Home Is Where the Art Is

home-blocks-2-crop-500 This post also appears on my Patreon page.

Home. It's a nebulous concept, one that's been on my mind a lot lately. These mini quilts are an expression of longing, rootlessness - perhaps "home" is a part of us that we always carry, though it may drift to the bottom with the kleenex and loose change.

The Home quilts went out to my top-tier Patreon patrons this month. Thank you all for being patrons, your support means so much to me.

Following is a more detailed look at the quilt construction process:

home-blocks-notes-500

Notes on construction, quilting patterns.

home-blocks-process-01-500

Drawing a general outline onto the batting.

home-blocks-process-02-500

Sewing the pieces directly onto the batting, as part of a quilt-as-you-go technique.

home-blocks-process-03-500

The first one with all three layers (top, batting backing) assembled and quilted.

home-blocks-process-04-500

Quilting lines look so cool on the back.

home-blocks-process-05-500

Moving down the assembly line...

home-blocks-2-500

Finished blocks, photographed on a convenient hedge.

home-blocks-closeup-2-500

Quilting creates such wonderful textures.

home-blocks-closeup-1-500

More stitches. I'm not a fan of stitch-in-the-ditch, but I love getting right up toward those ditches.

home-blocks-closeup-3-500

Hand-finished binding, always perfectly imperfect.

Not a patron yet? You wanna get things like this in the mail, too? Sure you do. A pledge at the Awesome Afficionados level or higher gets you an original work of art every two to three months!

Save

Pivoting

quilt-diary-201610-500 This post first appeared on my Patreon page. Join today to see everything first!

"Whatever happened to Spweet?* Are they still aggregating Kuhfwangles?" "No, they pivoted."

In the tech startup world, pivoting is "a structured course correction designed to test a new fundamental hypothesis about the product, strategy, and engine of growth." (source)

Or to paraphrase Steve Blank: Fire the plan, not the CEO.

I painted so hard in 2016. And 2015, and 2014, and on back. I love the paintings I painted. But I'm tired of painting.

They Grow Around Roads. Acrylic on canvas, 24 x 24 inches, 2015 They Grow Around Roads. Acrylic on canvas, 24 x 24 inches, 2015 by Sarah Atlee. Available at Ro2 Art.

I've been a painter for 20 years. It's been my pastime, my course of study, my profession, and a big part of my identity. It's been easy to answer the question,

"So, what kind of art do you do?"

Well, that's a good question. Right now, I'm not interested in making paintings. So how can I tell people I'm a painter? You know what I'm doing now? I make quilts.

dot-dot-dash-closeup-2-500

Why Make Quilts?

Quilts inhabit an interesting space between two and three dimensions, comprising both image and object.

Quilts are largely functional works of art, meant to be touched, used, and worn over time. I make quilts that should be used - no hands-off museum mentality here.

Across cultures worldwide, quilts are created to mark time and record history, both public and private. We make quilts to commemorate birth, marriage, transition, sickness, even death. A quilt can simultaneously signify the history of one person and an entire people.

Quilts are a way to make old materials new again. They embody the age-old practice of making do, ever more relevant in our consumer culture.

Are quilts art? The debate plods along. I have the opportunity to expand the conversation about “craft” or “functional art” in “fine art” spaces. As one educated in the traditional art school system, making quilts feels at once radical and yet completely appropriate. Of course quilts are art!

Melee. Detail view of back. Quilted cotton. 10 x 10 inches, 2016

Have I hung up my paintbrushes for good? Certainly not. I need some time to create in this other vein. I think I will return to painting through some side door that I can't see just now. It's going to take new practices and strategies to continue my art business with this new hat on. I'm definitely up for the challenge.

So now, when someone asks, "What kind of art do you do?" I tell them: I make quilts.

I'm a quilter, y'all.

* Okay, you would not believe how many nonsense words I auditioned for this sentence, but it turns out they are already in use, most of them as tech startups. Rejected words include: sploof, tweenge, treeve, alboo, florp, gloove, traeve, fween, spang, splot, ofen, crangle...

Lap Work

Lap Work. Acrylic on canvas, 20 x 16 inches, 2016 by Sarah Atlee. $895 For purchase inquiries, contact Cerulean Gallery at 214.564.1199 or caroline@theceruleangallery.com. Lap Work. Acrylic on canvas, 20 x 16 inches, 2016 by Sarah Atlee. $895 For purchase inquiries, contact Cerulean Gallery at 214.564.1199 or caroline@theceruleangallery.com.

Note: This entry first appeared on my Patreon page. Join to see the newest news and receive art rewards!

What is this a painting of?

Well, it's my lap. My lap while I was working on hand-binding a quilt. See the pins? Can you spot the needle and thread? That's the back of the quilt I was finishing.

The burgundy in the upper left is my yoga pants'ed leg. (I'm wearing those pants right now. How about that?) Below that, the hem of a sundress. The lower portion of the painting is dominated by my 100% cotton, Fair Trade, hand-woven-in-Guatemala apron. (Thanks, Mom!)

Did I paint all those little squiggles by hand? You bet I did. Here's a close-up:

lap work detail squiggle 72 500

I'm very pleased with how this painting turned out. Some of them just come out right on the first try - this is one of those.

Coming Soon

Lap Work will be in my next major exhibition at Cerulean Gallery (Amarillo, Texas) which opens on September 16, 2016. I'd love to see you there!

Making Hay

Let us make hay while the sun shines.- Miguel de Cervantes, Don Quixote de la Mancha

making hay front whole

So I had a pile of reds, golds, and browns, culled from the donated fabric bin at the meeting of Community First! Quilters. The fields are ripe, they said - it's harvest time.

making hay back whole

The front and back are both improvised strip-piecing. The emerging pattern reminded me of aerial photographs of farmland.

making hay detail 2

making hay detail 4

See the burgundy? It was in my fabric stash for ages. It was just waiting for that exquisite harvest-gold botanical print to pair with.

making hay detail 5

Like, hey, what's up cheese? I'm that wine you've been thirsting after.

making hay detail 3

This spring-green patch was left over from a previous quilt.

making hay stitching detail 1

Making Hay was my first ever longarm quilting experience. Many thanks to Jessica and Ellie at The Cotton Cupboard for their patient teaching!

making hay stitching detail 2

What is Modern Quilting? Learn more about Mobile Loaves & Fishes What is the Community First! Village? Contribute your quilting skills to the Community First! Quilters

As the Bat Flies

as the bat flies front whole As the Bat Flies Improvisational patchwork quilt created for Community First! Sarah Atlee, 2015

What is Modern Quilting? Learn more about Mobile Loaves & Fishes What is the Community First! Village? Contribute your quilting skills to the Community First! Quilters

as the bat flies detail 3

The Community First! Quilters group relies heavily on donated fabrics. I love the challenge of taking colors and prints that don't look like they should go together... and making them go together.

as the bat flies detail 2

This is my variation on the traditional Flying Geese quilt block. I call it Flying Bats. See the grey print with the little insects? Bats eat insects. There you go.

Do you know about Austin's bat colony?

as the bat flies detail 1

I was surprised at how difficult it was to make these blocks come out how I'd imagined. After a lot of trial and some error, I settled into a method.

as the bat flies back whole

The back.as the bat flies quilting detail 2

Stitching detail. This was my second-ever quilt finished on a longarm machine. While I don't yet feel entirely adept at the process, I enjoy the speed and flexibility of free-motion quilting.as the bat flies quilting detail 1

Whee!