Art Of Quilting Column May 31, 2009

Fiber artist adds details, depth with paint

The quilted image of a scenic Colorado landmark is now part of a permanent collection at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Ky.

“Mountain Chapel,” created from a photograph by fiber artist Annette Kennedy of Longmont, received the best wall quilt award at last month’s American Quilter’s Society Show and Contest in Paducah.

Because the prize of $5,000 was a purchase award, Kennedy was required to relinquish her ownership of the quilt.

“It will be a really big honor for me to have the quilt in the museum,” she said upon first learning of her win.

Kennedy snapped the photograph of St. Catherine Chapel along Highway 7 near Allenspark. It’s nestled a few miles from Estes Park in the Rocky Mountains.

She says the chapel is a popular wedding site, and Kennedy has photographed it many times in different lighting and seasons.

“It’s a small church but majestic and inspirational,” she says.

Her goal in replicating it in fabric was to represent the chapel as “full of light.”

Devoting about 500 hours to the quilt over a four-month period, she completed it in May 2008.

In January of this year, “Mountain Chapel” also won the best pictorial quilt designation at the Road to California Quilter’s Conference.

Kennedy says she has no formal art training, but she’s always had a “creative bent.”

As an avid amateur shutterbug, Kennedy found the Rocky Mountains brimming with inspiration after moving to Colorado with her husband in 2002. Soon she was photographing the natural landscape and turning those images into art quilts.

Before long, she took that a step farther and began to experiment with paint on her quilts, adding details and visual depth.

What began as a hobby has become Kennedy’s occupation. She now teaches and lectures around the country on her quilting and painting techniques, as well as exhibiting in national quilt and art shows and in galleries.

She will share her expertise at two lectures June 10 in Grand Junction.

A morning program at 9 o’clock is scheduled by Sunset Slope Quilters at the First Presbyterian Church. At the evening meeting of Colorado West Quilters’ Guild,
Kennedy will speak on “Possibilities With Paint” at 7 at the First Christian Church.  Her slide show will illustrate the dramatic difference paint makes in her art quilts.

For example, Kennedy explains how she hand-painted the sky fabric beforehand for “Mountain Chapel,” then incorporated that portion into the whole scene. She uses Seta Color transparent fabric paint.

Raw-edged fabric pieces were fused onto the quilt top. Next, Kennedy painted shadows on the top to emphasize strong lighting.

“Shadows were painted under the eaves and windowsills,” she says, adding that she darkened the mortar in the stones and lined the shingle detail with paint. It was also applied to some of the background trees to increase the illusion of depth between them. 

Another tool she employed was a fine-tipped Sharpie marker, with which she drew the grid lines in the chapel windows.

Finally, Kennedy did free-motion quilting on her Juki home sewing machine.

More pictorial and landscape quilts are on her agenda, as she continues to enjoy frequent family hikes in the Rocky Mountain National Park, with her ever-present camera, of course.

At this time, Kennedy has two quilts in progress — one of red berries in front of an aspen tree and another of alpine forget-me-nots, which grow above timberline.

She took the photo of the forget-me-nots on Mount Goliath while hiking a wildflower trail.

Through this fabric outlet, Kennedy expresses her awe of nature. 

Her desire is to provide peace and wonder to the viewer, “a solace for the busy, burdened soul, a celebration of beauty and life,” she says. 

That’s an admirable goal for any quilter.

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