Thursday, June 22, 2017

more than a quilt--day 31

By now it should be clear that I love making quilts. I love looking at the many wonderful fabrics and playing with them to create wondrous new landscapes that the viewer can linger in. I love making lovely potholders and eyeglass cases, placemats and table runners that can be used and enjoyed every day. Even the smallest scrap of fabric can create an inspiration for me. That is me and how I think.

But recently I have also been experimenting with giving my quilts an even more formal presentation. An existence that takes them beyond the soft and friendly to a place of even more substance if that is a good way of phrasing it.

These are quilts but--and I hesitate to say this--are they also making a statement that quilts can be more than quilts. Or are all quilts something more but we don't always realize this?

I don't know. For me I am like a kid in a toy store with something new to play with. I'm not sure where this will lead. I am not even sure it matters but I am having fun. And isn't this part of what life is about? What do you think?

two mounted quilts--2017--ann brauer

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

from both sides now--Day 30

Recently I have been working on one of those on-line interviews. You may know the type--you get a bunch of questions and type in your answers. A nice way to get publicity so I really can't object although of course it takes longer than I would like to write my answers and make sure they are coherent,  fresh and interesting.

One of the questions that this particular interview asks is what are my plans for the future. Now, I don't know about you but I am always hesitant to commit myself to the future. Who knows what tomorrow may bring? Will I have a new crisis to deal with? Or maybe a new commission? Will I get inspired and switch my direction slightly? Even after all of these years, I am always a bit worried about jinxing myself.

Instead I keep notes on new quilts on various pieces of paper in my studio and leave quilts that interest me on my desk top as a gentle reminder that I have more to explore.

Last winter when I was in Chicago doing the OOAK Show, I made a pilgrimage to the Art Institute to visit Clouds by Georgia O'Keefe. So large and wonderful. The clouds floating above the earth. One of my all time favorite paintings.  I just sat there and tried to absorb its splendor.

How can I create the feeling of light and expanse that she achieved?  Wouldn't it be wonderful to make such a grand quilt? I look at an image of my quilt "notes on the twilight" and wonder if there is just a bit of this freedom in it? How I would love to play with this design some more.
notes on the twilight--40x80 inches--Ann Brauer 2017--photo by John Polak

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

the hills are alive--day 29

Let's face it--some quilts are just hard to make. Each piece has to be carefully chosen to fit exactly where you want it. The blocks are different sizes and different colors. There is a different hue as the quilt progresses.

It is hard to believe that I created this quilt in my old studio using my old design board which was just an office divider--maybe 3 by 5 feet. I had to remember the colors and adjust them as I worked then I had pin each block as I made it into place so I could see the whole.

What was I thinking? Did I mention I love my new studio with its large design walls? Did I mention that I have no intention of ever making this quilt again?

blue hills--96 x 108"--quilt--Ann Brauer--image by John Polak

Monday, June 19, 2017

the road less taken--day 28

One of the reasons I love having a studio open to the public is that I can hang a new quilt on my wall as soon as I finish it and study it. What works? What could I do better? What is the next piece in the series? When customers come in, I can see which quilts they are drawn to and get their reactions.

Of course sometimes the best laid plans....

Now I know these are high class worries, but several times there have been wonderful new quilts that I finished just before a craft show and they sold right away. Before I got the chance to study them and see what lessons I could learn from them.

I keep forgetting this quilt which I call "the edge of the field." Perhaps a bit more realistic than I frequently make but still I am intrigued by the trees at the foreground and the view to the horizon. Hmmm. What do you think?

the edge of the field--quilt--ann brauer

Sunday, June 18, 2017

how fickle I am--day 27

For those following loosely my posts on Instagram, I have been playing with wonderful soft muted colors the last week or so. How soothing there are in the misty days of late spring. How much each leads me on to the next one.

But yesterday I realized I needed to start working in brighter blues and reds. I sold a wonderful blue and red table runner the other day out of the studio. It is a color that I should have in stock. After all, I am both an artist and a business woman.

blue and red runner--ann brauer

My brighter large wall hangings have found homes.

And I do need to work on an order for a bright sun. So much to do.

it's a new day--quilt--ann brauer

Luckily when I began pulling out the fabrics, I fell in love again with the colors of the sky. So many complex blues that almost sing happiness.  Those wonderful bright reds and purples with just the hint of the sky. And those yellows. What fun this will be. Do you ever switch up? How to you change colors? My Instagram site is if you want to follow me there.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

working in series--day 25

Yesterday I had a couple quilt makers in my shop. One was thumbing through my feature article in Art Quilting Studio from Winter 2016 and mentioned that they loved the series of five quilts featured there but could not imagine working in series. She said that she loved starting a quilt but then after a few rows she got tired and wanted to move on to another project.

Not me. If I start making a design and I like it, I want to make it in every color I can think of. Indeed while I am sewing I dream about more and more color combinations. Those famous "what ifs". Until I have to tear myself away from the project and move on to orders or other quilts I need in the studio.

Now to be fair to her, she was making more traditional quilts and I told her that I found that the sewing can become a bit tedious (personal opinion since I know there are those who find the repetitive nature to be soothing and there is nothing wrong with that.) However with my quilts where I am constantly choosing fabrics I long to fill the walls of my studio with one design in many colors. While I will probably never do it, I dream of a booth at a craft show where all the quilts could be mixed and matched to create different ensembles. What about you? Do you work in series?
three flames--12x40 inches--Ann Brauer

five flames--12x40 inches--Ann Brauer--photo by John Polak

Friday, June 16, 2017

from little mug rugs-day 24

Once, many years ago I won a couple of very nice grants.  A regional grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and I was runner-up for a Massachusetts Artist Grant. It was about the same time I made quilts that got into Quilt National. I was "hot". The sky seemed to be the limit. Of course I shouldn't be taking up my time making any of the smaller items--the potholders and placemats, the table runners and mug rugs that would sell at almost any craft show I did and keep me going.

There were certainly arguments to support that point of view and maybe if I had gone to Art School I could have developed a career teaching. Or maybe I could have pushed the quilts until I  sold them at a high enough price to not need the smaller items. I don't know. Could have? Should have? I knew though that I did not enjoy sitting at a craft show as the masses walked right past my booth realizing that even if they loved my work, today was not the day to purchase a more expensive quilt. I am not always a patient person.

But I also realized that there was nothing in my booth that I could afford. So I returned to making potholders and placemats. It wasn't my main business but of course if I was going to make them, they had to be well made and distinctive since they were part of my reputation. They had to be fun for the customers and for me. It was a balancing act to not get too many orders that I didn't time to make the larger more intricate quilts that I wanted to make.

For me it worked. At the studio I even sold small bookmarks and mug rugs. And in a round-about way, one of those mug rugs resulted in the order for all 12 quilts for the Federal District Court House in Springfield, MA. You just never know.

Quilts--Federal District Court House, Springfield, MA--Ann Brauer--photo by John Polak

Quilts--Federal District Court House, Springfield, MA--Ann Brauer--photo by John Polak

Do I still have those internal debates? You bet. When I get into that creative flow, when I get inspired and I just don't have time to make all the quilts I can envision, it is hard to finish an order for potholders. But then I get tired and need a break. Or the quilts are being a bit ornery and there is nothing like the quick satisfaction of a set of potholders that are DONE and will create a bit of joy in someone's life.