Finding Beauty in Diversity - Dreaming in Color with Jean Wells

Central Oregon was engulfed in smoke from several fires for much of the end of summer, and it made me think about my surroundings in a different way. My poor sunflowers do not know which way to turn their faces. They are so used to following the sun as it moves across the sky.

sunflowers smoky skies

The garden continues to bring me joy as I water the plants, wearing my mask, so as to not breathe in the smoke. I noticed that there is an intensity in the flower colors when the sky is smokey and you are unable to know the time of day with the sun hiding behind the smoke.

 red flower

pale green zinnia flower

back of lettuce leaf

The smokey sky backdrop with the bright flowers in the foreground was a reminder of how important dull tones are when we are creating our art. I know I have said this before, but Kaffe Fassett is a master on the use of a dull color to support all of the brightness that you see in his floral prints.

kaffe faccett fabric print

We can certainly put that into use when we are choosing a palette of fabric for a quilt. You can see the dull dots mixed in with the brighter ones in the Australian fabric.

 aboriginal print fabric

 In both of these photographs you can see duller tones. They help to provide a background for for the brighter imagery to show. If everything is intense, and there are few value changes, a print can be so active that you almost get dizzy looking at it. 

Below is a palette of fabrics I am starting to put together for a workshop I am taking. In each of the groups I have “pushed the color” from bright and intense to deeper and duller. In the composition I will be able to create more depth.

 many shades of green fabrics


many shades of blue fabrics 

I constantly take color clues from what I see around me. With all the smoke outside I found myself sitting beside the window of the studio looking at the colors in the garden more closely. As I walked to the other side of one of my raised flower beds this beautiful miniature cosmo caught my eye. I had never seen a cosmo flower with upturned edges. I have always been a curious person and I love it when I have an experience like this.

 pink cosmo flower

 After taking this photo I started looking closely for more surprises. It is amazing what will present itself to you when you are open minded and curious. Look at the detail in the center of the zinnia below. I see embroidery stitches and yummy color combinations. I enjoy discovering something new every day in the garden and always plant a patch of wildflower seeds someplace. There is something wonderful about not knowing what is going to emerge where in the garden.

 orange zinnia flower

white zinnia flower

pink cosmos flowers

 Earlier this spring I discovered a folded-up project on a shelf that I started over ten years ago. I had completely forgotten about it. I was surprised to see the raw edge applique, organza overlays, and block printing. I decided to finish it up, naming it “Twilight Garden”.

I was very proud of myself and the adventuresome spirit I must have had when I began it. It encouraged me through the ups and downs of fine tuning the design and enhancing what I started with. Those of you who know me, will probably be surprised at the style of the work compared to what I have been doing the past few years. For me that is part of the magic in this creative life I engage in.

finished quilt by jean wells

 quilted blue yellow sunflower


block printing on a quilt


detail piecing in quilt 

Jackie and I put together some new Kaffe Fassett fat quarter six packs inspired by this month's musings to share with you.