Friday, July 14, 2017

What I Will and Won't Do

Yesterday, what I didn't show you was this photo. I didn't show you because I didn't like it. Readers told me they liked the beige.

Well that's nice, but it just doesn't work. For one thing, do you think that beige looks strong enough to hold up that barn? Nope, it "reads" as a hole." It is too wimpy. See that window over on the left? Does it look like the background? Like you are looking THROUGH something? It does not. The beige is too insubstantial and not strong enough. Not physically strong to appear to be sitting on the ground and supporting the roof and other elements. It looks flimsy. You can disagree all you want. You will still be wrong. Don't bother trying to convince me otherwise.

It's kinda funny. I tell folks that I have no interest whatsoever in making pictorial quilts because dammit, if I want a picture I will paint one. Because, yeah, I can do that. And I know how to draw too. (See the photo of one of my drawings on this page if you don't believe me.) So I balance a fine line when I choose to interpret a real barn in fabric. Intellectually I know it won't match what's in my head, but when what comes out in fabric doesn't match reality some part of me rebels.

I will tell you that I have no interest in making a 100% accurate representation of my brother's barn. And yet, I want to come close, but I don't want this barn to look like it came out of a kid's coloring book. (I like to think I'm more sophisticated than that.)

It occurs to me that I have never spoken about two (ok, three) absolute rules in my quilts that I always follow.

1. Use the fabric as it is. Which means I will use fabric I can buy somewhere. I can fussy cut it or use the wrong side, but I will not dye it or otherwise tinker with it. That makes it all the more challenging. If I run out of something, I will search through my stash to find something else that can work as well in its place, not whine that I can't finish because I need more of the exact same fabric.

2. I will not paint or dye my own fabric. Why? Because, what the fart? If I want to paint, I'm gonna PAINT!

(begin rant)
 Frankly, I feel that a perfect patchwork pictorial or painted quilt is a misapplication of the medium. What that means is that I think it's a waste of time and materials. Because if you want a picture, paint one. I cannot tell you how many pictorial quilts I see (and many have prize ribbons hanging from them) that have bad drawing mistakes. Mistakes in proportion, in shading and composition. Bad, bad, bad. And I am not impressed with a quilt that has been traced from a photo, hand colored and quilted. Again, so what? Don't bother arguing with me about this either.
(end rant)

3. Patchwork only. No applique, no embellishments. Frankly, limiting myself to patchwork is more challenging, more technically demanding and more interesting. I love the Baroque style, but I hate the Rococo. If you can tell the difference, then you'll understand. Applique and embellishments are just too much. Yeah, I know I go overboard with ideas, but I don't go overboard with frou-frou busy junk all over my quilts. (My apologies to all you talented applique artists out there. You do great stuff, but it just isn't my thing.)

4. I quilt by check, which means somebody else quilts my quilts. Which means they do what I want. My patchwork is the STAR OF MY SHOW. I don't want somebody else to muck it up with cutesy crap. I do not ever want anybody to look at one of my quilts, and think the quilting is the best thing on it. That's like saying the frame is better than the painting in it. So "threadwork" is a no-no in my quilts. Are you making a quilt or doing embroidery? Make up your mind. They both don't belong in the same place.
(Yeah, I know this is four. I can count. I'm an artist, not a bean counter.)

Opiniontated little sh*t, aren't I?  Yeah, I know.

So where does that leave my barn? Well, this is what I am currently leaning toward...

here is a closeup

and that comes from this...

Yup, I cut 1-1/2" crosswise strips of this fabric and then sewed them so the stripes did not align.

I originally planned to use this as the shingles on the wall above the barn door, but they were too busy for an area that needed to be dark.

This is the kind of thing I keep talking about in my Make Your Fabric Work For You tutorial,
how to pay attention to what your fabrics can do for you by looking at them in fresh ways. Like I tell my students, "don't be so literal" when choosing fabrics for your barn block. Just because you see fabric that looks like siding doesn't mean you can ONLY use it as siding or fencing. Stripes and ruler fabrics can work just as well.

WELL!! I certainly didn't know ALL THAT was coming when I sat down to write about where I am in this barn block. You'll see more, because my self-imposed deadline is to have this barn block panel finished to show at the next Build A Barn class at Quilted Threads in Henniker NH on July 22. That class is sold out, and there is a waiting list for another class that will be scheduled later.

But hey, you'll get to see all the steps from now until I get something I like, and as usual, I'll tell you what I am thinking, and how (and why) I get from point A to point B (and B-yond).

(I love a good pun.)


Nancy J said...

This makes so much sense,( for want of a much better word) out of your decisions. like the diamonds, as you gradually changed some, then others, I will wait till this is exactly as you want it. What a novel way to strip cut, and sew up again, so the strips are not matching but random, in every narrow row.

joe tulips said...

It's kind of like taco pizza. I don't like it. I want pizza when I have pizza. If I wanted taco, I would go have a taco. Now I need to go check out the two styles. I only know baroque from the old beauty and the beast. The dishes and furniture were singing. I suppose a person could say I need to get out more.

Lori R. said...

Yay, Lynne. I find myself leading a weird double quilting life. I started out learning traditional quilting from traditional quilters 30+ years ago. Now I own a quilt shop, so I still have to hold classes and show people how to make quarter inch seams and half square triangles.

Then I found Gwen Marston (free form). Then Jan Mullen (free form pictures). Then Tonya Ricucci (free form letters). Then Scott Murken (free-hand curves). Then Rayna Gillman (skinny strips and composition), then Sujata Shah (almost-traditional patterns cut with curves). Some of my quilts are pictoral, many more are abstract.

That's the long way around it, but I want to tell you that I do agree with MAKE A QUILT IF YOU WANT A QUILT. I am not above a little beading or stenciling, but there is a professional "quilter" here in NC who is making leather quilts. They are interesting and some quite attractive, but they are not quilts. There's my rant for the day.

Rita K said...

Love this! I want to do landscape quilts but dont want to do thread work or applique or embellishments and love that you do it with piecing!

susanne fyfe said...

I love it when artists share their process! Thank you for sharing.

Pat said...

I don't care for the beige either. I agree with a lot of the things you say in your rant, partularly about if you want a picture, paint one. :D I don't disagree with the rest; I just don't know enough to agree or disagree.

Mari said...

I agree that the beige does not work. When I look at it, I see the two slabs of beige as barn doors themselves, sliding on the rail that is formed by the fabric above the crosspiece doors. I'll bet that fabric you have picked out will look closer to what you're wanting. The barn will be awesome after all the trial and error and effort you've put into it. Thanks for sharing your "rules," too. I admire quilts of all types, but that doesn't mean I want to make them myself. And embellishments on quilts are one of my pet peeves. It's a quilt, not a jewelry rack! Enjoy your barn building! The process itself can be frustrating, but that's a part of the fun, isn't it?

Rebecca said...

I have said it before and I will say it again.
I love seeing how your mind works when you "create" a quilt.
It gives a lot of insight to an individual creative process!

Ann said...

Even though I suggested painting the beige a bit darker in your last post, I actually wouldn't do it myself. I've taken classes and enjoyed the process but I prefer using printed fabrics to painting and dyeing my own. However, I do want to try applique again. Like you, I only quilt for my own pleasure so I try to make sure I'm having fun with whatever I do.
Great idea to cut that random stripe up and resew it. Plus, I like your light yellow around the barn door windows. It looks like morning light hit them. They glow!

Sandi said...

Now that you showed the larger view of the barn I completely agree with you. Not seeing the bigger picture makes such a difference. Sometimes we get caught up on the details and forget to take a step back and consider the overall look when you strop back.

I know just the right thing will find its way into your life. Thanks for sharing your though odes see with us.

Mystic Quilter said...

Oh how I have loved reading this post!! I couldn't agree more with your four absolute rules - good for you for being up-front with them.

Brown Family said...

I did like the beige, at first. But it did not represent the true colors of the barn. It had a nice wood grain, but that was all. Then I saw the window and wondered what is up with that! Are you going to use the stripes for the lower barn boards? I will keep watching this come together!

Kaja said...

Great post!

Jennifer said...

I'm with ya! I couldn't say it so eloquently, but I'm all in!