I just came back from another two weeks at the Barn studying under Nancy Crow’s supervision. This time I was spending some intense time trying to continue my development as an artist. While I have had a lot of training in representational art, I am extremely weak when it comes to abstract art. I really just don’t “get it” a lot of the time, but I want to continue to increase my appreciation and understanding of it. One way for me to increase that appreciation is for me to try to make some, so that has been my focus for the last two weeks. I have to say, I’ve really enjoyed cutting up yards of fabric, sitting at my machine for hours on end, cutting up my units some more, and sewing it all back together. You are probably a quilter if you understand what a luxury it is to do that for ten whole days!!! Plus, I was surrounded by some fabulous quilters who really do some wonderful non-representational artwork, so that was a treat, too.
We began the workshop with everyone taking a turn showing their work and talking about it. That was amazing and overwhelming, and it took the first day and a half for all twenty people to have their turn. Then we went to our machines. We were free to proceed in whatever direction we wanted.
I went into this workshop with no expectations other than to just sit down and do the work, so I wondered a little bit about where to begin. Nancy wasn’t available to talk through ideas right then, so I spent a few minutes talking to the artist next to me who I knew from previous workshops. She makes amazing art, and I really respect her opinion. She mentioned how much she liked a certain part of one of my other quilts, so I decided that was a good place to start.
I quickly grabbed several different blacks and several different whites, cut them in long strips, and started piecing. It was nice to be able to jump right in with a plan. For once, I didn’t grapple with procrastination. I just wanted to get something up on my design wall so a big blank area wouldn’t be staring at me. By the end of the first day, I had two columns of blocks on the wall, which I thought was pretty good. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I was getting there fast.
I worked hard on Wednesday, too. By lunchtime I had three more rows completed, and I had already used five bobbins full of thread. By quitting time, I had two more rows and had used three more bobbins of thread. I had also begun adding in some purples and soft ivory colors into the piecing.
Again, I wasn’t really sure about the overall effect or if it would be successful, but I decided to keep pushing forward. I decided I wanted to add even more color. There is something to be said for trying to just be fearless and not worry about the end result. By Thursday at lunch my collection had grown to ten columns gradating from pure black and white on the left and more purples and soft tans on the right. By dinner time on Thursday, I had twelve columns and I had already used thirteen bobbins of thread.
I was ready to quit until Nancy suggested that I make three more columns. I decided I would trust Nancy’s experience and as soon as dinner was finished, I went back to my work area and started cutting more strips. This time I eliminated all the blacks, grays, and pure whites, and only used purples and soft yellows. Using only color was a welcome change for me. I do not typically enjoy working with large quantities of black.
That was the end of three and a half days of non-stop sewing: 210 little 5″ blocks! I know about now I’m usually showing you a picture or two. Sorry! Nancy suggested keeping it under wraps while I continue to explore the possibilities.
I sat and studied it for a long time afterwards. I’m still not sure what to think about it. I did receive a lot of positive feedback from Nancy and others in the class as well as those in the dyeing class downstairs. That was really nice! One time while I was walking down the aisle to my workspace I was surprised by seeing the undulating lines across the quilt. And I enjoyed seeing the unusual glowing shapes that emerged ones blocks were joined.
Despite enjoying my time there, I was also looking forward to going home to see my new grandbaby. Oh, and my family, too! Week two would come soon enough.