Evening Meal

Art quilt by Allison Wilbur Painting egret in white with a background of leaves and a foreground of lily pads. The great has caught a frog

Evening Meal

Predator and prey live in balance, both sustaining and ending life. This whole cloth quilt began as a drawing, was shaped with machine quilting, and brought to life with fabric paints.

small art quilt by Allison Wilbur of water lily pads and lotus bud.

I began work on this quilt with a study of water lily pads and a lotus bud. I was working from a photo I had take in 1986 in Japan. I sent my mother a copy of this photos in the 1980s and she kept the framed photo in her bedroom. She also created a mono print with the photo as an inspiration, so working on this piece helped me feel connected to her after she passed. As an avid birder, I love seeing egrets in nearby marshes and on our Sunday morning walks.  I made a drawing, used a light box to transfer it onto fabric, stitched the design

In progress machine quilting of image of an egret stitched in black lines on a white background
Stitched image of an egret catching a frog. Black outlines on a white fabric.

You can see that the main forms were drawn in the image, but details like the leaves were stitched in freehand. While some people might see this as tedious, for me it is a meditative process. In some areas I used colored thread to begin to colorize the image. Particularly in areas like the water, lily pads and flowers.

Using Pro Silk fabric paint from ProChem I began painting in the forms. Multiple layers of paints, starting with the lightest colors, works best for shading. If I want the colors to blend together, I apply when wet. If I am looking for distinct line, I let the paint dry in between layers. Stitching the lines first creates a physical stopping point. It is much easier to stitch first and fill in with paint than to paint first and stitch on the exact outside of the forms.

Stitched and painted art quilt in progress showing egret standing in lily pads. The lily pad and leaves hanging from the trees above are painted green and large areas are still unpainted.
Art quilt detail photo showing the head of an egret with crown of feathers. The background is filled with leaves and mottled grey texture.

The last and most nerve wracking step was to color the background around the bird. I used a natural sea sponge dipped in grey paint to dab on a mottled texture. This was needed to set off the white bird and make it pop forward. As always, I was working against the clock and was very tired when I did this step. Sometimes you are so tired you lose some of your inhibitions and take risks, in this case, it paid off. This quilt is traveling with the exhibit, Flying High, organized by the Texas Quilt Museum.

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