Seeing quilts through juror’s eyes sharpens focus

Cindy Williams of Paonia created “104 Degrees,” the top juror’s choice in a special exhibition titled “Main Street,” on display Thursday through May 4 at the Denver National Quilt Festival IX at the Denver Mart. This exhibit features work by members of the Art Quilt Association, based in Grand Junction. Photo by Frank Nored/Special to the Sentinel

“Main Street Baskets & Blooms” by Nancy Dobson of Grand Junction/Alaska was juror Patty Hawkins’ second choice. Hawkins especially likes the multiple red values that work well “for a dynamic focal point area.” Photo by Frank Nored/Special to Sentinel

Jan Warren of Grand Junction piecedtogether this quilt titled “The Dalby Wendland & Co. Building,” which the juror tabbed as her third choice. The composition of this street scene is exceptional in creating perspective, Patty Hawkins notes. Photo by Frank Nored/Special to the Sentinel

“Boomers on Main” by Pat Sprague of Austin is No.4 on the list of juror’s favorites. The graphics of a business’ sign immediately command attention on a varied background. Photo by Frank Nored/Special to the Sentinel

The depiction of the vintage “Avalon Theatre” by Elizabeth Bottorff of Grand Junction was juror Patty Hawkins’ fifth choice for the “Main Street” exhibit. Photo by Frank Nored/Special to the Sentinel

Members of the Art Quilt Association also selected their own favorite from those to be exhibited in Denver — “Just Another Day on Main Street” by Kathleen Malvern of Grand Junction. Photo by Frank Nored/Special to the Sentinel



The show at Denver Mart runs Thursday through May 4 with the 2014 competition show theme of “The Height of Excellence.”  Vendors from 22 states will be part of the merchants mall. Workshops, lectures and quilt appraisals are offered, as well as 18 special exhibits. At 4:30 p.m. Friday, Augusta Cole of Richmond, Va., will share fast-cutting and quick-piecing techniques in her lecture, “A Collage of Tricks, Tips and Tidbits.” Cost is $20.  At 4:30 p.m. Saturday, Carol Lane-Saber of Spring, Texas, will lecture on “The History of Japanese Textiles.” Her presentation is free.

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

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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.

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