Saturday, October 1, 2011

Artist of the Month - Yvonne Malone

Apron Strings
This month's artist, Yvonne Malone expresses her creativity through beautiful colors and patterns.  Yvonne designs quilts, pillows, wall hangings and other textiles in her Chicago based studio where she lives with her family. Yvonne's children are just about the same age as mine; she has a son who is 15 and a girl that is 10. So, I know first hand what it's like trying to find time to create while keeping busy with two active children.

One of the most interesting things that I found about Yvonne's work are the great stories that go along with her amazing work. Each quilt that she designs has it's own story to tell.
Nested Boxes
This quilt has a sweet story;

"Have you ever been the recipient of a small gift that was packaged in many larger boxes, each wrapped to make you think you had finally reached the gift? Many years ago my grandfather gave my grandmother her engagement ring -- 50 years after their marriage -- packaged this way. She was laughing hard by the time she got to the tiny box, but let out a small gasp when she opened that box and saw the ring. As they say, the look on her face was priceless -- as was my grandfather’s delight."

When I asked Yvonne about her wonderful stories that go along with her quilts, she said:

"Sometimes my quilts begin with a story, my own or a client’s.  I love talking with people and listening to their stories about their life – family, work, travels, and other experiences.  With my quilts, I take something from that story and turn it into something visual.  For example, I recently completed three quilts for a family using the beautiful cotton shirts of their late husband and father. The first step was to sit down and ask them to tell me a bit about him.  He was a printer and appreciated quality in everything he did; one of the quilts took its cue from the printing presses he worked on.  When I look at art, architecture, gardens, I am always interested in the inspiration behind the finished project, so I decided to include those back stories on my website as well."

Line up the boxes

"The inspiration for this quilt came about when I saw a delivery person unloading his truck, searching for the right package.  Boxes were scattered about the sidewalk -- I simply organized them into neat rows and colored the boxes red for this quilt!"

Bands of Color
 Yvonne's quilts just seem to be the perfect blend of colors and patterns. She somehow manages to find that just right combination.  I asked her to explain her creative process and here is what she had to say;

"When I walk and look at buildings, gardens, etc., I appreciate what is before me for what it is, but I also see quilt patterns, color schemes, and quilting lines.  I try to sketch every day, even if only for a few minutes so that I can capture some of those patterns, write notes about color combinations and proportions, and jot down ideas about how I might translate the image into a quilt.  When I am ready to start a new project, I look back at those sketches – there are always several that I am particularly excited about – and start tweaking the idea.  Usually I start with pencil and paper, but may move to the computer – which is why every project seems to have a paper and electronic file, neither of which are complete by themselves!"

"Once I have the idea sketched out in black and white, I start playing with color, again sometimes with colored pencils, sometimes on the computer.  Then, I start pulling out fabrics and turning my studio on end!  Once I settle on fabrics I believe will work, I lay out and sew a sample block; this allows me to further refine fabrics and block dimensions.  Once everything is finalized, I begin making the quilt."

Cross Stitch
I remember when I first started drawing Zentangle, it seemed that patterns were everywhere. I can just imagine how Yvonne views the world. It's apparent in her detailed and creative work that she has a knack for seeing things that the rest of us may be missing. This ability to find the patterns in the world and translate them through her creative process is definitely a gift.

Pillows and Shams
Yvonne designs and creates custom pillows and shams to coordinate with her quilts. She is also beginning to write and publish patterns. In the next few weeks she will be introducing the first in a series of small quilt designs and quilts.

When I asked Yvonne what her most and least favorite part of her creative process is, here is what she had to say:

"The most favorite part of the work process for me is always at the beginning to middle of a project – from the design phase through the point where the quilt is coming together as you hoped it would.  It sounds easy here and sometimes it is, but more often than not, there are a lot of hours spent auditioning fabrics, looking at blocks up on the design wall, and playing with the design. My least favorite part is preparing the finished quilt top for quilting – the part where I am trimming any long threads and picking off stray ones so that they don’t show in the finished quilt; a very tedious process."

Look and Find

The Look and Find quilt is a great idea for a baby gift. The quilt will not only provide warmth and comfort for a child but also will provide hours of entertainment playing look and find games. "Can you find the bumblebee on the quilt?" How fun and original!

Yvonne is very excited to be a contributor for a book being released this fall. In late October, early November, the new book, Modern Blocks:  99 Quilt Blocks from Your Favorite Designers will arrive at quilt shops, bookstores, and online retailers.

If you would like to learn more about Yvonne and her beautiful work, visit her website Yvonne Malone Studios and her blog Playing With Fabric.  I hope that you enjoyed the Artist of the Month post!

"Find the pattern of Life." by Madi


Renee @ where the grass is greener said...

I love that X stitch one...way cool!

Connie said...

Hi Stacie! When you grab a second--you might want to hop on over to Dirty Footprints Studio. I gotta lil' surprise for ya!

BIG Hugs,

stacie said...

I won a Free Registration to Life Book!!! Thanks so much Connie!