Beth Markel

New Challenges

Posted on February 27, 2016 by Beth Markel

Like many of us, I believe, I’m always looking for new challenges.  New ways to express myself… my opinion, my perspective, my unique outlook on the world.  Each of us, literally, has our own voice, our own opinions, our own perspective, and our own utterly unique outlook.  Too many times in our fast-paced culture, and 2-minute sound-bite-news, we gloss over looking too deeply into anything.  Sometimes art makes us think.  Sometimes art makes us uncomfortable.  And sometimes art just makes us stop and take stock.

This is one of those times for me.

I’m currently working on 3 projects.  First, a local historical building, for our small art group.   This has been a cool project to do, because I’ve looked – really looked – at a building I’ve been in and out of at least 1,000 times.  I’ve noticed the brick work above, but never once saw the striped awning below the big green awning of Green’s art supply.  How could I have missed that…it’s STRIPED, for heaven’s sake?

Greens Finished

Green Pic

Next is this curvy piece I’ve had in a To-Do box for at least a year.  It’s from a Nancy Crow workshop, and while I loved the curvilinear pieces, I hadn’t done anything with them until now.  The “blocks” are not sewn together yet, but I have a pretty clear direction of where this is headed.

What's on YOUR design wall?



Finally, the 2nd in a 4-piece Seasons of our lives Series, “Summer.” The first piece, “Spring Storm” won an award at Road 2 California last month, which was thrilling!  I’ll keep you posted, but so far, each 18″ “block” has roughly 300-350 pieces in it.

So why stop in the midst of busyness and deadlines?

It’s the curvilinear piece.  I have seen some beautiful pieces using this technique, but all I wanted to do when I opened the To-Do box was get through the exercise.  Finish the assignment from the workshop.  Do it without a lot of thought.  Now that it’s on my design wall and I’m piecing the curvy stripes into sort-of-blocks, I find I’m not pleased with it.  It’s too simple, too elementary – it doesn’t speak to me, but I think it wants to!

While I’m pondering this, I find myself stopped – because I don’t want to waste my short time here making “ordinary” things.  I want to make EXTRAORDINARY things.  Art that sings.  Art this speaks to what I’m feeling.  Art that makes other people ponder…

What if…

What now…

What does that image represent to me..

How does that make me feel?

Create something beautiful – every day,




Kim Wolf on February 27, 2016

Anything you make will be special, because it has your finger prints all over it. Love you. B

alison schwabe on March 4, 2016

You know, Beth, the work in your To-Do Box was from a workshop, you don't have to put all those sample bits together into a finished piece - they really don't enhance each other. I'd suggest putting those bits away out of sight, on the understanding that some of those pieces might be useful some time in the future... Right, now with those out of the way, take some time to really study the amazing things people are doing with improvisational piecing. You could spend some time drawing curved lines in squares to come up with a repeat unit/block ideas, and then carefully choose fabrics you'll use to put a quilt together. Consider ways to break up a unit further to add some complexity - you can have fun with colours that seem to cross over a line making it seem to disappear. Explore adding in slivers of colour, and learning how to feature wandering inserted strips.

Beth Markel on March 6, 2016

Thanks, Alison - I think the advice is spot-on. The curvilinear pieces have such potential, but I believe you're correct that they don't all have to play together in the same sandbox, or, as you said, they really don't enhance each other.

Leave a Comment