Tuesday, April 13, 2010

thoughts on forsythia and quilts

As I drive home I've been thinking about color. Why do I use certain colors in certain ways? This week it's the forsythia. The gold that glints through the woods as I drive up to our house. The long rows of bushy yellow that separate neighbors.  Overgrown. Untidy. A statement of space, defining it--but not controlling it. The small plants tentatively marking the edge of the woods. The ones pruned into glowing orbs along the roadside. Green or brown most of the year but for just this week brilliant yellow.

Why do I long for forsythia at this time of year? That pure color as I wait for green grass and  trees. Such exuberance.  An explosion of sunshine after a long winter. I want to plant them everywhere scattering color for next year. But what is it about this spark of yellow?

It can't be childhood memories--my mom was the only person I know who couldn't get her forsythia to bloom. Of course she pruned it in August--every year--no wonder. Or maybe it was her constant struggle that taught me to appreciate it?  I remember year after year she would gaze at the small bush planted just outside my bedroom window as it put one--maybe two small meager flowers. Next year--always next year.

Yellow is a hard color to find in fabric stores. Some years the yellows are harsh or green or childlike. Some years there are no golds.  Always a color to search for.

But why do I need to use yellow in the center of my quilts so often? I can't imagine making a yellow quilt--although there are those who do--and do a great job. Not me. I like my yellow contained and bright--like the yellow in "fields of september".  The color palette carefully created just for this quilt.

Or in long rows almost separating the sky and the earth. So soft and misty in  "november dawn." Then echoed in the sky.

Soon the forsythia will finish to be supplanted by azaleas and rhodies. Tulips and peonies. I will move on to new thoughts and colors. New yellows. And you--how are you affected by colors and memories of colors and the seasons?


  1. Yes! I too have the same relationship that your Mother has to forsythia. I love to see the blooms in spring, and I closely watch my own bush with high expectations each year. It's interesting how some bushes bloom profusely, and some don't. I love my bush, but alas, the blooms struggle..maybe this year.
    Thanks for sharing that! Your work is beautiful.

  2. Thanks Laura--I will keep my fingers crossed that this year your forsythia is gorgeous.

  3. My quilts always reflect what is going on outside. I almost have to force myself to work in the colors of another season... lately spring greens and golds, pinks and blues are making their way into my pieces. Soon I'll be bringing out the bolder colors of summer. Sometimes I work in the season that I want it to be... and the forsythia are absolutely stunning this week in CT!

  4. I agree Vivika--I do find it hard to work in the rusts and browns of autumn in the spring.