Beth Markel

Happy New Year!

Posted on December 31, 2019 by Beth Markel

First, just let me wish everybody a happy and creative New Year!  I won’t go on about how quickly this year has gone by, but time does seem to be flying the older I get…just sayin’

If you have ever seen my work, or viewed the gallery link to modern quits here, you know that I love to work in an improvisational style, and very often with curves. I think the repetition of any motif (curves or blocks) can very happily be married to improv. For me, improv just means the freedom to work as I wish – a class I love to teach – No Rules, No Rulers!

For the past 2-3 months I’ve been working on a piece that is a block of 3 similar segments, done with different colors and different sizes, a couple very small, some medium, then the full block in 16″ squares:

2 smaller blocks of the same pattern. The top 2/3 is a complete block scaled down to 8.5" and the bottom block is scaled down to 6.5" x 8.5"

2 smaller blocks of the same pattern. The top 2/3 is a complete block scaled down to 8.5″ and the bottom block is scaled down to 6.5″ x 8.5″


A reminder of what the original block looks like with 3 distinct pieces, then I’ve riffed on size, stretching some of the very small blocks, making a number of blocks that I then sliced in 2 pieces, and finally where I am today.

One 16" x 16" block

One 16″ x 16″ block


Now some of the top left to middle left blocks are already sewn, as I liked the way they looked together, but I’m still struggling with the bottom row, as you can see:



And after 10 days of vacation and Christmas Merriment, still not happy with the bottom row. What I believe it lacks is BALANCE, so I will continue to tinker for the better part of the afternoon.  My goal was to have the top down by New Year’s Day, but I don’t think I’m going to make it – although it will be close.

Someone asked me recently why I set goals for some of the quilts I make even when they are not commission pieces. After a few moments, sipping coffee and trying to formulate an answer that was not idiotic, I replied that if I did not set goals for pieces I’m working on, it’s possible that I would never finish ANYTHING! Especially in improv, it’s easy to go down the rabbit hole of “just adding one more thing…” but for me that process would be never-ending. While I think it’s important to stretch yourself as an artist, try new techniques, take workshops, talk to people, study fine art, and sometimes think really outside your comfort zone, I also think it’s important to finish pieces. Learn from each work you make. Learn what you like, as well as what you did not like. Learn what color combinations become your own voice in art. Learn about yourself as you make this art journey, and remember that you are unique!

Happy New Year, and happy new making in 2020!






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