September in the Studio


Long View 10 X 14 inches


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 after all (a kitchen counter), also exactly 38 inches edge to edge. That was lucky!


First Draft Large


After all the beginning fabrics were fused down it looked like this (First Draft Large). Many of the elements were the same, but did not look as I wished, because the scale of the piece requires more.  I wanted to retain the spontaneous feel of the small piece, but needed to add detail to the total. It looked too flat, and I did not like the cloud. And obviously, the large version has a lot of square inches! I could improve the cloud, but decided to go another direction with the sky, as you will see in the Second Draft Large.

I made changes in the hair, coat, glove and pants of the woman. I made changes to the hat and shirt of the smallest figure. I made changes to the hand, coat, and highlighted leg of the middle figure. I changed the sky, and much prefer the lyrical quality of the repeating gentle curves. I made the shadow on the ground darker ( using fabric markers mostly), added many new pieces to the ground making it more interesting and textured, and added rocks and shadows. I made changes right at the horizon line that simplified the lightest part of the sky.


Coat detail




Leg detail










Above are detail photos of the woman’s coat and the middle figure’s leg. I thought that the highlight on the coat was too subdued, so I added some of the brighter golden fabric. I thought that the highlight on the leg was too bright, so I added some of the more subdued sage dotted fabric. (I altered the brightness of each, using the same two fabrics.) If you look closely on the Coat detail photo, you will see a small bit of batik fabric on top of the same batik.This little bit had more contrast in the values, which I liked in that  exact spot. Traditional quilters have the term fussy cutting to describe this way of using a fabric. I do fussy cutting all the time!

Occasionally I must remind myself of something important. My medium is fabric! So if I want to bend a stripe I can do it by making a pleat! Below is a detail photo of the sky pleats, and another detail that shows pleats on the ground. I thought that if I was going to do this weird technique, it needed to look very intentional. So….. more pleats, more pleats on the piece.


Sky detail

Ground detail (by top two rocks)










Below is a photo of Second Draft Large. I have done about 1/4 of the applique’, and none of the quilting. Many more changes will happen as a result of applique’, thread painting, quilt stitching, and a border added as well. Next month I will show you the finished piece. And I promise a better quality of photo.


Second Draft Large


Recipe for Sweet Potato Pancakes: I buy most of the ingredients at my grocery store. I buy the tapioca flour at my health food store. I start with a baked (cooled) sweet potato. I smash about half a potato (1/2 – 1 cup). To this add: one egg, 1/2 c. almond milk, 2t. vanilla and 1 T. honey. Mix well. Add the following and stir well: 1/4 c. ground flax seed,1/2 c. almond meal,1/4 c. finely shredded unsweetened coconut,1/4 c. tapioca flour,1/4 t. each salt and baking powder. If batter is too thick, add more almond milk. Melt coconut oil on a hot griddle, and cook pancakes. These are very moist and sweet, so are delicious in the naked form.

2 Responses to September in the Studio

Patty Hawkins

How fascinating
And typical of the way “we” work’
Liking the first draft but enlarging
Realizing more is needed
This change/add/ etc! Your pleat idea did the trick too!
Hurrah! And congrats for the commission!????of course your eye for using prints is amazing!
Patty H

Joan Sowada Art

Thanks Patty.

I applied for the Public Art opportunity in Wyoming, and became a finalist. The committee gives preference to Wyoming Artists, which is fortunate, because there are fewer of us to compete against.
There were two finalists and we both were given part of the commission, which is extensive and in more than one building. I will be working on two smaller pieces early next year.



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