Creating Memories in Color - Dreaming in Color with Jean Wells

 Creating memories in color Jean Wells Dreaming in Color
As a designer I am always drawn to unexpected color combinations. They will sometimes haunt me until I can pull a palette of fabric that represents them. Eventually an opportunity arises to test them out in a new piece. That is what happened with my quilt “Surfside and Beyond” which was a Judge’s Choice winner at the International Quilt Show in Houston this fall.
jean wells surfside and beyond
jean wells surfside and beyond quilt closeup
Back in March of 2018 I was teaching a workshop at Empty Spools in Pacific Grove, CA. It was raining hard most of the week and I could not resist putting on my raincoat and taking a walk along the shoreline every day. The shoreline is rocky and there were new treasures, colors, and textures to see daily. With the rain coming down the colors were more intense.
sea shells and stones
kelp shells and stones
orange stone and kelp
When I got home I pulled out the colors (see below) and cut strips of fabric. A practice I like to do in exploring color is to sew some strips together - about 8” to 10” in width and varying widths. This gives me a chance to audition how they might work together in a composition. 
colorful fabric scraps
quilt in progress
It was not until July 30, 2022 that I developed a plan to begin making this quilt. I photographed a stone wall several years ago that intrigued me. I really liked thinking about the spaces between the stones. After tracing around the stone shapes in the wall I sketched the feeling of the shoreline across the shapes. Each shape was then pieced, hand stitched, and machine quilted through thin batting before being attached to the quilted eggplant background quilt. I call that technique a Portrait Finish in my Intuitive Color and Design book.
 quilt sketch
quilt piecing
quilt close up
Being with my winning quilt at the International Quilt Festival in Houston this fall was a real treat. As most of you know, I have been going to Houston to quilt market since it began in the 70’s. I got to visit with folks about my quilt and I also had time to look at the other quilts on display. I took some photos of my favorites and want to share them with you.
Across the isle from my quilt was "Homage to Birches" by Jessica Noble from Anchorage, AK. She used fused collage and machine quilting techniques to capture fascinating detail in the trees. Right around the corner was Judy Beaver’s "Moonlit Garden" (Judy is the Journey’s mini group with me here in Sisters.)
birch tree quilt
moonlit garden quilt by Judy Beaver
SAQA had a Color in Context - Red exhibit. I thought it was really interesting to see how some of the folks used Red. My favorite one was "Red Queen" by Irene Roderick who teaches workshops for us at The Stitchin’ Post. Notice how she pushed red into different values, shades, and tones. "Origin" by Yvonne Iten-Scott was a beautiful dimensional piece. "Moon Rise Over Red Fields" by Deborah Boschert was another favorite of mine. Her collage style really appeals to me. I also like the details that she incorporates in her pieces.
red queen quilt
red dimensional quilt
red field quilt 
Galla Grotto from France had a special exhibit of machine appliqued and quilted pieces like, "Goddess of Rain and Clouds", "Fruity Juice Lover", and "Goddess Mother." I couldn’t stop looking at them. I kept seeing more and more details. Take a look!
cloud and rain quilt
fruity juice lover quilt
goddess mother quilt
The Best of Show award, "Monkeys in My Hair (Evie)" by Deborah Hyde of West Bloomfield, MI went to a beautiful quilt depicting a young girl. It is pieced in ½” squares. I was mesmerized by it. Take a look of the imagery in the hair too.
Goddess Mother Quilt
quilt close up
 It was such a treat to see so much beautiful work, interesting techniques, and a variety of color palettes. If you ever get a chance to see a big show you should take it in!
For our precuts this month I put together some palettes I find interesting. If you have seen my work up close you know I like textural feeling prints and wovens, too.
river batik fabric
beach batik fabric