Abstract Art Quilt

I recently visited the art room at an elementary school, as a guest speaker. I was at school all day and talked to 7 different classes of all grade levels. I brought along three examples of my artwork, two abstract and one figurative. I explained my ideas and why I had made the choices of fabrics that I did. I even talked about being a reflection of the place and time that I live in. Even the kindergarten class sort of got it. An artist holds up a mirror. The art is a reflection.

Sunday Afternoon 36 X 49, $1,200

I asked the class why, in Sunday Afternoon, I had made the people those bright colors? There were some good guesses. All of the children recognized the use of cell phones. When I explained that the information from the phones was stored in the computer cloud at the top, most knew about that as well. It was fun to talk about the lady with the parasol and why I had put her in the park with the others.

Diaspora, 66 X 58, $1,200

I brought the bottom half of Diaspora as one of my examples. I pointed out the groups of people represented by different sorts of fabrics: Asian in the bottom middle area (blue and white and purple circles), South American indigenous in the upper right (green and orange jungle), African on the left side (bright colors, zebra giraffe patterns). I  used the word migration, and talked about how sometimes whole groups of people had to move because of war or starvation.

In my third example, I did not try to define the word syncopated, but I did explain that the word dialogue meant conversation or talking.  I also pointed out the difference between hand stitching and machine stitching. At one point in the class, the art teacher referred to Syncopated Dialogue as Hand Stitch. A little boy corrected her, “No, that’s Conversation!” (It’s so nice that someone was listening!)

Syncopated Dialogue

After a few of the typical questions about “How long does that take?” and “Do you sell these?”, the kids had time to create their own quilt using paper, glue sticks, pre-cut fabric scraps and markers. I limited the project to primary colors. They were given the freedom of making a piece about an object – such as cat, dragon, apple, house etc., or to make an abstract piece that is a pleasing arrangement of shapes.

I was very surprised that half of the students chose to make an Abstract Art Quilt. So great! One child made half of her page red bits and the other half blue bits, with a line drawn down the middle. She explained that the two sides don’t talk to one another, except for the two fabric pieces in the middle that crossed the line and touched. She obviously understood that abstract art can have a lot to say!

Here are some more Joan Sowada examples of Abstract Art Quilts.$900


This month’s recipe is for a new fangled bread substitute. (I am constantly inventing gluten free pancakes.) In my recipe box this one has a very un-sexy name, so I think for this post I will call it Chewy Sesame Pancakes: Mix together these dry ingredients – 1/2 c. ground flax seeds, 1/2 c. quinoa or millet flour, 1/4 c. garbanzo bean flour, 1/4 c. tapioca flour, 1/4. t. each salt and baking powder. Add wet ingredients and stir – one egg, 3/4 c. almond milk, 2 t. vanilla, and 2 t. honey. I heat griddle to 350 and melt some coconut oil on it. I make about 6 small pancakes (3 inches across). Mush down a little with spoon. Right after putting them on griddle, I sprinkle about 1/2 t. of sesame seeds on top of each pancake. When they are flipped, the sesame seeds will have a chance to toast a little. These pancakes are good plain or with fruit toppings, and they travel well.

If you have a taste for this sort of recipe, I highly recommend a storage system that makes access and measuring easy. I have each of my dry ingredients in a wide mouth jar or plastic yogurt container….. And now, back to art quilts.

Below are my two newest abstract art pieces. Lullaby uses calm colors and a rocking repetition of shapes, similar to a melody in a song. The shape could be a cradle or a boat. Good Vibrations has a grounded earthy background and shows the nice interactions of two beings, represented by peach and jade green dancing chunks of fabric.

Art Plus Location

I have recently returned from a wonderful visit with my girl (old lady) cousins that took place in Lexington MA, near Boston. We did a great deal of talking and eating and seeing artwork. My dream vacation realized!  So even though some of the conversation had to do with aches and pains of old ladies,… Read more »

September in the Studio

    Above is the small mock up version of “Long View”. I have been working on the large version that, when complete, and remodeling to the building is done, will hang in the State Hospital in Evanston, Wyoming. It is 38 X 54 inches . I was able to use my usual ironing surface… Read more »

What to do next?

We grapple with this question over and over in our lives, year to year, day to day, and hour to hour. There are some big questions about what to do next, but there are the simple prioritize-my-time sort as well. Because it is summer, I’ve had difficulty smashing-cramming-condensing four hours of exercise and gardening into… Read more »

Adventure Abroad

In June I traveled overseas, and for twenty-five days was away from the safety and boring routines of home. The countries visited were Switzerland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary (cities – Zurich, Prague, Olomouc, Bratislava, Vienna, and Budapest). I was with my traveling cousin and the Gillette Chamber Singers. The experience was good, great, delightful,… Read more »

Weed Sort Plan

This blog is part two of a discussion about photographs. Do they bring you joy? If you didn’t read last month’s installment, you may wish to do that now. If weeding and oranganizing is not your thing, you can wait until next month, when I’ll be talking about who knows what, but it won’t be… Read more »


Once upon a time, for about 25 years, in the 70’s and 80’s and early 90’s mostly, I really enjoyed the process of making photo albums. This was an activity that “sparked joy”. The albums have been seen with some regularity over time, and do help to retrieve memories of those years.  However, there are… Read more »

I don’t get it

I have just finished a large abstract piece of art, created to hang in the stairwell of City Hall in Gillette. I am 63 inches tall, so at 68 inches high this pieces is taller than me, and broader also – 43 inches wide. Large artwork looks good in this space, and I have mostly… Read more »

Which Path is Best?

The future is unknown, and therefore not a sure thing. Do we proceed with caution, or take a bold leap of faith? At the end of this blog (after a Sowada recipe), there are a list of the conflicting words of wisdom we have grown up with. Most lean towards being careful. But first, I… Read more »

Put Yourself Out There

You won’t get into the show unless you enter the show. You won’t meet new people unless you expand your activities and try new things. Yeah, yeah, I know. And here’s two more – You won’t get the job unless you apply. You won’t find something lost, unless you go looking for it. Wouldn’t it… Read more »