ELAINE QUEHL, Quilt Artist, Teacher, Dyer, Designer

Friday, November 18, 2016

What I'm Working On

I can't tell you how much I'm enjoying some quiet time to reflect and get in touch with my creativity again. It is taking a while but I can feel it starting to happen.

Two things I'm trying to do regularly are: 1) journal about ideas and things that are occupying my mind, and 2) keeping a visual artist journal. The latter is a blank sketch/mixed media book where I am doing loose pen and ink drawings, and adding watercolour to them. I try to add some words that come to mind. These are quick sketches to just capture the essence of what I am seeing, without being worried about perfection. I don't care if they look like what I'm drawing from, only that I get some practice and can live with the results.

I'm sharing just a few of my journal pages. The first one is based on a photograph I took of a section of our crab apple tree.

This quick sketch was done en plein air. I was seated on my front porch, when I noticed this lovely almost path-like entry into my neighbours' gardens.

A quick drawing I did using the cover of a book I'm reading. Completed while watching TV.

This week I also had the joy of dyeing 15 meters of fabric for my next project.

What is my next project? Well a year ago this past June, I was on Vancouver Island during a west coast teaching trip. Walking through Butchart Gardens, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed these leaves shimmering. Of course I had never noticed Smoke Bush (Cotinus) before, even though they grow widely across Canada. Throughout the year the memory of this experience has come back to me again and again. The leaves were shimmering in the wind, revealing one side that is orange/copper, and the other deep purple/eggplant. 

Since my Contemplative Photography class last month I have been wondering if I can catch that same perception in an art quilt? It is occupying my mind a lot right now.

I knew that having some fabrics that read "Smoke Bush" would help inspire me. And so I had a dye session this week. Here are my lovely results. Am I happy? You bet!

During my photography class, I also had the chance to photograph Smokebush in Haliburton (here in Ontario), but I think these impressions are quite different from my first impressions on Vancouver Island. Therefore I expect there could be two quilts eventually.

And last, but of course not least, I warmed up a bit in the studio by creating a new teaching sample for my Liberated Radial Piecing class. It was a lot of fun for me, although a challenge to get the design off-centre. A person doing it for the first time would probably be advised to start with a full radial design. I enjoyed teaching this class to a local group of ladies who hired me to give a private workshop yesterday. 

I'm pleased with my progress, despite being very very distracted by the US election, and despite having been very out of practice after months of teaching.


  1. Yeah, lots of us have election distraction! But art is a great activity to put it out of my mind. Anything from sorting fabric to actually stitching works. I'm glad you are finding some creative time after sharing your skills by so much teaching. Looking forward to the results.

    1. Yes Martha, art always provides a happy pill 😊 Hoping you are well!

  2. I love those radial pieced quilts! And your fabric definitely says smokebush to me. I t always amazes me how you can dye fabric to suit your subject.
    Can't wait to see it!

    1. Thank you Holly. I think the key to the fabric is to know the dye colours very well and then pick the ones you think will represent your vision. At least that's how I think of it. But now the biggest challenge comes: designing it!

  3. It's nice to see you spreading your wings creatively. I definitely see a smoke bush quilt in those dyed fabrics and your radial quilt is awe-inspiring.

    1. Thank you Jo. I am so thankful for having some time :-)

  4. I will always remember your liberated radial piecing class with OVQG a few years ago. What a eureka moment for me, to learn the technique. Re smoke trees, we have one in our front garden; the spring "flowers" are just so unusual also. You have always inspired me, dear Elaine.

  5. Thank you for your kind words Mara. I will always remember your liberated radial piece that was in the last OVQG show. Lovely! I have seen photos of smoke bush in bloom, but I'm not sure I've ever seen them in person. I was so drawn to the shimmer of the orange/eggplant


Your posts are important to me. Due to a huge amount of SPAM on my blog recently, I have decided to moderate comments, at least for the time being. Please be patient, your post will be approved as soon as I can get to it.