Finding Focus

May 19, 2010

Maria 2 (after cut)


 The results of Maria 2 have never sat quite right with me.  The subject of the art quilt, my great-grandmother Maria, is a favorite of mine.  In this old family photo she is standing on a hill,  maybe collecting dandelions with her granddaughters.  She just seems to have all the answers.  But in the quilt, something just seemed off.     

Since receiving Lyric Kinard’s,  Art + Quilt: Principles and Creativity Exercises,  my inner ‘critical’ eye has been on alert for proactive ways to improve my work.  Focus is something I’ve had to work on.   

 The  other day, while looking for work to send to a show, I came across Maria 2 again.  With my new perspective, I began folding back sections and realized its the ‘space’ that bothers me.  Maria was not the focus…there was too much going on around her.    

 A daring person (it runs in the family!), I took a deep breath and grabbed the rotary cutter.  I cut a good 6 inches off the top and right side and took a step back.  I liked the difference.       

Maria 2 (before cut)


Click on the images of Maria 2 before and after to open in a new window and larger format.  Zoom in and look at the details if you like.       

What do you think?  Do the changes work for you?  Do I need to do more?  Should I have left it alone?  Leave your suggestions below.     

For more art quilts of a cultural nature, please visit Cultural Cloth.



  1. nice changes! I agree that you’ve done the right thing. One thing to also keep in mind is the “implied line” that is created by the gaze of the figure in your piece. Your eye follows the gaze of your Grandmother- which leads you right out of the frame.
    I love the piece though!

    • I see what you mean Lyric…that is something to watch out for in the next piece.

  2. Love what the cut did for the “focus”. Really brings Maria to the center of attention and allows details to become more important. Good job and congrats on having the courage to improve your art.

  3. great redo! It looks great as is now.

  4. I think this IS better, but I’m wondering if there should have been just a smidge more left on the right –personal preference but I’m thinking balance.

    A less drastic option would have been to take a digital photograph of the quilt and played with the cropping tool to see how much you wanted to cut before you grabbed the rotary cutter.

    Now mind you, that’s advice coming from someone who is more likely to have grabbed the rotary cutter first and asked questions later. Still, the digital camera is an effective tool to use this way.

    • You’re probably right Lisa…I can be so impetuous! I’ve used the digital methods in the past, but with this one, I just went for the rotary cutter! Maybe Maria was guiding me. 😉

  5. I like what you did Ann. Let’s hear it for taking risks and second chances!

  6. Thanks for all the great comments. It’s so nice to hear the kind comments and suggestions.

  7. I like the larger piece better. I think that the figure doesn’t have enough life to be the focus on the smaller piece, she just looks beige in the middle of all that color. More detail on the face, little color in the dress? Just my thoughts.

    • Thanks Meg…You’ve given more aspects to ponder for the next piece. With all these suggestions, I see a long series ahead for Maria! 🙂

  8. Hi – I agree with Meg. The figure and background are too monochromatic, even with the complement yellow-orange in it. I do like the editing – what are you going to do with the cut-off bits? The positioning and gaze of the figure do create a lot of weight on the left side that the negative area balanced to a degree. . . . Maybe a bit more quilting and or color above the dress? The dress value is so light with dark quilting in contract, while the head seems to recede. Take a look at hand-colored postcards or stereoscope views? They have a naiveté and whimsey that might work with Maria and let you colorize her.
    All that said – it’s a great quilt, and bravo for tackling it again, and opening up your work to the world for comment! Thanks for the thought provocation!

    • Interesting idea Lisa, to hand color the image. Thanks!

  9. I’m one of those who was fortunate enough to make it to the quilt show to see this exhibit (Ann – Sorry we weren’t able to connect — hopefully another time) and am extremely happy I was there.

    Although of uniform size, the quilts themselves were as varied as the makers and their stories. Some used symbolism, many used family heirlooms such as handmade lace or native costume ribbons that trimmed them, and almost all used photos They were bright, somber, colorful, subdued and all nuances in between. I took time to read each statement and enjoyed the connections to the past whether through a single individual or national heritage. One thing I especially noticed was how often it was a female family member. My favorite was the Irish quilt, but that’s because I have Irish background!

    I’ve watched some of the “Who do you think you Are” episodes which started me wondering about some of my family history and seeing the quilts just made me that much more curious. Guess it’s time to add geneology to my list of pursuits.

    If any of you have an opportunity to see this exhibit or are in a position to bring it to your community, I would definitely encourage you to do so. Knowing where — and who — we came from helps us know who we are and where we want to go. And you have great art at the same time! OK, that’s my 2 cents worth and humble opinion!


  10. Maria is at the center as she should be! What a great inspiration you have found for your quilt! I’m sure the project turned out grand! Can’t wait to read more from you.


    • Thanks AQS! The quilt is finished now I like it much more now and am donating it to be part of a raffle at our annual family reunion. We are raising funds for our 50th annual next year. I think our great grandmother Maria would be proud to fund a great big family party!

  11. yes. great decision !

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