Tuesday, June 27, 2017

I did it!!!!--day 36

What better way to celebrate 36 years supporting myself making quilts than to post 36 images of quilts I had made, I thought. Sure the number seemed large--would I have 36 things to say? Would I actually manage to post every day for 36 days? That is a commitment. While I had written a blog for a number of years, it had fallen by the wayside  as I created a new web site, worked on my Etsy shop and posted on social media. Still I liked the concept of writing about my quilts so I decided that it was worth a try.

The only way to do it was to start and then keep carrying on. I wasn't going to worry if people would read it. This was an exercise for myself. I could do it. Some days I confess I had little to say. A lovely picture, a few words. Other times the quilt had a story I wanted to tell. When I make a quilt, I tell myself to just keep going. If I can do just a bit of what I know every day then eventually the quilt will take on its own life and get done.

That was the story of these three pieces. It was an order that came on the phone. It seemed like it wouldn't be that difficult. Three quilts, each 32x72 inches. Each designed to look like marsh grasses with the light sparkling through them. I had made smaller variations on this theme and so I took the commission. My schedule was full and I couldn't start right away.

When I did begin, I realized these were going to take a lot longer than I had anticipated. Size does matter. I was working with one very large piece of fabric. The sheer volume of the piece meant that adding the fabric was more labor intensive. I had to remember what I had done previously since I couldn't see the whole as I worked. Still I kept going forward. Piece by piece. A bit every day.

Even getting one of the hangings done didn't feel like progress since there were three of them.  Still the only way out was through. Finally. Finally. They were finished. I could have their images taken and send them off.

Now the studio seems a bit empty. There are walls to fill. New quilts to make. And as to my blog posts, I do intend to keep creating them although not every day and not always about my quilts. The celebration itself will continue with cupcakes on Saturday July 8 from 2-6 during Second Saturday in Shelburne Falls. So mark your calendar. Stay tuned. Thank you for reading.

scenes from the marsh--96x72"--Ann Brauer 2016, 2017--images by John Polak

Monday, June 26, 2017

sometimes the name says it all--day 35

Maybe it is because Pluto is so far away it becomes a distant dream. Maybe it just seems lonely and mysterious at the edge of our solar system with its moon Charon. I liked it when the scientists were going to name one of the larger planetoids in the Kuiper Belt after a female goddess--I forget which one.

But really when they decided to demote Pluto to planetoid status--that was going to far. Now obviously I am not a scientist. Although I did listen to the lengthy explanations on Science Friday I still felt--even feel--they were wrong.

Hence this quilt.Which I finished just before we began receiving those wonderful images from the space with the red hills and the blue atmosphere that actually extends further than that of my planets.
For in my logic, "Pluto is a Planet." And right now this quilt is hanging up at the Salmon Falls Gallery salmonfallsgallery.com which is fitting since that gallery carries many of the imaginary planets of Josh Simpson as well as many other amazing local artists.

pluto is a planet--40x40"--ann brauer 2015--photo by John Polak

Sunday, June 25, 2017

my mother's mother--day 34

When I think of my mother's mother, the word I would use is "nice". She had wonderful white hair. She did not live with us but would come and when she came to visit us she would sit on the porch and count the number of white cars that went by on the highway. She would bring my sister and I color by number sets with pencils and then sit at the dining room table and help us complete the images. After all she had attended the Art Institute of Chicago when it was a finishing school for young women.

When she left my sister and I would redo her coloring since it was always too light. We called her Grandmother.

And yes, she also made quilts. Not the intricate original quilts of my other grandmother but the carefully pieced quilts that women did back then just because it was the thing to do. The Grandmother's Flower Garden and Trip Around the World. The appliqued flowers. All in wonderful soft pastels.

She died when I was still in grade school. Only later did I learn that while she may not have been much of an artist, she was a sound business woman who guided my Grandfather's string of grocery stores through the Great Depression. When they finally closed, she then ran the Candy Stores which supported the family for many years after that.

I also learned that rather than dreading her regular visits to us on the farm, she looked forward to being in the country which was where she had been raised.

As an adult I wish I had gotten to know her a better. What was the price she paid for being both nice and a business woman back then? How did she balance every thing?

In many ways, this quilt--Summer Garden--which I made a number of years ago is a tribute to her and that generation. Its sister is actually in the collection of the American Museum of Art + Design in New York (although they don't usually show it)  and was part of the Six Continents of Quilts Show in 2001. How hard this quilt was to make--can you see the roots not only in Grandmother's Garden but also in the log cabin pattern. Each of the seams had to be tied off at both ends. I even used different colors of black fabric to give even more substance to the piece.  Of course each block was different. And yet the whole is certainly more than the sum of the parts, at least in my opinion.

summer garden--about 90x90 inches--Ann Brauer--2001--image by John Polak

Saturday, June 24, 2017

maples--day 33

I love the maples on the fence row--carefully planted in an even row. The rhythm of life and maple syrup. Defining the fields and the road. Each maple different but also the same.

Aren't they like the regular pieces of a quilt one after the other until it becomes greater than the parts?

maples--quilt--45x17--ann brauer

Friday, June 23, 2017

just saying--day 32

Sometimes I just have to say something. I am so saddened by the feeling that pervades our country right now. Aren't we all despite our differences in this together? Can't we do better? Can't we be better?

I could go on. And on.  And on.

Instead I will just post this quilt--I forget what I called it. But doesn't it make a statement. At least I hope so.

untitled--50x50"--quilt--Ann Brauer--photo by John Polak

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 https://www.instagram.com/annbrauerquilts/ 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.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

time for new postcards--day 23

Sooner than I can imagine, it will be time for the Berkshire Craft Show in Great Barrington, MA August 11-13. Yikes. This summer is speeding by although it is still only mid June.  Luckily I love doing this show. Small. Great work.  Easy to do. And the best volunteers around.

I figure if I am doing a show, I might as well work to promote myself at this show. Sure I will mention it on the various social media sites--my viewers may even get a wee bit tired of hearing about it. And for those in the area, I will send out a postcard as time draws near. Often this is still the best way of reminding my customers to plan on coming and checking out my new quilts. Or if they can't come that day, they can still go on line and see what I have that they might want. Just saying.

After all, I do have to market my work to stay in business. So I chose a quilt that I still own, added information about the show and its web site http://www.berkshirecraftsfair.org and ordered the cards. Sometime in the next couple of weeks, I will print my mailing list and send the cards off at the end of July. Always something isn't it?

autumn sunset--quilt--40x40 inches--Ann Brauer 2017--image by John Polak

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

summer dawn--day 22

Overnight it seems the world has changed. The sun is bright and clear. A fresh dry air mass has moved in bringing the eagerness of the new day.

What more can I say? What more need I say?

summer dawn--40x40 inches--quilt--Ann Brauer--photo by John Polak

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

visions--day 21

Interesting how place can affect the quilts that I make. When I lost my studio, I was fortunate enough to find a space I could rent across the river. It too had large windows and high ceilings. There was a charm about the building. However the view was different. This time when I looked out the window I saw the geometry of the Iron Bridge. Beautiful in its own right but splitting the sky into brief snippets of blue. The train whistle was more distant but I could see the might as the gate came down and it roared through town.

My life too was different. I could see the hole where my studio had been.  I could feel its absence every day. And yet in order to go on, I needed to divide my life into sections just like the Iron Bridge did. I needed the calm certainty of sewing and creating. One seam after the other. What more could I learn from the log cabin pattern? How much further could I push it? The "hearth" or center of the block offering a hope against the lines of the steps. Methodical meditative work.

Am I over-writing this description? Probably. But that was the origin of my quilt--visions. Yes, it was quilt as you go for those who want to be technical with all the threads tied off. Picky absorbing work. What more can I say?

visions--38x38"--quilt--Ann Brauer--image by John Polak

detail--visions--quilt--Ann Brauer

Monday, June 12, 2017

the interlude--day 20

Sometimes one just has to get away if only for a night. Finally my large orders had been shipped. The rains at home seemed endless and cold. For a couple of years I had been wanting to go up to King Arthur Flour in Norwich, Vermont to check it out.

Yes, of course I try to always have a hobby. Maybe that sounds a bit cliched but something where I can be an observer. Quilt making goes right to my essence. It is who I am and what I do. So I want something that is more trivial--well, that is a harsh word--but let's face it, if my bread is a bit flat it doesn't matter. I can always make another loaf in a day or two.

Anyhow I love the mountains of northern Vermont. So similar and yet so different. A perfect little escape. So many different flours. So many possibilities. Then an overnight at the Hotel Coolidge in White River Junction. Again a brief escape. A lovely hotel with just enough history and atmosphere to add to the magic. Did I mention the Turkish restaurant around the corner? Sometimes escape can be so unexpected and simple.

The next morning sunshine and fabric to purchase. Bread to make with my new flour and then quilts. Of course.

I made this quilt--hidden lake-- a few years ago after another little adventure. We were hiking to a lake through the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Although the trail was not that long, I remember the glimpses of the lake which was our destination as we the woods would clear for just a bit. Then it would vanish again as we continued walking until we finally reached our destination.

hidden lake--quilt--45x45"--Ann Brauer--image by John Polak.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

october sun--day 19

Finally I am half way through this project. I was chatting with a friend while getting my morning coffee recently and she noted how ambitious I was to post 36 quilts for 36 years. Yes, that is a lot of quilts. And a l-o-n-g time.

I do love this quilt though--it is a large version of my piece "october sun". At 96x96 inches it was meant for a bed or a large wall. Of course each block was different although also the same.  Needless to say the center of the quilt came together easily but the two outside rows seemed to take forever. When I made this quilt I did not have my large design board so I had to remember the colors to get the whole to work. That was a feat in itself but don't you love the subtle but defined change of color so that the whole seems to almost pulse with life. What do you think?

october sun--96x96 inches--Ann Brauer

Saturday, June 10, 2017

finally June!!!--day 18

Finally the weather is warm. The sun is shining. What a perfect day to come to Shelburne Falls if you are in the area and enjoy all the activities celebrating the river.

july!!!--about 24x50"--quilt--Ann Brauer 2016

Friday, June 9, 2017

take me to the river--day 17

Always it seems I live by a river, Route 2 and the railroad tracks. Growing up our farm was along the Rock River. So many great memories of walking along that river and watching its many moods. As I grew up, I loved exploring the back water area we called the slough. In the spring the woods floor was covered with bouncing beds, trilliums and other wild flowers. Above there was a dense cover from the wild crab apple trees that bloomed so that it felt like I was dancing in a fairy land. I can still remember the hidden glens and the cow paths through the water swamp. In the distance there was the sound of the train whistle blowing its haunting promise.

Later in Boston, there was the Charles River that defined the city. An open definition of the moods of the city. Sometimes so peaceful and meditative. The cold walk across the Bridge on Mass Ave with its carefully marked and also slightly humorous Smoots. The hidden swamps to explore with cattails hiding the sky.

Now of course there is the studio. The train rushes by up the hill. Sometimes speeding by with the surge of energy. Sometimes slow and mighty. And the river. Each day it is different. It can be so still and calm. An infinity pool that defines the mountain. Other days it hurries over the dam in awesome inspiring statement of power.

Tomorrow is Second Saturday in Shelburne Falls--the latest reincarnation of RiverFest. There will be special events celebrating the river. The Bridge of Flowers is so full of color. And of course there is my studio and those of my new neighbors--Fair Maiden, Benjamin Dart Photography and Jenny New. If you get a chance, stroll down the River Walk and stop by. I hope to have one more framed quilt ready and will pull out some old favorites that would love a new home.

Meanwhile this is my quilt "rivers of autumn" which I made several years ago. How hard it was to create the colors--each a new statement of mystery.

rivers of autumn--45x45 in--quilt--Ann Brauer 2013--photo by John Polak

Thursday, June 8, 2017

the frame job--day 16

Quilts are art.  At least quilts can be art. By now that is an uncontested statement. Still sometimes a quilt needs to be formally mounted for a specific look or location.

Years ago I would have a framer mount the quilts for me. It did help sales since customers could picture the quilt in a more formal setting but it was also expensive and time consuming. Then the framer I had used moved on to different things.

I read detailed descriptions and tried to do it myself from scratch.  After all, I was smart and should be able to figure this out by myself. But that took a long while to do and was frustrating. I could not recoup the time I had put into the quilts. Not a good business plan.

Finally though, as I have frequently found, if I keep toying with an idea in the back of my mind, I may come across a solution to the question. Doesn't persistence pay off? This time it was my friend Cindy Grisdela who wrote about her method for framing. I might be able to do this. Certainly I had to try. Check out her tutorial on her blog. https://cindygrisdela.com/mounting-art-quilts-on-canvas-tutorial/

It was scary after making the quilt to then cut it apart. Wouldn't the flow of the quilt be different? But this was an experiment. What was the worst that could happen?  I would destroy a lovely quilt in the process. And it was lovely, wasn't it?

prairie memories--wip--quilt--ann brauer 2017

Still I had to know if her ideas would work with my quilts?  I had already invested in the frames and other supplies. So I mumbled a few words of encouragement to myself and cut. Very different isn't it?

prairie memories--wip--quilt--ann brauer 2017

And I proceeded to frame the quilt. What do you think? And now I need to make another and another until it becomes not just Cindy's way of framing but also my way as I tweak the method to make it look great for my quilts. That is what is fun about it, isn't it? There is always something new to explore. Some new path to learn.

prairie memories--12x36"--quilt--ann brauer 2017

What do you think? Do you try something new? How do you make it your own?

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

blue skies--day 15

Finally--knock on wood-it seems that this period of cloudy rainy weather may be ending. At least for a little while.

So what is there but the joy of blue skies. Need I say more?

into the sky--quilt--45x45 in--ann brauer--photo by John Polak

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

if you don't like the weather--day 15

Who me? Complain about the weather? What good will that do?

Well, it is a way of making chit chat at the deli, isn't it? Which was just what I was doing yesterday when I told my friend who was running the cash register that maybe we had had enough rain for this week. This is June after all. I could use some nice sunny skies for my little tomatoes and basil that are shivering in their new home.

But every day is lovely, she replied. Very sweetly of course because she is after all a sweet person. It is the perfect day to snuggle inside and make a quilt.

That is true. And I can remember last year when I anxiously hung wash out hoping to tempt the rain gods and goddesses to no avail.

So today I am posting my quilt--colors of the rain--to celebrate the rich complex colors of grey days. What do you think? How do you celebrate rainy days.

colors of the rain--quilt--45x45"--Ann Brauer--photo by John Polak

Monday, June 5, 2017

high class worries--day 14

Sometimes I work with a customer and together it seems we push the design until it becomes more than I thought it might when I started. That happened with my triptych "notes on twilight". Don't you love the purple grasses with the gold circles dancing through it. Isn't the quilt free and graceful but also restful and calm? One of those pieces that I could study and always find something new?

This quilt does have a presence. It is large--the center piece is 40x40 inches and the two smaller ones are each 20x40 inches. I have it hanging on the back wall of my studio and love looking at it as I pass by.

But alas--as I told you--this was a custom order and the customer wants it. Of course this is what I wanted to happen but still I will miss it. Such a hole on my wall. I remind myself, paraphrasing Alice B Toklas, if I didn't need to replace the spot on my wall, I would not have room to hang another quilt. (Well actually she said if her uncle had not died, someone else might not have been born, but you get the idea.)

Or as a friend of mine would say, "That's high class worries."

notes on twilight--quilt--Ann Brauer 2017--photo by John Polak

detail--notes on twilight--Ann Brauer 2017--photo by John Polak

Sunday, June 4, 2017

you never know what may happen--day 13

Many many years ago--just before I got my studio in Shelburne Falls--a group of some of my favorite artists decided to try a tour of our various studios in the West County area. What fun it was working with all these artists to plan the event and see their studios. What a lot of work it was. We sent out a mailing list, press releases, put up signs. 

At this time I was working in the basement of my DH's house so he even put a door in. I cleaned my space. Made some form of munchie and then I waited. Gradually cars showed up. Not a lot but enough. After all, the studios were scattered over many winding country roads and you had to be dedicated to make it to all the places.

Still I had a few sales and met some great people--both the other artists and the customers. A couple months later I bought my studio in Shelburne Falls and my studio was now open to the public most of the time.

Last year I was working in my studio--not the same studio but that is a story for another day--when a couple walked in. They had actually been to my studio in the country those years ago. Finally they had their house at the end of the world. Their business was established. And now it was time to begin decorating their house with local art. How honored I was that they chose my quilt "rainbows of autumn" to reflect the view from their home.

How much it confirmed my belief that you never know when that next casual conversation may be remembered for years until finally they have the perfect space for your work.

rainbows of autumn--quilt--ann brauer--photo by John Polak

Saturday, June 3, 2017

it gets personal--day 12

August 28, 2011

I was standing at the American Craft Exposition in Evanston, Illinois when friends of mine came running down to my booth.

"Ann," they said. "Is there anyone who can get your quilts out of your studio? Shelburne Falls is flooding."

Soon, as they say, the rest is history. My beloved studio which had stood since the 1930's floated down the river as a result of Tropical Storm Irene.

Don't tell me that climate change is not real. Period.

While I waited for my new studio to get build I made a series of quilts based on the Deerfield River. Much better than fretting when it would get finished, wasn't it?

green river--38x38"--quilt--Ann Brauer 2015--photo by John Polak

Friday, June 2, 2017

rhubarb fire--day 11

Spring will come and spring will go. Each one different in its own right. This year two unseasonably warm days and then it snowed. What more can I say?  Last year was so dry I had to mulch as I planted and water as sparingly as possible.

I made this quilt "rhubarb fire" thinking of the spring that refused to come. Even the rhubarb would not raise its ruby and green stalks although I checked it every day after work. How hard it was to be patient.

rhubarb fire--40x42"--quilt--Ann Brauer 2015--photo by John Polak
Or hung the other direction for a different look.

rhubarb fire--40x42"--quilt--Ann Brauer 2015--photo by John Polak

Thursday, June 1, 2017

always always rainbows--day 10

Last night first there was hail. Ugh. I feared for my peas and tender young flowers. I feared for my car and our solar panels. It was bigger than a quarter and made such a racket as it hit the windows. Soon the storm passed and it started to clear. I went outside and looked but no, there was no rainbow. Sigh.

Then sitting inside as the sun came out my DH called me. Yes, finally a rainbow. Beautiful and full across the evening sky. The perfect finish to the day.

This quilt was large. One of the starts of a new technique where I tried to simplify the work by creating color studies. Can you tell that I like the work of Morris Louis?

dreaming of rainbows--quilt--about 96x100 in--Ann Brauer--photo by John Polak  

detail of dreaming of rainbows--quilt--Ann Brauer--photo by John Polak

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

sweet--day 9

Checking my e-mail is always exciting. Usually it is the same old same old so to speak. But occasionally I get one of those lovely surprises.

When I make a quilt I do believe that it has a home--and it is just a natter of waiting until the quilt and its home find each other. This was certainly true of my quilt--sunrise.

I loved the simple but complex colors of the sun rising above the water. There was a wonderful graphic design to the piece. When I was making it, I had to concentrate to get the two sides to be similar but have enough difference that the quilt had a life to it.

At 30x80 inches it could look fabulous over a king size bed or a large sofa. It could be an accent on a hallway. However, the size made it more difficult to show at a craft fair as it would dominate the wall but leave a lot of unused space around it. It looked great when I hung it in my studio but again it commanded a large wall. So I waited.

Until this week-end when I got the e-mail. Ta da. My theory is proven true again. Soon the quilt will be in a new home although I confess I will miss its presence. Don't you love the light dancing on the water? And the reflections of the sun in the sky?  Isn't it a happy quilt?

sunrise--quilt--30x80 inches--Ann Brauer--photo by John Polak

Thanks Etsy. I do love opening my mail. To see more of my quilts and check out my Etsy shop http://www.etsy.com/shop/annbrauerhttp://www.etsy.com/shop/annbrauer

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

what an honor--day 8

One of my proudest moments was when I received a call from a woman who had purchased one of my large quilts over 30 years ago. She had only a small glimpse of it in hanging in their living room in a picture of a gathering she had held but still I recognized it as mine from the days I did color studies of log cabins.

The customer told me she cried when she realized that the old familiar quilt was removed. But it was time to redecorate and they wanted me to make a new quilt for the updated space. Stop for a moment and think about that--after living with my quilt for 30 years and it was a large piece--they trusted me to make a new quilt to fill the space and give them the same sense of joy and home.

prairie sunrise--quilt--Ann Brauer 2016

It does look good there, doesn't it? Don't you love the modern but friendly feeling of this quilt with the red in the sky echoing the red in the rug?  Doesn't the room look like it will host many more gatherings for the next 30 years? What do you think?

Monday, May 29, 2017

what's it all about--day 7

Sometimes I just want to make a fun happy quilt that tells a story. Is this quilt about relationships? Two "suns" in a joyous meadow? Are these two flowers in spring? Is this the lost planetary system with two suns and its own earth? Is it two views of the same "sun"? Does it even matter? What do you think?

two sun--quilt--ann brauer 2016--photo by John Polak

Sunday, May 28, 2017

the stars at night--day 6

Looking up at the stars there are so many stories. Places one could go. Entries into the unknown. Such mysteries. I am fascinated by them.

I remember once when I was visiting my parents after having lived in the East for a number of years. I went for a walk in their fields at night and felt I might fall off into the sky.  Probably not that unusual a feeling but by then I was so used to trees and hills holding me in place. Grounding me (pun intended.)

night sky--45x45 in--ann brauer

Saturday, May 27, 2017

but what is it all about?--day5

Sometimes I make a quilt just because. Just because I am curious about what it will look like. Just because I think it tells a story although I am not sure what the story will be. Just because there is a feeling that I can only capture by creating this quilt.

Does this ever happen to you? Does this help you find the story?

That is why I made this quilt--"above the desert". I loved the idea of floating above the desert letting go and just being. I think of it as creating a calm and serene place although a friend of mine whose artistic sense I trust found it to be a bit troubling.

What do you think? What stories does this tell?

above the desert--27x61"--By Ann Brauer 2016--photo by John Polak

detail--above the desert--Ann Brauer 2016--photo by John Polak

Friday, May 26, 2017

somewhere over the rainbow--day 4

One of the many reasons I had for rebuilding my studio after it floated was that the site along the Deerfield River has the best rainbows in town. Rainbows by their very nature are spectacular, aren't they? And seeing a rainbow with the water and the back drop of the mountain is even more spectacular.

Need I say more.

rainbows of summer--96x96 in--copyright Ann Brauer--photo by John Polak

Thursday, May 25, 2017

don't stop thinking about tomorrow--day 3

Yesterday I got to accept the shows I will do for the rest of the year. And what great shows they will be. Sure--I didn't get into everything I wanted.  Rejection hurts but it happens. I knew it might so I applied to several shows that I also wanted to do. They can reject me but they can't keep me down. Always have Plan B. Don't stop thinking about tomorrow.

For those who wonder how I choose, I try for a mix of some shows that I have done before where the audience anticipates that I will be there, some "new" shows or at least shows which I haven't done for a long time but where I do have an audience and shows where I can expand my market by introducing my quilts to people who may not have seen them before.  Of course I consider where the shows are, the ease of doing them, the mix of artists.

My first show will be the Berkshire Craft Show at Monument Mountain High School in Great Barrington August 11-13. This is the sweetest show that has been going on for 44 years run by  teachers for the benefit of students. Sure the booths are small and spread out but there are some wonderful craft artists who participate and a dedicated following of locals and people who are in The Berkshires to go to Tanglewood and all the other wonderful cultural activities. I have done it for a number of years since it so easy and friendly and I get to sleep at home !!! Check out their web site--you will be amazed at the quality of the work in this show. http://berkshirecraftsfair.org/

Later I will tell you about the other shows and even get them posted on my web site.

For now though it is time to close with an image of my quilt--one fine day.

one fine day--quilt--ann brauer 2017

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

36 years and still standing--prairie scene

I was lucky enough to grow up on a farm in Illinois. One of those wonderful magical places that one often only read about. Although the farm was along a river which gave us a few rolling hills, there were also long views of the distant sky. Would the bands of rain we could see in the west fall where we needed them? Would the sun break through the clouds before it set?

Normally we stored the hay and straw in the loft in the barn but one year for some reason my dad baled it and stacked the bales just west of the barn.

I can remember as a child scaling to the top of this pile and sitting there with the best view around just looking at the horizon and dreaming of what lay beyond.

prairie scene--quilt--ann brauer 2017--photo by John Polak

Do you have a memory of a place that you return to try to capture in all its aspects?  What do you think?

Day 2 of my 36 Day challenge.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

36 and still standing

I was writing a proposal for a talk I am going to give next year to a lovely quilt group when it hit me--I really and truly have been in business for 36 years come this July 1. Thirty six years!!! That is a long time. And guess what--I still love what I do!!!

Most mornings I wake up and can't wait to get to the studio. I still have so many ideas of quilts I want to make. I remember in one of Anne Truitt's books she said her problem was not how to get inspired but how to choose which direction she wanted to go. I often feel like that. It is so unfair that my quilts take longer to make than my ideas take to form--does that happen to you?

Anyhow I decided I should celebrate being in business for 36 years--maybe a party. Although that is work.  Maybe a sale. Stay tuned. But also what about 36 blog posts. Short notes on whatever strikes me. I haven't written as much as I might like in the last few years but 36 years is a time for dancing. Strutting my stuff. Celebrating. Don't you think?

So this is my first post. And I will end it with an image of my quilt "green circle" that I still love so much I chose it for the new banner I am making for my studio. Stay tuned.

Meanwhile life is a celebration regardless of what they say. So do give me more ideas of topics to write about. And if you are in Shelburne Falls my studio is open most days so drop by and say hi.

green circle--quilt--ann brauer--2015--photo by John Polak

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

pillows pillows pillows

Pillows--16x16 in--Ann Brauer

Think of pillows. Warm. Soft. Inviting. A quick way to redecorate a room. And for me--the maker--they are a fun way to experiment with color and design. After all, it is just a pillow. It doesn't have to always match.

I like having them in the studio--they make the space look more complete. They are one of those smaller items that a customer can choose. And they do sell. Sometimes one at a time. Sometimes a customer wants to redecorate and chooses several.

I don't always notice when my stock gets low. After all, if I don't have them, they won't sell. Earlier this year I noticed that I had very few left. I had shipped a bunch off for an order on Etsy. Another customer realized that they needed a couple for their office decor. Something to comfort the people waiting for their services.

Time to make more. But what would the design be this time? Would each one be unique? Or what about a matched series where they would all coordinate? I love that challenge. Each pillow leads me on to new colors. New discoveries. I could keep looking at what I have and wonder what more I needed. How addictive is that? 

Green first--that was what one customer wanted.

Green pillow--16x16 in--Ann Brauer

Then purple. People who like purple, LIKE PURPLE.

Purple pillow--16x16 in--Ann Brauer

Then there is blue. And blue. Don't you love how different the two blues are?

Blue pillow--16x16 in--Ann Brauer

French blue pillow--16x16 in--Ann Brauer

Rust to coordinate with the other colors.

Rust pillow--16x16 in--Ann Brauer

Brown always looks good against the blue, doesn't it?

Brown pillow--16x16 in--Ann Brauer

And then there is teal--how dreamy is this? Doesn't it go with almost everything?

Teal pillow--16x16 in--Ann Brauer

Oh there are so many more I want to make. I am working on a grey right now. Then I need a gold--that will be hard. Plum is obvious and fun. Then there is red--not too red. The lighter reds will be a challenge, I know but I can't wait. What other colors should I work on? How would you pair them up? What do you think? Do you ever work in series just because?