I’ve just had a most amazing week. A couple of months ago my friend Susan Purney-Mark told me about an upcoming workshop with Katie Pasquini Masopust. She has been one of the top art quilters in the world for nearly 30 years. It isn’t often that one gets the opportunity to study with a world-class quilter, and I leapt at the chance. It was to be a design class only – no sewing at all. Two days of learning design skills to bring to new projects. Considering my time at home, my current interest in “busting out” of my previous approaches to quilting, the timing of this class was unbelievable.
In the meantime, I found the book she wrote about the class in my guild’s library. I read it cover to cover immediately, and it reinforced my desire. I was so pumped for this class!
The supply list was totally foreign to a quilter: paints (acrylic and watercolour), brushes, paper scissors, tracing paper, cropping tool, paint shirt. 20 students amassed all this stuff and headed to Duncan for the 2-day class. Excitement!
It was an excellent class. Katie is enthusiastic about her subject, a generous, fun, and excellent teacher. She has lots of strategies to subvert the Left Brain (ie the one who says “you can’t do this!”). After the Right Brain has had its fun, she also taught us how to evaluate our work, and how to determine good designs. We critiqued at the end of each exercise, which was great – it taught us what to look for.
We started with exploring shapes. Easy peasy – all you have to do is draw a few similar shapes, plunk them on a page in a pleasing way. Then overlay another couple or few shapes on top. Copy that a few times, then paint with watercolours in a few versions, starting with a colour scheme. Great introduction.
From there, we moved on to lines. Katie had fused and cut into small strips lots of fabric in all the colourways. She organizes each colour in 7 values in her stash. We selected our palette and played with lines on a background. Here’s the result:
Next, we started working with matte acetate. This is essential in her design process. We traced a portion one of the photographs we brought with us onto the acetate. That evening, Katie got all of these enlarged in a couple of different sizes.
The last thing we did that day was what Katie calls “Blind Painting”. WHAT FUN!!! We each were given blindfolds. We glooped some acrylics in our colour choice onto a paper plate and stood in front of a large piece of white newsprint with a large paintbrush in our hands. Katie played different kinds of music, and we painted whatever shapes we felt – with NO IDEA what it looked like! We each did 6 paintings, then our partner did 6 paintings. They were spread all over the floor to dry overnight. I wish I could show you what we looked like when we were painting, but it was too much fun, and I didn’t take any pictures!
We finished the day with wine and cheese, generously supplied by Gloria at Studio G Art, our host.
The next morning, we started cropping our random paintings, and found all kinds of wonderful designs!
Our Left Brains were entirely turned off in this exercise (it couldn’t see!) – left brain got to help with the cropping, and it was so exciting.
We did some more work with the matte acetate (I must get me some of this – it’s SOOOOOO useful to see the overall design)
The last thing we did was work with the three sizes of the same image that we had drawn the day before to create a fractured design. This technique will be so useful for my next Refractions quilt, although I’m not sure I’ll do this one (too fiddly):
We did a bit more watercolour painting at the end, and by then, painting had lost its fear, and we found lots of great ideas for quilts.
I can’t think of a more perfect class for me to have taken at this moment in my quilting life. I am a total convert to the Katie PM school of design. I love it that she continues to re-invent herself, that she is so open about sharing her ideas, and inquisitive about her own artistic path. She finished the class with a very quick description of how she translates these designs into quilts – it’s all in the book, as well.
Thank you, Katie Pasquini Masopust. For opening up our creativity. For giving us permission to play. For providing us with the strategies to create never-ending inspirations for our quilts. And for having so much darned fun!