Tuesday 1 November 2016

Four in Art: Colour - "I've Got the Blues"

Each year the quilters of Four in Art take a theme,  throw quarterly sub-themes into the mix and produce a series of quilts inspired by those themes.  Today we are revealing the quilts we have made for this year's annual theme "Colour", with the quarterly sub-theme "I've Got the Blues".

Please check out the reveal posts from the other FIA members - as always I'm excited to see what they do:

Betty         https://www.flickr.com/photos/toot2
Camilla         http://faffling.blogspot.co.nz/
Elizabeth     http://www.occasionalpiece.wordpress.com
Janine         http://www.rainbowhare.com
Nancy         http://www.patchworkbreeze.blogspot.com
Rachel         http://www.rachel-thelifeofriley.blogspot.com
Simone         http://quiltalicious.blogspot.com
Susan         http://patchworknplay.blogspot.com
Instagram #fourinart
This sub-theme idea is a lovely one and should have been perfect for me because blue is my favourite colour and it represents many things that I love including the sea, but I really struggled this quarter. Earlier this year I made a quilt for the "Colour"/"Music" challenge using fabrics in various blues and rather exhausted my blue fabric inspiration, so I spent a long time thinking about the theme - which is always my favourite part of the process - and trying to come up with an interesting idea.

In the end, I decided that I would go again with a musical connection and try and combine that with the sea - taking blues in sea colours and combining them with flashes of gold, which could represent flashes of light on the waves but would also be positioned in a way that could represent the notes in the chords of a twelve bar blues.


So far so good, but when it came to implementing this plan I soon realised that it was not working as an art quilt.  This set me thinking about what art is - for me it does some of the following

provokes a reaction
makes you look at commonplace things in a new way
represents or encapsulates an idea
is aesthetically pleasing
or aesthetically challenging
employs new or unusual techniques in order to achieve these things

I wasn't happy that what I was making would meet any of these criteria and completely lost confidence.  There didn't seem to be anywhere to go from that point.  I So here is part of "Dead End 1: I've got the Blues".  It earned its title!

Failure and creative guilt

If you think of the creative process as involving starting with an Idea, going through a Creative Struggle and finally ending up with a Product you can beat yourself up at any stage!

So I feel bad that I couldn't take the idea and turn it in to the thing that I wanted, and I feel bad that I couldn't muster the enthusiasm to power on through, and I feel bad because I have not got a finished piece to show.   Maybe we can cut ourselves some slack sometimes and adopt the point of view that there are no failures in art because, as in science, each route you go down and discard as unproductive is actually enlightening in its own way.   Meanwhile I am very apologetic to the other Four in Art members!

"Dead End 1" - unfinished quilt detail

You can see other quilts I have made for FIA if you click Four in Art in the categories links in my sidebar.


  1. A very interesting post, Catherine. Everything you say parallels my experience of this challenge. My favourite colours are all in the blue range and I've made a couple of very blue quilts before so it should have been easy but in practice I feel like this quarter beat me. I actually really like your quilt. I think it has a great balance of shapes and colours and I like the way the strips have an improv quality, vertically, but are more formally constrained by their straight sides. I think it has turned out to be a very nice piece of work that just didn't quite match with your hopes for it.

  2. Janine says it beautifully. I like your piece too and maybe with some time away from it you might see something in it different from your original idea.

  3. Your musings and discomfort with this piece, as you allude, are not uncommon for "artists". Like you, I get so excited to come up with something to meet the sub-theme -- it's almost the best part. And then you start work and unless it comes easy, there is a struggle. I love Victoria Findlay Wolfe's mantra "if you don't like it, cut it up and make something else out of it". Of late, I've been working on a piece which looked great in my mind and then when I started construction it wouldn't go anywhere UNTIL I got to the very end, needed to add more strips, had only very dark, but they ended up making it work perfectly - who knew?! Personally, I like your piece, but don't know what you saw in your mind's eye. You have a great foundation, however, for wherever it may go!

  4. The artist's struggle is real, isn't it? I'm sorry this didn't go how you planned, but I do like the pictures that you've shared. Somehow I don't think that art is as easy to make as people would have us believe. I like the list you shared of what you think makes art. I shall have to reference that again. Please don't beat yourself up - so glad you shared what you had.

  5. I love where you are going with it, and I think (as the others have expressed) that these art quilts are to knock us a little off-balance and to try something different than what we are used to. I had this feeling all last year in our Literature Theme (2015) and I've put those quilts somewhere and I have no idea where--which shows how anxious I was to get them out of sight! So we all understand. I think Rachel said it best: the artist's struggle is real, but you've got a good start on an idea. Don't worry about finishing it if you don't want to, and you have let any of us down at all (so no worries on that!). I love that you gave it go. Carry on!

  6. Well I love this, I love how the quilting is reminiscent of sound waves or a music score, and the flashes of gold made me think of saxophone or trumpet keys which of course is such a big part of blues music

  7. Like Helen, I love what you've done so far. The colour mix is gorgeous and I like the way the greenish colour moves through the piece.

  8. I enjoy reading about the process of your quilts as much as I like seeing the finished article and this has been a really interesting process and post! I suspect that a little time out from your blues quilt will help you to see it in a different (and more positive!) light.

  9. Sometimes when our art doesn't go the direction we wanted that's called experimentation. I think your creative process created a very nice quilting piece though. I too have not liked the outcome of many of my projects before. Sometimes it's hard to get what the brain is envisioning to look as awesome and you thought it would be. That's ok, we learn and grow and move on. Keep pursuing, keep experimenting, keep trying....success is in our growth, not always in the final project.

  10. I like your list. I have trouble getting what I want to work, many times. Can tell you I have started and tossed a couple ideas with each challenge. I did find once that adding some applique really helped make the quilt work (a different challenge years ago). I had a difficult time with this challenge sub theme, too. I agree with others, we experiment, we learn through the process. There are many of my pieces that I want to work on a series from the initial quilt I made. Perhaps one day it will happen. I like the blues. Would like to see a photo of this from a distance, it might have a different look (or rotated for that matter). Carry on!

  11. Firstly, my apologies for catching up with your interpretation Catherine. As you would realise I was on vacation, and had very limited wifi!
    I can certainly relate to your struggles. That is one reason I have decided to opt out for 2017....it caused me such angst that I felt I was letting myself and the group down. (Interestingly I did not struggle with this mini at all!) I love your "Unfinished" piece. Many a great piece of art is left unfinished and still admired for the message it conveys. No apologies required.....

  12. I love your piece! and totally not a fail in my eyes! But that said I know the feeling when I fail to pull off something that encapsulates the idea in my head. I definitely agree that there should be nothing regarded as a failure because the process is enlightening, isn't that a large part of why we do this?

  13. Well I like this a lot, though I also understand why you don't feel you've achieved what you wanted. I think that sometimes time is our enemy. If you thought of this as a study/preparation piece and had twice as much time, maybe it would have led somewhere else that you liked better. Don't be too hard on yourself, in any case, as it has led to a truly interesting and thought provoking post.

  14. Playing with shape and color is also art, and you have done it. I like to make abstract, non-representational art and cringe when I hear it must have deep meaning.


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