Thursday, June 5, 2014

Self doubt: should I bother to make this quilt?

I was all geared up to make the night time scene of Amsterdam canal houses until I got feedback or should I say lack of much feedback on it in my master class. This month EB is posting the sketches, etc and the students are doing the critiques. So maybe this design is so bad that it is not even really worth commenting about. This quilt will take a lot of time and effort. And we all know you can spend that time and get something great or get something horrible.

Why do I want to do canal houses at all? Because I fell in love with them when I went to Amsterdam. I love how tall and skinny they are. However, is that a good enough reason to make a quilt that could take many, many hours? I chose this photo to do because it was not looking at them straight on although maybe that would be better. That view would show how crooked they really are.

Here are my two original sketches. One shows the entire street scene and one just has the 5 closest canal houses. In both sketches I exaggerated the narrowness of the houses by changing the proportions of the sketch.  Which if either makes a good composition?

final  finalnarrow

Then I tried it out in EQ. Of course when tracing a sketch in EQ you cannot do it exactly, but I pretty much wanted to try out color schemes and fabrics.

Canal housestall

Canal houses2

So I am not sure if I should bother to make this quilt. Maybe I should look for a different photo and try something completely different with this idea. Will this one be worth all the hours spent working on it?

On a lighter note I finally decided to sign up for a class at Create NJ in July. I decided to take a class with Natalya Aikens. She has done a lot of fiber/mixed media stuff with recycled plastics. I love her NYC scenes of buildings and bridges that she has done in this media. I decided I needed a break from the master class. I have taken other classes with Natalya and she is a great teacher. So now I need to start to create a collection of different colors of plastic bags!

Please comment about what you think about this design. Please be honest.

As always I appreciate your support.

Check out what Nina-Marie has been doing at QSDS and all the other great artists at her off the wall Fridays.



  1. Oh, the confidence destroyer that is silence. Of course you should make this quilt if it is a subject and design that interests you and/or challenges you as it obviously does. I think it a terrific subject made better with the night theme and angled perspective. Seeing the two versions side by side again - I still feel those last two buildings of the original are a distraction leading the eye where you do not want it to go. I don't think they are at all necessary to the design. Forget waiting for outside confirmation. You've spent enough time on this to convince me you want to do it. As Michael James always says, just do the work. Don't worry if anyone else approves or likes it. Go for it!

    Sounds like that class you've signed up for might be just what you need after the intensity of the master class. Maybe it will give you a new perspective on your art quilting. It's always good to work outside your usual medium.

  2. Thanks, Sheila. You are right about silence. It is worse than a negative comment or false praise. At least those have taken the time to comment. Silence implies that it is not even worth the effort to comment. Just do it is also a good idea.

  3. I think your drawing is amazing, I can't imagine making that quilt as it looks so daunting but of course that doesn't mean you shouldn't make it. Personally, I prefer the look of your 5 houses over the 7, which gets a bit busy and harder to make out each house. I agree with the previous commenter who said if you want to make it, go for it and don't worry about what anyone else thinks!

    Good luck!


  4. Essayez avec cette orthographe : Je n'écris pas bien votre langue. Pour le sketch N° 1 j'aime bien les maisons, j'aimais bien le décalage des maisons dans lvotre premier croquis sur votre blog et je trouve que dans le deuxième la ligne de perspective du bas s'est perdue et on n'imagine plus la rue dans son entier. Le shéma couleur bleu est pour moi très bien avec avec juste ces fenêtres oranges. Il ne faudra pas oublier la branche et le pas de porte avec la barrière. Pour le sketch
    I do not write your language well.
    For sketch # 1 I like the houses, I liked the shift houses in lvotre first sketch on your blog and I think in the second line bottom perspective is lost and can not imagine more street as a whole. Blue color schematic is fine with me with just these oranges windows. We must not forget the branch and no door with the barrier.

  5. Dear Chris,
    Love the idea; ignore the silence (it probably has nothing to do with your work); make the piece to please yourself.
    Personally, I prefer the left composition with more houses--it gives the idea that they just go on and on. Love the blue and orange color scheme; are you planning to put the branches in per your sketch? They would give another layer of depth to the scene.
    Look forward to seeing a post of the finished piece.
    Linda Laird

  6. Hi Chris
    I am so sorry your fellow students did not comment on your quilt. In my opinion, you should definitely make it. It is wonderful to have a subject that means so much to you and that you love. I am no expert, but I think the design is strong.The lines are very strong and lead the eye into the quilt, the proportions are good with both the positioning of the lighted windows, the vertical variation given by the width of the houses and the placing of the diagonal caused by perspective. There is plenty of repetition to give unity and variety in the subtle variations in the facades and number of windows. If you can match the colours shown here it will be wonderful. The blue of the house with lighted windows in luminous and of course the contrasting orange just makes it. I also love the green tints of the next house along. I think I prefer the right hand version with fewer houses.
    Hope that helps and we don't all end up giving conflicting views!

  7. Hi Chris. I am dutch and know Amsterdam very good. I love the desigh and you should definitely make it. I prefer the left one with more houses. for me it has more the Amsterdam alley feeling.
    You're so talented and I don't know why the students didn't react, because this design is wonderful. Just go for it.

  8. I love the perspective of the houses! I prefer the right version with 5 buildings. Go for it!

  9. You should definitely make this quilt. Maybe make a few more sketches to be sure since you will be investing so much time in the sewing of it. Don't be afraid to alter the order of the buildings to suit a design for you. And I think you need to add some light values for contrast. Just my opinion. But what you have already done is very good and would be a good quilt.

  10. Looks like a great image. I think if the houses were straight on if would be too expected. Better at this unusual angle. You should make this if it appeals to you... forget what other people say! Do what is fun and what moves you. The image is certainly compelling and would make a fantastic art quilt.

  11. Sorry I didn't respond right away - had my hands full (grin). I will post all my comments on the class blog but wanted to say something. I was thinking that the best thing you could get from this class is working through the self doubt in your work. We all have it - of course - but I find that its helpful to compartmentalize it. One thing I've learned from this masterclass at QSDS - that even when you are running with the big dogs - they all pee the same way - grin!! (meaning they have the same trials as we do - but a little potty humor goes a long way to get a cheap grin)!! Hang in there sista!!

  12. I can't believe you would doubt your self on this. It's a fabulous drawing and would make an amazing quilt.
    You will love Natalya's class and might get some new ideas on how to make this one.
    Go for it and be sure to show us the results.

  13. By all means move forward. I so agree with the other comments.

  14. I like both those versions, and I also vote that you should make one! It's fantastic!

  15. I like the 5 houses, it is simpler and cleaner, but the extra houses really add depth and perspective and a lot more work. The night colors surprised me from your black and white sketch, too much blue? Do IT!!!


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