Kitty's iris garden on Samish Island

Kitty’s iris garden on Samish Island

This iris is called 'Moonlit Water'

This iris is called ‘Moonlit Water’

We picked a cool day for our trip up north to Samish Island to paint in our friend Kitty’s iris garden.  Her irises are just starting to bloom.  It was rather nice, actually, to have fewer irises to gaze at.  In another week or two, there will be so many colors and varieties vying for our attention.

This is such an inspiring place, lovingly tended, overlooking the Sound.  I am loving painting irises this year.

More photos from Kitty's and Steve's garden

More photos from Kitty’s and Steve’s garden

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Painted in the garden

Painted in the garden

From Kitty's porch during a rain shower

From Kitty’s porch during a rain shower

 

 

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A Spring Day So Perfect

June 11, 2013

View from Samish Island

View from Samish Island

Snow-capped Mount Baker seen from the Skagit Valley

Snow-capped Mount Baker seen from the Skagit Valley

Mount Baker viewed from Bonnie's back yard

Mount Baker viewed from Bonnie’s back yard

Cows grazing, Skagit Valley

Cows grazing, Skagit Valley

Today
by Billy Collins

If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze

that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house

and unlatch the door to the canary’s cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,

a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies

seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking

a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,

releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage

so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting

into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book with quilts from the exhibit

I made a day trip to Bellingham last week to see a quilt exhibit at the Whatcom Museum — American Quilts: The Democratic Art 1780 – 2007.  The exhibit, which runs through October 28, 2012, displays about 30 quilts from Robert Shaw’s book of the same title.  I wasn’t allowed to photograph the quilts in the exhibit, but you can see a few of them at this link.

The exhibit showcased mostly traditional pieced or appliqued quilts, such as the log cabin, grandmother’s flower garden, flying geese, whole cloth, Hawaiian quilts, etc. I was most struck by two things — first, how many of these cherished quilts were labelled “unknown quilter” — prized by collectors, but makers unknown.  And second, the quality of the hand-stitching — so small and regular.  These days, so many quilts are machine-quilted.  I still do hand-quilting, but I don’t take the time to make my lines of quilting so close together.  These quilts must have had five- or ten-times as many quilting stitches as any one of mine.  Impressive!

I very much enjoyed my first visit to the Lightcatcher Museum, one of three buildings that comprise the Whatcom Museum.  Its most striking feature is a curved translucent wall, which creates a radiant and luminous atmosphere in the building.

The Whatcom Museum, Bellingham, WA

Lightcatcher Museum, the venue for the American Quilts exhibit

Entering the exhibit space

Courtyard in the Lightcatcher Museum

Courtyard bounded by curved, translucent wall

The next time I come I will be sure to eat lunch at the museum cafe.

My day of quilts was just half over.  One of my new friends, Bonnie, arranged for a small group to see some Joan Colvin quilts at the private home of Colvin’s son and daughter-in-law on Samish Island.  Joan created “art” quilts.  She had a painterly eye, using fabric to evoke a Northwest color palette in the scenes she created from Nature:  “What is joyful, what delights me about fabric composition is that colored and textured fabrics have their own symbolism.  Though they may speak in different contexts, they lie in wait for me to find their meaning and voice through juxtaposition.” — from Nature’s Studio by Joan Colvin

Here are the Joan Colvin quilts from her family’s private collection:

This abstract quilt was highly textured.

One of Joan Colvin’s signature Nature quilts

Detail, heron

“Sea Blooms” by Joan Colvin

Detail, free-form machine quilting

Joan Colvin quilt with koi

Joan Colvin quilted wall hanging

Trees were another of Joan Colvin’s motifs

One of Joan’s earlier pieced quilts, hand-quilted

My favorite of all — Joan Colvin’s crab quilt made for her son

Colvin created texture and depth by layering sheer fabrics over cottons, and she embellished this quilt with pearl seeds