Saturday, November 28, 2009

I just finished this quilt, and am still trying to figure out what to think of it! I started with large rectangle-shaped pieces, but then found the 2 dark blue curved pieces. I made other curved pieces, and love how they combine and form other shapes. I plan to do more like this; I can see that there is a new world out there of all kinds of shapes. I am reminded of a quote by Georgia O'Keefe: " I found I could say things with color and shape that I couldn't say any other way - things I had no words for." I think this is on the wall at the Georgia O'Keefe museum in New Mexico.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I feel excited and honored to have been selected to be in the quilt show, Form Not Function, Quilt Art at the Carnegie, beginning January 8, 2010. My quilt Dividing Spaces I was selected. I can't wait to see all the quilts that will be there! This is my first quilt show, so I am very happy!

Monday, November 9, 2009

I am really excited by the direction I am headed with this quilt! I was inspired by a quick weekend trip to New York. After rushing through the Guggenheim and part of the Metropolitan I began to think more about quilts as art, and how they could look. I love to look at abstract and modern art, and the ways color and shapes are used. An exhibit of Kandinsky was showing at the Guggenheim, and I want to look more at his work. I plan on exploring shapes and colors in new ways.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

These are my most recent quilts. Although I like the use of color and line, I am bothered by the fact that they are not what I had in mind. I began with a drawing, and had some idea in mind of what I was striving for, but the end result was quite different. At first I thought, oh well, that is what happens, but as I was doing the hand sewing I realized that it bothered me. I got to the end and didn't like the way it was going, and couldn't come up with a solution that worked with the original thought. I cut, and moved things around until it became something I liked, but I had lost track of my goal.
So my new way of doing things is going to be to start with a written goal; something I can refer to as I work. I want it to be very specific. I may not have a drawing in mind, but I would like to have an idea I am working on.

How do you begin a project?

Friday, October 9, 2009

This is my latest quilt called Colorplay/pink. I am hoping it is the last of quilts with little pieces. I keep trying to work in bigger shapes, but end up small. But at least I tried a new color: pink! yes it is crooked, it came out that way.

I have a change in my schedule with work, so I am going to be able to work on my quilts more. I am looking forward to really getting into the process, and not have to have my ideas pile up in my head and in my sketchbook before I am able to do something about them.

Friday, September 11, 2009

No Rules!

I put up a sign this week so I could see it as I sewed quilting lines on a triangle quilt. I was thinking that when you make traditional quilts, there are a lot of rules, but with art quilts, there are not...or are there? I think sometimes I have a rule I am following but I am not aware of it. It may have to do with colors I am using, or how I am sewing pieces together, or the size of the shapes. I feel I am following fewer rules, but at times the subconscious rules get in the way. I want to have in mind what I am trying to do; start with no rules and decide what guidelines I am using.

I am experimenting with curves after seeing some wonderful quilts. After trying a few things I think lots of curves are not for me, or maybe I just need more time to work with them. I do like the curves on the quilting lines. This is opening up a whole new thought process for me now; the edges of the quilt are squared, but do all the sewing lines need to be that way too?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I decided to go back to the familiar, and that is what this quilt seems to be. After trying new things; I am not sure of what I have done, and I am not ready to show them yet! I don't feel sure if they are in a direction I want to be going. So, bright colors, strips sewn, cut and re-sewn in columns are a familiar way to go. But I have done something new in the quilting; wavy lines that sometimes cross over each other.

Now I have been working on triangles, sewn together and cut up and re-sewn in new ways. I like the way it is turning out!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

I feel like I haven't done much this summer in terms of quilting, but these are pictures of what I have done. We are back from all our vacations as school starts next week.

Each day I go for a walk on a path along a prairie restoration area, and 3 of my quilts are inspired by the colors in different lighting that I have seen when I walk. The green quilt is more subdued, but it is the first one I did, and is a more literal view than the others. Sometimes when the sun is bright, and there have been many flowers in the grasses you realize how many colors there really are on the prairie. On our vacation in Wisconsin we walked along a marsh, and there was a big open are of grasses and prairie flowers that were beautiful.The last quilt is maybe the first in another series as I try to use basic shapes that are larger and fewer colors. Now I am looking forward to seeing where these lead me.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


I have been gone a lot this summer, which is nice but now it seems hard to find my groove. I have cleaned, put away, done laundry and finally decided it was time to get started on a quilt project. I am trying a second quilt in an idea I had for prairie grass. The first used subdued colors, but now, after seeing the grass in the early morning bright sun, I am using brighter colors. Once I am not so frustrated, I will post a photo.

Sometimes I listen to music as I sew. Other times it is too distracting. But when I got home I turned on the CD player and have been listening again to Edgar Meyer, a string bass player who has some CD's with YoYo Ma, as well as Joshua Bell. I am listening to his solo CD, where he has written all the music, and is playing all the instruments himself. He uses some interesting meter changes, other times it only sounds like the music is in an odd meter. It is wonderful to hear his lyrical pieces on the piano, and it is amazing to think he is playing it all himself. He shows how beautiful a string bass sounds!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Sharing a Sketchbook

My sister and I have sketchbooks that we share. Of course, I have a sketchbook I keep for myself, but it is interesting to share one with another artist. She is a watercolor artist, and we find we share the same joys and sorrows in our art! I write something in my sketchbook about what I am working on, then mail it to her. She writes something, often reacting to what I have written and sends it back. We started this several months ago, and have really gotten a lot out of the process. We write about what inspires us, what frustrates us. Of course our entries include things cut out of magazines we think the other person can relate to, pictures of something we are working on, something we remember from the past that relates to the present.

My main problem is that I need to have it sitting out so I see it, then I remember to write in it! I am finding it interesting to look at what I have written as I get better as an artist, and it is fun to hear what someone else thinks. Is there someone you can share a sketchbook with?

Friday, June 5, 2009

I have been making some small quilts this year as I work on quilts for the book Robin and I are working on. My goal is to make a large quilt using few shapes, colors, and few but significant quilting lines. As I work on any quilt now, I am realizing it is easier to make a quilt using many colors and shapes, but using fewer makes it harder. Doing these small quilt studies gives me a lot to think about!

I had a wonderful time at the SAQA Symposium, and learned a lot at the workshops. It was so nice to meet Robin; she is just as nice in person as she is on her blog! We were both inspired at Quilt National. It is so amazing to see the quilts in person. You come home with a feeling of inspiration. I am trying now to get back on track with what I was doing before I went to Ohio. I have started a quilt inspired by prairie grass, and I want to continue in a series with this. Maybe I can post a picture of this soon.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

This quilt is one I recently finished. Sometimes it is funny what inspires you when you start a project. This time I was at my yoga class and someone in the class was wearing a sweater with horizontal stripes of many different colors. It did not make an impression on me until she took it off and threw it on the floor and the stripes were going different directions. Two of the colors were red and tan and that got me thinking...and starting a new quilt! Now I am finishing piecing a quilt, and wondering what I will start next. Nothing has come to me yet but I know something will inspire me to start something new.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

I made this quilt recently as a practice for a bigger quilt. I chose a few colors to start, then added as I sewed. I love the colors, and was happy to find another way to use a log cabin block. At first I tried another more curved quilting line, which really detracted from the lines of the quilt. I had to take it all out and stuck with the uneven grid pattern I have been using recently. I really feel I am finding my color palette!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I really need to dye more fabric, so I tried Melody's method for the first time. I really like the way the fabric turned out, and it was so easy to do! The color was fairly even, like I wanted it. I don't know if there is an advantage to using more water and adding soda ash later. Does anyone know? I hope to do more tomorrow. When I first started making art quilts, I was sure dyeing my own fabric was not something I was going to like. But I am addicted to it now!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I am feeling a little behind, having been sick for 2 weeks. So I am posting a photo of my pile of quilts that will be in the book Robin and I are planning. I hope you can see enough so that you are interested in the challenges we have come up with to create our book. Now I am working on a quilt that is based on the log cabin. It is amazing all the ideas that can come from that simple block. Add to that the hand cut line, and ideas seem endless. I am so glad to be feeling better, and can't wait to get back to new projects. Today I sold 2 more quilts, and that makes me feel humble. But I am running low on fabric!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Here is my latest little quilt. I am finding I have not many bits and pieces left over from the quilts I am making for the book. I feel the fabric I sew together is part of the creative process, it is a good feeling to use some of the leftovers from bigger projects. Sometimes, though, fabric I have sewn together just turns out to be something that was not a good idea from the beginning! This little quilt took awhile to figure out and in the end just needed to be turned, so the blue is horizontal.

While looking for something I found a book I was using to write quotes about creativity. Here is one by Twyla Tharp:

"The routine is as much a part of the creative process as the lightening bolt of inspiration, maybe more. And the routine is available to everyone."

Friday, February 13, 2009


After coming back from doing errands, I was thinking about two people I had seen whose clothing had caught my eye. A cashier at the bookstore was wearing a royal blue scarf that did not quite match her top, but looked perfect. I remember seeing her before, and she always has on some kind of scarf that is beautiful. A mother buying fabric with her daughter, was wearing a long skirt she must have made out of corduroy pants that were cut to be the front and back of the skirt, with panels of strip-pieced fabric running along the sides. As a person who tends to throw on a pair of jeans and get busy, I often wish I would look more creative in my everyday clothes! I really admire people who can put on something a little different and look completely at ease with what they are wearing. I'd like to be a little creative on the outside, as well as on the inside.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


At the beginning of the week I always feel frustrated in my quilting project. Especially when I am at a point where I am working through an idea. The first part of the week I am busy with music: I am giving cello lessons and playing in 2 orchestras. So working on art consists of looking at the fabric as I pass by my sewing table, and trying to work through ideas during the day. Sometimes I can stop and sew 2 pieces together, but most of the time I can't let myself get started! But I have to remind myself that this does usually work to my advantage: sometimes I need to step back and rethink what I am doing. I have found too, that I sometimes make a "rule" for myself that I don't realize I have made. Like "I want to use light fabrics, this time", or "I have to use this red", or the size of the pieces have to be a certain size. Then that can become a restriction, and keep me from moving forward.

Today I am trying to be less frustrated, and let the colors and shapes I have chosen play in my head throughout the day. Soon I will be able to get down to work and put them together in fabric.

Now, off to yoga!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

A nice Sunday coming to a close. We spent some time cross country skiing, something we started this winter, but hadn't done for many years. Of course, in Chicago we don't always have enough snow. But after awhile, it all comes back to you and it was so nice to be outside getting some exercise! But now it is nice coming inside to have some hot tea, and start making our Super Bowl dinner.

I am working on quilts for a book project with Robin, and have almost completed 3 quilts. I must admit it has not always been easy doing these. It reminds me of working on assignments for Nancy Crow workshops. Sometimes I think we get used to working on a project that comes from an inspiration, which is hard enough. But working on an assignment you have given yourself is harder to make it look spontaneous. I have solved that, I think, by doing little quilts as I go along. Here is my latest one: I want to explore the idea of using blocks of color.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

New Photos

I have added photos of my quilts from 2008. I may retake photos of them later, but here they are for now!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The process of creating a quilt begins with color; I dye my own fabric using 100% cotton fabric and fiber reactive dye. The design itself begins with an idea, inspired from shapes and lines observed in everyday life. I choose a combination of colors, and start cutting and sewing. The composition often changes as I work with colors and shapes on a design wall, cutting freely with a rotary cutter, and sewing by machine. The intent is a new way of looking at things, and reinterpreting old patterns.

I have worked for years as a classically-trained musician but I enjoy the improvisational and accidental in art. My wall quilts reflect my love of hand-dyed colors, repetition of patterns and lines, but include unexpected surprises. I appreciate the discipline necessary in playing cello and making quilts, and enjoy finding new ways to interpret traditional patterns. The colors of a quilt, and the sewing lines that join them, have a rhythm of their own. Like the notes in music, they become the voice of the artist.
All images and works are property of Gail Baar, and cannot be used without her permission. ©