Sunday, June 1, 2008

Ocean Dreaming


Water, Water, Water. My mind always goes to vast expanses of water. I never linger on a simple glass of water, a sink full, or even a stream flowing from the garden hose. Maybe those all fall too close to the everyday tasks of caring for kids and home. Maybe its because I grew up with a view of the Puget Sound and spent many vacation on the Washington coast. Maybe its because my first married home was sailboat. Maybe its because I dream of leisurely days walking on the beach and gazing at the ocean, waves crashing on the beach.
I love the ocean. It is so alive with winter storms and glistening sunshine. The perfect place for quiet reflection and adventurous exploration. Its vastness quickly brings perspective to life's troubles. Okay, you can easily tell I hold a romantic notion of the ocean. I haven't experienced its potential for devastation. But that is part of the dream, of holding onto an idea that brings peace in times of stress. In my mind's eye the ocean will always represent Hope.
I created this quilt by first grabbing white muslin and paints. I have yet to experiment with hand dying, but acrylic paints are an easy was to cheat. I painted the fabric with a combination of every blue I have, with a few greens mixed in. For the darker colors I used the paints full strength. For the lighter colors I added more water. I then bunched up the fabrics and set them outside to dry. All the creases and folds add to the texture as the paints dry. The pigments travel to the top of the pile as the water evaporates.
When the fabric were dry and ironed I attacked them with free motion quilting. I used three shades of metallic blue thread to add the sparkle. I pieced the quilt by overlapping the quilted fabrics and cutting with the rotary cutter. I then attached them with a wide zigzag and silver thread. This was the first time I have worked with curved pieces. They came together rather easy.
I auditioned various embellishments on this piece. They were too cute or distracting. In the end I left the quilt simple -- a truer reflection of the picture in my minds eye.

13 comments:

Karen said...

Nikki,
The stitching really adds movement to this piece, I feel like I'm drifting along

Diane said...

I love how you've got simplicity and complexity in this piece, Nikki. There's an instant recognition of the lovely calm, blue water you're conveying ....but the textures in the fabric and the variety of your stitching adds a perfect "irregularity" like real water. Seems to me you've captured the abstraction beautifully.

And why is it cheating to paint your fabric colors?! Girl, you are too hard on yourself! I think that was a creative solution to make what you wanted...and crumpling them up was a very good idea.

Kristin L said...

This is a "Nikki" piece despite the fact you haven't done curves before. The most fun part to me is how the quilting isn't necessarily typical watery patterns, but the piece as a whole definitely reads as water.

StegArt said...

Fabulous blues in this piece Nikki. I love how all the shades look together and the curved pieces are so pleasing and calming.

Gerrie said...

I love hearing how you created this, Nikki! Very ingenious. At first glimpse, I thought you had used commercial fabrics with little designs. Then, I realized they were quilting lines. I think painting fabric takes more talent than dyeing. You actually have a greater chance of determining and manipulating the end result - and you did a great job of that.

This piece is very calm, serene and watery!!

Karen said...

Wonderful quilt Nikki! Here I see water in all its moods, calm and serene to rocky and stormy!

Deborah said...

I love how you quilted the pieces first, then cut them up and re-pieced them. It makes the quilting designs really standout. Brilliant. I love painting fabrics with watered down acrylics. Great job.

Terry said...

I love, love, love the patterns you have quilted on those wonderful, watery blues. This made me think of snorkeling in deep water, where you look down,down down through layers of light and floating plants. The blues are very Carribean! I am so glad you nixed the embellishments. The graceful lines and simple composition shine and are strong enough to carry it without "stuff".

Nikki said...

Diane, I know that I'm too hard on myself. I seem to be stuck there right now. Our family is on the verge of a few positive changes, including moving and simplifing our lives. Hopefully, the feelings of overwhelming burdens will be replaced with creative energy once again! Thank you all for the encouragment and support while I've worked through this these last few months.

Nikki said...

Terry, My only experience with snorkeling was during a student trip to Austraila when I was 15. We went out to the Great Barrier Reef. I only lasted a few minutes until I saw a reef shark beneath me. Quickly I was back to the boat. I enjoyed the reef from the comfort of the underwater observatory.

Françoise said...

Lovely blues! Painting with acrylics is no cheating at all.
And I love the way you did the quilting.
Wonderful piece! Very you!

Brenda said...

As you know, I incorporate a lot of curved piecing in my work. However, by comparison, I am quite timid in my quilting. I am very impressed at all your different quilting motifs and the overall effect. Well done!

Helen Conway said...

I am drawn to look for a long time at the quilting - repeated pattern but irregular in placement - fascinating. Also, I would have used commercial fabrics - I certainly don't think that painting is cheating - its very artistic and impressive to me! The layers made me think of strata of water - my husband loves 'fish' TV (david Attenborough etc)- and whilst it does not grab me I have gleanded that fish live in kind of layers in the water - certain breeds at different depths. your quilt reminded me of that. Like Dianes' there seems a story that is hinding - the fish lurking just off stage - intriguing!