Sunday, July 24, 2011

Point, Click, Quilt!

If you've been reading the quilting magazines at all over the past few years, I'm sure you've seen Susan Brubaker Knapp's quilts. Susan has a distinctive, representational style of art quilting that is crisp, bold and graphic. I love the clean, clarity of her work. C&T has just published her new book about quilts that are inspired by photos, which many of hers are. I just got a copy and had a chance to look through it. I am looking forward to reading it in depth, but I wanted to share my first impressions.

Using photos as the design inspirations for artwork is nothing new, and, honestly it is often the recipe for really awful, boring, poorly conceived work. Haven't we all seen those quilts that take a mediocre photo and slavishly reproduce every single detail, including the distracting telephone pole and the badly placed and sad looking tree? Ugh. These are the pieces that give this technique such a bad rep. Susan, on the other hand,  shows how a photo can be a starting point for something truly artful. She starts by providing a lot of solid suggestions for taking better photos from the outset. Then she talks about how to analyze the photo, select the most promising elements, improve the composition, if need be, and interpret it with fabric and stitch, using the strongest parts of the original photo and playing them up in the fabric work. Sometimes that involves leaving things out, sometimes adding something to improve the balance or the flow of the design and sometimes focusing in on a small selected part of a larger photo. The focus is on creating good design, not on simply recreating a scene. Just look at that beautiful cover piece and you can see that this is much more than a simple-minded "how to copy a photo" book. I think anyone who ever made a piece inspired by a favorite photo can learn something from this beautiful book. I did. And it is such a treat to see all Susan's beautiful examples.

I was really flattered when Susan asked to use one of my pieces in the "gallery" section of her book.

On the right hand side, is my "Baños" quilt and the two photographs that inspired it. Ray took the picture on the right, that has the figure of the old man in it, so he also has a photo credit in the book.

I am really pleased to be a small part of such beautifully conceived and produced book. I think it will be a really useful and inspiring resource for many quilt artists.


  1. This quilt and its evolution has been one of my favorites to follow. If I were an artist and/or textile artist this is the kind of work I would like to do. I am a little puffy chested when I see that my dear "old" friend is getting such recognition.

    Love ya.

  2. Thanks for all your sweet comments, Terry. It was an honor for me to include one of your fabulous pieces. :-) Susan