Seeing quilts through juror’s eyes sharpens focus
Good art has a way of drawing you in.
That’s how textile artist Patty Hawkins sees it. Hawkins, of Estes Park, juried the most recent exhibit of quilts by members of the Art Quilt Association to be shown at the upcoming Denver National Quilt Festival IX.
Hawkins makes her own fabric and teaches design nationally. When creating her own work, Hawkins says she subscribes to a Japanese aesthetic that “sees beauty in imperfection.”
In her written comments to the Art Quilt Association, based in Grand Junction, she shared a few of her tricks for creating successful pieces of work.
I found her approach to these design elements novel, and I’d like to share them with you. They can be helpful for those who appreciate looking at art, as well as for those who are actually making the art.
Hawkins’ tricks to capture the viewer’s eye fall into three categories:
■ TWO-SECOND SEDUCTION: While walking through a gallery, museum or art quilt exhibit, you stop at a particular piece to study it closer. Something in it “speaks to you,” grabs your attention.
■ THE THREE BEARS: Light, medium and dark values within the same color; they vary in size and are in an odd number. These add visual interest and dimension, whether it’s a landscape or detail view of a still life or a nature composition.
■ ZINGERS OR TABASCO: An unexpected color scattered throughout.
Remember, Hawkins emphasizes, “it’s always important to have a pathway for the viewer’s eye to wander through the piece.”
Learn more about Hawkins and see some of her textile art at pattyhawkins.com.
■ ■ ■
Here are juror Patty Hawkins’ top five picks for the “Main Street” special exhibit showing May 1–4 at the Denver Mart.
The quilts consist of iconic art, abstracted architecture, favorite street scenes or special events that capture the imagination. The members of the Art Quilt Association invite festival-goers to take a walk down these picturesque streets created in cloth.
1. “104 Degrees” by Cindy Williams of Paonia. The quilter’s use of an odd number of water fountains and children playing in them is an effective visual design element, according to Hawkins.
Shadows of figures and a bench are an effective and a subtle way to anchor the composition. Water splashes enunciate a feeling of “calming” the heat. The variety of lights to darks within the tree foliage and tree bark adds dimensionality.
2. “Main Street Baskets & Blooms” by Nancy Dobson of Grand Junction/Alaska. Juror Hawkins says the color and shapes command attention, and the variety of scale of images brings the eye in from blooms and basket at lower edge, moving diagonally to farthest basket, with an odd number of images. Minimal use of lime green is a good “trick of the eye.” Multiple red values work well for dynamic focal point area. Dark background effectively adds perspective.
3. The Dalby Wendland & Co. Building by Jan Warren of Grand Junction.
“The eye is immediately captivated by stunning piecing, even to suggesting convex building aspects and stonework,” says Hawkins.
Composition of this street scene is exceptional in creating perspective. There are many pathways for the eye to move successfully through the scene. Color palette’s value changes from darks to lights are successful.
4. “Boomers on Main” by Pat Sprague of Austin. Graphics immediately grab the viewer’s eye, the juror says, and execution of construction is impeccable. The light value to outline lettering is crucial and effective.
Subtlety of values within a profound color palette choice is most eye-catching, with the hint of shading adding dimensionality.
5. “Avalon Theatre” by Elizabeth Bottorff of Grand Junction. The juror found the depiction of this vintage building “profound” while using no obvious techniques or visual gimmicks. The variety of print fabrics in the tree foliage commands a closer look, carrying the viewer’s eye across the scene, as well as suggesting a foreground.
Members choice: “Just Another Day on Main Street” by Kathleen Malvern of Grand Junction.
Hawkins’ insight into viewing art articulates what most of us feel, yet can’t always find the words to express.