Kit Robinson is a passionate quilter whose work reflects her love of color and nature. Though many of the quilts she creates reflect the beauty of the landscapes near her Colorado home, she also has a number of thought-provoking pieces that express her political views. Kit was kind enough to take the time to discuss with us these two diverse subject matters, her creative process, and more.
What inspires you to create?
I have always loved everything about fabric—the colors, the textures, and even just the feel of it. I enjoy painting my own fabric, and the serendipity in the colors created in one or more of these pieces can inspire me more than anything else. I love combining my painted fabric with commercial prints and hand dyes and seeing where that will take me. "City & Gas" was composed primarily of my own hand painted fabrics, along with a few batiks, sliced into strips and cut into random circles. To finish, I added the small rectangles for a focal point. Critics have found deep meaning in this piece, but I actually thought of the name when the finished quilt looked to me like a city floating in space with a gas station nearby.
Many of your quilts depict beautiful landscapes and nature scenes. What draws you to those themes?
Landscapes are my favorite quilts to create. Living in Colorado, I am blessed with beautiful surroundings on a daily basis. I also love making quilts about places I have never seen. I am not a terrific photographer, but luckily some of my friends are. Aaron Angert, a young friend of my son, currently lives in Denmark and also travels around the world. His avocation is photography, and he has given me permission to use several of his photographs. One of them resulted in "Monasterio de Catalina," a depiction of a vibrantly colored former monastery in Arequipa, Peru.
The fabric itself can also suggest more abstract imaginary scenes, such as in "Making a Stand," which I made for a friend who was making her own stand against cancer, and "Sisters," which was inspired by two groups of random fabric pieces that my sisters had independently sent me from different parts of the country.
A few of your quilts, such as "Bear Witness" and "It's Getting a Little Hot Down Here," evoke a very different feeling than your other quilts. What is the story behind these?
Sometimes my art expresses my feelings about what is going on in the world. In "Bear Witness," I tried to show how the flash and terrible beauty of weapons themselves seem to be aggrandized in the news reports of war, while the suffering of the myriad people affected is only marginally shown.
My son Alex is a climate scientist living in Spain, and my family has been hearing from him for years about the studies showing how serious climate change is becoming for our planet. "It's Getting a Little Hot Down Here," which used several leftover pieces from "Bear Witness," is my take on what may be coming for future generations.
What is your design process typically like?
I'm afraid I don't have a typical design process! It completely depends on the project at hand. Sometimes my composition is meticulously designed for a certain piece, such as a landscape from a photograph; other times I start throwing various fabrics up on my design wall and see what grabs my attention. I have frequently been told that I should work in a series, but I can't seem to stop myself from moving on to the next thing that interests me.
Choosing the fabric to use in the quilt is definitely my favorite part of the process. Finishing the quilt with a binding or an artist finish is my least favorite. I am also not very fond of burying the threads if the piece is going to a quilt show and the back has to be perfect, but I understand why it has to be done.
Please describe your studio space.
I have taken over various portions of our house—the largest spare bedroom downstairs for sewing, designing, and some fabric storage, plus a good-size storage room next to it, where there are stacked wire baskets of more fabric, and half and quarter yards of hand painted fabric hanging on the available walls so that all of the colors in each piece can be seen at a glance. A cabinet in the garage holds my painting supplies, and tables hang on the garage walls in readiness for a sunny day of painting fabric to come along. My Handi Quilter® Avanté now fills an indoor tiled porch on the main level. This porch has wonderful lighting and will be a perfect place to quilt if I ever get the time!
What is the one thing you couldn't create without?
I really couldn't create without the support of my family. They think everything I make is wonderful (It is so great to have an unbiased cheerleading team!), especially my granddaughter Cosette, who at age six is designing her own little quilts now and wants to spend all of her time at my house in the sewing room.
Finally, do you have a favorite quilting tip, trick, or technique you could share with us?
Most of my art quilts are created with a piece of interfacing as the base. This keeps them flat and square, and I don't ever need to be concerned about blocking. (If I did have to block my quilts, that would be my least favorite task!)
To see more of Kit's beautiful quilts, visit her website: kitsquilts.norova.com.
Featured quilts (from top to bottom): "City & Gas," "Monasterio de Catalina," "Making a Stand," "It's Getting a Little Hot Down Here," and "Bear Witness."