Virtual Retreat

Last month I showed you a new piece called Water and Stone. I liked the color and shine of the darkest blue fabric very much, so I was interested in using it again in another piece, continuing to explore the subject of water. I wanted to build a beautiful background. Against this would be a foreground circle made of the dark blue fabric. The background would use blue and brown fabrics, dark at the bottom, gradually lighter and lighter to the top. When I selected my fabrics, I would think about water and mud.

I was feeling a little intimidated by the blank “canvas”, so it was a perfect time to participate in a virtual retreat! The other artists would be kind and encouraging.

I belong to the Front Range Contemporary Quilters group, most of whose members live in Colorado. Every couple of months there is an all day virtual retreat. (These were a perfect thing to start in 2020.) It’s a nice way for an artist to get a jump on a new project, by devoting a full day to it. The participants zoom together three times during the day, for about an hour each time. In the morning we set our goals and share them with the group, mid-day we check in, and at the end of day we talk about what we got done. I knew that I wanted to make a vertical piece about 54 X 34 inches, and use fabrics from my stash.

By the end of the virtual retreat day, I had the back muslin cut and ironed, all the blue and brown fabrics selected and ironed, and a start on the placement of the pieces (beginning with the larger ones). It took a little over a week for me to complete the piece. I ended up liking the simple soothing background so much as it was that I decided against putting a dark blue circle in the composition. It is ironic that the fabric that inspired the idea was not used in the piece!


Many of the fabrics in this piece suggest living things. That is why I decided on the title Genesis. All of the applique and quilting was done by hand. I used contrasting thread values so that it would be seen and add to the blending of values over-all. You can see this in the detail images.


bottom portion
Middle portion
top portion

A virtual retreat is a way to feel connected and get lots of support. Even though you can’t share your tea, wine, or dark chocolate, it is definitely worthwhile!

The recipe this month is very simple (less is more). The ingredients are cooked winter squash and unsweetened coconut milk (I use Thai Kitchen coconut milk in a carton) Curry Soup: The squash could be butternut or acorn. We grew Japanese pumpkin, delicata and jumbo pink banana squash this year. They all have excellent flavor! I will not be giving you quanities of ingredients this time around. Combine soft cooked squash and coconut milk to make a thick soup consistency. I use a blender, but you don’t need to. Add salt, pepper, and curry powder to taste. Heat until warm and enjoy! Yum Yum.


Joan Sowada standing in front of Genesis, holding Japanese Pumpkin and Jumbo Pink Banana Squash

5 Responses to Virtual Retreat

Patty Hawkins

You are always so generous describing your processes, choosing fabrics,
Deciding to show hand stitching, purposefully! Sharing your choice for
Title was so appreciated too!
Our CA daughter Melissa would be enthralled at your growing
Delicata squash! Thanks!


The description of your virtual retreat was fun to hear – I love the beginning, middle and end check-in process of it! Great photo of you – fun to incorporate all (new piece, YOU and your squash for the recipe) in one photo!!! Happy Fall, Joan!

Christy Gerrits

Very nice picture of your produce and you! It is always fun to hear about what thought processes go into your art. Thank you for sharing!

Jean Miller

I just love hearing all that you have to say about your projects. I can’t believe it has been 16 + years since we have really spent time together. I really miss the positive surroundings you create in your space.

Joan Sowada

Thank you kind readers of the Sowada blog.
I’m glad that you enjoy the hearing about the process.


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