Chicken Butts

I haven’t spent much time in studio recently, focusing on writing and other parts of my life. This week Jim and I are happily immersed in family, enjoying time with both daughters and all seven grandchildren. This moment I am stealing a little time to show you a favorite inspiration piece.

Last evening as we talked with Daughter in MD and her oldest, they described Pinterest as a way of creating a wall of inspiration. “Name anything,” Daughter said to Jim, suggesting he name something and she would show him how she can pin pictures representing that idea.

“Chickens,” he said. She typed that into the search and up came a pageful of pictures about chickens. Some were roasted, some were dressed (in sweaters,) and others were roaming freely. One picture featured a method of roasting called “beer butt chicken.”

“We already have a great picture of chicken butts,” I reminded him.

Photo by Jim Ruebush. Aran Islands, Ireland, 2011.

This is one of my all-time favorite vacation pictures. I love the brilliant yellow contrasting with vivid red; the textures, smooth glass, feathers, peeling paint, bumpy stucco; long shadows cast from chicken butts by the high mid-day sun. The signs in the window, one commanding us to “GET INTO IT.” I even love the proportions of the photo, with how Jim cropped it to frame the chickens in the center.

Pinterest may be a fun and useful tool for many. But inspiration is all around when we are present to notice.

Where do you find your inspiration? Is it in the contrasting colors and textures of your garden? In the way small children mix stripes and prints freely? In the evening sky with trees silhouetted against the rising moon?

19 thoughts on “Chicken Butts

  1. Kathy Aho in MInnesota

    I must admit that fabric is probably my main inspiration 70% of the time. Patterns or blocks inspire me too about 10% of the time. The rest of the time (maybe 20%) it is the people I am quilting for are the inspiration in that thinking of them and their interests set the themes or colors. I rarely use a photo or a item from nature as direct inspiration. If I am looking for fun color combos to go with a main color that I have chosen, I often go to Design Seeds website and look at all their lovely color combo swatches. Either way we do it, pulling fabrics for a quilt is a fun process!


    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      It is fun, isn’t it? I think the “now” inspirations, for me, are more helpful in my overall creative thinking than in designing any particular quilt. For instance, with the chicken butt picture, the strong colors and definite contrast remind me of how much I love that kind of drama. A gardening magazine, on the other hand, reminds me of how many ways we can mix pastels and brights with a neutral (green) and make it work well. When I want to combine stash fabrics, these reminders serve me to try some combinations I might not otherwise.


  2. farmquilter

    Inspiration can be found anywhere…I’m drawn to floors and architecture – reminds me of modern quilts! And those patterns are not only great for piecing quilts, they make fabulous quilting patterns!


  3. KerryCan

    Such a fun photo–so much going on in it! It seems that, lately, my inspiration has come from words and looking for ways to include them or convey their meaning in the things I’m making.


  4. laura bruno lilly

    I’ve never associated Ireland with bold vivid colors before, but Jim’s photo has blown that stereotype out of my brain. 😀
    Since you mentioned inspiration alongside the photo, I’m wondering if something inspirational came of it and onto your fabric…


  5. Elizabeth E.

    Great photo! (And you had to travel to Ireland to get it.) I love it for all the reasons you do–color, cropping and that random word strip sticker. Thanks for sending me your link, in response to Inspiration. (I also like those feathers!)

    Fun to read about searching on Pinterest and ending up at a window in Ireland!
    [By the way, I haven’t clicked “notify me of follow-up comments” so if you want me to see your reposes, just copy and paste my email address into the address box. Thanks.]



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