Beth Markel

One piece at a time

Posted on June 4, 2021 by Beth Markel

Sometimes the hardest thing about making art is literally taking it one step at a time. For Jackson Pollock it was one layer at a time, one paint at a time, step back, evaluate, then the next big splash. Evaluate again. Splash. I love his work!

If you have ever admired an Old Master painter from centuries ago, you’ll know that many had apprentices who would lay the groundwork for the canvas, working at the initial layers of paint for backgrounds, figures, or scenery. When I first learned this I thought, “That’s cheating!” but then I realized it was also the only way some of the Masters were as prolific as they were, and it was excellent training for the apprentices.

In my case, the CHAOS piece I’m working on currently is a challenge in that each “block” is so small when sewn together (3/4″ x 3/4″) that it has to be absolutely precise. It’s like the large Lone Star quilts which have possibly 64+ seams across the top, and if each seam is “just 1/64” off, you know your quilt will have waves.

So my challenge is 3-fold: first, that the blocks I’m making today look enough like the blocks I began making last October & November that the quilt will be cohesive, even though it’s visual texture and chaotic.

Creative Chaos Day 1, 10_21_2020
June 1, 2021 ~ The Chaos continues. Is there continuity?

Second, because the blocks are often bias on at least 3 sides, they must be both precisely cut and precisely trimmed so the fabric bias won’t affect how they lay in the end.

Tedious trimming because of bias cuts

Third, I have to knuckle down when the blocks become tedious and just keep going. This is hard for me, as I like NEW challenges, and NEW projects, and NEW ideas. Squirrel! At this point my Grandpa Day’s voice rings in my head… “Suck it up, Buttercup, get it done.” He was usually referring to some menial task that to this day, I don’t love (like mopping!) but it’s also a foundational life lesson. Nobody became an Old Master in a day. It was years and years of work as an apprentice, sometimes perhaps tedious. No beautiful work of architecture was erected in a day. The garden at Versailles didn’t bloom in one day.

Each endeavour worth our time is also worth our best effort.

June 3, 2021

Make something beautiful – every day!





Michelle Weatherson on June 4, 2021

Absolutely spectacular Beth! I've been following your progress ont this piece since you started. I've been in awe of your tenacity and in awe of the outcome thus far. Love it!

Jill P Hoddick on June 4, 2021

This is amazing!!!!!!!!

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