I love Aspen trees and have long thought about making an aspen quilt, but it has been done—a lot. Our Gerrie has made a whole series of aspen pieces. Most artists focus on the graphic qualities of the unusual bark, with its black markings on pure white bark. But I chose to focus on the way the leaves turn gloriously yellow in the fall.
I grew up in southern Idaho among groves of aspen. I remember a place at the camp where I started going as a camper at age 8 and went every year until I was in college, first as a camper, later as a counselor. Just across the creek and a bit away from the main camp there was a thick aspen grove with a clearing in the center of it with logs for sitting. It was designated as a "quiet place" where campers could sit quietly and escape or unwind from the frantic camp activity. It was a place I liked to go to write my letters to my family and nurse my homesickness. The only sound was the slight rustle of the leaves, which spun in the slightest breeze, giving the impression of them shimmering.
Our family had a cabin on a lake that spanned the Idaho-Wyoming border. In the fall the aspens turned the most brilliant yellow, while the mountain maple were an equally brilliant red. The patches of each on the hillsides were breathtaking. Walking through one of the aspen groves was like walking under a solid canopy of glittering yellow.
So it was this feeling I was working toward.
I started with this sketch.
The yellow was a given. The purple seemed natural enough, since the shadows and shade of that solid canopy could certainly be shades of purples. I considered adding some black detail to the tree trunks, but they worked better for me without it, and lent more attention to the leafy canopy. I always find complementary color schemes difficult to work with. With the colors being opposite one another on the color wheel, it means they contain no color elements in common. To me this makes it harder to make those colors "speak" to one another. By adding some warm red to each of the complements, I felt they began to reach out to each other. My plan had been to print the dots on the yellow leafy areas, then quilt around the dots, as I did in the background, but once it was all together more quilting didn't seem necessary. In fact it felt like it would make it all too fussy and precise and the printed dots really reminded me of that shimmering leaf quality I remember so well.
So this is my contribution to the vast body of aspen-themed artworks! I hope I brought some of my own experience and point of view to a well-loved subject.
We are twelve quilt artists who embarked on an art challenge together. We're from different places throughout the world and our artistic styles vary, but we share a love of art quilting and a desire to play, experiment, learn, and grow.
For four years (2007-2011), we each made a 12x12 inch quilted art piece on a designated theme or palette. See our Theme Series and our Colorplay series.
For the 2012 Series, we changed things a bit and made rectangular pieces, 20x12 inches with roughly 10 weeks between each challenge. As before, we had a designated theme for each challenge.
We shared our process, progress, and results on this blog. It remains a key record of our rich collaboration.