting that caught my eye was a large piece by Edgar Degas, Dancers at the Barre, which he painted sometime around 1900. 
Degas, Dancers at the Barre, c. 1900
Degas was fascinated by the ballet.  He frequently painted scenes of dancers both onstage and backstage, depicting the grace and beauty of the performance and the unglamorous lives of the dancers behind the scenes.  Dancers at the Barre depicts two dancers stretching backstage before a performance.  It is a very large piece, and painted largely in orange and turquoise.  It definitely commands attention.
I decided to create my own abstract piece about dancers inspired by the painting.   So I squinted at the painting and decided that two things jumped out at me: the orange and turquoise color scheme and the curves and angles of the bodies of the dancers.  (As an aside, I find that squinting is a very valuable tool in abstraction.  If you blur out the picture itself, somehow, you can break the piece into the basic elements of its composition.)

I pulled a variety of shades of turquoise, orange, cream and black/gray and started to cut freehand curves.  I love to piece curves.  But I find that it helps a great deal if I make a few chalk marks to match up after I cut the line:
Chalk marks across the cut line

And it helps if I pin carefully:

If I’m careful with the cutting, marking and pinning it is a breeze to sew a smooth curve.  Well, except for a little interference from my studio assistant: 

 After the first afternoon, I had this:
I liked it and thought I was perhaps finished.  I left it hanging on my design wall overnight.  A few hours away from a composition always helps me evaluate it more objectively.  When I walked in the next morning, I stared at it for a while, and decided to make it larger.  
I got to work.  First, I added another section:
Here is the piece at the end of the second day:
I was liking the movement and the interplay/interconnectedness of the piece.  With each addition it was moving further from the inspiration piece.  Intentionally.
At the end of the third day, I had tried different arrangements of the sections I had pieced together.  It went through several iterations:

And ended up here:
Dancers by Heather Pregger, 29"w x 24"h, © 2017
So the end piece does not look much like the inspiration painting.  But isn’t that the point?  

Visit the other artists in the Art With Fabric blog hop!  This week also features posts by:

Monday, October 9th, 2017

Tuesday, October 10th, 2017
Krysia, Hosted by Alida

Wednesday, October 11th, 2017 

Thursday, October 12th, 2017 

Friday, October 13th, 2017 

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