ELAINE QUEHL, Quilt Artist, Teacher, Dyer, Designer

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Haliburton School of Art + Design 2018

It's a long summer weekend here in many provinces of Canada. We call it Civic Holiday in Ontario. My sister has been visiting for the past week and just returned home today, so I am getting to the blog post about my time in Haliburton (to take a class and to teach a class at Haliburton School of Art + Design). The last three weeks have not afforded much time for blogging. While I was away I stayed in the woods near a lake, and the wifi connection was spotty. It was often difficult to upload photos.

I took this photo four years ago, when I stayed at the little blue cabin that I stayed at again in the first week of my time in Haliburton. It's the view of the lake out the cabin windows.

The cabin is close to the home of the owners who live down a one km gravel lane way through the woods. It's a beautiful place far off the beaten track. For exercise, when it wasn't too hot, I walked out the lane and back. The big problem was mosquitoes and other buzzy beings. There would often be a halo of them around my head while I walked.

The view was always best first thing in the morning IMHO. Now you have to understand that I am seldom up at this hour of the morning. If you look closely, you can see the mist burning off the lake.

My first week was spent taking a class called "Travelling with a Sketchbook" with Nancy Newman. What a warm and fantastic instructor she is! I did not create any masterpieces at all in this class. I am often not a good student. The whole idea of a travel sketchbook is to do very quick studies and sketches on location that you can build on or develop when you get home. Taking a photo helps with that. You may remember that I have done some pen and ink drawing in the past. Nancy's class was more about quick drawings on location and using watercolour. I have not formally studied watercolour before, so I learned a lot.

Contour drawing, the idea to never lift your pen.

An exercise in two point perspective so our structures will look more convincing.

And then we actually did a small painting using two point perspective.

We learned an interesting method for doing rocks, that involved a white crayon resist at the top. Mine look a little like frosty cupcakes ;-)  These things take practice like most skills one learns in life.

We enjoyed the good weather on several field trips for sketching and painting.

On the first farm we sketched and painted at, we had the pleasure of this charming garden shed

with a well-dressed scarecrow.

Nancy urged us to push the colour envelope, which apparently I did on this one.

Later in the afternoon many of us did a rendition of these birch trees.

This is Nancy Newman doing one of her oh so helpful demos.

On another day we sketched at a different farm. This ruined shed attracted many of us.

My sketch/painting.

I started a second sketch because, of course, this red canoe drew my attention. I did not have time to add the watercolour though, and my canoe looks like an unidentified mysterious object.

This kitty came to check out what I was doing and demanded a few pets.

This mosaic method was a lot of fun.

Week 2 came quickly! At our instructors lunch on Day 1 we all posed for a photograph. It was a booming week at Haliburton School of Art + Design! Registrations were up, and I don't think I've ever seen a larger group of instructors in any previous year (this was my ninth).

I enjoyed more views of mist burning off the lake at the start of the week, but the weather grew rather inclement later in the week. It was very hot and humid with frequent rain storms, and once a power outage of 4-5 hours.

Teaching my Flowers & Foliage class (with the addition of Trees this year) caused me to pull out this work that I started two years ago. I thought I might demo with it, and I had high expectations that I might even finish it in the evenings while there.

I didn't want another red and yellow flower because it is too close to the colour of my poppies, so I adjusted it to push the red closer to purple. I had thought I might publish this as a pattern.

Two years later I was not happy with the numbering and lettering of my pattern so I redid it and also added a couple of colour and value changes to it that I had not picked up on before. It was a challenge choosing the fabrics, but I was determined to use some of the beautiful purple/red multi-coloured fabrics I dyed a few weeks ago. And then I used some multi-coloured yellow/orange/pink fabric. I stopped there. I realize that when I publish this pattern people are going to want kits, and I have made it far too difficult to produce kits by including complex multi-coloured fabrics. When I use these fabrics in my work, I cherry-pick the areas I want. To sell a kit I have to very closely be able to reproduce fabrics again and again or I will drive myself crazy. So if, and when, I finish this tulip, I will have to make it again in fabrics that can be reproduced easily. And it may just not be as interesting then.

Here is my class with their work on the last day. They were really keen and worked very hard all week. Thank you Kathy, Carole, Anne, Carole, Ila, Judy, Anne and Cheryl for joining me and inspiring me with your work. Now I realize I did not get a photo of Anne's hosta leaves, probably because the photo she planned to work from had some challenges, so she decided to work with one of my patterns. But she is there in the back row, third from left.

Here are some photos of the works a bit closer up. Not all of them are finished in these photos and most of them still need to be placed on a background.







If this piece looks a bit familiar, it is because Ila used one of my photographs as her inspiration (one that I have used for inspiration in the past). However, Ila made her own pattern and interpreted it in her own way.

So after the last three weeks (the most recent a visit from my sister, wherein I had the opportunity to be a tourist in my own region) I now need to get back to work. In my next blog post I will share some exciting things coming up.

Enjoy your long weekend, and keep cool! We are in a heat wave again, so I am staying in air-conditioned comfort.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Commission

I've been working with a couple who wish to commission a quilt for the entry-way/stairwell of their home. They are interested in a sunflower theme. Over the years I have taken hundreds (maybe even thousands) of photos of sunflowers all over the world, and I even have a bit of experience rendering sunflowers in quilts. Based on their preferences and size needs, I came up with the following design to inspire the work. 

The design will be a triptych. The centre panel will be 4 ft x 4 ft., and each side panel will be 2 ft x 4 ft.  I'm delighted that we agreed on a design and the commission agreement was signed yesterday.

I'm blocking some time in my calendar for this year and next to complete this work. The deadline I've given myself is April 30, 2019. In my commission agreement I asked that I be allowed to blog about the making of this work, with the promise that I will not reveal the names or location of the commissioners.

It is an honour to be trusted to create something that a couple will live with every day in their home. I look forward to the challenge. Feeling blessed today.

Monday, July 9, 2018

We've been having a heat wave here in my part of the world. It was so hot on Canada Day (July 1) that very few people showed up on Parliament Hill for Canada Day celebrations. I personally stayed in my air-conditioned house and was very productive. It cooled off for a bit on Friday, but now it is brutally hot and humid (it is the humidity that is the killer) again. I am dropping in with some news.

This week I am shipping Smoke & Mirrors 2 off to Festival of Quilts, Birmingham, England. It will be exhibited in the Art Quilt category. No I will not be at the show in August. I wish I could be though. 

Cascade 1 and 2 were both accepted to the Fibre Content show at the Art Gallery of Burlington. The show runs September 6-16, 2018. More info at More info: http://fibrations.org/. I probably will not make it to that show either. It is right during Fibrefest, and after a day of teaching and two days of vending I am not sure I will feel like making the six hour drive to Burlington. However, I am pleased to have my work there.

The rain we experienced after the heat wave provided a wonderful opportunity to shoot raindrops on the hosta leaves. I really am thrilled with the HDR setting on my Samsung Smart phone. I have been able to take better raindrop photos with it than my Canon Rebel with macro lens. Now that might have something to do with my own inexperience with the latter.

Dyeing continues in earnest. I am committed to working away at 30 or 40 meters each week to avoid a last-minute panic prior to Fibrefest. I dont handle panics so well anymore ;-)

Janet Kivisto sent me a photo of this wall of quilts at the Trent Valley Quilters Guild Show in Brighton, Ontario. In Spring 2017 I taught an In Full Bloom workshop to this group, and I think this group gets a medal for most pieces finished in shortest time (I understand there were a few more in the show). These were made using my Peony and Sunkissed Poppy patterns, and in many cases students purchased my kit of hand-dyed fabrics too. 

On Canada Day Weekend I spent a good amount of time on this. Two years ago I picked up a Mussel shell on the beach in New Brunswick. I did not keep the shell, nor did I even take a photo. I am using my memory of the shell as a jumping off point to produce this work. It will be called Mussel Memory.

Because I am working with two colourways (purple to blue and yellow-gold to orange) I am ending up with blocks in two colourways.

I am working with a variety of block sizes. Small rectangular blocks and small square blocks are completed. I still have to sew and add larger rectangular blocks and larger square blocks. Then it will be hard to get to bed at night while I play with these babies on the design wall!!

I am madly prepping for my class on Flowers, Foliage and Trees at the Haliburton School of Art + Design, the week of July 23. It is not too late to join us. There are still three spaces left. However, I am heading up to Haliburton on July 14 to take a class on Travelling with a Sketchbook. Lots to prepare and think of for staying in a cottage for two weeks, while also taking and teaching classes.

Last, but certainly not least, the couple who are commissioning work for their home have agreed to a design and I am just waiting for the signed contract. I will be blogging about the making of this triptych as it comes together. What an honour to make a piece that will have impact when visitors step into their home, and that they will hopefully enjoy each day themselves. It is kinda cool to be doing some new things and some things I havent done in a while. 

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Almonte Fibrefest

It was really tempting to call this blog post "Thread Porn", but I was afraid it would be blocked somewhere out in cyberland. But that's the term I'd like to give to the following photo. This is a photo of part of my hand-dyed thread collection.

I'm pleased to share that I will be both teaching and vending at Almonte Fibrefest this year. On Friday, September 7 I will be teaching a class on Hand-dyed Threads, and on Saturday and Sunday, September 8 and 9, I will be a vendor selling my hand-dyed fabrics and patterns and kits. No I don't sell the threads. They are a bit labour intensive for that, but oh so gratifying to produce.

The lighter weight ones can be used for machine stitching. Here's a sample of some  machine quilting.

 The heavier weight ones can be used for couching or bobbin drawing.

What I am really developing a love for is hand-stitched, hand-dyed threads. Here are a few small samples I have made.


I hope I'll see you at Fibrefest. Until then, you will probably find me dyeing up a storm!