This is a small portrait quilt I created of the painter Edgar Degas.
Learning a new way of seeing
I started this piece in a portrait quilt workshop with New York artist Jack Edson. The workshop took place in May 2018 and was organized by the Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum in La Conner, WA. I based the image on a public domain photo of the painter Edgar Degas.
Breaking down the image
Jack Edson showed us how to start from a black and white image, breaking it down into a grid of squares. We then worked one square at a time, interpreting each piece of the image in colored fabric, paying attention to value in particular. It was amazing to see the image start to emerge from the rough shapes of each block.
The fabrics I chose are commercial cotton prints and batiks, plus some vintage yukata cottons. I selected the colors intuitively and enjoyed the process of reinterpreting the black and white photographic image in a colorful and creative way. I based the palette on blue, yellow, and added a grey-green to add a neutral element. I thought the complementary colors (blue and yellow) would give the composition some energy. Greens and teals snuck in, and helped fill out the color palette.
Putting it all together
I machine pieced the quilt squares, added hand appliqué for the tricky bits, and machine quilted it with an organic leaf motif using the walking foot on my domestic sewing machine. The quilt back is an exercise in improv piecing, using a similar palette of colors.
This was a terrific workout for my brain, and I thoroughly enjoyed the workshop with Jack Edson. He has a masterful eye for transforming ordinary photographs into something extraordinary. In an interview about his work, Jack had this to say:
“These portrait pieces are conceived as works or art, rather than quilts per se, so I see them closer to paintings or collages than traditional quilts.”JACK EDSON
Certainly, the way Jack Edson approaches his work is more like a painter. The quilting adds a textural element that draws you in. I’m so fortunate to have had the experience of watching him work, and learning along the way. To learn more about Jack and his incredible work, follow his Facebook page.