I would like to introduce you to Eileen Wintemute in this first in a series of interviews with local artists. Eileen does beautiful watercolor paintings and fiber art quilts. Enjoy getting to know her.
How do you describe yourself as an artist?
I am a fiber artist and watercolorist, because those media are the primary ones that I work in. By fiber art I mean working with fabric and textiles.
Tell me about your work.
I create original paintings or fiber art pieces based on something I have seen or experienced. I often use one of my watercolor paintings as a starting point for a fiber art piece. The fiber piece is a more abstracted version of the subject. I try to do several pieces on the same subject, such as working in a series since it allows me to create different interpretations of a theme.
What pathway have you taken to develop your art?
I have loved working with fabric and drawing since I was a child. In my adult life I began two separate hobbies from these interests: quilt making and watercolor painting. Those two separate hobbies converged and they now "feed" each other. An idea in one media feeds a desire to do something similar in the other.
What inspires you?
Natural beauty, strong value contrasts, interesting curved shapes, and warm/cool color combinations inspire me.
What do you want to communicate with your art?
I want to communicate the warm, happy feeling that you get inside when you see something you like.
Do you teach?
Yes, I teach beading on fabric and sewing fundamentals. I also use my blog posts to teach art quilting techniques.
How do you plan a project and develop a layout?
I endeavor to work in a series by making several paintings and/or fiber art pieces based on a common subject. I also continually jot down ideas for new project possibilities. When its time to start something new, I look at this idea book and pick something that I feel excited to make. Then I consider ways to link it to a series I am working on.
Once I have my project concept, I pull out reference materials, such as photos or sketches and start sketching on paper. I arrange different elements in the sketch and jot down technique ideas. Ultimately I develop a final drawing for what I want to create.
After the drawing is finalized, I choose my color palette. Watercolor painting comes in handy here. I usually prepare several thumbnail versions of my drawing and try out different color combinations using watercolor paints on paper. This is a fast method for choosing what colors I want to use in the piece.
When I have selected colors I make a larger, loose watercolor sketch as my color plan. I post this color plan in my studio while I work on the fiber piece. Sometimes I print my color plan on fabric to use as a label for my art quilt.
One of my rules is to use a limited palette for my art work. I usually have three main colors in the piece. With my color plan handy, I go through my fabric stash and pull out candidate fabrics. I am looking for light, medium and dark values in each of the colors. I am also looking for fabrics with different textures to give the piece more visual interest.
In addition to fabrics, I also think about what type of surface embellishment I might want to add to enhance and "jazz it up". I refer back to my initial notes, add ideas as I go through the construction process and jot down thoughts on a piece of paper taped to my studio wall so I won't forget them.
Once I have the sketch and color plan done, the real fun begins. I enlarge the sketch to my desired finished size, make freezer paper "pattern pieces" and start cutting the fabrics for the fiber piece. I use a combination of hand and machine appliqué for constructing the fiber art piece. I machine quilt using free motion techniques and I often include decorative stitches. After machine quilting, I either sew on a binding or facing to finish the edges. I complete the piece by adding beads or other surface embellishments.
I love finishing a quilt because, in my world, any day you finish a quilt is a good day. Of course, it means its time to start the next project!
Please visit Eileen Wintemute’s Blog to see more of her design and layout tips, watercolor and fiber art work. http://eileenwintemute.blogspot.com/
Eileen’s work can also be appreciated on the 5Artistic Expressions Blog: http://5artisticexpressions.blogspot.com/
By: Deborah Stanley http://deborahstanleyinspirations.blogspot.com/