One of the perks of living in Colorado is having ready access to the amazing number of highly talented fiber artists that live and create in the Front Range area.
In Boulder alone, there are so many textile and mixed-media fiber artists that when I attended the annual open studios tour last fall, I couldn't even get to them all.
One stop on the tour I made it a point to reach, though, was the home studio of quilt artist Judith Trager, whose work has appeared in many major exhibitions including Quilt National, Art Quilts at the Sedgewick, Crafts National, The Quilted Surface, and the International Quilt Festival.
Judith is also an enthusiastic and sought-after teacher and lecturer, and I wasted no time finding opportunities to have her share her knowledge with Quilting Arts readers.
Judith is particularly well-known for her landscape quilt designs, so I was thrilled when she agreed to make a Quilting Arts WorkshopTM video, "Designing Landscape Quilts: Quilt Art Techniques Simplified."
Judith is such a good teacher. She gives clear, easy-to-follow advice and directions for making a landscape quilt, from choosing the inspiration and fabrics, to creating the composition.
She generously took the time to offer some insight on her approach with Quilting Daily readers.
Q. Why are artists in general attracted to landscapes?
A. We are very aware of our general surroundings and choose to celebrate the beauty of them.
Q. What are the differences or even advantages in rendering a landscape in fabric and stitch rather than paint or other media?
A. Differences--well, time for one. Paint takes a much shorter time. In stitched landscapes we work very hard to replicate the line and the "brush strokes" that we could get more quickly and easily using brush and paint. We use the stitch line as our "paint" using a variety of threads and colors to make the landscape lively and attractive.
Q. On the video, you say the secret to landscape quilts is simplifying. What are some of the tools you use simplify what you see?
A. I edit out things that are superfluous to the landscape as in using a straight piece of fabric (like the yellow line on the sunflower quilt) instead of making little bushes along the horizon line). I don't put leaves all over the tree--it abstract by making it simpler with just a few leaves and leaving the viewer to bring to the piece the "idea" of a tree.
Q. How important is value in creating a successful fiber art landscape?
A. One needs to be guided by what one sees. Not all skies are blue, not all trees are green. Contrast is vital, and the sequence of dominance rule applies when we work with value.
Q. Is there a trick or technique you use to help you choose the right values?
A. Again, I trust my inner sense of contrast to make things work.
Q. What is the biggest mistake most people make when attempting a landscape?
A. Being too literal.
Q. What is your best tip?
A. Use good source material and don't make your landscape too detailed. Let the viewer bring their ideas to the piece and it usually works.
I learned a lot right there, and I hope you did, too. To get her complete tutorial, you can download Judith's WorkshopTM video Designing Landscape Quilts: Quilt Art Techniques Simplified, now, or order the DVD.
What are some of your favorite tricks for simplifying landscape design? Leave a comment below and link to one of your quilts!