Friday, January 5, 2018

don't stop thinking about tomorrow

There is an apocryphal but oh so true story that I have heard for years--probably you have heard it also.

An artist is asked what she would do if she was given a million dollars. The answer of course is to keep making art until she ran out of money.

Isn't that the way it goes. Always there is another quilt to make. Another show to prepare for.

Next up is the Baltimore Craft Show February 23-25 at the Baltimore Convention Center. How I love this show. This is another large show with six hundred artists and lots of customers who are searching for an escape from winter. For me it is the first chance to define my work for the coming year. How can I create a body of work that carries on from what I have previously done, allows me take advantage of the insights from last year and reads as a cohesive whole. One friend noted that all of my square quilts reminded her of school bus windows. Interesting thought. Do I need to make more quilts that are other sizes? Another friend whose work I respect said she preferred my more abstract pieces. Hmmm. And of course there are all those who make comments about psychedelic colors. I hear these and put them in the back of my mind to gel.

I look at other art to feed my soul and to help me see new possibilities. What inspires me. What am I trying to say. I sketch lots of quilts that will probably not get made just to see if I could make them. After all,  I am not making quilts just to make quilts--I  want to make quilts that have a purpose. Although it can be important to understand the technique until it becomes my language, technique is not the content of the quilts--at least not for me. I want to speak with the viewer. What am I trying to communicate.

And I make lots of potholders and place mats as I think about it. There is no point in sitting idly by and fretting too much. That does not create art. Instead I sew and play with the fabrics.

This year I have decided to feature my quilt "mountain sunrise". I love the colors and the joy of this piece. So happy and confident. Definitely it will be a focus. But my booth is large and there are 600 exhibitors at the Baltimore Show. I need to WOW the crowd.

mountain sunrise--40x40"--quilt--Ann Brauer 2017--image by John Polak

I make a long quilt--it's a new day. Not large enough to be a showstopper but still it was a quilt I wanted to make in a shape that could look great over a sofa or bed. Size does matter sometimes.

it's a new day--17x63"--Ann Brauer 2017
I look at other quilts I have made. I love the triptych in notes from twilight. That could make a strong statement in my booth.

notes from twilight--40x80"--quilt--Ann Brauer 2017--image by John Polak
And I start sewing with a purpose. Yes this is a quilt that I want to make. A quilt that will look great. And a quilt that should dominate the booth. Now there is just the long slow road to completion. One tiny bit of fabric at a time. I'll try to keep you posted.

And you--how do you choose what to make? How do you create a body of work?

Monday, January 1, 2018

it's a new day

Sometimes titles just come to me. The promise of dawn with the sun rising in the clear morning sky. The New Year. The open possibilities of fresh starts. The sun lingering longer in the sky. Here's wishing everyone a happy and joyous journey.

it's a new day--17x63"--quilt--Ann Brauer 2018
detail--it's a new day--quilt--Ann Brauer 2018

Sunday, December 31, 2017

it's about color

OK--I know that my next show is the Baltimore Craft Show February 23-25 right when people are thinking the bright happy colors of spring. Indeed many people even now want the bright clear colors of hope and light. And I have several orders lined up ready to be filled.

And yet sometimes I just have to see what will happen. Color after all does reflect the depths of my soul. (Yes, that sounds maybe a bit profound but it still can be true for me.) Winter is just starting here in the North East and it is dark and cold. The holidays are over and so I decided to create.

What do I need to make? What intrigues me? For some reason it is the complex nature of browns in all their glory. Soon I know I must begin anticipating the season and moving on to light and warm days but I couldn't resist. Interesting how color can just lead me on.

brown flame--quilt--Ann Brauer--2017
Don't you love all these fabrics? Can you see what I had so much fun?

detail--brown flame--quilt--Ann Brauer

Does this ever happen to you? For more information on the Baltimore Show check out their web site. I'm in Booth 1309. And of course I listed it on my Etsy shop

Friday, December 8, 2017

go big or go home--part one

Let's face it. Chicago is big. There are lots of people. Traffic from all directions. Buildings that stretch to the sky and then reflect it.

view of Chicago from Merchandise Mart

The lions at the Art Institute are big.

lions outside of Art Institute--Chicago

One of my favorite paintings by Georgia O'Keefe is so big they had to build a special wall just to display it.

clouds--Georgia O'Keefe--Art Institute

So last year after doing OK at the One of a Kind Show I decided that I wanted to go big. Wouldn't my work look great in a larger booth? They give me the hard white walls, the carpet, the lights. Sure the show is a long hard drive from home. The lines for load in and load out are carefully controlled chaos. And the price to do the show is--let's face it--big.

Still I told myself I wouldn't know until I tried. When I was offered a larger booth I decided I had to try. Let's face it, I decided to rebuild my studio because I knew I had more quilts to make and I wanted to make them. Quilts can be more than fine craft and I want to make big quilts that transcend the medium. I spent all autumn working for this show.  I had other fairs to do and orders to fill, but I kept imagining myself in this large space.

Of course I didn't have nearly enough time to get all the quilts in my imagination done. How delighted I was to read that Claude Monet was frustrated that his wonderful stacks of wheat paintings took much longer than he wanted to complete. Don't you love to read labels at the Museum.

stack of wheat--Claude Monet--Art Institute

I set up the booth. Thought it looked great in its largeness and splendor and then waited. Is it the kiss of death if other artists think your booth looks grand?  Or was it because it was Thursday? Did I forget to convey the idea that these are quilts? Does that matter? Should it matter? After all it only takes a couple of good customers.

Or maybe there is more I need to do to achieve my idea. My concept. I'll try to keep you posted. Meanwhile wish me well. If you are in the Chicago area my booth is 4123. I would love to know what you think?

booth--OOAK Chicago--Ann Brauer 2017

Friday, December 1, 2017

red sun

Sometimes, less is more. Up close and personal. For a while I had it hanging so I could see it every day as I sewed. Secretly I have always longed to make it as one big quilt in four panels. That would be a challenge and yet it would command attention. And yet eventually, I put it aside as I moved on to more landscapes. Still, there is a power here that may demand a space in my booth at the
One of a Kind Show next week-end in Chicago.

After all,  it would be fun to look at it again, wouldn't it?

red sun--40x40"--Ann Brauer 2015--image by John Polak

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

the colors of summer

Does this ever happen to you? I start a new series and some of the last of my old work gets put aside. Sure I hang it occasionally but usually I leave it in the studio when I do a show. It is too big for the booth. If it hasn't sold so far, will it actually find a home if I show it. Yes, I do a cost benefit analysis in my mind at every show. Not because I am a strict business person--after all I am an artist--but I also have to think about selling the work if I want to continue to be an artist. That is just the way it is.

Still the quilt sits on my Desktop--I like to have inspiration there when I work on my e-mails or post on Etsy. It is in the studio where I see hints of it most days as I ponder the latest quilt on my design wall. Or study the quilts I have hanging on the walls for guidance and inspiration.

And yes, I think I need to see it again. It may work at the One of a Kind Show. I'm not sure. In my mind I revisit again and again on the white walls. This time my booth is 10x15. What a luxury. Should I have gone for the larger booth? I will never know unless I try. It just felt like the right thing to do.

And yes, "colors of summer" feels like the right quilt to bring. I love the complex colors created by piecing so many thin strips of cotton fabric. I love the change in size that affects the design of the quilt and that tells a story. I love the memory of choosing that bottom green row. Such a hard decision to make--I lingered over that colorway for days-- and yet I feel it anchors the quilt.

Who knows if it is the right decision? I may change my mind at the show and tuck it away. But for now I plan to pack it and hang it and enjoy it in all its geometric beauty.

colors of summer--quilt--Ann Brauer 2013--image by John Polak
What do you think? Does this ever happen to you? And if you are coming to the show please drop by my Booth 4131 and check it out. Thanks.

Monday, November 27, 2017

gentle morning

Sometimes a cloudy morning. The sun rises, the sky brightens but there are no shadows. Still there is a beauty in calm. There is subtle quiet--a time to breathe and relax. A time to admire all the subtle colors and changes. The little stories that combine to create a day, a place, alife.

This is another in my landscape quilts that I plan to bring to the One of a Kind Show in Chicago December 7-10.

gentle morning--40x40"--Ann Brauer 2017--image by John Polak

What do you think? Do you ever just sit and enjoy the moment?  Do you let your mind wander?