Last Saturday, the South Bay Area Modern Quilt Guild hosted Weeks Ringle for a three hour workshop on the Role of Color in Your Quilts. If you’ve taken her Craftsy class, there are similar topics covered, but it was a very inspirational workshop! Please forgive all the cell phone pictures, but I didn’t bring my real camera to the workshop, which I really regret.
One of my favorite things that Weeks talked about was actually the definition of “Modern Quilting.” The Modern Quilt Guild has a list of design elements that make up modern quilting, but I admit they’ve never sat particularly well with me. There are too many exceptions to the rules, and the rules feels more prescriptive than descriptive. Weeks has the best definition of modern quilting I’ve ever heard:
“Modern quilting is about making quilts that are expressive of the times in which we live.”
— Weeks Ringle
This one comment broke through a creative wall I didn’t even realize I had. I suddenly have so many ideas for quilts, and I immediately had to sketch out some of them. The example she gave is that log cabin quilts are beautiful, but she doesn’t live in a log cabin. Instead, she created a quilt with silhouettes of pigeons on telephone wires because that is her modern reality of living in Chicago. (The quilt appears in their Quilts Made Modern book.)
We did an exercise where we were each given a classic painting. We then tried to match fabrics to as many colors as we could see in the image. If you thought you were done, Weeks would come around and point out colors you had missed. It’s a great exercise in learning to see; so much of what we think we see is interpreted and simplified by our brains. (Which is necessary for getting through life, but sure makes art harder!) There were of course also jokes made amongst some of us about how some sort of software tool that pulled colors out of an image would be really helpful right about now…
The second exercise was to choose a fabric we had trouble using (preferably from our own stash). I have TONS of graphic/single-color prints (or single-color with white) and have a lot of trouble using multi-color prints. So I started with the grey, pink and orange print on the left. At one point Weeks came around and I told her I felt I wasn’t pushing myself hard enough, so she took another print with a very different feel to it and added it to my stash (the white and aqua one with pink flowers). She told me to make it work (thanks Tim Gunn!) In the end I ended up with the palette above, and I really love it. I didn’t have the right greys with me, but I think adding a some prints with greys in them would really round it out.
Finally it was time to see all the beautiful quilts they brought! You can see their quilt, “Fade Up” at the top of this post. It’s made using their new fabric line, Passport. It fades in hue from left to right, and in value from top to bottom. Simple, clean, I love it! Another thing that Weeks mentioned is how often we blind ourselves to specific types of fabrics because “they’re not modern.” She pointed out that “it’s not the fabrics, it’s how you use them.” She had a number of examples of this, but my favorite is this dark quilt (a real man’s quilt) made with Parson Gray fabrics mixed with civil war reprints. I have always been a little bit snobby about civil war reprints, but they were stunning in the quilt.
Overall, the workshop was full of wonderful information and inspiration. If you have a chance to take her Craftsy class or attend a workshop in person, I really can’t recommend it enough! (I’m not being compensated for anything I say here, I’m just a fangirl!)