“Tecumseh” is a commission for a woman living in New Hampshire. Susan recently purchased her home and wanted artwork that reflected the beautiful scenery outside her windows and would fill a large space created by a cathedral ceiling. Susan knew of my work through her brother, Jay McKay, a painter who had a studio in my building. Jay paints beautiful, atmospheric city scapes. Susan sent me this photo of Mt Tecumseh to give me an idea of what she had in mind.
When I make an art quilt, most of the time involved takes place in the designing phase. As I thought about this quilt, I thought about why she chose me to create a piece. Certainly one element was size – the cathedral ceiling in the room means there is a large space viewed from above and below. We agreed to use 5 feet wide x 3 feet tall as a starting place. I also thought about the distinction between a painting and a quilt, which for me meant that piecing would play an important role. Finally, we spoke a bit about seasonal changes, and I suggested somehow including the full range of the seasons in the piece.
I started with a sketch of my concept and shared this with Susan along with two small landscape pieces so she could have an idea of the textures added with quilting.
I knew I wanted to use a color wash format and experimented with scraps to previewstrip piecing vs diamonds. The diamonds work better to blend the colors.
I shared a photo with Susan of the fabrics I planned to use and began cutting diamonds and grouping them by color
Next I began creating a grid using the batik diamonds and started to form the shapes of layered hills.
As the color wash grew, I spent many days making adjustments. First the adjustments were large scale. Gradually they became smaller tweaks. Finally, I declared it ready for piecing. Even with all this planning, I still ended up unstitching many pieces!
Once everything was pieced together, it was time to add quilting. The stitching adds texture, defines shapes and helps blend the colors even more. I cut out some paper tree forms to get a feel for what scale to use when adding tree shapes.
With quilting I added trees, clouds, and other textures to suggest and define the mountain shapes.
The quilt now hangs in a room with a cathedral ceiling, reflecting the view from the window that overlooks Mt Tecumseh.