Color as a Storyteller - Dreaming in Color with Jean Wells

Dreaming in Color Jean Wells Color is a Storyteller
Color is the most powerful tool you have in your tool box as a quilter. It is truly a storyteller!
When I look at some of my older quilts the colors remind me of places, events, times of the year, and special moments in time. Several years ago, John and I went on a cruise and stopped for a visit in Epheses, Turkey. The well-preserved ruins were fascinating and the colors captivating. When I returned home, I was determined to create a quilt to remind me of the journey.
jean wells art quilt
Ruins in Turkey
It was a dry and dusty day when we visited and but I was taken with the ancient tile work and the representation of the vegetable colors in it and well as the majestic structures.
Five of us quilters  from Central Oregon visited Lisbon on our way to Morocco in 2019 for a Creatives Retreat. Jan Tetzlaf created a quilt after we returned home using classic log cabin piecing, making it a contemporary piece of art. She captured the feeling of looking at the rooftops from above and as well as the color palette. There is even a bit of yellow among all of the reddish roof tops.
rooflines art quilt
Indigo has become a signature color for me. It feels like an elegant neutral. I find that I can throw any color at it and it works. I think it is because it is a deep rich hue and it can hold its own. In the photograph below of a wall in Valori’s house the Indigo framed printed textile piece is front and center on the magenta wall, and look how the green plants play into the palette.  Magenta is such an intense color but the indigo holds its own in that setting.
magenta wall with indigo block printing
 leaf quilt
blue dishes
Indigo fabric squares set the tone for printing with the leaf block that Val created. It wasn’t until I had lots of them and started playing on the design wall that I realized how wonderful all the other colors loved playing in the indigo field. This quilt expresses the joy I felt being on the Creatives Retreat in Morocco.
Sometimes an event can spark a color story as it did when we had a large forest fire in the mountains near Sisters. I was so sad about it, seeing all of the ghost trees where there was once a green forest, but year later color was starting to emerge. Rejuvenation is my response to what I was seeing. I clearly remember the red maples that emerged in the fall a year later and you can see those bits of color in this quilt.
 ghost tree forest oregon
 rejuvenation art quilt jean wells
This stack of fabric waiting to be shipped to a customer caught my eye in the mail room one day. As I looked at it, it got me to thinking about the color vocabulary words that I preach about all of the time: light, dark, dull, bright, cool, warm, heavy, light, and compliments. You see all of these relationships in the stack of fabric. Lots of possibilities!!
stack of colorful fabric
garden with flowers
floral collage quilt freddy moran
You probably recognize this floral collage quilt created by Freddy Moran. There is a bit of everything in the quilt, but what gives it true style is the use of black and white with the variety of colors.
In thinking about color and how we use it in our art, I go back to the idea of storytelling. Because a quilt is made up of layers. You as the artist have a final opportunity with color toward the end of the design process. You can add more detail and color with embroidery stitches and machine or hand quilting.
flower quilt with hand stitching
quilt jean wells
leaf quilt jean wells
blue rust quilt jean wells
What wonderful possibilities we have as colorists in our journey as quilters!
In looking at two new strip rolls that Jackie just finished cutting the blue, green, and yellow reminds me of a glorious summer day. And the rich earth tones remind me of a walk in our natural forests around Sisters. The Loose Change pattern by Sam Hunter is my favorite pattern of the moment that uses 2 ½” wide strips.
Loose Change Quilt Pattern
Dottie Fabric Strip Roll
Marshland Batik Fabric Strip Roll