Sunday, May 08, 2016

Art with Fabric - Light at the End of the Tunnel

Original painting by Sheila Langlois of Kirkland Lake Ontario
Welcome to the Art with Fabric Blog Hop.

My art quilt is based on a painting by Northern Ontario artist Sheila Langlois (1930-1996). More about Sheila and how I met her at the end of my blog.

I love this art work. Sheila painted it when she went back to art school as an adult. It was a study in primary colours. I call it "Study in Primary Colours or Light at the End of the Tunnel".

This is the first piece of original art that I owned. It's been a part of my life since I went to Ottawa University some 35 years ago. It had pride of place in my dorm room.
The art quilt as it was two weeks ago
The art quilt two weeks ago - see previous post

When I was asked to participate in the blog hop, it didn't take me long to decide to quilt this art piece. I love it's vibrant colours and movement.

I took many photos of the painting, but none of them really does it justice - just like when you see an original Renoir and discover that it's much more vibrant than the pictures you've admired all of your life.

Although I loved the painting, it's now obvious that I had never "really" seen it. I had no idea how complex it was until I started to think about recreating it in fabric.

The first thing I did was raid my scraps stash. Not long ago I had placed all of the scraps that hadn't been cut into squares or strips, into bags by colour. It made my search for the right fabrics much easier.

Reds and oranges are starting to appear in the art quilt
Reds and oranges are starting to appear
The first week, I spent most evenings working on this project. On Saturday, with daylight coming into the room, I realised that my colours were off. What I had seen as dark blues and blacks were actually medium and dark blues - there is no black except for a couple of thin branches. I pulled the piece apart and started over, only choosing colours during daylight hours.

The choosing, cutting, placing and gluing of the fabric took about three weeks. The painting has so many details - it was hard to decide what to skip. I knew that it didn't have to be a replica of the original painting, but that was easier said than done. Near the end of the three weeks though, those decisions were much easier to make!

It's starting to look like the painting!
It's starting to look like the painting!

A mess - happy to put away the fabrics to FMQ
Happy to put away the fabrics to FMQ










I have to admit that I was thrilled when the piecing part was over. After all that work, it only took me a weekend to thread paint and quilt it.

I'm always nervous about knowing when to stop thread sketching and when it's time to quilt. This time it was an easy decision to make since all of those pieces where glued in place. It all had to be sewn down, or it would fall apart the first time it got washed!

For the thread painting, I used two green threads and one each of blue, red, orange and yellow thread. I paid particular attention to emphasize the circular movement of the painting. I did pretty much the same thing when quilting it, while using less thread colours.


What I learned:

  • This was the first time that I made an art quilt based on a piece of art. I really miscalculated a few things. 
    • I didn't want to make a pattern - it would have been too difficult and for me, it would have taken the fun out of making it. I took a photograph of the painting and divided it into 9 equal(ish) parts to guide me. It turns out that my proportions were off (too wide and not long enough).
    • I also didn't account for the border. The quilt was originally 16" x 16" but after making the backing, I lost a lot of the painting's top and bottom details. Oops! After it was finished I realised that I could have left some of the white background fabric at the edges since it wouldn't have shown once the backing was attached. I suspect that I'll remember this lesson.
  • I didn't realise how complex this piece was until I started trying to create it. I was so tempted to start adding the details of the branches in the middle of the yellow section right at the start, but I knew that I could only do this in the end, after it was all pieced. Staying away from those branches was the hardest part of the piecing!

Sheila Langlois, Artist and Friend

Sheila Langlois, 1994
Sheila Langlois, 1994
Sheila was a well know artist from Kirkland Lake and my mother took a couple of her painting courses. I didn't really know her until the summer before leaving Kirkland Lake for university. That summer, I didn't have a full time job, so I took as many short term jobs as I could get. Sheila was looking for someone to do housekeeping once a week.

Working for Sheila was the highlight of my summer. When I got to her home, I never knew what I would be doing that day. Sometimes it was normal housekeeping work like vacuuming and dusting, but at other times it might be cleaning windows or helping Sheila make chicken kiev for a dinner party that night. Sheila would always prepare us a lovely lunch and we'd spend an hour chatting about everything, from art and music to philosophy.

One day we cleaned out the room where her paintings were stored. Sheila worked mostly with water colours of Northern Ontario scenes. This painting was very different from her usual work. I fell in love with it and bought it!  The painting hangs in my dining room, across from two of her water colours of trees and water that I inherited from my mother.
Quilt: 15 1/4" x 15 1/4"
Painting: 20" x 16"

I'm thrilled that this quilt will now hang above my sewing machine. For me, this work of art symbolizes the light at the end of the tunnel - in other words, hope. I also reminds me the summer I met Sheila.






Art with Fabric
Thank you so much for dropping by. I hope that you'll get a chance to visit the other participants in the blog hop. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone's art this week.

Here are the links to the other participants' blogs:

Monday, May 9th, 2016
Maartje Quilts in Amsterdam
Lee Anna at Not Afraid of Color
Renee at Quilts of a Feather

Tuesday, May 10, 2016
Kathy at Qreative Quilts
Yvonne at Quilting Jet Girl
Chris's Quilting Universe
DeAnna at Georgia-Girl Quilter

Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Alida at Tweety Loves Quilting
Yanicka at Finding myself as an artist
Heather at Heather's Blog
Sarah at Georgia Girl Quilts

Thursday, May 12, 2016
Cynthia at Cynthia's Creating Art
Janeen at Quilt Art Designs
Wendy at Kwilt Krazy
Afton at Quilting Mod

Friday, May 13, 2016
Carol at Quilted Fabric Art 
Jennifer at The Inquiring Quilter
Nina-Marie at Creations...Quilts, Art...Whatever by Nina-Marie
Joan at Moosestash Quilting

You can also check out these linky parties: Free Motion Mavericks, Off the Wall Fridays, Oh Scrap!  and Freemotion by the River

Wonderful news! My quilt was featured on Muv's Free Motion Mavericks.

27 comments:

  1. Wow!!!!!
    I love the original, but your piece is a real art piece too! Thanks for sharing how you created it. Such beautiful colors and quilting/threadpainting realy captures the essence of the painting. Thanks for sharing!!

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    1. Thank you so much Maartje. I tried to leave you a comment but I obviously didn't press the correct button - here is my message. What fun pieces! The FMQ is great - it really catches the essence of the piece. I also read you other Matisse posts. They are really great. Thanks for sharing.

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  2. I agree with Maartje, all I can say is Wow! The original is so beautifully complex and full of details as you said. And your recreation piece is wonderful. What fun you must have had making it!

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    1. Thanks Jennifer. It was fun, until the 3rd week - then I wanted it done! And then came the sketching and FMQ - that's always fun!

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  3. You did a fantastic job, I'm sure Sheila would be so proud of you.Thanks for sharing how you met her and all you learned in the process of recreating her work in fabric. It amazes me that you have captured the scene so well in fabric

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    1. Thanks Kathy. I'm glad it came out since it's so much a part of my life. I sure have a lot more admiration for Sheila, now that I've tried to reproduce it, especially knowing that she probably only used red, blue and yellow.

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  4. How very interesting. It is stunning. So cool that you had the opportunity to know the artist.

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    1. Hi Cynthia, knowing the artist made it a lot more personal. I'm really happy with the way it came out. Thanks for dropping by.

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  5. Such an amazing interpretation of the original painting! I really appreciate the lessons you shared with us, especially the one about realizing how complex a piece of art really is only when you try to break it down and reinterpret it yourself. You did an amazing job mixing great fabric selection, thread painting and quilting! Thanks for joining the hop!!

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    1. Hi Alida, thanks so much for having me. It really was a great challenge and I learned so much. I probably would not have ventured to do it without this blog hop. Thanks!

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  6. Your interpretation of the painting is so well done! I think that choosing colors to match can be difficult, and deciding to work in the daylight definitely made a difference. I can tell you put thought into keeping the same circular feel, especially in the quilting. Beautifully done!

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    1. Thanks Yvonne. I think that the colours and the movement are what attracted me to the painting to begin with. Keeping true, especially to the movement of the piece, was my first priority.

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  7. Beautiful work. Your rendition is awesome and so like the original work. I learned much reading your post. Thanks for sharing your friendship with the artist...she was a beautiful person.

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    1. Thanks DeAnna. I'm glad I was able to do the piece justice - and Sheila was a lovely lady, full of laughter and joy.

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  8. I enjoyed reading about Sheila. Her work, and your interpretation of it, is wonderful!

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    1. Thanks Heather. Sheila worked mostly in the pre-internet era. I'm glad that I'm able to give her some space!

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  9. Hello Andrée

    Such a gorgeous art quilt! You must be so pleased with how it has turned out, and it is such a lovely way of remembering a dear friend.

    Thank you for linking up with Free Motion Mavericks - your quilt is this week's featured project!

    Love, Muv

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    1. Thanks Muv. I'm thrilled to hear that. Yes, I am very proud - this project was out of my comfort zone (when I realized how complex it was!) and I'm really happy that I could do it justice.

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  10. This is a wonderful rendition of a loved piece of art. How wonderful that its been part of your life for so long, but you got to see it again in an entirely new way! The colors are spectacular.

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    1. Thank you so much. Isn't it great to be able to "see" something in a new way? The colours are what drew me to the painting in the first place :-)

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  11. Oh the lessons we learn. This is one spectacular piece!

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    1. Thanks! Every project is a lesson learned, otherwise I'm bored!

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  12. What a fantastic quilted interpretation of it! Beautiful!

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  13. Beautiful quilted art! You did amazing work with fabric and thread!

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  14. Thank you so much for sharing both your process in creating this piece and your connection with the artist. I really enjoyed this post and seeing the finished work next to the original painting! You did an amazing job!!!

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  15. Andree, Great job! Your process here is so similar to the one I did. Fabulous choice to select this beautiful painting and a great job you did at the finish!

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I would love to hear from you - and since I have now fixed my settings, you should be able to leave a comment.