ELAINE QUEHL, Quilt Artist, Teacher, Dyer, Designer

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

What's up?

I know I've been quiet for the last two weeks. I've had my nose to the grindstone! One of the side effects of being a travelling teacher is that a lot of other things in my life have fallen by the wayside. One of them is our home. I've been wanting to do some painting for a long time but always feel that when I have any free time that I should be in my studio. Truth is it has been hard to get into the studio this past year, and sometimes one needs to do what one's heart is calling for. So I spent a week painting our guestroom/my computer room. I am so happy I did. I love the colour: "Serene Thought". I just could not take that blah off-white builder's paint anymore. I won't tell you how long we have lived in this house and still had builders paint on the upstairs walls!

It makes me happy to sit at my computer now (you can see it at right). That little white boat-shaped thing is a wall shelf I picked up at Home Sense. It goes with the coastal beach cottage theme I was after. My colour sense has been so influenced by my trip to the Greek Islands last September. I haven't hung anything on the walls yet because I don't want to damage the paint while it is curing. My body hurt everywhere when I was finished but it was so well worth it!

Next up, when I get some time (maybe early September), I plan to paint my studio apple green :-) This is just going to be a year where teaching is in demand and rooms need to get painted. Teaching will slow down again, it goes in cycles, and I'll have more time in the studio. 

In addition to that, I've been dyeing and ironing.  I always bring fabric with me when I'm teaching (unless I'm teaching at a shop) and I wanted to make sure students in my classes at Haliburton School of the Arts have options if they needed a light or a dark or ...  There aren't any fabric stores really close by the college as it is in cottage country. I'm leaving Sunday for two weeks of teaching there.

In the last few months, and up until this week, I've been vetting photographs sent to me by students. I've been teaching classes on how to design your own botanical quilt, and my first week at Haliburton will be on this topic. I like to see student photographs ahead of time to make sure they aren't too complex for the first time, and to make sure they have enough hi-lights and shadows to translate. A little tweaking in PhotoShop can help with a photo that is not very dramatic.

Let me show you. So the photo below is one I chose as inspiration for a quilt I'm about to make, one that I hope to publish a pattern for. I find this photo has lots of light and shadow and I could use it as is.

However, just to show what I mean by "posterizing", I've applied that feature to the photo below. When someone paints a flower, they can nicely blend one colour into another, but when we are making a quilt with pieces of fabric, we have to decide where the hard edges of the fabric are going to be. The "posterizing" feature in PhotoShop does the work of setting out the colour and value changes in definite shapes.

Let me repeat. I do not normally use the posterizing feature. I try to get a good photograph where I won't need it. But it does help when the photo doesn't have the hi-lights and shadows I'm looking for because it makes the value changes easier to discern.

I am having reservations about making this quilt in red and yellow because I've already published a poppy pattern that is red and yellow, so I thought I might change the colour to purple and orange instead. I tried a few options to make the flower more purple and orange, below:

But I'm not sure this is what I want. It doesn't have the freshness of the original red and yellow version. Here it is "purpleized" (haha) and posterized!

When I google "tulip purple and orange" images, something much prettier comes up. So I may have to use the colour inspiration I find in the googled tulips and transfer it to my tulip.  Here, for example you can see what I mean:


By the way, if you don't have PhotoShop, I understand there are some free programs on the web to posterize photos. Just google "free softerware posterize photos", or something like that.

In the mean time, I dug up this coleus photo I took at least a decade ago. Yes, I was inspired by my students on Salt Spring Island who were working with coleus. The original photo is a little blah to me.

So I revved up the colour.

I'm still dreaming about this fern from Vancouver Island:

and the smoke bush!

Before I sign off, I want to share this little plant. It is a "Dr. Bob", or "Robert Olson" hosta, sent to me by Bob Olson, the Editor of The Hosta Journal. It is doing well in my garden.


  1. Yes to orange and purple! That would look gorgeous, Elaine. Can't wait to see where you go with this project.

    1. Thank you for the feedback M-R. I appreciate it. It will be a good piece to demo on in class. I've made the pattern and am ready to go, so hopefully this will get me started!

  2. I too have been painting -- in my kitchen -- so I understand the labour of love involved. Great job on your room/office! And I really like your new photo (right side bar) -- so much more how I think of you! ;-) As for the plants and photos...well...whenever I water my 3 prairie hosta (2 about to bloom), I think of you again!

    1. I find painting to be difficult work Margaret, but the end result is worth it, isn't it? Thanks for the compliment on my photo. I had a photo shoot with Anna Hergert in Edmonton when I was there teaching and she was there judging. I badly needed a professional photo. Thanks for thinking of me :-))

  3. Love the color of your guest room. I recently went on a panting spree, although not done by me, to get rid pf the Linen White put on by the builders. I have bright red in the powder room, navy/teal in the guest bath, ocean blue in one guest room and strong gold in the other guest room. I love them all! I use the Posterize filter a lot and used it recently on my Garden Studies.

  4. Thank you Norma. I love the colour more today than I did the day I chose it or painted it. It is a winner for me. Makes me feel good every time I walk in that room. Next up is my studio in apple green :-) I find the posterize feature sometimes causes me visual confusion because it also changes colours.


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