Photo Reference Art-Quilting

Sometimes photos are only used in my work as references.  In the case of this art-quilt I came across a photo of my sister sitting in her garden proudly displaying a basket of her roses.  I loved the pose and knew I wanted to paint it.  This piece was hand painted on white cotton fabric then bordered with batiks and turned over to Connie Hudson for quilting.  Connie is an incredible long arm quilter and I wouldn't even begin to quilt a piece as large as this one on my sewing machine.  While there are women who do, I am not that gifted!

This center panel of this piece was drawn and colored in with colored pencils and also painted with diluted fabric paint.  The butterfly's on the border were appliques on.  When my dad saw this piece he claimed it immediately.  It hangs in my parents spacious den softening a massive brick wall that well supports the largest quilt I have created to date....(or ever plan to create ever again!)
Another photo reference piece is one where I painted my three grand kids peeking out from a tent fashioned from sheets and blankets draped over the dining table.  While this was drawn from three different photos of the kids, and there never was a tent, I thought it made an interesting composition.  I used black Tsukineko ink on white cotton fabric to draw/paint this image.  And while that was years ago I have yet to quilt the piece.  Not everything I begin holds my attention long enough to get finished.  But I think part of listening to where an image wants to go also includes stopping when the inspiration wains. Seeing if I could draw the grand kids this detailed on fabric was the challenge for me.  Quilting it just wasn't as important.  My first two photo reference pieces were created the first year I got into art-quilting.  They were also the first pieces I ever submitted into the Houston International Quilt Festival.  Accepted as finalists these pieces were of celebrities whose influence or commentary greatly affected my generation.

Entitled, Fifteen Minutes, art-quilt.
Entitled Fifteen Minutes, this portrait of Andy Warhol and the smaller portraits within this piece of Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor, done in Warhol's style, speaks to his famous prophecy about everyone finding their own fifteen minutes of fame.  With 'reality TV' now flooding the airways and the rise of 'celebrity status' without the  once necessary talent that Liz and Marilyn brought to their craft, it seems Andy got it right. 

This as well as another piece, simply entitled, The Beatles, were done with India ink, allowed to set for 24 hours, then ironed washed and ironed again before piecing and quilting. Both were jurried into the IQA festival as finalists and ushered me into the quilt-art world.

While it was fun drawing these, they were a big part of my learning curve in the quilting department.  I came to art-quilting from an art background...not a quilting one.  So my quilting skills were very lacking at the time.  The extremely simple stitches on these pieces prove that I have indeed come a long way since these early days.

Photos will always be a part of my figurative art-quilts in one way or another.  But when it comes to drawing or painting portraits I have discovered that I prefer not to quilt them. A drawing of my daughter in the style of the drawing of my grand kids, (above) toured internationally a few years back and now hangs above her bed.  It was my first published piece and I'm glad that she has it among her keepsakes.  But equally glad to have discovered the way I prefer to use photos in my work today.  As in my American Family Album series, or the whimsical commentaries that evolve from digitally manipulated photos.  (Look for more of those from me in future posts.)