Departures and More

Departures. Acrylic on canvas, 20 x 20 inches, 2015 by Sarah Atl Departures. Acrylic on canvas, 20 x 20 inches, 2015 by Sarah Atlee. $1,080

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About Departures

I'm into Quilting. It influences my painting in a big way. I'm a member of the local chapter of the Modern Quilt Guild. What distinguishes "modern" from traditional quilting? There are no hard and fast rules, of course, but the MQG has a handy list of things to look for:

"...several characteristics often appear which may help identify a modern quilt. These include, but are not limited to: the use of bold colors and prints, high contrast and graphic areas of solid color, improvisational piecing, minimalism, expansive negative space, and alternate grid work. 'Modern traditionalism' or the updating of classic quilt designs is also often seen in modern quilting."

Improvisation is the element here that really gets my juices flowing.

But the Juices Were Not Flowing

Earlier this year I was noodling away on an abstract series, finding myself stymied. I wanted to go in too many directions. I was being fussy. I was thinking too hard. I was stuck.

I asked myself, "What if I painted the way I quilt - without fear?"

Sherri Lynn Wood and Improv Patchwork

In February 2015, I was lucky enough to attend QuiltCon and take an improvisational patchwork class taught by Sherri Lynn Wood. She taught us to be present in our space, and to cut, cut, cut and sew, sew, sew - without worrying about the overall design. It was a revelation. We made quilt tops that seemed to grow organically in our hands. The patchwork pieces grew, and I grew. I went home and pre-ordered Wood's new book.

Order your own copy of the Improv Handbook here.

Then I had to wait for, like, six weeks before the book shipped. What on earth was I to do in the meantime?


I took a painting that wasn't working. I laid down a stroke of color with my brush. Then I put down another, next to that. Then another. It became a row of stripes. It curved here and there. Another row grew next to it. I had found a path, and I followed it. I was through.

departures in progress crop