ELAINE QUEHL, Quilt Artist, Teacher, Dyer, Designer

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Greetings of the Season

From my house to yours, I am wishing you the best of this Season. I hope you enjoyed a restful and Merry Christmas and are now looking toward a brand new year in anticipation.

One of the sights I love at this time of year is seeing my feline family settling down for a long winter's nap. OK, I confess that winter has not hit Ontario yet, but is due this coming week. We will likely pay for a Christmas day that was as spring-like as Easter.


Peekaboo and her tongue.

For a while now, we've had a third cat at our house. "Foxy" comes around to eat each day and we do not know if she has a home. She seems to be outside at all hours of the day and night. This photo was taken a few weeks ago when we had a brief, light dusting of snow. My husband built her a shelter as per the Humane Society instructions. Actually we don't even know if "she" is a she yet. We could probably accommodate a third cat so she is welcome to move in, but it will have to be on her own time. However, it is also possible that she likes the food better at our house than her own?

If you read Quilting Arts Magazine, you may have noticed that they featured my last fabric line with Northcott in their December issue. While the Poppy Passion collection was released last April, it is probably still available at many stores. On the Northcott website, it has now been "archived" meaning that no more will be available for sale to stores.

I confess that I've been in a bit of a creative slump this past year, due partly to a busy teaching schedule. The last few days I've been warming up by sewing a bed quilt, something I have not done in more than a decade. I love polka dots, the colour turquoise, lots of white, and improvisational piecing, so I'm working on a new quilt for our guest bedroom. Remember the one that I painted in "Serene Moment" this past summer? Photos here. Yes that one, and it is also my office.

Some of you will recognize that these blocks are similar to what I teach in my Reflections class. In this case, however, I have only pieced half the block, leaving the other half white, and I have arranged the blocks into a spiral setting. The design possibilities are endless with these blocks.

Hoping you enjoy the rest of this Christmas season! I'll be working on a new art quilt during the first week of January. Can't wait to see how it progresses.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Painting in the Style of Mary Pratt, an Inspiring Weekend

At the age of 80, Newfoundland painter Mary Pratt is still painting. It takes months to create a piece such as her "Red Current Jelly". I am a huge admirer of the light and colour in her work. I also love her use of the colour red.

So I jumped at the chance to take a two-day painting class in the style of Mary Pratt, with instructor Andrea Mossop, this past weekend at the Shenkman campus of the Ottawa School of Art. The class was about learning to paint with colour capsules, achieving luminosity, glow, sparkle and shine.

We had to bring an inspiration photo. I chose this photo of a fountain, taken at Ville Lante in Italy in 2012.

Our first task was to sketch out the basic shapes and lay down a colour map using a very light wash of paint, and then the work of painting all the colour shapes began.

After two days, this is where the class ended. I probably have months of work ahead of me to finish this, but I am pleased with my weekend as I learned a great deal that I hope will make its way into future art quilts. The whole subject of refracted light has me facinated.

I am heading back into the studio this week. Still playing with some sketches and ideas before I haul out some fabric.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Back from Vacation, Wilma is in Print, and Knee News

Last week I spent a week relaxing in Costa Rica with my sister. We spent many afternoons sitting by the infinity pool, gazing out at the Pacific Ocean in the Guanacaste province of Costa Rica. This was to be a restful holiday, and it was.
The rainy season ended the day we arrived, and we were lucky to experience nothing but beautiful weather, blue skies and warm temperatures the entire week. We spent many afternoons reading by the pool, although I also spent a fair bit of time walking in the pool. It extended a good length of the property, toward the ocean, and was 4 ft deep most of the way. Perfect for water walking sore joints. At 30 and 31 degrees celsius most days, it was also immensely refreshing.

We enjoyed this view from our room.

We took a couple of excursions. One, a riverboat cruise to see wildlife. We sure saw a lot of crocodiles and birds. The other excursion was a shopping trip to the town of Tamarindo, about a 15 minute drive from our resort.

Upon returning home, my Winter issue of the Canadian Quilter was waiting for me. I had been asked by Editor, Marcy Horswill, to submit photos of my studio for a series of Creative Spaces she was planning to feature in this issue. Although my studio is small (10 ft x 10 ft) Marcy was still interested :-) With a new colour of paint on the walls and new bookshelves I was willing to share.

It just so happens that on the day I took photos for the article, I found our cat Wilma sleeping in her favorite corner of my studio, and thus Wilma has made it into print! I'm very proud of her.

On Monday I had my assessment at The Knee Clinic. The good news is there will be no knee replacement YET. And the bad news is there will be no knee replacement yet, meaning I'll have to suffer for a bit longer. However, I agree with their assessment. I saw the X-rays from both knees, and the arthritis in the main knee compartment is mild on both knees, there is still lots of space between the bones so that means the cartilage pad is still relatively thick. However, both knees have severe osteoarthritis of the knee cap, and are bone on bone. In fact, she said the knee caps couldn't really be any worse and both are equally bad. She also said the fact that I am kinda knock kneed contributed to this. Given my age, ability to sleep without pain, etc. they don't recommend bringing out the big guns for knee caps.She recommends I continue with conventional treatment (physio, mild exercise, icing, and give the gel shot a bit more time to work) and of course try to reduce weight on my knees. She is hopeful this inflammation flare will settle down eventually, like the last one, and especially since it was preceded by an injury. She says there are two surgeons at the hospital who do knee cap replacements but she does not recommend it because at some point I'm going to have the whole knee done anyway ... however, she did say it might be soon and might not be for a long time. No one knows how long before the mild arthritis in the main knee compartment turns moderate to severe ... she said it can go fast in some people and slow in others.
So status quo ... keep working with conventional methods and try to get things back under control. Fortunately I have two quiet months coming up. I plan on taking care of myself and strengthening my legs to get me ready for my late winter and early spring teaching. I am also slowly working my way back into studio mode.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Eastern Ontario Visits

It's been a busy week here, but I've been playing with an idea based on a photo I took of ferns on Vancouver Island. I really love these Touch markers by ShinHan Art, especially the grey set that runs from palest grey up to black. Really fun for working with value.

On Monday evening I travelled to Cornwall, Ontario, to give a lecture/trunk show for the Cornwall Quilters Guild. Wow, I saw so many familiar faces  many women I've met again and again over the years at various events in Eastern Ontario. The President, Chris, on left, me in centre, and Program Coordinator, Sharon. on the right.

I did talk a little bit about the importance of value (lights, mediums and darks) in my lecture, and this concept was well demonstrated by the displayed blocks from the guild's block challenge that members had participated in.

On Tuesday afternoon I headed off to Napanee, Ontario, where I gave a lecture in the evening for the Heritage Quilters Guild of Napanee. The next morning we gathered for a workshop on Hosta Leaves. I was really glad I'd dyed some green fabric last week.

Janet and Carol were among the first finished.

This student decided to make a bright purple and green hosta leaf. Why not? It is all about the lines. I wrote down the student's name and now cannot find the slip of paper I wrote it on! 

 Pamela, the Workshop and Program Coordinator.
 Carol's finished leaves.

Here's the finished purple and green hosta leaves. Now the decision is about whether to add a purple stem or a green one?

That concludes my speaking and teaching commitments for 2015. I shall be having more time in the studio coming up.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Reflections on a Visit to the Upper Canada Quilt Guild

Yesterday I had the pleasure of visiting the Upper Canada Quilt Guild. This group meets in Morrisburg, Ontario, but our workshop took place in Williamsburg, Ontario. It was an hour's drive for me through beautiful Ottawa Valley farm country.

Our workshop took place in the community room at a Seniors Centre. I love venues like this because they are usually well-lit and accessible (read, no stairs). It would be my wish that all classes and guild activities could take place in venues like these. While my cortisone shot helped, I am still not where I'd like to be with my knee.

We had 15 eager students in my "Reflections" class. Some had never tried cutting fabric free-hand before.

A couple found it a bit stressful, but most took to it like a duck to water and happily cut and sewed all day long.

I'm really looking forward to seeing the finished pieces, especially Bev's, since she incorporated many of the hand-dyed fabrics she dyed in my "Dye Happy" class last year.

Etta's colour scheme is modern and fresh!

This one is soft and pretty. Please, if someone knows the name of this student, share it with me so I can give proper credit.

Bev brought her work with her to show me how she had used a multi-coloured parfait fabric she had dyed in my class last year. It works really well in this piece because of how it brings light through the centre. She used a Gloria Loughman technique for her background.

Debbie brought a finished work to show me that contains fabrics from my "Falling Leaves" line from Northcott. They were perfect for this pattern by Beth Cameron.

It is back to the studio and the dyepots for me this week. And I need to package more hosta patterns for my workshop in Napanee next week.

Have a great week!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Quilts = Art = Quilts 2015

I am pleased to share that this year I had a quilt accepted to the Quilts=Art=Quilts show at the Schweinfurth Art Center in Auburn, New York. The opening reception took place this past Friday, October 30. Yes, "Encore" is back from its travels in Europe, and will be hanging at this show until January 3, 2016.

More information about the show is available here. There is a video of the show at this link.

My teaching schedule is slowing down at this time of year, so I am going to have some time in the studio. So far this past week I've gone through a lot of images and pulled a lot of fabrics for possible use. It has been so long since I've made new work that I'm feeling rather paralyzed. Yes, I have lots of ideas, but all of them either feel overwhelming or too similar to what I've done before. Hopefully I will get warmed up soon :-) On the other hand, taking a rest isn't such a bad idea, is it?

On Saturday I'll be teaching a workshop for the Upper Canada Quilt Guild, who meet in Prescott, Ontario. Then stay tuned for new work over the next few weeks.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

New Brunswick Teaching Trip, Part 2

When I arrived at my hotel room in Fredericton, New Brunswick, I found this beautiful gift bag from the Elm City Quilters Guild had been left for me. How thoughtful, and another example of Maritime hospitality.

The bag contained snacks, beverages, bath products, toiletries, and a magazine. Many things to make my stay comfortable.

Attached was a card with an abstract watercolour painting of cats. Hmmm ... they must have been reading about me.

Our classroom was huge and bright, and again very accessible.

On my first day I taught my In Full Bloom class. That evening I gave a lecture. I did not take any photos at the lecture, but am awaiting some to be sent from members who did.

I taught a half day class on Flip and Sew Curves

followed by a half day class on Liberated Applique.

This group did such a fantastic job and really seemed to enjoy my third class, Fast & Fun Fused Designs. Many had not ever cut their designs free hand before.

This is June, my class helper most days.


I met so many people in my 9 days of teaching and lecturing in New Brunswick, that I am struggling for names here. If anyone can please help me with the names of the following members, I will be happy to add them.


I enjoyed lobster roll after class one day with Pat, the Guild's President. Pat is the one who contacted me to invite me to teach in Fredericton. I enjoyed her company.

I took two days to drive home to Ottawa again. My first day brought blue skies and beautiful views.

I decided to stop at Hartland to view the longest covered bridge in the world. It was more than worth the 5 minute detour from the Trans Canada Highway. My husband and I have driven to the Maritime provinces many time for summer vacations, and we have never stopped here.

It definitely is the longest covered bridge I have ever seen!

That night I stayed in Quebec City overnight, discovering that I speak better french than my GPS! A huge thank you to the Elm City Quilters Guild for also taking such good care of me! Let me repeat: that is Maritime Hospitality!

Thanks to so much help from everyone, along with accessible classrooms and hotel rooms, I came home fairly rested and no worse for wear. Certainly my arthritic knee was no worse on my return. However, I did have a cortisone shot yesterday and hopefully things will continue to improve.