Sunday, February 26, 2012

The Garden and Still Lifes

Many centuries ago when I was an eight-year-old kid in Boise, Idaho, I went to Mrs. Hart’s house for afternoon art lessons. This lovely artist with a warm smile and wispy white hair converted an upstairs bedroom into a classroom. To venture through the door into her large victorian home was to enter a secret world. When I peeked my head through the door, the smell of oil paints enveloped me. I caught glimpses of strange and mysterious forms in the darkened rooms as I climbed the stairs. Mrs. Hart (Heart, in my mind) set up still lifes with extravagant objects from what seemed like a never-ending exotic collection, items that delighted the eyes with their shapes, colors, and designs.
        And then sometimes, we would go out into her beautiful garden or to the local park to draw landscapes. However, still lifes give me the most pleasure, so they seemed appropriate to express my garden’s abundance. Here is the beginning of the From My Gardenseries: "Fruits from My Garden" (Feb. 1996, 25" x 34" / 64cm x 84cm) includes grapes, figs, pomegranates, and that very bizarre fruit, quince. 
I think of quinces as "wanna-be" apples, however, one could break a tooth on them, they're so hard.  They redeem themselves by the fact that they make delicious preserves.
For those interested in the technical aspect, this piece is machine appliquéd, embroidered and quilted and contains some hand painted fabrics. 
            Along the way, I revisited one of those early still lifes from Mrs Hart's class. The original watercolor:
And the art quilt version, "Oranges from My Garden"(Sept. 1996, 43"x38" /96cm x 1m09):
Like the previous piece, this one is machine appliquéd, embroidered, pieced, and quilted with some hand painted fabrics. Notice that I did have to add the handle to the kettle--as an adult, I just couldn't let that detail get away. Yet somehow, this visit to the past brought Mrs. "Heart" and some of the magical moments of childhood into my present.
                          And the orchard, with this late variety of oranges, 
                             provides even more inspiration for still lifes. 
                              Maybe I'll get back to landscapes as well....







35 comments:

Ms. said...

Need I say lovely work--yes, yes it is...and, isn't it that childhood well that springs forth the most potent material. To have had a beloved teacher, as you have, and so have I (many times over) is a great legacy to mine and pass on.

Els said...

Yes Nadia, still lives are always fun! Really "a bit of life" put on a table to remember forever!
LOVE your brush strokes with fabric and needle !
I can imagine your early days art lessons are very sweet and precious memories to you now !!!

Laura said...

Love this piece, and love hearing about the strong memories it evokes. Do you paint and/or dye most of your own fabrics?

I planted two quince bushes a few years ago, but one died so I never have fruit-- I've never tried them, but I might have to get another bush planted this year!

MulticoloredPieces said...

Thanks to all who leave such encouraging comments, which are truly appreciated. In answer to Laura's question, I rarely dye fabric. I occasionally use acrylic paints on fabric because I like the variety that the painted fabric can add to a piece. My collection of fabric is mostly recycled flea market clothing accumulated over the years. I have an extensive variety in solids. The nice thing about flea market recycling is that the fabric is usually well-washed and has acquired the patina of age.
best, nadia

rtquilter said...

Beautiful work, Nadia! I love still life too but have not done any in years! Time to do some , I think- inspired by you! Thanks for this.

Katell said...

The "Oranges from my Garden" are fascinating, such a master of colors!

Muddling Through said...

Your artistry inspires and amazes me! Those pieces are just beautiful. I haven't had quince in years. As a child I delighted in the tartness (and didn't worry about breaking off a tooth). Your oranges look mighty good, too!

fiberchick said...

Lovely work... More close ups please!

liz said...

What a pleasure to read about your feelings for your lessons with Mrs Heart. You wrote so well. And I am sure Mrs Heart would be thrilled to see where your creativity has lead you. Beautiful.

Connie Rose said...

A great story and beautiful quilts. I especially like that they include both figurative and abstract elements. Are those orange trees yours? They're lovely!

Salsy said...

Wow Nadia! What a treat! I am so glad that you are sharing your work.

Roxanne said...

Your story about your times learning from Mrs. Hart made me smile. I just love the quilt you created.

O'Quilts said...

Wow...I am so inspired. When my brain comes back I am going do some fun things with thread embroidery. Great work! Mrs. Heart is beaming from above:) My guess...

susan christensen said...

Your Mrs. Hart reminds me of my beloved middle school art teacher, Mrs. Muriel Sater. She was the catalyst for my life-long love affair with painting and I still honor her memory so often. Your thread work in the still life with quinces is wonderful. And I can see landscapes with orange trees in your future! -sus

Rachaeldaisy said...

I so enjoyed hearing about your classrs with Mrs Heart. The quilts inspired by those times are so amazing. I just wish I could see them in real life so I could appreciate every little detail.

The Idaho Beauty said...

These two still lifes are wonderful, as is your story behind them.

Notjustnat said...

Beautiful memory and work here Nadia. I know you are an artist when I came upon your blog. Your quilts are real art quilts and the mosaic you have been making are art pieces too. Looking forward to see more of your creative still lifes - hugs Nat

Nifty Quilts said...

I love your use of plaids in your paintings! You tell a good story too.

norma said...

Wouldn't Mrs. Hart be delighted if she knew how much influence she had on you and how beautiful your quilted still lifes are? I love all the thread work on the first one and how you've incorporated patchwork into the second one. Great work, as usual!

jan said...

Love everything you've been doing, and lovely to hear the story about Mrs Hart

Emma said...

I had a neighbor called Mrs Hart in Princeton, NJ up to age 11 but no art lessons ;(

Lovely work & fabulous oranges!

Vivian said...

Your story of Mrs. Hart's home, describing your feelings while there and with her -- wonderfully descriptive, and I can easily picture it.
I'm pleased to add another comment with overwhelming praise of your lovely work. I wouldn't know where to start with a still life portrait from fabric.
This word is so overused these days, but your work is awesome!

Merilyn said...

Thankyou for sharing such a lovely part of your life and Mrs Hart! Your art quilts are quite magical and beautifully done!!!! I love the embroidery/stitching detail and the use of plaid fabric in your work too! You have a good eye!!!!
My favourite fruit is Quince, I use them a lot in Casseroles and of course Jams/Jellys etc. I've also made Pomegranate Jelly too, it's quite exotic!

Lorraine Young Pottery said...

WOW I am blown away by the machine appliquéd fruits!! I thought it was a brilliant painting at first...
shocked, I never knew things like that was possible with fabric.

Lorraine :-}

Linda A. Miller said...

Wonderful pieces, Nadia! I love the fresh approach of your appliques.

blandina (aracne) said...

Oh, multi-talented Nadia, I love your appliqués!

anne said...

Incredible and beautiful!!!!

Irma said...

j'adore tes fruits et surtout ton pîqué libre

khadijateri said...

I'm amazwd! Wow! Masha'allah!

Angela Recada said...

I so enjoyed your story about art with Mrs. H(e)art! And your art quilts are gorgeous. I can only imagine how they must look in person, with all the lovely appliques and stitching. I love your work!
xo
Angela

Sujata Shah said...

Nadia, How nice it is to read the story behind your artistic journey. I agree with everyone, your artistry is amazing both with words and in other forms of art. But it is how you combine them both is what makes my heart sing.

Thank you for sharing your talent.

lola ruiz said...

I love the colors in these works Nadia. It is interesting to see diferences in the three of them. "Fruits from my garden" is my favorite. I like the mix of plaids adding depth, the grapes green turquoise and how you "played" with the sewing machine over all.

You wrote that your fabrics are mostly recicled flea market clothes. Thank you for the idea!.

Kyra said...

What a gorgeous quilt!

May I invite you to visit the PublishYourQuilt project?

http://publishyourquilts.blogspot.com

Best, Kyra

ferne said...

You really are quite an amazing artist and it seems you can work with most any medium. I enjoyed visiting your blog!

annie said...

c'set magnifique, j'adore tes appliqués bravo