Friday, April 22, 2011

Velda Newman: Living large!

I've been a Velda Newman fan for a long time, so when I heard she would be teaching at the SSQA Symposium, I signed up for a two-day class.
Often referred to as "the Georgia O'Keefe of quilters", Velda enjoys making big flowers on big quilts. I mean really big! She generously brought her latest work to share. This is "Zinnias"", which measures 8' x 18':
It was almost impossible to find a place to hold it up...thank goodness for the extra 2 feet allowed by that sunken seating area in the hotel lobby!
The cameras were clicking away and several non-quilter guests at the hotel also had to come in for a closer look. Can you believe this is hand quilted? There is a fair amount of machine work, too, but I was really amazed at how much Velda does by hand.

So what's the secret? (hah! even if we knew all the "secrets" could we still pull this off???)
Painting on fabric,which was the topic of the classes. But not a painted picture that is then quilted all over. No, all the flowers (or fish or vegetables or many other natural figures she loves)  are appliques made from painted fabric.

Of course, I didn't know any of this when I signed up for the class. I decided it was a great opportunity to take a class with a famous art quilter, and would be an excellent challenge.
Boy, was I right about that last part!
Of the 19 people in the class, only 3 of us had never painted before. I am pretty sure the oil-paint-by-numbers when I was a kid do not count. Nor do the hours of watching Bob Ross paint happy little trees on TV.
Let me say right away that Velda is a great teacher, despite whatever talent her students displayed. And I do know about teaching! She gave good demos and then set us to work. As she constantly circled the classroom she met each person at the level they needed...helpful encouragement for the beginners, or pertinent critique for the experienced artists.

We worked from patterns Velda provided. Here are some of the students using Nature's lightbox!
Once the pattern was drawn on the fabric we sprayed it with water to get it nice and damp, then painted with acrylics. First up was the apple:

This is where we learned why the hairdryer was on our supply list! The color will bleed out quite a bit if it just air dries.
The first and second day went pretty well, but by the third day we blew the fuses in the hotel.
Yes, I had such a good time in my 2-day class, I went back in the for third day as an observer. I was able to pay better attention to things like how to handle the brushes and paint, but it was really fun to watch everybody trying to get their hairdryer going before the others...only one or two could be used at the same time!
We did color washes:
We also learned Velda's technique of adding texture with stitching before the painting is done:
This is a basket. We also made some lemons with a gridded texture, and used distressed cheesecloth to create the skin on a melon. After the sewing comes the painting for color and dimension.

We made leaves, tulip petals, and a sea shell.
The Saturday class made fish and peaches and a conch shell. The hotel staff and various guests wandered through from time to time, intrigued by all the things we had drying on the floor:
If you have a chance to take a class with Velda, I would highly reccommend it! I certainly have a lot to learn about painting, but the techniques I learned are definitely ones I'll be using.
And the inspiration was multiplied by everyone in the class having a wonderful time together!

No comments: