Sunday, November 18, 2012

IQA Quilts - Water Inspired

A number of quilts were inspired by water including two that I saw with realistic 3D elements. The above photos are from Holly S. Altman's Tidal Pool: After the Storm. Is it not surprising  that Altman has marine biologist training. I loved the needle lace foam on the shell and the little sea urchins. This was another with an irregular edge that breaks the grid presentation.

Really enjoyed this piece by Linda Steele, called Natural Wonders. Loved the use of a border that framed the piece like an old oil painting, and the careful use of color and imagery to convey the water over the lower left starfish and the rocks on the lower right. This is a large piece, with wonderful dimensionality and depth conveyed with careful choices for sky, background land, stone arch and foreground. Steele really understands ways to convey depth and dimensionality. And then she has added exquisite little details in the foreground to catch the eye and delight the close up viewer. If you have a chance to see this piece in person, check it out carefully.

Carla Stehr created this delight, Moonglow Anemones with an irregular edge. She used organza quite effectively to convey the translucence of the anemone legs.

Pat Durbin created this lovely piece, called Beside the Still Waters, with great depth and intriguing foreground. This was another artwork with small pieced squares to give lots of visual interest.

This photo shows the lovely thread-painted trees on the right side. Her selection of quilting stitches for sky and water is well chosen.

More quilts of interest in my next post.

Let me know, are you bored with seeing an exhibition that is a couple of weeks old at this time?

Thanks for reading.


Friday, November 16, 2012

IQA Trends - New to Me

This was the first year I had been to IQA Houston in many years, but I saw several trends that may not be new to others but were to me.

The artist name is Naoko Takeshita. She called the quilt "Green Message"
I loved the muted palette, the exquisite hand embroidered clover flowers and the wonderful quilting. The texture is wonderful. It is hard to see, but this was one of the quilts with muted, patterned background fabrics. They add a real richness to the piece.
This is another of the muted backgrounds. The artist used a small stripe for the background. Wonderful hand applique work. This is another quilt where I do not have records of the quilter's name.

Loved this piece, called Tulip Fire by Susan Stewart, with its lovely textures, the embroidery, the exquisite quilting and the textures. Notice the pin tucks in the center of the top photo. This is another with a muted stripe for the background.

Another trend I saw was pictorial quilts with small pieced elements to add interest and depth to the imagery. In the top photo look at the interest added between tree trunks with pieced elements, also in the path, and the front vegetation. Sizes of pieces reminded me of the "watercolor" quilts of a decade or more ago, but in a new presentation.

I have a couple more IQA groups of photos to add, so let me know if your find them of interest.

Thanks for reading,


Sunday, November 11, 2012

More Quilts from Houston- African American Exhibition

The exhibition of contemporary African American quilts was delightful with lots of variety, from abstract to photo realism.  Dr. Carolyn Mazloomi curated the exhibition: A New Legacy Revealed: African American Quilts. Dr. Mazloomi assembled some very well known artists for the exhibition and some who were lesser known to me at least.

Here are a few photos of some of the work. Just a taste to whet the appetite.

The first three pieces all have some aspect where they break the traditional rectangular presentation. The first piece is by Carolyn Crump called Mae's Dance. The dancing figures are really captured and they break free of the grid to really enhance the feeling of the dance. Great presentation choice.

The second piece by Marlene Linton O"Bryant-Seabrook titled Dizzy: Bopped Out of South Carolina is another that breaks the grid presentation. The well known artist from South Carolina used the outline of the state to underscore the message of the title.

The third piece uses just the feet of the young girl to break from the grid. This charming piece is by Alice Beasley titled All My Roads Lead Back to You. This is based on a photograph of the artist's mother and grandfather. Great use of value and I love the darkened wall shadows behind the girl to make her stand out.

This interesting collage includes a dress that has been appliqued to the background. It is by Marion Coleman titled Downtown. Before the malls all ladies dressed up to go shopping downtown and that included not only a dress but gloves as well.

This stunning piece is by Juanita Yeager titled Franciscan Rose (Rose of Sharon). The composition is lovely but the quilting blew me away. In the second photo, look at the variety of detail added to the background with her quilting. And in the third photograph, look at the wonderful use of color to add the details to the center of the flower. Love the shadow on the rose. Great dimensionality.

The piece below is also by Juanita Yeager titled Hibiscus Syriacus (Rose of Sharon).  Yeager combines the tradition of quilting with the tradition of botanical art.

This is just a small taste of the quilts in this exhibition. Hopefully this is a traveling exhibition and can be seen by other audiences. It certainly deserves to be.

Please let me know if you are finding this series on IQA interesting. I have some more photos to share.


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Seasonal Palette Catalog and My Piece

The Seasonal Palette exhibition was stunning at IQA - Houston. The 37 selected artists were given the challenge of creating an artwork that represented a specific season at a specific size: 78" x 32". The individual quilts can be seen on the SAQA website in the quilts for sale section.

The curators did a magnificent job in selecting which quilt to be next to which quilt to make an elegant flow from one season to another. The quilts were placed on hard panels that elegantly framed each piece and that were
placed in a square with openings on two opposite sides. As you came in from the entrance, the flow of quilts began to the right with spring quilts, that flowed gently into summer quilts. At the opposite entryway, the fall quilts began and then merged into the winter quilts.

For various reasons, including a bad knee, one of the best things to me was the center of the room. Four benches were placed, each facing a different season. In the center of the room was a large draped table with the journals that each of the artists made of their processes. These were spell binding. They were so intriguing with photos and samples of the fabrics and even samples of some of the processes used, that I tried to read them all, but did not quite make it. From what I understand, the journals are being scanned and will be available as an e-book.
Winter Robins' Feast

I had a piece in the winter season, and was thrilled to be in such august company. Every quilt was stunning. And the variety was wonderful which made the job of the curators even more important in getting a highly cohesive exhibition. I blogged on my process earlier, you can see my embroidery work on this blog.

The catalog is hard cover and is worthy of the exhibition. Each quilt is presented full size and with a detail. At the back of the book are photographs of the processes used on a number of the quilts. It is a great buy at $20 and available in the SAQA bookstore.

You can see all the quilts in small icons on the same page. 

Let me know if you want to know more about IQA Festival. Feedback helps me know that I am not talking only to myself!


Friday, November 9, 2012

IQA Photos of Blue Ribbon Prize Winners

I have almost come back down to earth from the 2012 IQA show. There were stunning exhibitions, took lots of photos that I will share.

Here are some of my favorites from the prize winners in the IQA juried and judged exhibition.

 This was the Best of Show. I could never get close enough to get the artist's name or the name of the quilt. Exquisite piecing, quilting and lots of crystals. Even the back was stunning.

You are sure to see the photo published along with name of artist and quilt. *** America, Let it Shine by Sherry Reynolds.

Loved this portrait called Make You Happy by Brigit Aubeso Bell-Lloch. I am in awe of her portrayal of hair.

My Inner Raven is by Cat Larrea. I hope you can see the many colors in the ravens feathers. This was the top prize for miniatures.

The name really captures it. My eyes fairly dance across the surface of this color study.

This was another of the big money prize winners. This lovely piece is by Ruth Powers. I think it actually sold at the show. If not this one, another of Ruth's wonderful pieces in the show did sell. Lucky buyer!

There were lots more wonderful quilts and I will post more photos tomorrow.

Please let me know if you enjoyed these. Feedback helps me feel that I am not just talking to myself!


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Push Jewelry Give Away Announcement


You are the winner of the book: Push Jewelry. Congratulations, is is a delight. Just need your address.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Push Print - book Review and Give Away

Push Print is another of the exquisite little books on craft medium published by Lark Crafts. While print is not a form that I am knowledgeable about, the book is stunning.

The letterpress team made up of brothers Jamie and Keith Berger have selected over 30 contemporary print artists to feature in the book. Innovative work with letterpress, screen-printing, xylography, lithography, etching and multimedia and digital approaches push the limits of printing. 

While not versed in this craft form, I found the book very interesting. Anyone knowledgeable about print making is likely to thoroughly enjoy this little jewel in the Push series. 

If you are interested in owning this book, leave a comment on this blog -- look for the comment icon just below this post - with a way to contact you. I will be randomly selected someone to get this book in the mail (USA readers only, sorry) by mid November. Check back to see if you are the one selected.


Friday, October 26, 2012

Going to IQA Houston!

I am very excited to be going back to IQA Houston on Halloween. This is the first time in years that I have been to this Mecca for quilters, the largest conference, festival, market for Houston every year - between 30,000 to 60,000 quilters and quilt lovers will be there.

I elected to go this year because I have artwork in three exhibitions. One piece will be in the new exhibition: Seasonal Palette. The artwork in this exhibition has not be exhibited or shown before, so that will be exciting to see the work and how it is displayed.

SAQA has an auction of 12" x 12" art quilts donated by 144 members including a piece of my artwork.

And the other exhibition is of artwork by the 19 quilt artists selected for a book by Martha Seilman. I am thrilled to be one of the 19 featured artists in the book. Many of us will be at IQA to discuss our artwork, autograph books, and generally have lots of fun!

The Natural World
at International Quilt Festival
Houston, Texas
October 31 - November 4, 2012  

Nancy G Cook Mockingbird’s Larder
This exhibit features a lavish collection of art quilts, all focused on the natural world.  A corresponding book, Art Quilt Portfolio: The Natural World contains in-depth interviews with 19 top artists who specialize in the natural world, showing multiple artworks by each one along with nearly 90 additional gallery images.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Push Jewelry - Review and Give Away

Cover of Book- the Arrowhead is a cut out
Lark Craft has published another of the Push series  and like the others, it takes a craft form and lets selected artists push the medium to the limits. A well-designed book, it rests nicely in the hand to read at leisure. I love the brief interviews of the artists that are found on the bottom of pages of the artwork.

The back reads: "Discover 30 leading contemporary jewelers pushing the limits with their innovative designs. Necklaces, brooches, bracelets, and rings in an astounding diversity of materials are included in this thrilling gallery collection compiled by jeweler Arthur Hash. "

Some of the jewelry is actually wearable and I would love to have in my collection, but most I would display as art. A fun book to read and enjoy.

If you would be interested in owning this book, leave me a comment by November 4 - look for the comment area at the end of this post - and a way to contact to you.

I will post the winner a couple of days later. Check back to see if you are a winner-- USA bloggers only.


Sunday, October 7, 2012

I'm a Published Author!

Spring a year ago the editor of the SAQA Journal suggested that I write an article on a recently obtained commission. The recently published article is in the on line version of the Summer-Fall SAQA Journal. Written for fiber artists, it may be of interest to some of my readers.

 A Kousa for Mercy

by Nancy G. Cook

Nothing is more rewarding than receiving an email from an art consultant reading, “Hello, Nancy!
We are still working with CMC-Mercy and interested in knowing if Southern Hospitality and Summer Split are available?” It had been a couple of years since I’d first been contacted by an art consultant for a possible sale to CMC-Mercy Hospital. The sale to the hospital, unfortunately, did not materialize; but now, she wanted to present photos from my website to her client who, as it turned out, was the president of CMC-Mercy. While I was excited to get this email, after my previous experience I was less optimistic that a sale would actually occur.

She went on to present photos of my work, as well as the work of other artists, to her client, and got back to me several weeks later. This time the news was positive—Mercy wanted to purchase Southern Hospitality. Drat! Southern Hospitality would be traveling in the SAQA: Art Meets Science exhibition for another year.

The consultant then came back with the next question: “Would you be interested in doing a commission for the same client and location?” My answer was, of course, “Yes!” This time, the sale was going to happen.

This would be my second commission for a hospital. Research has shown that artwork that portrays realistic images of nature has positive effects on patient health, and many healthcare facilities are commissioning nature-inspired artwork. My artwork fits that bill — I have always had a love for the natural world, and my art has evolved to the point where I’m using my longtime reverence for nature as inspiration for my art quilts.

A Kousa for Mercy by Nancy G Cook
Nancy Cook with A Kousa for Mercy
32 x 52 inches ©2011
Initially, my work featured a number of different aspects of nature. Over the last several years I’ve found that focusing on one natural element—tree seeds and fruits—provides sufficient inspiration for my art. These natural themes based on tree life are endlessly fascinating, and allow me to convey my wonder with life’s rhythms and its gifts of maturity and potential new life.

The artwork would be a gift from the hospital to the doctors’ lounge. The consultant and I went to see the lounge to measure the space and to determine the ideal size for the piece, finally deciding that 32 x 52 inches ... seemed right for the space. Since the lounge had very blocky furniture with solid color surfaces, the design needed to be bold and not fussy. ... The room’s colors would work well as a background for my artwork, which currently features exaggerated-scale designs of realistic tree seeds and fruits. I would need to focus my designs for this room on tree specimens, such as the Kousa Dogwood and the southern magnolia, that were as bold as the scale of the furniture.

Since it was early summer, there were no specimens available of either of these species, so I pulled my photographs of Kousa Dogwood leaves and berries, and magnolia leaves and seed pods, to work up designs. These trees have bold leaf characteristics, and the seed pods and fruits are complex enough to provide interest at the detail level. The Kousa berry has wonderful details that are both organic and geometric in nature. My art quilt would be located at the lounge entry, welcoming doctors coming into the area, so I wanted to create artwork that would draw people’s vision toward it. I created two designs, one of the Kousa Dogwood and berry, and the other of the magnolia tree and seed pod, that would move visitors’ eyes into the room.

The next step was to select fabrics for the top of the quilt. I find that the luscious cotton dyed by Heide Stoll-Weber provides a low-contrast and moderately complex background that complements my designs but does not compete with them... . I narrowed the fabric selections to a bright gold piece and another piece that was more muted in softer golds and soft greens.
kousa photo kousa design
kousa design kousa detail

My biggest challenge in creating this artwork was designing it to a precise dimension of 32 x 52 inches, larger than my standard sizes. Since I work in a whole-cloth format with quilting unevenly distributed across the quilt, I never know exactly how much loss in size will occur. I use blocking and cutting to size to get the dimensions right.

I was ready to prepare for the presentation of the design and fabrics to the art consultant and the client. First I scanned the two fabrics, and then I scanned my hand-drawn designs. Using Adobe® Photoshop® Elements, I laid each of the two designs onto both fabrics. Printing these gave me good renditions of each design on each fabric, providing four different options. Then I colored the designs with pencils to give as realistic a rendition as possible. I also had one of the designs blown up to full size.

For the presentation, I took both of the fabrics, the full-size cartoon, and the four designs and two fabric options. We discussed the options and I was asked for my opinion. I recommended the Kousa Dogwood design on the more subtle fabric. Our native dogwood is succumbing to a fungus, Discula destructive, and botanists are cross-breeding the native with the Asian Kousa to produce a more disease-resistant hybrid with the familiar characteristics of the native dogwood. This disease-resistant hybrid has the potential to save our beloved native species, so it seemed an appropriate metaphor for a doctors’ lounge. I recommended the more subtle colors as better for helping doctors decompress in the lounge. The decision about what designs and fabrics to employ was complete. We also agreed that I would blog about the creation process.

The next step was to transfer the full-size cartoon of the design onto freezer paper. ...To allow maximum control, I use a stenciling process and create both positive and negative stencils with the freezer paper. The biggest challenge in working with this particular design was to create depth in the leaves so that some would appear in the foreground while others would appear to recede into the background. I used a variety of warm and cool greens ... to accomplish the layering. However, the color shifts had to be sufficiently subtle so that the leaves would read as if they were from the same branch, at the same time of year.

Since I wanted only a small amount of quilting on the leaves and the Kousa berry, I created some trapunto work to make them stand up and not wrinkle once I added dense echo quilting to the background. In order to give definition to the rounded berry, I stitched details on it through the top and extra padding. After machine-quilt outlining the design elements, I densely echo-quilted the background to provide a highly contrasting texture and line element.

I had been writing up my blog entries, but not posting them. When the piece was nearly finished, I began posting about the process of creating the artwork. On good advice, I ... posted details, but not the entire design until after the initial presentation to the hospital. Once presented, I posted the full design ....

Once quilted, I added details to the berry with hand-embroidered French knots. Final finishing of the quilt included ... attaching a label with my artist’s statement of inspiration, the pencil design, and my name and contact information. I signed the front of the piece and called the consultant to arrange for installation.

The consultant contracted with an experienced art installer, and the afternoon before the piece was to be presented, we met in the lounge for the installation. The installer measured, hung the piece on the wall, carefully cleaned it with a roller, and then installed a Plexiglas® panel in front of it on elegant aluminum bolts that contributed nicely to the impact of the piece. The quilt was covered until it was presented the next day to the president of the hospital, executive staff, and doctors.

At the installation, the piece was unveiled to applause, and I spoke briefly about the inspiration behind the piece. After the final payment, I took the consultant to lunch to celebrate, and upon her return to her office, she found that someone had sent an inquiry about purchasing one of my pieces for another hospital. What a terrific finale to our celebration!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

More Books on the Way

Just received a nice shipment of books from Lark Books that I will review by the end of the week. Stay tuned. They will be give aways to someone leaving a comment on my blog.

Now time for me to go read! I'm going to grab a cup of hot water tea, and sit down in a very comfy chair and have a ball! 


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Necklaceology - Review and Give Away

Candie Cooper has produced an excellent book with 40 necklace projects that are fresh and youthful. Subtitled: How to Make Chokers, Lariats, Ropes and More, the book delivers intriguing designs with a very current perspective.

The book begins with an extensive section on materials, tools and techniques that is among the best I have seen. This is a very rich section of the book with some findings, tools and techniques that I have not seen in other books.

The projects are reasonably straight forward with both easy and more challenging examples. As a fiber artist, I particularly enjoyed that among the materials used are found felt, sari silks, silk ribbons, and kimono silk.   
I particularly liked her use of chains to separate the beads to lighten up the image and the weight of the necklaces.

Cooper included illustrations of her sketches of her design process and optional ideas for changing some of the projects.

The back cover suggests some of the variety included in the book.

The book would have wide appeal to crafters, jewelry makers and fiber artists. Some of the projects are simple enough for the beginner and some will intrigue the more experienced jewelry maker. I recommend the book highly.

If you are interested in owning this book, leave a comment by Sept 25 and I will randomly select a winner (USA only please) to send the book to. Be sure that I can contact you after the 25th to let you know if you won.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Beautiful Beaded Ropes - Review and Give Away

Jill Wiseman's Beautiful Beaded Ropes is another in Lark Crafts' Beadweaving Master Class series. This is a stunning book with 24 projects to intrigue the beader. While I am a novice at beading in comparison to the author, I found the instructions to be strong, especially for those familiar with working with patterns.

The projects range from fairly elegant and simple pieces to much more complex and challenging designs. All of the projects are based on ropes either for bracelets, necklaces, lariats or even earrings and one intriguing ring. The projects are grouped by technique with a good supply list including tools needed for the projects.

While probably not the first project book to consult for the new beader, it would be great inspiration while one is learning and would provide good challenges for some time to come. I recommend the book for experienced beaders and those looking for new inspirations.

If you are interested in owning a copy of this book, leave me a comment on this blog by Sept 20 and a way to contact you (USA only)  and I will  randomly draw a name to send the book to.