#APQ Resolution – Rajah Quilt Revisited

This was supposed to be my finished quilt for March for the American Patchwork & Quilting 2017 UFO Challenge, but it needed to be completely quilted and bound so I’m happy to have it completed by June. This quilt was the 2016 Block of the Month from The Quilt Show, called “Rajah Quilt Revisited.”  It’s based on a quilt made on a women’s prison ship that traveled from England in 1841.

My quilt was machine appliqued, machine pieced, machine quilted and hand quilted and I am happy to say that I made it for myself so I get to keep it!

Rajah Quilt Revisited, 2017. 68″ sq.

On the Auction Block – Quilted Book/ Journal Cover

This handmade book or journal cover can be used with any book 5.5″ x 8″ or smaller, just slip the front and back covers into the inside pockets. Comes with blank journal of lined pages.

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Julie Neu_quilted journal cover

Creative Play Date – Matisse in the Studio

I rescheduled my Creative Play Date to last Friday and had a wonderful day. I met a friend at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston to tour the Matisse in the Studio exhibit. We also stumbled upon an exhibit of politically-motivated art, which was particularly appropriate since she is one of the curators of the Threads of Resistance exhibit being developed by SAQA. We toured the bookstores, where I had a heavy shopping day and then had to lug home three beefy books, and we enjoyed a lovely lunch in the cafe. I should do that more often.

The Matisse in the Studio show was wonderful. It was such a treat to see objects from his studio next to the works he created from them. I, of course, loved seeing the Islamic textiles from his collection.

North African window screen, 19th - early 20th centuries; Matisse in the Studio Exhibit, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, 2017.

North African window screen, 19th – early 20th centuries; Matisse in the Studio Exhibit, Museum of Fine Arts Boston

Here are my key takeaways from the exhibit and from Matisse’s work in general:

  • Matisse used the same objects as subjects repeatedly.   This is a strength of the exhibit, being able to see the chocolate pot or vase itself next to several paintings that include the same pot. Such positioning makes clear just how often Matisse went back to the same objects for inspiration, but with very different results.
  • Matisse experimented with different styles. The work that I consider to be his signature style only made up a small portion of the works exhibited. I was particularly struck by two roughly-contemporaneous paintings. One was dark and more realistic and the other colorful and more abstract. And in fact, the more colorful, more abstract one that is in more of what I recognize as Matisse’s style was made four years earlier than the other. The pursuit of one’s voice as an artist can still include experimenting with different styles.
  • Matisse continued to experiment and evolve as an artist until the very end of his life.  One of the things that I find so inspirational about Matisse is how he continued to create art in old age when he was no longer able to paint like he used to. The paper cutouts of Matisse’s later years are some of my favorite works of his and they only came about because painting was no longer an option for him. Rather than retiring, he found a new medium and continued to create incredible art; I hope to be able to do the same.

#APQ Resolution – May

Many of my UFOs for the American Patchwork & Quilting’s 2017 UFO Challenge have been stacking up because they’re ones that require a lot of work. March’s project was to quilt an entire quilt and I’m still working on that. April’s project was the same. But May’s project was an easy one to get done in one month because I only committed to making one block from a McKenna Ryan kit. Easy peasy and done!

McKenna Ryan kit, Bridge Over Troubled Waddles block

On the Auction Block – “Elemental Symbols” art quilt

I made this 11.5″ x 27.5″ quilt as part of a challenge based on the word “symbol.”  The colored triangles and the quilting lines within them are both symbols of fire, air, earth, and water.

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art quilt with symbols of 4 elements fire, air, earth, water

“Elemental Symbols” 2016.

New – May’s BirdZeed Challenge

This month’s BirdZeed challenge word is “new.”  I did not sit down with a blank sheet of paper and brainstorm what the word means to me as I sometimes do to get started. Instead, I was talking with a friend about taking a step and doing something new and I imagined standing on a brink, looking down into a swirling blue abyss. I imagined jumping and when I got back to the surface and was again looking down at the blue, it was shimmering. I quilted the blue circle and some of the black background with a shimmery blue thread (Superior Threads Magnifico) to suggest that shimmering excitement of having jumped.

Julie Neu_blue circle on black background art quilt

New, 2017

On the Auction Block – Quilted Coasters

Up for auction this week is a set of 4 quilted cotton coasters. I started making fabric coasters when my toddler started playing with the breakable ones I used to have. These can be tossed around the room without damaging anything. They can also be tossed in the washer if drinks spill on them or they become teething rings.

I am running auctions that start each Monday morning. If you’d like an email reminder when the auctions begin, sign up here.

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Julie Neu, quilted fabric coasters

Creative Play Newsletter (Vol.1, Issue 11)- Do Something Different

In March’s newsletter, I wrote about the importance of play time to stimulate your creative juices and how I have found the times when I have allowed time for play to be some of my most creative. But what if that still doesn’t work?  There certainly are days when even the idea of playing in the studio without any plan in mind feels too hard. When that’s the case, get out of the studio and do something different.

I’ve talked before about those periods of frustration when nothing seems to be going right and I’ve prescribed leaving the studio then to take a walk or go on an Artist’s Date. Both of those are good things but, believe me, sometimes that isn’t enough. I’m talking now about those days when you walk into the studio and just want to turn right around again. Even housecleaning is looking more appealing than creating. Those are desperate times! Before you pick up a scrub brush, try one more thing – explore other media. Haven’t picked up a paintbrush since grade school? Try it now. Mash your frustrations out on some clay. String some beads. Take a class in something that’s really new to you or experiment in media you haven’t tried before. Even when you’re playing in your preferred medium, it can be hard to truly let go. That’s the point of trying a new one. It’s totally new to you so there are no expectations. (Actually, you probably expect that what you create will be total crap and you’ll just be pleasantly surprised when it’s not.) You can create just for the sake of creating. If you can recapture a few moments of that sheer joy of creating that you had as a kid, you might just find that spark that will bring you back to your work.

I recently took a watercolor journaling class with Jane LaFazio. I may never be a watercolor painter, but I tried something new, opened up some new creative channels and managed to paint a pretty decent shoe:

Julie Neu, watercolor painting of purple Chuck Taylor sneaker

On the Auction Block – Quilted Napkin Rings

Up for auction this week is a set of 8 quilted cotton napkin rings.  These are reversible with an interior fabric of blue flowers on a white background. What I love about these napkin rings is that they are also machine washable!

I am running auctions that start each Monday morning. If you’d like an email reminder when the auctions begin, sign up here.

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Julie Neu, blue and yellow floral cotton napkin rings