Monday, July 31, 2017

the memory of red hills

Sometimes a quilt is more than a quilt. At least that is my latest thought. Those who have been in my studio recently--or those who follow me on Facebook or Instagram or Etsy--may have seen that I am starting to mount some of my quilts on stretcher boards. What a different look it gives. In the once sense the quilt takes on an added importance. Each stitch seems to become more significant. The quilt is also a given size.

Now I have occasionally mounted quilts before. I used to frame a few of them just to show people they could. Customers have also had quilts framed. They do look great.

On the other hand, I miss the immediacy of quilts as fiber art. Something that everyone can relate to.  For a long time I have resisted the preciousness of mounting quilts. Does it make them more than they are. I can feel a different reaction to the mounted pieces when customers view them in the studio. And I know that it will be harder to display them at a craft show. I can't just lay the extras out on my shelves to have customers go through them. I can't fit them so easily in my plastic boxes for transport. I haven't even thought about shipping yet.

It will be interesting to see what happens. Certainly I will bring a number of them to the Berkshire Craft Show August 11-13 at Monument Mountain High School in Great Barrington. What a wonderful place to test them out.

Is this a method I will continue? I don't know. But for now I can feel an energy and life in the new works that is pushing me forward. What do you think? Do you mount your work? Do you appreciate mounted quilts or would you rather they were just quilts.

the memory of red hills--12x36"--Ann Brauer 2017

the memory of red hills--12x36"--Ann Brauer 2017

Friday, July 28, 2017

colors of summer

I have been thinking about my quilt "colors of summer" recently as I renewed its listing on my Etsy shop. I still love this quilt but at 45x60" usually I don't display it at craft shows or even hang it in my studio. Oh to have unlimited wall space--sigh. Instead it is waiting with other quilts at the studio for just the right person. And I do list it on my web site and on Etsy.

When I made it, I was working in the studio in exile as I call it now. My view was of the geometry of the Iron Bridge across the Deerfield River with a hint of sky. Amazing isn't it, how location can influence one's work?

I loved the intensity of the colors as the thin seams almost created a work that appeared woven, not sewn with wonderful complex texture and color. It was one of my series of rainbow quilts trying to capture all the colors of summer in one piece of art.  Even now I  gently touch the many rows of fabric and feel its substance. Still I smile at the artistic pun of a quilt that looked woven in more ways than one.

The top rows of the quilt came together readily as I remember but oh those bottom rows. What color would create the right feeling and ground the quilt. So many mornings I would wake up thinking of solutions--should it just disappear in smaller and smaller colors. Should it look like water? Maybe the teal should move into a chartreuse to really sing? I would pin fabrics up and pace as I tried to imagine the colors that would work. Then make test samples to try to solve the dilemma.

Finally I chose the bright green of summer grass and leaves. A complete landscape just perfect for the "colors of summer", isn't it? Don't you love how it grounds the quilt and makes it even more of a landscape.

colors of summer--45x60"--Ann Brauer 2013--photo by John Polak

To see more of this quilt do drop by my studio if you are in Shelburne Falls or check out additional images on my Etsy shop.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

As in nature

OK--I confess I wasn't sure about going to see the two Helen Frankenthaler's exhibits at The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, MA. Sure I knew her work and had seen a number of her paintings scattered here and there throughout different museums but it always struck me as just a part of a larger movement of art from the last half of the 20th century. How ignorant that sounds, doesn't it?

Still it was a major show and only an hour away. The Boston Globe was calling her work "fearless". Didn't I owe it to myself to see it and try to learn more? When else would I get such a wonderful opportunity? It was a rainy Tuesday what could be better? So my DH and I went on an adventure. After all my studio in Shelburne Falls is only about an hour from The Clark.

The woodcuts in the first exhibit No Rules were amazing. So many different colors. So complex and yet so cohesive. Such large works. Sure, I didn't understand all of them. Did I really get the snow on the pines in the woodcut by the same name? No. But the large and I mean large blue woodcut with so many colors and the trees--I could have lingered for hours. Still it didn't hit me I should take pictures to study and absorb. There are quilts waiting to be made after I digest the magnificence of these works.

Then it was on the paintings in the other building. As in Nature. And all I can say is WOW!!!

As in Nature--the paintings of Helen Frankenthaler at the Clark 2017

These works were huge and powerful. Beautifully displayed and so much going on. It was hard to absorb them all. There was Tethys with its darker spaces. Almost a story there. When I glanced at the explanation I could see it was based on a mythical story which I didn't absorb but just looked at those complex colors and strange shapes almost going into another space.

Tethys by Helen Frankenthaler

The more intimate Birth of the Blues.

Birth of the Blues--Helen Frankenthaler

The expanse of Off White Square. So big and majestic and powerful. It took up its own wall.

Off White Square--Helen Frankenthaler

I lingered at Scorpio. One of those works that demanded study and being. Such amazing colors. So many wonderful shapes.

Scorpio--Helen Frankenthaler

Just look at the wonderful details in this painting.

Detail--Scorpio--Helen Frankenthaler

What is not to love about these colors and shapes. The motion that echoes throughout.

Detail--Scorpio--Helen Frankenthaler

And the story  that wants to be told. Don't you love how it is all connected in its own way?

Detail--Scorpio--Helen Frankenthaler

Oh there is so much here. I want to go back again and again while the show is still here until I learn all that I can. Then maybe they will become part of my language.  Have you seen it yet? What did you think? The woodcut show No Rules runs until September 24 and the painting show As in Nature goes until October 9. For more information on the Clark Art Museum

Monday, July 17, 2017

"it comes through me"

Recently I attended a business meeting at the Three Sisters Sanctuary in Goshen, MA. One of those places I have driven by for many many years. Always meaning to stop but it is so close. So convenient. I never made the effort. Still I was curious. Finally I had the perfect excuse.

The place was even more fantastic and imaginative than I thought. So many great spaces with dragons and butterflies,

butterfly--Three Sisters Sanctuary--Ann Brauer
ladies waiting,

lady--Three Sisters Sanctuary--Ann Brauer
 dancing children

Dancing girl--Three Sisters Sanctuary--Ann Brauer

And the rocks.  So hard to capture on camera but they were the stars. Set around spaces for meditation and celebration. I wanted to just wander quietly and revisit them one at a time. Run my hands over them. Pause and commune with them. Then examine all the wonderful mementos that had been left by others. Absorb the space.

Memento--Three Sisters Sanctuary--Ann Brauer

It became even more special when the creator of this space explained his vision. How it kept growing. Each new addition flowing out of him. The rocks that positioned themselves just right to create the perfect feeling. One place where he said he could feel the push pull of two rocks interacting with each other.  The stories. Even the sorrow that inspired the initial vision and that grew as others added their stories and their sorrows and joy to the whole.

Isn't that in part what art is? Something that comes from beyond ourselves and can communicate to others. That taps into the universal and lets us all get a bit of a glimpse of the larger story that is beyond words.

And now that I have stopped by once, I know I must return and absorb it in my own way and with my own vision. Have you been to the Three Sisters Sanctuary? Do you have a space like this near you? Have you stopped and learned some of its mysteries and voices? Does the art come through you?  For more info on Three

Forest person--Three Sisters Sanctuary--Ann Brauer

Friday, July 14, 2017

it's always something

Just when I thought I had my Etsy shop organized and humming along getting ready for the holidays (yes, I do think ahead or at least I try to) Etsy comes along and makes a change. Instead of the five photos that I am accustomed to, I can now show my buyers TEN!!!!  I am sure they did it with the best of reasons. After all, the buyer can't really see the item except in the listing and so the buyer probably does want more information. At least that is their rationalization.

But TEN!!! images. What can I show? I have realized that I don't have any more of these wonderful green place mats. If I don't have them, it must be because they are popular so I make more. They are a wonderful color, aren't they?  Front. Back. Two placemats. Placemats with a plate. For me these are standard.

two green placemats--Ann Brauer 2017

I read the helpful tips. OK--maybe buyers want to see the inside of my studio. That works. I love my studio. I can also show them the outside. After all, it is a wonderful shade of green itself. That also works. Now if I had a nice table I could set it and show the mats in use but the truth is that I don't yet. So I read more suggestions. A work in progress. I do hand stitch the bindings. I can show that. Maybe next time I can show another detail of the construction. Who knows.

green placemats--Ann Brauer 2017

Customers do like to mix and match. That would be a nice image. Let them see what else they could order. Maybe I should do more of these pictures. That could be fun.

two green placemats--Ann Brauer 2017

But for now that will have to do. After all, I also need to make some more placemats. This time I think I will try burgundy. Another  color I don't have. They will look good with the green. I will have to see what other sellers are doing for images. More to think about. More to learn. It is after all, always something, isn't it? If you want to see my finished listing, it is here.

What images would you add? I do welcome suggestions.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

finishing the quilt

I don't know about you but sometimes I find it hard to finish a quilt, especially if it is a custom order which means I must send it off to its rightful home. After all, I have spent a lot of time working on the piece--I have to figure out how I am going to make it. What tweaks will make the quilt just right for its location. After all, the customer usually wants specific colors and sizes. They have honored me by wanting me to create their vision for their home. Think about it for a moment.

Sometimes as is the case with this quilt, the customer the customer liked the colors of an existing quilt but it was not the right size. Since I was going to be remaking the piece, they also wanted me to change the bottom of the quilt to incorporate a design element from another quilt of mine.

OK--I could do this. Of course this meant I had to think about just the right colors and proportion for the new size and design element. I wanted the quilt to sing and be more than the sum of its parts. And I did learn something when I made it. That is the fun of custom orders. They push me to see my work in just a slightly new direction. Now I want to make another in this series--different colors, different feeling. But a quilt that I am curious to see. I should start it as soon as I get to the studio today. That is the best way to get the quilt done.

another fine day--24x60"--quilt--Ann Brauer 2017