The design principle of repetition is one that I often use in my art and in my workshop instructions. The example I use is my piece “Wild Child” and my workshop “Jump Start Your Creativity”.

Wild Child C&T edit copy

I love the novelty fabrics but care needs to be taken when using a lot of different prints. These different fabrics can not be thrown into a design with out the design element of repeat being used or it becomes an unpleasant viewing experience.

“Repeated motifs, themes and stylistic peculiarities give a beat to visual art that seduces the eye and brings it back for more. Far from being boring, repetition is the grid on which higher themes may fly”

At the same time, the human brain and eye love novelty.  Something new around the corner – a surprise, a jolt out of the normal – arrests our flow and gives a sudden flush of wonder and joy.”  Robert Genn newsletter Aug 13, 2009

Wild Childs fabrics and thread pay homage to the principles.

                       Jump Start Your Creativity

Workshop Description: This technique is for the quilter that is ready to break out of the box and experience a playful way of creating. Too much thinking or fear often stops quilters from trying new designs and fabrics. Get your brain out of the way and jump start your creativity. A simple Wild Child flower pattern is the first ingredient, a wide array of novelty fabrics (polka dots, geometrics, floral’s, etc.) and few solid fabrics is the second ingredient and willing spirit is the third ingredient. The construction technique is machine appliqué.




“Don’t wait until you know who you are to get started. It is in the act of making things and doing our work that we figure out who we are.” Austin Kleon

Many times you begin a new art quilt and by the time the piece is complete, you have a new unexpected image on the wall. This happens when you are willing to have a conversation and to listen to the evolving image on the design wall. I often find that there are only bits and pieces of the original design plan in the finished piece.

This phenomenon is often experienced by artists of all medium. Writers often comment that their characters take unexpected turns and plots evolve differently than the original plan. If you have a willing spirit, just sit back and enjoy the journey. No controlling,  just responding. If I feel my design process is getting combative, I remember to step out of the way and let the design unfold.

These images of “Birds of Another Color” show how this journey unfolds.

Bird Sketches

Bird in progress

Bird of another color

Birds thread close up


Are you striving to develop a unique form of creative expression? Using fabric like a paint stroke to evoke a tactile dimensional image is both a satisfying and challenging medium to explore. The distance between the paint brush and the canvas can prevent the desired connection with our work that we artists desire. When the distance between the artist and his or her work is eliminated by using fabric, the artist can experience an up-close and tactile way of creating. No matter what the painting style is, fabric can be used to emulate that style. The quilting stitches can replica the sketching lines that add the desired depth and texture. I love the medium of using fabric and threads to express the creative impulse.scan0010

Leaf jpg Phases

Stroke of Blue



Fiber artists and quilt artists choose fabric and thread as their medium. Many artists are learning what quilters have known for a long time, using fabric as a medium creates vibrant textural images. Fabric is an up close and tactile way of expressing the creative impulse. The safety of the frame work of quilting designs drew many of us to this way of creating but most quilt artists have long since left the framework behind or used it in innovative ways. They have branched out to create imaginative, realistic and abstract images by using fabric like a painter uses a pallet. In my painterly flower series, I am consciously using the fabric as a painter would use a brush stroke.






One of most asked question by evolving art quilters is; “how do I develop a unique style”. Many things go into unearthing the unique expression inside us.

Some of the elements of this journey of discovery are;       Education—Imagination—Curiosity—Exploration—Wonder and foremost a Willing Spirit.

When all is said and done the only way I know to create a unique style is to do the work!!!!!!




You may be a young quilter full of wonder and desire to experience every phase of quilt making from traditional bed quilts to contemporary art quilts for the wall. Possibly you are a seasoned art quilter looking for ways to express your creative fire. We each draw from the universal well of creativity that is so deep and full of magical ideas that it can’t run dry, it can’t be used up. Where ever you find yourself in the life cycle you just have to tap into the well to access the subtle energy that is uniquely yours. Consider the fact that this creative energy is always available to everyone and just waiting to be awakened.

What will your next Creative Fire piece look like, what energy will it convey, what subtle energy did it awaken in you? I may not be present when you experience creating your amazing works of art or when you are so joyously wrapped up in the process but the energy you send out into the universe will be felt by all your fellow creative individuals. So create with joy and enjoy dipping into the well.

Pay Attention

Just-Breath crop 3

Pay Attention. What do you notice?  What draws your attention?  What you pay attention to has to compete with a world of sensory input. Your brain closes doors and opens doors all day long.  It would drive you crazy to be totally aware of every sensory thing in every hour.  Your brain sorts, sifts, for things and images that are important to you.  Your preferences are a basis for your innate creative style.  Are you noticing bold colors or soft colors?  Are you noticing strong lines or misty water colored designs?  Do you pay attention to the centers of things or the outside edges?  Do you notice the left side or the right side first?  Pay attention to how you greet the world and sift and sort your attention to it. This will be the foundation of the creative style and the best place to start.

For a number of years I have been paying attention to flowers. Where I live we garden with rocks and pine trees. Water is limited so everything we plant has to survive with little water. Flowers are breakfast for the deer so no flowers. This being said I love flowers, the colors, the textures and the veins. My flower pieces are created from my imagination they so often capture the essence of a flower but are not realistic images.

A reader asked the question; how do I compose a multiple flower piece? The short answer is, each flower is created separately on the wall using turned edge machine applique. Then all the flowers are added to the wall and arranged. Some overlay others and some are tucked underneath. Other elements are added like a creek or a butterfly. The composition is then heavily pinned on a background and stitched together with machine applique as in “Just Breathe”.Just-Breath crop 5Just-Breath crop 1     Just-Breath

Just-Breath crop 2   Just-Breath crop 4

Igniting Personal Imagery

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