Tag Archives: Art

More Drawings I Found

I’m still working on my red and white quilt. There are parts covering my design wall. I’m paper piecing the triangle borders. It is a slow, fussy process, but in fact I don’t mind it at all. Would not want to work this way all the time, but it’s fine for now.

Since it is all “parts” and not much new to show, I thought I’d share other drawings I found while looking for newsprint.

One of the drawings is dated 2003, and the other two would have been from the same general time. Coincidentally, or not, I made my first quilt in late 2003 for the birth of a granddaughter. At the time I assumed — I said out loud, numerous times — that I’d never make another quilt. Instead, I didn’t draw anymore, and I did make another quilt in early 2005.


A young boy. Drawn from a photo of a painted portrait. The painting was likely from the early 1800s.

The next drawing is of Victor Weisskopf. He was a physicist with a wide-ranging and impressive career, including working on the Manhattan Project and chairing the physics department at MIT. The black-and-white photo I used to draw him was so striking, with beautiful lines and shadows of his strong features.

In these days when science and basic research are threatened, it’s worth noting this 1969 quote from Weisskopf: “The total cost of all basic research from Archimedes to the present is less than the value of ten days of the world’s present industrial production.”


Victor Weisskopf, physicist. Drawn from a photo of him found in a magazine.


Drawn from a magazine ad.

I’ve had fun looking back at these old pictures, and I might muster the ambition to draw again. But there are always so many things to do, aren’t there?

Are there any arts or crafts from your past that you’ve given up? Did you play an instrument or tat or needlepoint? How about intricate origami? Any of them you’d like to resurrect? 

Power Builders 03.13.15

This is Week #6 of my Power Builders creative links. If you’d like to see last week’s, you can find it here.

I call this series “Power Builders” because that’s what these little items do for me. They make me more powerful in my art and in my life. I hope they do the same for you. Some of the links will be about how other creative people use their time, structure their work, find inspiration. Some may be videos, music, or podcasts to inspire you. Some of it will be directly quilt-related but much of it will not. What you see in Power Builders will depend on what I find. Feel free to link great things in comments, too.

Last week I gave you the link to J.J. Audubon’s free, high-quality downloadable art. This week there’s even more free stuff! Via Quilter’s Newsletter, here are links giving free access to some amazing resources.

1) First, openculture.com. They bill themselves as “The best free cultural & educational media on the web”. Just for starters, there are free online courses, movies, language lessons, and textbooks. I can’t begin to describe the posts there, as they cover such a wide range of cultural issues. Logical fallacies, Albert Einstein at the Grand Canyon, and the rules governing the conflict between the coyote and the road runner are just a few things you can find with a quick scroll through recent posts.

2) The American Folk Art Museum has made back issues of magazines available and searchable. “Nearly forty years or 118 issues of Folk Art (formerly The Clarion) have been fully digitized and are available online. Each issue is text-searchable and accessible at the links below. The magazine, published between winter 1971 and fall 2008, was one of the most important publications in the field of folk and self-taught artists, each issue containing scholarly essays written by leading experts, news, and illustrated advertisements from dealers and auction houses. It is an essential chronicle of the development of the field.”

The link isn’t especially intuitive to navigate, but be patient and you may be rewarded with the article “Talking Quilts”, beginning on page 32 of Spring/Summer 2004 issue.

3) The Guggenheim Museum has digitized more than 100 catalogs and made them available for free online reading. You can search by subject and date, among other features. For example, you can find the Kandinsky in Munich, 1896-1914 catalog.

4) The J. Paul Getty Trust is offering multiple publications free online. Be inspired by the colors of Cézanne, examine the interrelationship between history and art history, or take a new look at the Renaissance, for just a few options.

5) Need public domain artwork for non-commercial purposes? The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is offering more than 400,000 high-quality digital images. No other permissions or fees are required. Quilters may find some of Paul Klee’s works especially interesting. 

Thanks to Quilter’s Newsletter for providing the links to these wonderful resources.

What has inspired you this week? Let us know in comments.

Design Process — Inspiration!

Where do you find inspiration for your work? Some people look to nature for color palettes, or to their religious beliefs for motifs, or just to the sweet smell of a clean baby for the soft theme of a nursery quilt.

Shirley at 2 Busy Hands found a great piece of wall art to share. The central design is off-center and surrounded by strips of color that relate perfectly. Go to her blog to see this wonderful painting. Note the first picture, and the man in the lower left corner. That gives a sense of scale.

Unexpected sources of ideas are everywhere. Think of architectural details, tiled floors, stained glass, skyscrapers…

Waterfront in Galway, Ireland; photo by Jim Ruebush

Textile factory, Lowell, MA; photo by Jim Ruebush

Sunrise, fields ready to harvest, gardens in bloom, the perfect meal…

Stone City, Grant Wood painting

Who are your favorite artists? Matisse, Klimt, Picasso, Chagall? Monet, Mondrian, Van Gogh? Why does their art appeal to you? Color, line, shape? Search for their pieces online, or head to your library or bookstore for pages you can spend more time with. See if you can understand what draws you to them in particular. Try to envision a quilt project incorporating what you see, as Shirley might attempt with her amazing wall art.

Here’s a fascinating source, perhaps better suited to art quilts than traditional. But perhaps not… Yesterday I stumbled on an NPR article called How to Draw Out Your Worst Fears. The articles discusses an artist named Julie Elman. A few years ago Elman began a new project, titled the Fear Project. Within the project she asked people to name and describe their fears. And then she illustrates them. Please take a look at the project. To move through the slide show and see more illustrations, just click. As she says,

I illustrate people’s fears. Working with their words, I just try to visualize what
those fears could possibly look like. I don’t dwell too much — I just let my intuition point the way, and I post my pieces no matter how I feel about them. It’s a good way to get over any fears I have about the creative process.

Fear not, I keep telling myself. Fear not.

It struck me from two directions. First, I have to continually challenge myself to push through creativity fears. Sometimes I’m successful, other times not so much. But second, LOOK at the beautiful pictures! Read the heart-rending descriptions of people’s innermost thoughts. Some you will nod with; others may seem silly. All of them are rendered with sensitivity and compassion.

Elman, the artist, is using words as her inspiration. You can use words, too. Is there a song that makes your heart soar or brings you to tears? A poem, or a love note? Can you represent it through choice of color or shape?

A memory… When my son was in high school and I was a new quilter, I made a big comforter for his bed. It was, in essence, one giant double nine-patch block, done in navy and dark green. I used a high-quality flannel sheet for the back, high-loft batting, and I yarn-tied it. There was no way that thing would get quilted. Shortly after I finished, Son had his wisdom teeth out and spent the rest of the day groggy and dozing in the recliner chair. Jim had taken him for the surgery and stayed home long enough to make sure things were okay. I had to work that day. While I was away from my desk, Son called and left a message. Sounding quite drugged, he told me how soft and cozy the new quilt was, that he was all snuggled under it and it was warm and soft… I didn’t delete that message from my phone until I moved to a different office and phone system. As we get inspiration to make our quilts, our quilts inspire others, as well. Even if just to make a special phone call. Oh — and that comforter is now on his bed at Vance Air Force Base.

What inspires you? Do you use art or nature or the personalities of those you love? How do you begin when you start a new project?