Sunday, February 28, 2021

In Which the Ghost of Claude Monet Wrests Artistic Control of My Kaleidoscope Quilt and Turns It Into Giverny

Oh-Ma-Goodness; It's MARCH Already!  I'll save you the suspense and tell you right up front: Finishing all 63 blocks for my son's high school graduation quilt is my one-and-only monthly goal for March.  By which I mean, finishing the octagonal centers of all 63 blocks is my goal -- I'll be deciding on the corner triangles once all of the octagons are completed and arranged to my liking on my design wall.  

Nine 11 Inch Kaleidoscope Blocks Completed

Behold, 9 of the 63 block centers are completed and up on my design wall.  That's one row down, and six more rows to go.  I'm planning to make three blocks from each fabric, so there will be much greater variety in the finished quilt than what you see on my wall right now.

The First Four Blocks

Keeping my time constraints in mind, I'm trying not to be TOO neurotic about the center points matching absolutely perfectly.  Meaning that I'm taking care to match them as perfectly as I can the first time, but have resisted the urge to grab my seam ripper over minuscule misalignment that you can only see from 2" away with your high-power reading glasses.

My Basic Concept for this 77 x 99 XL Twin Kaleidoscope Quilt

My son requested "I don't know -- Blue? Green? Purple?" when I asked him what he wanted for his graduation quilt, and this is the mockup I created in EQ8 as my rough guide.  This rendering was created using whatever random fabrics were in my EQ8 library, not the actual fabrics from my stash that are going in the real quilt.  The computer rendering gives me a guide for the overall mood I'm trying to create rather than functioning as a pattern that I'm following precisely.

So, looking back at the blocks on my wall, I decided that I needed to add more lighter, truer greens and purples next.

Hand Marbled Fabrics Under Consideration

None of the hand marbled fabric pieces in the above photo are large enough to get four 5" x 6" isosceles triangles from the same fabric, so if I use any of them for this project I'll have to subcut them into strips and piece them with other fabrics, like I did with those two blocks that are up on my design wall.  I do like those blocks, but I felt they were a waste of the dramatic, larger scale marbled fabrics, plus they took so much longer to construct.  So I reached out to Marjorie Lee Bevis via her Etsy shop and she is putting together a custom order for me with larger pieces of each design.  I just love the flexibility of collaborating with an artisan to get one-of-a-kind fabric tailored to the needs of my project!  I'll have plenty of leftover marbled fabric, but that's a problem like having too many leftover diamonds...

More Hand Dyed Stripes, Marbles and Batiks

That's one of Marjorie's hand marbled turquoise fabrics that I DO have enough of for several blocks on the right side of the above photo, and the others are hand dyed stripes and batiks that are strewn around as possibilities for this quilt.

Hand Dyed Fabrics Cut, Ready for Piecing

The triangles you see in the photo above have now been marked (I'm marking the stopping point at the center seam intersection on all of my triangles prior to piecing them) and pinned to the deep, inky blue background triangles, and they are lined up at my sewing machine so I can chain piece them during my Monday sewing bee's Zoom meeting.  I have been joining the call by audio only so as not to interfere with the bandwidth my husband and son need for business video conferences and virtual learning.

So, Where Does Claude Monet Figure in All of This?

Alright.  All this time, as I was developing my color scheme for the kaleidoscope quilt in EQ8 and then throughout the process of shopping my stash and selecting new fabric to purchase for this project, I just had this vague sense of what was appealing to me without really thinking too much about WHY I was choosing this shade of green or that shade or purple.  I did realize that there was some kind of natural landscape mood that I was connecting with -- deep shadows, dark trees, glimmers of filtered sunlight through the trees, reflections off of murky water -- but this landscape in my memory has no connection to any place I've ever been.  

And then, it hit me.  The ghost of Claude Monet has invaded my brain, and he is turning my kaleidoscope quilt into his water lily pond at Giverny!

Bordighera by Claude Monet (1884), photo credit Art Institute of Chicago

You guys, THIS is where I think my color palette is coming from!  The swirls of different-colored paints on my hand marbled fabrics are even a little like the places where, viewed up close, you can see that Monet grabbed gobs of paint from his palette and swirled them onto his canvas without blending them, resulting in streaks of color.  The Art Institute of Chicago has a fascinating article here about how Monet used the new paint colors that became available to artists at the dawn of the 20th century, including closeup photos of the swirled brush strokes I just attempted to describe.

Water Lily Pond by Claude Monet (1900), photo credit Art Institute of Chicago

And yes, I have seen these paintings in person at the Art Institute of Chicago, and I've seen others of Monet's water lily paintings in French museums as well.  I've admired their impact from a distance, and then scrutinized the brush strokes up close, and then stepped back to analyze the entire composition from a distance again.  I've got a visual catalog of Monet's paintings seared into a good-size chunk of my brain, and I'm pretty sure this is my subconscious inspiration behind this quilt.

At this point, you are probably thinking that it would be annoying to visit an art museum with me, and if you're thinking that, you are correct!  I can never get through a whole museum in one day, and if you are not VERY FIRM with me about what time we are leaving, I will beg and plead for just one more gallery until the guards kick us out at closing and we will be too late to get into a restaurant for dinner.

Food is overrated.

Water Lilies by Claude Monet (1906), photo credit Art Institute of Chicago

So now I'm curious.  Do you feel that you generally have awareness of everything that is influencing your creative choices?  Or, like me, do you sometimes think you are creating something without any particular inspiration and only realize afterwards that what you're making was heavily influenced by something you've seen somewhere else?  There is something so tranquil, serene  and almost magically beautiful in Monet's garden paintings.  I don't have water lilies or bridges in my quilt and I'm not trying to reproduce any of Monet's paintings in fabric, but on some level, I think I've been attempting to channel the mood through a similar color palette and through fabrics that evoke Monet's Impressionistic painting style.  

One Monthly Goal for March?  To complete the remaining 54 octagonal block centers for my kaleidoscope.  Breaking that down into weekly goals, that means my Tuesday To Do List goal for each week should be 13-14 additional finished block centers each week.  As long as my custom marbled fabric order gets here soon enough -- and as long as I resist the urge to rip and restitch my block intersections -- I think that's doable!

I'm linking up today's post with the following linky parties:


Frédérique at Quilting Patchwork Appliqué

Oh Scrap! at Quilting Is More Fun Than Housework


Design Wall Monday at Small Quilts and Doll Quilts  

Monday Making at Love Laugh Quilt

BOMs Away at What a Hoot Quilts


To-Do Tuesday at ChrisKnits


Midweek Makers at Quilt Fabrication

Wednesday Wait Loss at The Inquiring Quilter

One Monthly Goal at Elm Street Quilts.  

    Drop Everything And Make It (DREAMI), last Saturday of the month, at Mmm Quilts



Anonymous said...

Your design is positively gorgeous! I love it. Ha! I can certainly see where you might be channeling Monet.


Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

love how all the blocks are going you are doing very nice work - love the paintings but I tend to move not at a rapid pace but look a bit, stand back and look and move on

The Joyful Quilter said...

You are QUITE the thinker, Rebecca! Ander's quilt is going to be beautiful. Try to stop over-thinking and just MAKE, as he's taking it off to college, for goodness sake!

Pat at Bell Creek Quilts said...

pretty awesome blocks and color way!

Brenda @ Songbird Designs said...

Rebecca, this is going to be a GREAT quilt!! Love the fabrics you've chosen!! said...

That is a HUGE monthly goal! I've been working on a butterfly project that makes me think of Claude Monet. I've been to Giverny. I've seen his paintings in the museum. I've been close, I've been far away and repeat. . .amazing. I hadn't thought about being subconsciously influenced. . .but, now you've got me thinking! Best wishes on matching the center points the first time!

piecefulwendy said...

Admittedly, my tastes as far as what I make are so all over the place, I've not given much thought to what might be inspiring me. Sometimes I do know a bit, but not always. Often I don't even know the name until I'm almost done with the quilt. By the way, you have some very appropriate colors in that quilt - just sayin' :-)

Anorina @SameliasMum said...

Gosh this is going to be a stunning quilt and I look forward to seeing it's progress.

Frédérique - Quilting Patchwork Appliqué said...

The first blocks are wonderful, and it's going to be a beautiful quilt! I love these hand marble fabrics, lovely colors. You get a good inspiration, Monet is a very serene painter.
Good luck with your goal!

SJSM said...

Ha! I may be your museum pal. When we lived in Germany we went to a lot of museums, especially in winter when there were fewer tourists. Our daughter was 3-4 at the time. We would take a morning and go through 3-5 rooms each time. It was wonderful to look at the paintings/art objects one at a time, up close and far away. Then talk with hubby and daughter about their reflections and ideas on their take. Some of the paintings were massive, taking up a whole wall in a two story or more room. Just thinking of how the piece was planned and how much of an artists life was devoted to such a piece was awe inspiring. With our daughter we would then play 'I Spy" and talk and take it all in. Turns out she was the cerebral sort even at that young age and she enjoyed the trips and studying each piece.

MissPat said...

Well, if you have to name an inspiration source, Monet is a great one. I was drawn to the fabric line(s) introduced a few years ago as Monet inspired and bought several. You can reach your monthly goal by staying focused and hiding the seam ripper. And all those hand-dyed pieces are so dreamy, I'd have trouble cutting them up.

Sara said...

My awareness of creative inspirations has been fairly minimal. I do get inspiration from the blogs I read, and from the people in my local quilting community. But I haven't given much thought to where my love of bright colors might be coming from. Good food for thought! Love the gorgeous fabrics you are using for that graduation quilt.

Marly said...

This is going to be wonderful. I love your hand-marbled fabrics - truly reminiscent of Monet's water-lilly pond.

Lynette said...

Haha! Yes! "Like having too many left-over diamonds." :) I have definitely had the experience of thinking that I'd worked up something truly original, only to find out later what it was that my mind had modeled things on while I was doing it. I know you can get all his blocks made this month. You're a Mom with a Mission!

Jocelyn is Canadian Needle Nana said...

I just caught up on your posts. You include beautiful quotes and show gorgeous quilting. This quilt is going to be stunning; what a gift! Making a kaleidoscope quilt is on my list. Love the possibilities it provides. Happy March special stitching!

chrisknits said...

I can't say I have ever realized my choices were fueled by something I viewed outside of the quilting world. Interesting concept though, for all our creativity has to spring from somewhere!

Sandra Walker said...

This is going to be a beauty! I love the play of light and dark, aka chiaroscuro (had to drop that in, ha, as it figured prominently in the last book I read) that the kaleidoscope block creates. Love those hand marbled fabrics - may have drooled on the laptop keyboard. Thank you for linking this up with DrEAMi and hope you got lots accomplished this morning during your meeting.

dq said...

Wow! This quilt is going to be a stunner! The colors are rich! Love it!

Jennifer Fulton Inquiring Quilter said...

I love monet so if he was your inspiration you can't go wrong in my book! Those fabrics are to die for. Love them. Thanks for sharing on Wednesday Wait Loss.

Susan said...

You're having way to much fun with those fabrics!