Nancy Crow workshop: sets and variables, days 1 and 2

What? Another Nancy Crow workshop? Spend an entire week sitting in a barn in the middle of nowhere? I must be crazy! What am I doing in a workshop where I’m actually sewing seams? And I’m loving it, too. If someone is familiar with my quilts, inevitably they ask why I am taking these classes since it’s so different from portraits. I typically say I’m “cross-training.” Or maybe I’m just greedy, and I want to do some of everything. It actually started because I wanted to learn more about color and I wanted to work more improvisationally.

I don’t know if you’ve ever taken an intense, five-day workshop before. While we are pampered with gourmet lunches and dinners for the whole week, we also work many, long hours every day. It ends up being both exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. I’ve heard it said that Nancy’s workshops are roughly the equivalent of a graduate level college course all crammed into one week. By the end of the week, my mind was somewhat numb and I just couldn’t think anymore.

This time I took “Sets & Variables III.” Never mind that I never took part 1 or 2. That class was full, so I ended up in this one. I was rather lost, so it probably would have been better if I had taken the first two parts. Oh, well.

Before we even arrived, we were supposed to create a series of small symbols or “motifs.” Basically a simple black and white mini composition of a few lines like the ones I used, shown above. Then, our first assignment was to take one motif and stretch it or reshape it several different ways, each time getting freer and freer in our interpretation of it. Then we added a second symbol and repeated the exercise. Then we added a third motif, and finally a fourth.

We started with just two colors, using all the lightest tints of one and all the darkest shades of the other. I decided to challenge myself to use colors I don’t normally use. I began by pulling all my pale yellows and deep reds. Then I sat and stared a bit, wondering where to start. I plunged in by cutting strips of reds until I had a nice little pile, and away I went on my adventure of trying to be brave and free. Let me just say, it’s hard work being “free” and trying to be inventive and fresh repeatedly! After our first set of three, we started adding in more colors. I decided to add more oranges, followed by some greens and browns. When I was done, I realized that these were many of the same colors that I used in “Windblown” and even “Embrace 1.” I guess I’ve been trying to make peace with yellow and orange for a long time 🙂

We ended up with twelve small compositions which we combined into a single quilt top. Naturally, I didn’t quite finish. I’ll have to complete it later, but I really had fun with this first exercise. It would be well worth repeating a few times this winter, but first I need to get a daughter married off!

2 Responses

    • Maria

      I spent at least ten years wanting to take one of her classes! I feel so blessed to finally be able to.