Behind the Sewing Machine

I’ve been reading an interesting book, recommended by my friend, Emily. She recently saw the exhibit, Behind the Easel, The Unique Voices of 20 Contemporary Representational Painters, at the Somerville Manning Gallery in Greenville, Delaware. The author, included in the exhibition, is Robert Jackson, a local, Kennet Square artist who actually lives a few miles from my house. Jackson asked 20 artists the same 10 questions. More so than the accompanying art, I am finding the answers to the questions fascinating.  

I am most pondering, “What is your process for coming up with new painting ideas?”

 I realize I have a defined process for new quilts. The idea is a complete image in my head and I know exactly what fabrics, colors, pattern, composition–a full view of everything I need. And I always think, well this is going to be pretty straightforward.  Yea! all I have to do is get sewing. And I start to pull out the fabric and put it up on the design wall and a crazy tornado blows my vision into a storm of indecisive possibilities. 

For this little class sample quilt, I invisioned super easy, small chunks of emerald-y colored fabrics, wonky sewed to block corners. I should have known better. I got four pieces of fabrics up and thought, what if…

What if the corners weren’t all “chunks” and some were more pointy?

Or…what if they weren’t wonky at all and as long as the blocks instead of chunks?

What if they were both pointy and chunky? Of course, now I don’t like anything and I’m asking myself, What Was I Thinking?

I am caught in the tornado vortex and I start trying all kinds of stuff. I even added black center squares to this design but it was too awful to photograph. Time for a cup of coffee and anything chocolate I can get my hands on. 

The top part has to go. I’m completely over wonky and chunky and pointy. It sure would be a lot easier for students if the corners were a consistent size. Wonky is hard! A simple snow ball block technique would be fast. The colors– I really want to add some hot pink, almost never in my palette.

So much for the vision, complete in my head. This “defined process” of mine is more complicated than I think.

Back to gallery


  1. “WHat if” is one of my favorite question when I’m creating. The answer is not always pretty!

  2. Lynne Laino says

    I am in awe of your process Terry, I am completely incapable of this, I need a pattern for anything!

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