Monday, September 15, 2014

Hilma af Klint 1862 -1944
In August Elizabeth Barton wrote in her newsletter (Art and Quilts, cogitations thereon) about why female artists are little known.

Below you can see an extract from this newsletter.

"There are many reasons why female artists are little known. In her book Woman, Art and Society, Whitney Chadwick explores several centuries of female artists. Even though excellent woman painters have always existed, academies, such as the Royal Academy in England, preferred to relegate them to the subjects of paintings, rather than the makers of paintings. Art history books, museum collections, auction prices etc. all are evidence of a complete and utter lack of respect for work by women. Alas, the lack of recognition was widespread : not just in art, but politics, religion - even sport - though that is certainly beginning to improve as people realize that intelligence and elegance are at least the equal of power and aggression.........
So whenever you research art ....whatever the era: the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Age of Reason, the Victorian paintings, modern and abstract art, post modern art into the present day - look for Women!!
Their work is strong, it´s tender, it´s fresh, it´s waiting to be discovered. Let´s create a demand for it! And I´m still waiting for women to rule the world!"

Elizabeth Barton. Aug.20.2014

Last year there was a big exhibition at The Modern Museum in Stockholm which exhibited lots of paintings and drawings by a Swedish female painter,
Hilma af Klint, so much before here time, a Pioneer of Abstract Art.  In her will she stated that her collection of paintings and drawings should not be exhibited/shown until 20 years after her death.

I would like to share with you a video about this remarkable female painter, Hilma af Klint, which 20 years after her death has been discovered.
So just click the link below and look for the video that can be seen there and enjoy!

and below is an article published in New York Times about Hilma-af-Klint.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Life in Salisbury

Moving recently to the medieval city of Salisbury, located in the county of Wiltshire, United Kingdom has been extraordinary. The city is home to the Salisbury Cathedral which boasts the tallest spire in the country, the world's oldest working clock and the best surviving copy (one of four) of the Magna Carta. The cathedral is over 755 years old and appears in several of John Constable's landscape paintings.

Salisbury also enjoys a strong artistic community with numerous galleries and an art's centre in the city centre and many, many artist studios within the county covering everything from textiles to ceramics, jewellery, painting, sculpting, metal and woodwork. I have yet to find quilters but I am relentlessly continuing my search. This weekend was the first Contemporary Craft & Heritage Fayre held within the Cathedral grounds. I dragged my husband along and we enjoyed several dozen artist's work, as well as demonstrations, talks and of course, afternoon tea. He actually had a good time!

It certainly got the creative juices flowing! Unfortunately, I don't have my sewing machine back from getting it's service yet (the first thing I did when I arrived) but I did bring a few materials with me in my suitcase (everything else was sent by sea freight and not arriving until the end of the month - patience, my dear, patience) so I can still do a few things by hand. At the Fayre, there were several felt artists producing amazing work using both the needle and wet felting methods, so I was able to extend my rather limited knowledge of the craft. I was so impressed, I signed up for a 10 week course here at the Salisbury Art Centre starting later this month!

One of the felt artists, Rose Hatcher, produces exquisite wall panels using the wet felting technique. You can check out her gallery at: and the local artist who I am doing the course with is:, also producing wonderful work.

Having moved from a large studio space in Thailand, I will no doubt find it challenging working in a smaller space here in Salisbury, however, I feel it may make me work in a more organised, tidy way...or then again, who am I kidding, probably not! We shall have to see how that idea pans out. It will no doubt encourage me to be more inventive with the smaller space I have, or encourage us (or rather, me) to find a larger place to live. Anyway, I am enjoying exploring this new place and meeting all of its many wonderfully creative people...and please, hurry up with my machine!

Until next time, stay happy and stay creative :)
Amanda Sievers

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


By Gabriele Bach

Linden wrote a fine article on this blog about inspiration and Deborah a very interesting about clean working space. In both I am interested and for me they belong together. Often I gather or buy things for special ideas. Beside time I have TOO MUCH from every other item:

- too much ideas
- too much techniques I would like to try
- too much fabric
- too much other material like threads, yarns, beads, colours etc.

I always have a lot of ideas. One difficulty is to decide which one I will realize. Another is, when I am doing a big and/or time-consuming quilt I don't want to be distracted by other inspiritations. Using a sketchbook doesn't help. It needs time too and I will end up with so many ideas I never could realize in my lifetime. And it is frustrating to see over the time how old some good designs are and still not done.

For my quilt "Backside Mystery" from the last challenge "Under the Surface" I first gathered some red fabric scraps. They are still laying on my working table, I like the view and maybe I will use them for the next challenge.

At the same time a friend and I dyed fabrics. After washing, drying and packing away all the fabrics, the gathered loose threads look pretty and they too could be used for the next challenge.

Otherwise I want to use red felted balls. I bought them many years ago and embroidered with beads they look awesome.

Near the felted balls lay silk cocoons, some I had bought and some I had dyed. They also would be great for a little quilt.

Mixing everything in one quilt is too chaotic, even if our next challenge has the theme "Wild".

All of these ideas will give me much stuff for the next challenges. Only that I will see enough new things and get other ideas. In two weeks I will visit the European Patchwork Meeting in Val d'Argent There I will see so many extraordinary quilts that all my own ideas seem to be boring. Besides all my good intentions I will come back with some stuff, one or two books, very many fotos and a lot of new ideas.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


By Linden Lancaster

“Aside from technique, which anybody can learn if they have the right book or a good teacher, I believe success relies on the cultivation of inspiration. I tell my students to look up, look down, look all around. The world is a miraculous and fascinating place, and ideas are everywhere. I keep a journal with quotes and observations. I pick up junk from the street, I plant flowers, and I try to see my world in a fresh new light every single day. Design is all around you, and it is usually free for the taking....”
Jane Dunnewold, Complex Cloth.

Oops, left the washing out! Linden Lancaster
Who would think that something as dull as washing could be used for a design idea? In this photo I can see interesting shapes, a nice colour combination, light, shadows, transparancy and so on. I could crop parts of the photo and use as an abstract design. Yes, the underwear is mine!

What inspires (motivates, stirs, moves, enthuses) you?
The key is to find subjects that excite you, regardless of where you are, because your enthusiasm will carry over to your viewers through your work. If you already know what you love and where to find it, no further decisions are needed before you head out with your camera.
Carry your camera and your sketchbook with you everywhere you go. Use your own work as a starting point.

Ways to find inspiration

             Keep a journal where you collect ideas and images that inspire you.
*Cut out pictures from magazines and newspapers.
*Cards, bookmarks, postcards and other ephemera.
*Thumbnail sketches of ideas.
*Make notes to yourself about colour, texture and feelings associated with your inspirations.
*Colour experiments with paints/dyes.

Quilted journal covers
 Collections/Stash box. Our personal collection of inspirations is what sets our work apart from everyone else. You are not accumulating with a purpose in mind. Rather, you are accumulating for the love or allure of the object or image. You can collect shells, leaves, dried twigs, magazine pictures, pottery/china, pottery shards, seed pods, beads, birds’ nests, stamps, colourful bottles, fabrics, driftwood, old photographs, costume jewellery, letters etc.

                                                  Little Jugs: Linden's sketchbook page

Collect words, phrases, poems, headlines and so on. Write them out and post them in your studio or record them in a journal. When you are stuck or need a boost, reread them. Here are some of my favourites:

“Ring the bells that still can ring,
Forget you perfect offering,
There’s a crack in everything.
That’s how the light gets in.”
Leonard Cohen
Snowdrop anemones Linden's sketchbook

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
                                            Oscar Wilde

Quilt shows. Noticing which quilts catch your attention at a show and spending a little time analysing why they appeal is an easy way to develop powers of observation and evaluation. You can find out a lot about yourself and your likes and dislikes this way. Take photos of your favourites. 

Photos. Have a printed and/or digital file where you keep all your favourite photos. I have mine stored in themes, such as skies, texture, trees, holidays, flowers. Your photo doesn’t have to be perfect to successfully translate into a quilt. In fact, it’s not a bad idea to use a photo with some room for improvement, as this can be a good opportunity to demonstrate your artistry and not merely replicate a scene in minute detail. Set up a random slide show of your photos on a screen saver on your computer. Not only does this remind you of the photographs you have taken, but also the random juxtaposition of images may well inspire you to a new creative imagery.

Delicious 2011

Books. Go to the library and borrow some books on art. Don’t forget art history, books about artists and craftspeople, children’s art, fine art, folk art, mosaics and pottery. There are also lot of online bookstores that you can browse if you live out of town, like me. I taught myself most things through books.

Magazine subscriptions. Keep up to date with what is happening in the quilting world. One of my favourite magazines at the moment is an English magazine, called “Landscape”- so they don’t have to be about quilting.

Digital play. Try a photo editing program. There are books solely dedicated to this subject. You can make interesting effects using digital alteration. It is amazing what interesting shapes you can make by zooming and cropping parts of a photo.
You can download a trial copy of the latest Photoshop at

Take time to think. Go for a walk.
Train your eyes to see light, shadow, shape and line in everyday objects and places.

Billy Buttons,around the corner

Billy Buttons Linden's sketchbook

Visit Art Galleries and Exhibitions.  Old paintings can provide inspiration for composition and colour. The beautiful flower studies of a 17th century Dutch master, for instance, or the way Vermeer used directional lighting from a side window to illuminate his figures. Notice what the artist has used to surround and frame the main focus of the paintings, too. The background colours and textures are almost as important as those of the objects in the still life and contribute greatly to the overall composition.

Online. Research your favourite quilt maker or artist. Set up links to favourites, so you don’t end up wasting time. Read about other artists' processes via blogs, etc. There are some wonderful courses that can be done online.

Sketchbook. Drawing remains the most important means of recording what we observe from a source of inspiration. Drawing makes you see what is actually there rather than what you think is there!
Sketchbooks are personal so your sketches do not have to be professional; they are for you, and you alone, to refer to as a place for thoughts and ideas.  Many professional textile artists discipline themselves to draw every day.

Jacarandah seed pods

Create a space in which you can work. Surround yourself with things that inspire and stimulate your creativity: fabric, yarn, beads, coloured pencils, drawing tools, paper, favourite pictures, your camera etc. I like having cuttings of plants/flowers, collections of feathers and pottery shards in various containers around my work desk (I'm messy).
A design board has been the best piece of equipment I have in my studio. The next copy of 'Quilter's Companion' (no 69) will have an article on my studio. This is an Australian magazine.

Pomegranate flowers 2013

Expand your experiences and draw from them to get new ideas. Engage in the creative process. Learn all the new techniques you can. Read, take classes, expose yourself to the work of others, travel, join groups of people who share similar artistic interests.
Make a file of new techniques or surface design methods that you have learned and include samples you have made for reference.
Just making blocks using a single piecing technique, e.g., slice and dice, insertions, can yield very interesting and unique quilts- especially when you use hand dyed and printed fabric. Use a design wall, but don’t overthink the process - just make!

“Sometimes, just discovering what you don’t want to do brings quiet relief.”
Joan Colvin, Nature’s Studio

Music. If I’m feeling lethargic while working on a project, I crank up my favourite music. Music without words works best with some people, as this does not interrupt the creative thought processes. Bach is my favourite.
Watercolour experiment Linden

Brainstorm/Mind-mapping themes. Explore all creative possibilities about a subject by looking at depth at all the angles. Write down as many associating and connecting words and ideas to create a visual overview. A mind map also allows us to capture flashes of insight- the spark of an idea as it happens. Start with an idea which really captures your imagination. Keep these in your journal. It may be years before you revisit the concept.

Collage. Making collages with painted papers, magazines, textured wallpaper and newspapers is a great way to practise design and composition. Collages mimic fabric and give immediate colour, pattern and texture. File into colour families in a clear display book. Working through a selection of paper collage composition and design exercises will trigger ideas for a future piece of work. Great for contemporary work.
The following piece I sent away to Spoonflower to get made into fabric, with interesting results.

Old laundry, Linden Lancaster 2013

“Inspiration exists but it has to find us working.”