Thursday, April 9, 2015

Teacher Feature - Katie Pasquini Masopust

I had the pleasure of attending a composition class taught by Katie Pasquini Masopust, put on by one of my local traditional quilt guilds, NMQA. Katie opened the class by asking the students whether we considered ourselves right (creative) or left brained (logical), and whether we were traditional or art quilters. Ummm...I'm still waiting for some more options. She requested that we work in silence while listening to classical music. 
For someone who takes classes as much for a social outlet, as an educational experience, this was a bit torturous for me. Call me dramatic, but my typical creative environment involves much more, "Mom, look at this six-eyed alien!" than Mozart. Quiet really creeps me out since it usually means a roll of toilet paper is being tossed into the toilet or crayons are being applied to a medium other than paper. If I'm listening to orchestral music, and not getting a massage, I feel cheated. Apparently others do not feel the same way, because as I was commenting on how the satiny fabrics in Katie's quilts make the quilting stand out during a casual showing of her work, I got a serious shushing. How about you? Does classical music and silence put you in your right brain, or your unconscious brain? Tirade aside, Katie is incredibly talented and I'd like to show you a peek at some of her painting-inspired work from her aforementioned trunk show.
While Katie identifies herself as an art quilter, rather than a modern quilter, I consider the techniques she teaches very applicable to the modern aesthetic. I thought I'd share some of the concepts she presented, and some of the activities you could try in the comfort of your own home. For the first exercise, Katie had us select a magazine photo and a prepared set of fabrics prepared with paper-backed fusible that fit one of the color schemes shown in the section of her handout below. If you are following along at home, you may want to print a color wheel to assist with color selection.
I picked a photograph of a bridge and a bag of fabrics with a split complementary color scheme.
Next, we determined the compositional layout of the photo using a handout she provided (below). I determined that my photograph had a "Vanishing" composition.
Katie had us draw a border on our paper (a rectangular frame just inside the edges of the paper). She showed us a trick for scaling our paper to the proportions of our photo. Align the photo with the bottom and left-hand edges of the paper. Line up a ruler from corner to corner of the photo, and draw a line until you reach the edge of the paper. Draw a line straight across the page from this point. The smaller rectangular section will be outside the drawing parameters.
Then, we created a rough line drawing of our photograph that emphasized the compositional layout. Here's mine, which I retraced with permanent marker.
Next, we retraced our drawing to make a duplicate copy. Using the second copy, we cut our sketch on the lines so it resembled a jigsaw puzzle. Each piece was picked up individually, flipped to the reverse side, traced onto the fusible paper backing of whatever fabric we wanted to use. We cut out the fabric shapes, peeled off the paper backing, and fused the pieces onto copy paper. I'd like to interject some advice at this point. Using Heat & Bond on paper resulted in an unreliable hold, and a confetti-like scattering of pieces post-class. I would advise using Steam-a-Seam, and replacing the paper foundation with an inexpensive cotton fabric such as muslin. Also, instead of tracing multiple copies, I would make photocopies to save time.
Here's what my classmates created for the first exercise.
The samples have been organized by color scheme.
Alternative color schemes Katie mentioned were two warm colors plus one cool color, and two cool colors plus one warm color. She noted that cool colors receed, and warm colors appear to come forward. 
For the next activity, we picked another magazine photograph. Here's what I chose.
Katie asked us to create four frames on a piece of copy paper. In the first, we were to represent the photograph with circles. In the second frame, we used rectangles. The third represented the photo with triangles. In the final frame, a combination of circles, rectangles, and triangles was used.
After that, we picked our favorite, and redrew it on a full sheet of copy paper.
The next step was creating an improved version on a separate sheet. To accomplish this, Katie suggested to "engage the edge" which meant to have things that appear to extend past the edge of the piece, to add contrast, and to fill the negative space (SACRILEGE!). I took the later with a grain of salt, meaning I disregarded it entirely, because I love my negative space. Besides, were else is my crazy town quilting going to party down?
Finally, we were to create a simplified version to be used as a pattern for another fused sample.
My previous picture was as far as I got in class. Some would argue this was due to my frequent snack breaks and lack of silent focus. "Chest la vie," I would say. (Probably, just to break the uncomfortable silence.) Lucky for you, there were some well-behaved students who got more of their class work finished. How about some examples from those gals?
For students that finished both of these activities, Katie instructed them to make a new version of the second project that was based on an enlarged portion of the picture.
I think Katie's activities are very good ways to generate design ideas, and apply artistic principles to my quilts. I also love the samples I created, and could certainly see them as quilts.
So, what do you think? Are you going to try out these activities? Do you have a favorite from the student samples? Do you pick classes where you can visit with your friends, or do you value concentrated focus?
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  1. I guess when I am working at home it is usually concentrated focus. But if I'm going to be in a class, cozy noisy works best for me!

  2. I often work in complete silence. I usually work in the still of the night. But, when I am surrounded by people, I can't stand quiet. I want to chatter and socialize. I like working when talking to others. For some reason, I find classical music jarring instead of relaxing. I find there is so much going on with the music its hard to concentrate on other things. But, this sounded like a neat class!

  3. Wow I love these activities! Thank you so much for sharing. I'd love to try them some day but at the moment I have too many ideas and not enough time!!!! I'm determined to make an art quilt one day though. Have yiu seen the work of Ruth de Vos I think she uses a similar piecing method as you described. Thanks again for taking the time to write these out.