Quilting Portraits in the Landscape

Quilting Portraits in the Landscape

“Personal Places–Portraits in the Landscape” focused on working from photos to depict a story through an art quilt accomplished during the week. Our class was small, but that turned out to be a blessing. This class is very intense, there is a lot of information to process in five days.

I begin the class by having the students create the canvas; in this case the canvas is a landscape. They have two days to get it under construction and then they move on to the eight layer/value portrait. I always work with my students before class to help them select a photo that they want to recreate. Often we go through many photos before we come up with the right one. We can use a photo with a portrait/background/landscape that is the original photo or we can take two different photos and overlay them so that they make one.


Debbie M. had this photo of her husband Jim in a beautiful setting. We tried isolating him and putting him in other landscapes, but this one was by far the most satisfying. Keep in mind that these are unfinished pieces. The white around Jim will be cut away and he will be attached to the landscape and then quilted. I can’t wait to see this one finished.


This is Gretchen and her piece. Gretchen’s landscape was by far the largest in the class. We had a problem in the beginning because she didn’t have the best sky fabric. I always bring fabric from my stash just in case. This piece made her landscape. Great Job.


Jane took my class last year and did a great job finishing her landscape and the portrait of her granddaughter (shown about her head), She chose an ambitious project for a beginner to undertake. Three people in one piece takes a while to finish. Jane decided that she wanted to come back this year to refresh her memory. She has the second portrait almost done with one more to go. This is going to be stunning when it is finished. Jane is going to either quilt or applique sea oats behind the kids.


Jan really moved along with her piece. Here she has the background almost finished. She used some roving to add a little sparkle to the water and a shadow by the driftwood on the beach. Jan was worried that the portrait wasn’t looking like her grandson, August. Look at the two of them side by side. See any resemblance? She wrote this week that the piece will soon be done. I love it when a student gets into the class so much that they keep going when they get home.


Lucy registered for the class a week before it started, so she had a lot of preparations to complete in a week. She had trouble finding digital photos because she and her husband usually only take photos of landscapes. I totally understand that because I tend to do the same thing. However, I finally decided to have her take a photo of her husband, and he one of her, and we came up with a merged image that worked. Lucy’s husband had something to do with the restoring of the lighthouse in the background, so this landscape was important to them.

Lucy had the most incredible piece of batik that worked beautifully for the trees in the background. It is one piece of fabric cut into shapes to resemble trees. Lucy wasn’t happy with the sky fabric, but she left it there for this class. When we were almost through she said the fabric was growing on her and she might leave it as is. I’m kind of agreeing that this looks pretty good. Lucy is an artist and it usually doesn’t take me long to spot my artist. This was very apparent in the placing of her light and dark against each other to make the trees look realistic. Another great job.

Class Photo

What a great class!


Marilyn Wall is a fiber artist and Folk School instructor who lectures and teaches in the Southeast. She has exhibited her work both regionally and nationally and was commissioned to design and construct a wall hanging as a permanent installation at South Carolina Botanical Gardens in Clemson, SC. Marilyn’s next class at the Folk School is January 6-12, 2013 “Art Quilt: Fabricating Nature.”

No Comments

Post A Comment