Thursday, August 6, 2009

Working in Series with Elizabeth Barton

Elizabeth Barton first planted the seed to work in series during her class at QBL in July 2008. Then though, I immediately dismissed it without much thought. I mean, first of all how does one work in series? Then how do you discipline yourself to actually to it. Since I'm the original ADD quilter, there didn't seem like much hope. Still over a series of blog entries on the matter, she slowly changed my mind. By mid-spring I was ready to take the leap into her class this year at Quilting by the Lake entitled - what else? - Working in Series. I had learned a lot, the first time I took her. I was sure I would learn even more this year. I wasn't disappointed.
The week was. . . intense. She started asking what our goals were for the class - mine were to gain some focus on my art work and to work hard. Now you wouldn't think you would have to mention that last point - but some people go to quilt conference to socialize, have fun and do a little sewing. I do all that - just not in that order. Well Elizabeth took me at my word. She started the week with a 3 hour lecture on what is a series and the first elements of design. She then assigned us all unique afternoon assignments that dealt with our specific series theme. I chose arches. I had literally looked at hundreds of pictures of arches in the last month and still wasn't sick of them - so figured that's a good place to start. I spent the rest of the day (till 10 at night) working up 6 sketches from photo inspirations. I basically copied down the main lines and then added and deleted as I saw fit.
The next day she gave a slide show and a review of the series process she wanted us to try for the week. We were to pick a theme, size, shape, and title. Then we were to write a theme paragraph to detail exactly what we wanted to express in our series. We were then to pick one of the sketches to start the series and make a few value colorations of it. With all that done, we could pick out three colors for our first piece - one dominate, one secondary and one accent. We were to sort them by value and tempature. Finally - we could start designing.
So if you had walked in our classroom of 8 students on Wednesday morning, you would have seen a lot of white empty design boards. Still Elizabeth assured us all that by Friday, we would have a piece from the series to take home. I had my doubts, but I've learned to trust her. I worked through the whole process chosing the title Everyday Arches. After a little prodding I even posted my theme paragraph which - not one - but two people (not from my class) actually read and commented on. I found that surprising that people really cared.
Anyways, all that design work paid off because by the end of Thursday night (I worked both days till 11 pm), I had my design done. After taking a good look Friday morning, Elizabeth said - "Well that one looks done - want to start another?" She's lucky I like her so well, or else I would have slapped her LOL!! I settled on just discussing the next and started sewing down the first. I don't care to work horizontal on pieces - even in series. Anyways, I wasn't the only one to get the series started. Each of my classmates got a good start on theirs. Elizabeth promised to post them on her blog which was nice - she also asked us to commit to 5 more pieces in the series. So I did - I know - what was I thinking? Ohhhhhhh yeah - I was thinking that I wanted to gain focus on my art and to work hard - sighhhhhhhhhhhhh.

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