Sunday, November 15, 2009


Just when you start to get comfortable with what appears to be the 'final' direction of this project we find that it has taken another interesting turn and is headed for new territory....and guess what? There are still three more artists waiting to have a say.

This weeks' artist is Kathy Loomis.

Comments by Kathy

As several of the previous participants have noted, the quilt I take out of the box could very well be "finished." I had some artists friends over for lunch while the quilt (straight out of the box) was up on the wall and they said "ooh, that's nice!" It has a character of its own, and the separate elements of the composition seem to be consistent with that character.

Unfortunately that character doesn't seem to want to hang out with me. I find myself looking for its bones - the "real life" it tells me it wants to resume. The first couple of steps in its development were quite austere - big, bold shapes in edgy relation to one another. I thought that was interesting and strong. While the color scheme of the quilt has retained that strong, interesting, edgy character through its travels, the composition has successively become more and more detailed and fussy, which I find uncomfortable.

My first step is to take all the fussy bits off the quilt and see what's underneath.

First Step

I see strong color and three strong shapes: two curvilinear reds and a lime green stripe or panel. But there doesn't seem to be any tension in their relationship - maybe they're too far apart? Before I can deal with that issue, I find myself distracted by the hole in the green panel. There's enough of the lime green in the bag to recut the panel without a hole, but even better, another piece of the screenprinted green. big enough to go on as a rectangle. In the bag I also find some stripes of gray/black hand dye that had been there in a previous incarnation but were taken off several weeks ago. I put them back up to give a little more weight to the green panel.

Step Two

Now I wonder whether the proportions of the entire quilt are right. The two red shapes seem to be too small to command their space. Without all those little Xs and bits of printed fabric, there's a lot of empty space on the quilt. I experiment with cropping off the bottom, then cropping off some of the left side. Sure enough, the shapes are forced to talk to one another.

The popsicle-shaped red one has been in that same position since Day 1 of this project (are we afraid to change Terry's shape because it's her project??) and I do nothing to change that. My first approach is to juggle the other one to see if it can find a better place, to get some dialog with the first one. I try several different positions.

Step Three - Cropped

But wait. When all else fails, read the directions. In moving the piles of stuff around, I come upon the envelope of paperwork and decide to reread the ground rules that I had slid over two months ago. Guess what - we're supposed to keep the size of the quilt at 42" x 60". So much for my cropping. I'll have to achieve the same effect by changing the proportions on the large ground. First is to move the green panel down - it was too close to the center of the compositions, which I think detracts from the real action: the red shapes and how they get along. With the panel closer to the bottom, it acts as a stage for the action.

But on the other hand, this gives me an even larger area for the red shapes to float around in. If I thought they were too loosely packed before, it's even worse now. I decide to re-cut the red shapes. They had been added by different people and the reds aren't exactly the same, yet not different enough to look deliberate.

Step Four

While I'm at it, I add a third red shape. Now the shapes are crowded enough to have some tension. Finally, I find an acid green shape in the pile of discards and put it back on the quilt. I had liked that shape , and it seems to go well with both the pared-down color scheme and the remaining shapes. I experiment with some slight variations on the shapes and decide that rather than cut them to fit, I'll turn under the edges and leave some extra fabric in case Leslie and Marina want to make some tweaks.

Final Version Stage 12

Mini Artists Profile

Kathy Loomis

Kathy lives and works in Louisville where she is very active with the Louisville Area Fiber and Textile Arts group and the River City Fiber Artists. The RCFA are the originators of the Form Not Function exhibition which is becoming a well known and respected competitive show held each year at the Carnegie Center for Art and History in New Albany, In.

Flood Stage

In May of this year, Kathy was awarded the coveted Quilts Japan Prize for her work Postage 3: Memorial Day, during the opening ceremonies of Quilt National 2009. QN is one of the most prestigious competitive quilt exhibitions in the world and the Quilts Japan Prize is the jewel of awards.

Memorial Day

Thank you Kathy for your contribution and commentary. Next the project heads up to Chicago to Leslie Riley. Looking forward to seeing what thoughts Leslie has on the piece.

Thank you for viewing this ongoing project. Terry


Compositional Conversation is now in Stage 11! We should figure up how many miles this work has logged. I'll have to work on that.

This week our artist is Valerie S. Goodwin. Known for her unique and beautiful work inspired by landscapes and cities, Valerie shares with us her equally unique process and approach to this project. Here are her comments.

Tuesday (10.27.09)

The package arrives from Paula ! After work, I opened the box and rolled it out on the dining room table and fell in love with what I saw. My initial thought? This piece is complete, there's nothing more to be done! Darn it....I got the composition at the tail end:)!

That night I had a strange dream. I was at my studio and all the other artists were with me. We were all discussing the quilt. Suddenly I look around and my studio space has miraculously gotten's south wall opened up and on the other side was a group of contractors -- all wanting to put in their 2 cents worth! They clearly just didn't "get it"......they wanted to know whose bed would it fit on! We started laughing and then I woke up for my nightly run to the bathroom;)

I know the dream makes no sense...but I thought I'd share it anyway!

Thursday (10.29.09)

I finally get some free time and retreat to my studio with our little project in hand. As I stare at it on the wall.....I'm still thinking "This composition is telling me to leave it alone". Good thing I had printed out a copy of it onto a sheet of 81/2" x 11" paper. My next step was to evaluate it at a smaller scale....for me this always helps.

Then I laid down a piece of trace paper and made a few sketches.

As I sketched a few goals surfaced:

  1. Give the composition more movement so it wasn't so static.
  2. Explore how the elements can interact with each other.
  3. Add a subtle sense of depth to the piece.
  4. Reconsider the green "line" that sub-divides the composition into 2 zones.
I moved the fabric pieces around for part of the afternoon.

At the end I hope I was able to deal with my four (4) goals by:
  1. Movement: I added a green shape on the left side so the eye could move back and forth more from one green circular element to another. In addition I shifted the axis of the key vertical elements so that they move back and forth with respect to one another.
  2. Interaction: I tried to give the illusion that the shape on the far left wrapped around and ended behind the red one.
  3. The green line in the center of our composition was given a hole. This gives the impression that the black element interacts with and penetrates the big green line.
  4. By breaking up the green line I tried to break that impression that the composition was not composed of 2 isolated areas. I think I could have done more of this.

So -- are we now having a conversation that is winding down? I guess that was my approach. I treated it like I was adding my take where the punctuation marks should be. I am not in any way saying that our subsequent artists need to take the same approach...this is just what I was hearing from our piece.

It was hard to let go of "Mary" (she told me her name;) Even now she's whispering to me. She is saying "I need tweaking here and I demand tweaking there!" I'll be curious to know what Mary tells Kathy next week.

My best to all, especially Terry........:)

A big 'thank you' to Valerie for a most interesting commentary. It appears that every stage of this project has it's special challenges. And now the work has a name. Will Mary speak to Kathy, Leslie, Marina or me....stay tuned as to "Compositional Conversations".


Valerie in the studio.

Valerie S. Goodwin is a mixed media fiber artist whose background as an architect plays a fundamental role. She began designing and making quilts in 1998. Her interest began as part of her involvement in teaching architectural design classes at Florida A&M University's School of Architecture. Her students investigated parallels between architecture and quilting as an introduction to ideas about composition, ordering systems, color and pattern.

City Grid II

Overall her art has moved through various stages from traditional quilting to an interest in abstract expressionism and, more recently, work inspired by real and imaginary landscapes and cities. In some cases her work shows an architectural sense of space with an archeological perspective. In others, the network of the city and its built form is more prominent. Her compositions work on a number of levels, from close up and far away as if you were looking at it from above.

City Grid IV

Goodwin's work is noted for its use of color, emphasis on line and density. Her quilts are part of a continuing investigation of ideas that focus on geometrical relationships, patterns and ordering principles found in architecture. Her work conveys these ideas abstractly, through the use of collage, layering, transparency, density and improvisation.

She earned a Masters degree in architecture from Washington University in St. Louis after receiving her undergraduate degree from Yale University. Her work has been widely published and exhibited. She has also lectured and given workshops across the country.

To see more of Valerie's work:

Saturday, November 7, 2009


Welcome to week Ten of COMPOSITIONAL CONVERSATION. I have been out of town and found myself unable to log on to my email so it was really fun this morning to download the image files from Paula Swett and see how she has handled our project piece. Following one of my favorite mottos, "Why wait?". Here is Paula's final version of our piece.

Stage Ten: by Paula Swett

Paula's Comments

I received an email stating Gayle had shipped the project. While I was waiting from Sat. to Mon. for the package to arrive I reviewed everyone's composition and conversation with the project (I now call the project "CC"). I also reread Terry's initial remarks and rules for the project.

I decided to write some rules for myself that would help me to respond to the project.

1. I will not look at the postings again until after I finish working with the piece. It will distract me and influence my dialogue.

2. I will remember not to take everything off and start all over (original rule).

3. I will keep digital camera and computer at my side to document my dialogue.

4. I will create some working rules when I open the piece.

5. Do not break any of the above rules ( Ha Ha)

The project arrived on Mond. evening. I invited a friend over to witness the opening of the long awaited package. (feels like an exciting Xmas gift). I opened the box and first glanced through the bag of extra parts and looked them all over. Many pieces were familiar as they had appeared in earlier compositions. My professional life was in social work. In fact groups were my specialty thus I hate for anyone to feel left out and now my mind is already scheming "Maybe I can work these pieces into my conversation".

I opened the project and hung in a horizontal format on my design wall. I photographed the piece, rotating several times and finally decided which layout spoke to me.

New orientation of project as done by Gayle Vickery Prichard.

WOW!!!!! I see much has happened since Marcia's changes. There is so much going on that I stand way back from the piece and just keep saying "oh my" and "oh my goodness". Translating my expressions means "where do I begin" and "what can I say" and "I can't wait to start". Intuitively I jump right in and attack the middle section. I audition some of the beautiful pieced work from Beth. I need to warm this area up and help integrate this middle into the rest of the piece. I then put a section of Rebecca's green shape along side the red shape in the left unit.

Second stage of Paula's exploration.

I now removed my two added pieces. After looking at these quick additions/auditions I soon realized that I must have a framework for this conversation. I will be quiet and still observe, document and LISTEN to what I see in the piece presented to me. After listening I can dialogue with this piece. This is important for my compositional process as I could jump all over the place. Tomorrow I will devise a sort of road map to maintain focus.

I spent much of my night arranging/rearranging planning during sleep time. This is good in that I know I am engaged with the piece and excited.

I wake up and want to hutr anyone who gets in my way of running upstairs to the studio. Seeing the piece first thing in the morning is invigorating.

Observations - Day 2

As a young child I used to play the whisper game also called the telephone game. The leader would whisper a sentence to the person beside her and this whisper would continue around the circle. By the time the sentence returned to the leader the original sentence was immensely changed.

I am artist #10 and a lot has changed since Terry whispered this project to all of us. I know some of the early artists' work has disappeared. I have watched how once the work is shipped to the next person that voices have disappeared. There are 4 more artists after me who will also possibly change my work. I speak of this issue of loss and change not in judgment of good or bad, but to acknowledge. Many of the large shapes have rounded edges. There is a large black shape in high horizon on the right side. There are 3 sections with the right and left sections containing several colors (bright and mostly primary, except for the cold grey/pinstripe section). Smaller shapes --- x's, ovals, small rectangles and markings drawn all over with crayons or ????


  • Keep the large shapes and remove all small pieces that do not add to the piece.
  • Figure out a way to transition left side to right side of composition.
  • Resolve the grey/pinstripe area and make the entire composition converse
  • Keep in mind color (color distribution throughout the piece, value and really talk to the X's maybe more and in different sizes and colors probably best in groupings
  • Remember the negative spaces
  • Really like the challenge of the high horizon
And on and on in the composition game my mind goes but will put the brakes on now.

I begin by putting the green remnant shape of Rebecca's work snug with the large red shape on the left side. (needs more happening over here) this addition looks like the "shape to nowhere" so I move it to the top of the red shape. A strong vertical shape that goes edge to edge will give strength to this side. I also removed some small rectangle pieces and the face and pants.

Stepping back from those moves I am reminded of how just one move and the piece is out of balance.

Third stage of Paula's exploration.

Fourth stage of Paula's exploration.

I know this is the beginning of the struggles. I am glad I am documenting this work. In my studio I intuitively compose and do not speak out loud to myself about my compositional considerations.

I now audition a shape from the traveling bag of pieces and place part of the surface designed fabric coming out of the large shape of red on the right. I am again concerned about how to connect the left side to the right and to work in a continuous high horizon. Well, that shape didn't work at all, very distracting and not at all pleasing to my eye.

I know that I must resolve this high horizon now because I want that idea to work and that it will be an important part to resolve. I cut a red shape with arc that created the line to the other side and horizon. I added varying sizes of x's for color, value, movement and repetition of shape.

Fifth stage of Paula's exploration.

At this point I sit quietly with what I have done so far. I realize once more each move makes a lot of noise. I turn my attention to the bl/grey/pinstripe area. This is the first time I notice the upper right corner of this section has a chunk cut out of the blue background and the black does not reach the edge. I resolve that issue by using the yellow/green color (felt that I needed to add that color to the piece anyhow) to replace the blue grey and a new crisper white and black stripe. (Much time spent deciding on width of stripe and pressing exterior edge into slight curvilinear edge.)

Sixth stage of Paula's exploration.

I now go back to the left side realizing the green shape that is not extended to the edge and it needs to go off the edge. I pieced an addition to that. I now am disturbed by the x/s and spend some time refining color, size and placement. The pale yellow rectangle that float on the red piece (left side) are replaced with a rectangle shape revealing the underlying violet.

Final version (same as first image).

I must say this has been a great exercise for me to really listen to myself as I work.

Thanks again for the opportunity to engage with a wonderful group of talented artists.

Thank you Paula. You make an interesting observation regarding the use of design elements and principles when the artists has internalized those guidelines. How do we listen to our own creative self in the privacy of our studios?

More about Paula.

Mini Artist Profile - Paula Swett

Artist Statement

I credit my mother and two grandmothers for giving me the passion for and gift of handwork. I learned from them to knit and sew, to create clothes and quilts. However, what was created went beyond the material process. I was woven into an intergenerational community of creative women who's contagious passion to express continue to be a common thread in my life.

My work is a personal narrative, weaving imprinted images retrieved from childhood, with my life's journey and current events. My work expresses a glimpse of life, a momentary look or a non objective impression. I work intuitively reacting to the creative inspiration and to the mediums I use. An intimate dialogue is created between the experience and the designed surfaces that result.

My voice is boundless. When I create my work, I use photographs, journal pages, sketches, and the thoughts from life's passages and everyda musings.

I use many methods in my work including improvisational cutting, piecing, layering, stitching and dying to name a few.

Paula Swett is a studio artist. She lives in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania. She has been working with her own hand dyed textiles creating art quilts since the early 90's. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally.

Paula earned a B.S.W. from the University of Vermont. She has studied with many of the leading fiber artists for the past 10 years. Paula has taught art, art quilting, owned an art gallery for many years and continues to support the arts in her area.

You can reach Paula at:

CCOMPOSITIONAL CONVERSATION: Stage 9 - Gayle Vickery Prichard

COMPOSITIONAL CONVERSATION is back from a 'week off' and what a fun return! Gayle Vickery Pritchard is our artist this week and she, like several of our previous artists, has really put herself into this project. Now how in the world did she do it? Read on and find out.

Journal Entry

10-13-09 Compositional Conversation Comments by Gayle

Although I received the package a week ago, knowing I wasn't going to work on it until this week, I refrained from opening the quilt to look at it. I didn't want to start thinking about it until I was ready to work on it. I did clear space on one wall of my small studio to create a mental workplace. I also printed out the eight stages to date on Sunday to look at the choices people had made, study the orientation, and think about what I liked and didn't like about each stage.

After looking at the pictures of the various stages, my trusty inner voice came into play. Last night I dreamed about the work, and woke up to make notes in my journal. (See photo). As a life long journal keeper, I think when I am problem-solving, it continues into my sleep state, as I often wake up with fresh ideas and solutions. That is what happened to me last night, so I went with it, as I have learned to trust this part of myself over the years.

I still had one errand to do this morning before I could begin working, so once again, I refrained from hanging the quilt on my work wall. All the way to the post office, my mind began the conversation started in my sleep. Like many of the artists in this process, I thought I might begin by dismantling or playing around with the composition, trying this and that, gradually putting it back together. When I got home, I hung the piece up, having already decided that I needed to begin working on it as I would any of my own pieces. As I wrote in my journal, I was going to "meet the piece where it is now and talk." This is what I proceeded to do.

I liked the horizontal orientation, and hung it that way on my wall. As I do in my own work, I grabbed a marking tool, and began making marks. I had thought about doing some discharge, but the tests I did on the background fabrics gave questionable results.

Discharge Results

Marking on my work allows me to vent my pent-up feelings of anticipation as I begin work, and to "enter" the piece to work. I generally begin my own work this way, even though the marks and the narrative text often end up hidden in the final composition.

Although I liked the color, especially the new blue, I felt the vertical yellow area with the black strip beside it in the previous incarnation of the piece broke the piece into two distinct pieces. I also felt the yellow area was too wide, so in the end, I just removed it, and everything that was attached to it. This left the previous grayed-out blue background fabric that had been covered with the brighter blue. I decided just to work with it, and focus on integrating the right side with the left side. I drew over some of my previous marks with a black fabric pen, but did not heat set it, so those marks, too, would be removable.

This detail shows some of the marks made by Gayle.

After moving the printed fabric shapes around, and cutting some of the scraps into more oval shapes, I cut out the shapes I had dreamed about, quasi-"X" shapes with soft corners that reminded me of some of the shapes of the reverse appliqued African kuba cloths I have around my house. I allowed extra seam allowances on the edges, so they are cut a bit larger than they would be finished. I added these because I really wanted some more already-placed geometric shapes, and cut through some of the fabrics to create more "X" shapes for reverse applique.

Finally, I added some black and white commercial fabrics to direct the eye and create more of a focal point in the piece. Had I had more of the hand manipulated fabric that had previously been cut into the boomerang shape, I would have cut more of the oval shapes, but there wasn't any more, so I didn't. I added some more black fabric pen markings around those, as well, which I also did not heat set.

Detail showing additional marks and commercial printed fabric.

When starting a piece, my process is often to mark the piece, enter the space, and interact with the surface. Compositional Conversations was no different. My only thought was whether to make my marks removable or permanent. Since my own work is collage, I never worry about what is underneath anything else. If I don't like it somehow, I can cover it up later, but it will still be a part of the piece. I don't agonize over my own work, I just do it, place something, respond, keep working in the moment.

The biggest challenge for me was working with all solid fabrics cut into geometric shapes. Beautiful as they are, my own work is always about something, usually my expression of very tangible events in my life. It was fun responding to the beauty of the colors as they talked with each other on my wall. Although I admit to some trepidation about how others might respond to my removed pieces, marks on the surface and cut holes, I decided in the end that working in my own voice was the only honest way to approach this piece.

Thank you Gayle for an interesting commentary and insight into a way of working I am not familiar with.

MINI ARTIST PROFILE - Gayle Vickery Pritchard

Gayle standing next to I Hear Voices In My Head

Gayle Vickery Pritchard is a well-known fiber artist whose career has spanned some 25 years. In addition, she is an independent curator, lecturer, teacher and publisher writer. Gayle studied art at the College of Wooster, Paul Valery University in France, the Surface Desighn Symposium in Columbus, Ohio, and the Cleveland Institute of Art. Her work has been widely exhibited in galleries and museums across the United States and in Denmark, Japan, and Australia. Highlight exhibitions include the Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio Designer Craftsmen and Visions, an international fiber exhibition in San Diego. Commissions include the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Quilt, the Smithsonian Craft Archives, and the opening of the Peter Lewis Building, desined by Frank Gehry, in Cleveland, Ohio. She is featured in the 1997 Encyclopedia of Living Artists, and was named Teacher of the Year finalist by Professional Quilter Magazine. Her work has been widely published, including these books: Quilts of the Ohio Western Reserve (Ricky Clark, Ohio University Press), Crafting Personal Shrines (Carol Owne, Lark Books) and The Art Quilt (Robert Shaw, Hugh Lauter Levin). In addition to numerous magazine articles, Pritchard is the author of the newly released book, Uncommon Threads: Ohio's Art Quilt Revolution (Ohio University Press, December 2006). She is currently completing a second book, a biography of artist Susan Shie of Wooster, Ohio.

She can be contacted at or She keeps a blog at

Gayle with For Sadie Jane

We invite you to leave comments for Gayle and the other artists who has contributed to this project.