Wednesday, February 29, 2012

the quilts of Ann Brauer--leap year's day edition

Well it is  February 29--leap year day--and it is snowing. Finally. We could get 6 to 10 inches although the town is actually predicting up to 18 inches. That would be truly a snow storm wouldn't it? Certainly after all this weird weather, a bit of snow will be lovely although I was almost ready to declare it spring time already. Oh well, this is New England and the weather people do not listen to me anyway.

I just returned from the Baltimore Craft Show. There were so many people there and so many possibilities for orders. I am still a bit exhausted. How nice it was though to have my new eyeglass cases and pillows appreciated. Now to finish my orders and get ready for the Paradise City Arts Festival in Marlborough, MA on March 16-18. As always this is a show I look forward to. There is so much lovely work there--both art and craft--including more affordable pieces and art that I lust after. To get discounted tickets or learn more, check out their web site  If I am not doing this show--and not at home because of a snow storm--I should be in the studio working so I hope some of you will visit me there also. (Do call first if you are coming from a distance though.)

And now for the Quilt of the Month. For this month, I decided to offer Medieval Views. This is a quilt that I love--when I made it, I was thinking of those wonderful early paintings of the Madonna and Child against the backgrounds of the early cities. I confess I am fascinated by the different variations of those images and the wonderful colors in them. I just got this quilt back from a gallery and it is slightly different from my newer quilts so for ten days--until March 10--or until it is sold--this quilt which normally sells for $2200 will be $1100 plus shipping and applicable taxes. The quilt is about 57 x 57". The colors are a bit brighter than this image suggests. So if you are interested please do e-mail me--as you know it is first-come, first-served.

The quilt is SOLD!!!

Have a great early spring--or is it late winter. I  hope I will see some of you soon.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

getting back on track--the bend in the road

Sometimes life takes you in strange and unexpected directions. On August 27, 2011 I had great plans for my business--quilts I wanted to make, shows I wanted to apply for, a studio to clean, marketing I wanted to improve. On August 28, 2011--well, my loyal readers know what happened--and the short story for the others is that my studio floated down the river as a result of Hurricane Irene. No need to go over that again.

Instead I picked myself up with the help of so many wonderful friends, neighbors and strangers, found a new studio and worked non-stop to replace the quilts and fabric that I lost.  After all, what else was there to do? But still I feel like I have gotten off-track. There are all the things I was going to do before Irene. There are still things that I have to do because of Irene. There are decisions that I have to make as a result of Irene. And there are the new quilts that I have designed in my mind--maybe because of Irene or maybe just because that is the direction my art wants to move anyway. 

Now I am not one to hold a pity party for myself--well, at least not too often and too publicly.  And I certainly know that I am not the only artist dealing with the obstacles that life throws in our paths. For a while I was too tired, too dazed to really do anything but make quilts. After all, the first thing I had my DH install in my new studio was my design board.  However, I do feel that finally I have the energy to tackle at least some of these questions so I have decided to begin a series of short blog posts as I try to move forward step by step not at all sure where I will end up or how I will do it.

I hope that not only will this blog help me move forward and get back on track so to speak but that my readers will come along for the journey. I know it has been only through the help and kind thoughts of so many that I have gotten this far. Now I could use the help and suggestions of you along the way also. I do hope you will come along for the ride.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

shapes and rhythms of the city

It all started with a light house--I don't even know its name. But it had been moved to the Inner Harbor in Baltimore and it was so charming and perfect. Round and circular. Charming and red, isn't it? It was a lovely day already--so warm I almost didn't need a coat. And I was as set-up as I was going to be for the Baltimore Craft Show which opens tomorrow at 10.

Time to notice the hexagonal building next to it--echoing the concept and layers. So different but so fitting. Don't you just love the little yellow accent on the top?

Aren't cities fun--especially when they are full of great buildings? So many wonderful rhythms and textures. A large building--looks like an apartment building--but so much movement in the detail. What could have been dull and boring instead captures the eye. The subtle colors of the roof and brick and the beat of the darker balconies. So much to see.

Or this high rise--again the balconies and windows counterbalanced with the simple statements. Oh I was having fun observing the city that somehow was working together. So nice to be out of the studio--but still there was something almost quilt like--sorry that is how I think--in these buildings--if you know what I mean?

The rhythms and dimensions of this vantage point into the downtown. The street lamps--even the plantings of grass--offering a beat. The detail of the different skyscrapers each making their own statement. So rich and complex. What fun it was to stop and look. So many different colors and textures.

The power of the old and the new in the smokestack. Such a statement of form and substance. So much color with the blue of the nearby roofs almost reflecting the sky. The green of the copper. I wanted to touch it and absorb its feel.

And the simple soothing longing of the brick pavement on the wharf stretching out to the harbor. The distant buildings full of more promise. The lone light post. Even the clouds reflecting on the water. I wanted to keep walking and walking. Absorb it all. There must be quilts in these concepts--even if I am not sure I will make them. So much to learn. Such a different feel from the organic rhythms of the woods and meadows of western Massachusetts.

But now it is time to come in and prepare for the show tomorrow. What is it about cities--the places that people have created--and the rhythms and shapes of the cities? Why does that affect us? Give us energy? What is it about design that creates these distinct feelings? And how do we take the time to notice and observe--to absorb these designs?

Do you ever do this? What do you think we can learn from cities? And how does it influence your art?

Thursday, February 16, 2012

so many choices--so little time

For those who regularly read my blog, I have been spending the last few days working on a new quilt--grey, grey and more grey. With a thin dark line running through the mist. As always I tell myself to make what I know and the rest will come. Several of my loyal readers actually made some interesting suggestions and I promised that I would at least consider their ideas--why not? You can catch up on the blog post--the thin dark line.

After all, I am an artist. I know the look that I want--but I am always willing to look at an idea differently. Learn something. After all, I am an artist. Besides--think of all the new possibilities for other quilts that can happen. So here are a few of the ideas for you to mull over.

The yellow line--it certainly does tell a story, doesn't it? A bit of sunshine amidst the grey. But I did not want the focus to be on the yellow so on to the next.

 The softer green brown idea. Again I liked it. Certainly fit in with the quilt and echoed the colors. But I wanted just a bit more contrast. Not quite as warm a quilt as this would make it.

The off center idea. Doesn't this tell too much of a story? I wanted the feeling of falling into the grey. Although it could be a nice quilt on its own.

One astute reader suggested that the black that I had used as a test piece was too black. That I agreed with--indeed I had intended to make a long strip using different blacks and maybe other dark colors when I got to that point. As always I made it a bit larger than I needed. Isn't it easier to cut down than to add.

Too long and clunky.  But I wanted to recheck the length. Yes, shorter would be better, wouldn't it?

Still too wide. I want just a wisp of dark. Of course it is hard to visualize the seam allowance. Make what I know. It will come.

Yes, sewing the blocks together does give more of a clue. Love how the subtle colors of the fabrics blend but emerge from the grey.

I made it a bit narrower and sewed it into the blocks. Interesting how it is darker than the grey beneath. A slit in the mist as though one were falling into the dark.

Now to finish it. Wish I had time to make one with the yellow. Mmm--maybe after the Baltimore show next week. Oh so much to do.

What do you think? Do you start with an idea and play? Did I make a good decision?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

the thin dark line

Is it because of the weather--this winter has been to put it mildly--yes, the pun is intended--GREY!!! Very little snow. Just the greys of the trees against the greys of the ground. And frequently the grey of the skies. So much grey. Lovely in its own way. But I feel surrounded by the color grey.  Indeed I discuss the color grey with my friend Gail Callahan--an expert dyer. She wondered if grey is just two colors combined while brown is technically three colors. Well, maybe if you are a dyer but in real life--I am not so sure about that. If you want to know more about Gail you can check out her website:

In any case, I have become fascinated with the color grey. I see a quilt in my mind. Very simple. Just colors. Different shades of grey.  It is one of those quilts where the background falls into place. Well, the colors never just fall into place but you know what I mean. Some quilts are easier than others. But shouldn't there be more to it than just color? Something to attract the eye and tell a story.

 And of course I want to get the quilt done before the Baltimore Craft Show--will a grey quilt sell? There must be a space for a grey quilt there. How will the audience re-act to the quilt--if I can indeed finish it. For more info on the show:

As I piece I try out different answers. A thin dark line running up the center.

Hmm--interesting. See how I put a placeholder for the color at the bottom just to give me an outline. But should I add more color? What about a red?

Not sure--let me piece the next row and see what I think.

If red--should I use more red? Again I try it out. Clean the studio a bit as I think about it. Come back the next day.

 Not at all sure about that. Yes, it makes a statement but is it too much of a statement. Clashes with some of the greys in the quilt, doesn't it?  Let me make the bottom row--see if that changes the solution.

 Oh that red does not look right does it? And as for the green--nice--but too obvious isn't it? You see I do try lots of different solutions though I don't always remember to snap images of them if you know what I mean.

Back to the black. I like the simplicity of the black but not the thin arch of it. Won't fit in with the geometry of the quilt will it? What about a slightly shorter--slightly thicker line? How does that work?

What do you think? How will it look when pieced in? Should it be thin pieces of black that are vertical or horizontal? Oh so many slight decisions that will change the quilt. How much will the quilt change as I sew the blocks together? Should I make test samples now or wait?

But as they say--tomorrow is another day. Some decisions are better if they just sit and stew.  And you--ever have a quilt fall in place and then just stop? And--can I get this done by Baltimore?

Thursday, February 9, 2012

it's done!!!

OK--I have learned--at least for now--that my readers do like to see what my quilts look like when they are done.  Remember I wrote about this piece a couple days ago in Time to Tango. But it is the finish work that can add that zing factor, isn't it? In this case  I turned under the edge and bound it on the back.

Oh, I do hate mitering corners--I learned how back when I was in 4-H so many years ago. Didn't like it then--don't like it now. But sometimes it is just the effect that I want. The quilt has so much texture because of the thin strips of fabric that the substance becomes part of the quilt.

Anyhow--without further ado--here is the quilt:

Study in autumn--copyright Ann Brauer 2012--12 x 40"--$270
What do you think? Yes, it is a snapshot--the colors are a bit brighter. Does look different from the non-finished version doesn't it? Should I try it in different colors? Maybe stormy purples and the tangerine? Maybe a quilt that is just tangerine like study in blue?

Study in blue--copyright Ann Brauer--2012--12 x 40 "
Maybe a co-ordinated set? Or maybe pillows? I am thinking about collections. Oh so much to do.  After all, I do have the Baltimore Craft Show far far too soon. Do you ever get inspired just before a major show? Sigh.... How do you decide?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

time to tango

It's been one of those weeks. First a younger family member through her intelligence and very hard and dedicated efforts received the choices that others in her field can only dream about. Here's raising a glass to her in celebration. Then another--who because of her years and experience--should be even wiser--chose possessions and money over family. Grrrr!!!! I guess it takes all kinds.

I realize that I need to work in joyous colors. Make a smaller wall hanging--maybe similar to this study in blue I made a few days ago. After all the Baltimore Craft Show is at the end of this month. I must work hard.

I do love working with the thin strips of fabric. How intense they make the colors. How lovely the texture is. I groan at the amount of effort. The endless concentrated sewing. I am not sure I want to make another color study like the blue study. So I look around the studio--find this small square quilt that I made.  What will happen if I extend this piece--make the horizon longer. Can I make the colors sing so that the horizon is a dream one can fall into? Or will it just look awkward and forced?

Well sometimes there is only one way to find out. So I arrange the greens on the table. Yes, I confess I use my sewing machine table to lay out the fabrics right now. The best light in the studio. Sigh!!!

Not bad. Not sure about all of the oranges and rusts. The figured yellow does stand out--but I used it in the small square and it worked there. You never know unless you try, right? Hmm.

Now I confess I am still fascinated with tangerine--tangerine tango to be precise. According to Pantone it is "The Color of the Year." You can check it out at Pantone Color of the Year. What an interesting choice--warm and bright--vibrant.  They describe it as "(s)ophisticated but at the same time dramatic and seductive." And yet there is also something haunting about it. Do I have too many memories from earlier times? The fake leather chair we had--so very very mod--if you know what I mean? I go onto Pinterest and create a board of tangerine accents--even there the pickings are slim. You can check out my board here

Instead the only way is to start sewing. Long seams.

Hard to tell if this orange is too bright.

The greens are pretty easy. I precut them and sew them in long rows. The tangerines are harder. I have to choose new ones after I piece the last.

So slowly it goes. I need darker colors at the top to balance and weight it. To help tell the story. Amazing how the brighter colors blend in when they are surrounded by more colors.

Finally I can pin it up. As the day comes to an end the colors of the quilt become brighter than the photographed image but still I wonder. Is this just decorative or does it tell a story? What will it look like when it is truly finished? The edges turned and bound. The quilt hung on the wall. Sometimes it is the finishing of the work that creates the image? Should the green be softer, more muted? Was I too scared of creating the horizon? Should I take more time--more soft yellows and oranges? What will the quilt look like today when I see it fresh in the studio?

Or is it that tangerine tango is just a hard color to attain? What do you think? Do you ever work with orange--or should I say tangerine?

Friday, February 3, 2012

and the answer is....

My blog follower Jennifer recently wrote me asking how I resolved the quilt: words for the dawn which I had written about in my recent post--Is simple as easy as it looks?

She's right--I did leave everyone hanging. And yes, my devoted readers do need to see what I did. So without further ado....

What do you think? Did it work?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

the quilts of Ann Brauer--Ground Hog's Day edition

Wow--I can't believe that it is February already. Ground Hog's Day to be precise. And here the sky is covered with clouds--certainly there is no possibility of a shadow anywhere. Although it has been such an easy winter so far--knock on wood--that I am not sure what it would mean if winter is really over. However, we probably are not going to find out--since apparently the "official" ground hog did indeed see his shadow.

I have been working very hard trying to get ready for the Baltimore Craft Show--I am excited about some of the new wall hangings I have been making. I have also been making eyeglass cases in new colors and skyscrapers--those long pieces that can be either table runners or wall hangings--in a new design and some great new colors. The show is February 24-26 at the Baltimore Convention Center. My booth is 3605 in a slightly different location from previous years so do look for me. For more information on hours or to pre-purchase your tickets check out their website--  If you want to follow me as I prepare for the show or see what other new works I am making, I post about it on my blog-- and on Facebook

And now for the Quilt of the Month--I have decided it is time to think about summer.  I love the bold colors and simple design of this quilt--by the sea. Indeed I have made a couple variations of this piece. The quilt is 45x45 inches and normally sells for $1200.  But I have other quilts that capture the feeling of the ocean so for the next ten days--or until it is sold--I am offering the latest version of this quilt  for $800 plus applicable taxes and shipping. You know the routine--there is only one available--and I will sell it on a first come-first serve basis. The quilt may be slightly different from the image shown below but it is fairly similar. Note--this quilt has been SOLD.

Have a great February. I hope to see many of you in Baltimore.