Mother Earth: Her Evolving Face
In the last newsletter I shared this beautiful artwork by Christine Cetrulo from Lexington, KY. I asked her if she would be willing to participate in an interview to tell us more about her art and this piece in particular. She has been kind enough not only to tell us about how this piece came about but to also share a lot of close up photos.
This is a wholecloth quilt made with the Abundance Gradient. Following is her interview with a photo tour of some of the details that she quilted into Mother Earth: Her Evolving Face.
Please tell us about Mother Earth: Her Evolving Face. What was your inspiration and how dod you approach making it?
This quilt came out of a challenge I issued to my quilt guild to make art quilts with “Mother Earth” as their guiding muse, or theme. However, what particularly inspired me to make “Mother Earth: Her Evolving Face” were a large piece of Vicki Welsh’s fabric that changed from blues to greens (SKY, WATER, TERRAIN!!) and my fascination with facial expression. Vicki’s evolution of color additionally made me think of change; and in the context of Mother Earth, I should focus on the past, present, and the future in the images I chose and developed.
Bear and Chin
I need to tell you, NOT to be afraid of a whole cloth quilt. It does kinda smack you in the face with a dare, but if you focus on ONE element at a time, you conquer the expanse of color.
First, I determined the light source should come from the left, according to the actual cloth. Next, I located the eyes within the lightest value. Based on their location, the face shape became obvious—a right-frontal view.
It was time to sketch. I placed a layer of light Pellon interfacing behind Vicki’s fabric to provide stability for the quilting. With a Frixion pen, I drew the entire outline of the face, paying careful attention to cheekbones. Everything else fell into place except for the shadows. I relied a lot on the established values in Vicki’s fabric and also knew that with thread color I could add drama and light where needed. I used 30 shades of green and over 70 additional colors. I felt my own face, touching it to determine the direction of the muscles and then sketched in more lines and shadows.
Ear and rabbit
Time to quilt. I knew in my heart that if I could not create the eyes, I would not make the quilt. Do NOT be afraid to create a light image in a darker area. For the whites of Mother Earth’s eyes I used pink thread. Know, too, that you will invest in bobbins so that you can use different values of the same color thread. I used 30 shades of green and 70 other colors, matching the top and bobbin threads.
I used images to establish the facial features. For example, the “Tree of Life” creates the cheek; the girl “leaning” near the nose marks the nasal labial fold at the mouth; the blue river, the chin. The parrot defines the jaw line and the ribbon tail clarifies one side of her neck and the moveable tree-beads the other side. The owl marks the beginning of her hairline. A rabbit locates her ear.
So, the features are in, but what do I do with the majority of the fabric not quilted? Here again, some advice: FORGET traditional quilting motifs (feathers, scrolls . . .} because they will blur the beauty of the nuanced fabric shading. Isolate small areas, keep your stitch simple and CHANGE DIRECTIONS accordingly.
Jaw and neck
How did you get into fiber art and quilting?
I started quilting in 1977—very traditionally, self-taught, rule-oriented. In 1990 my mind seemed to switch to its right side—experimental, curious, intuitive. I began making art quilts. For some reason, my titles come first and then I develop stories under the auspices of the title.
What inspires you?
Color. Interesting lines and shapes. Texture. Stories I want to tell.
Do you find that you lean toward certain color palettes?
I used to be very biased in my color selection. Now, I just want to see what I can discover about any color.
Right eye with foxes
What di you like about your creative work space?
Even my Old English Sheepdog respects the doorway. Actually I live there in either chaos or order. I start with a clean slate. I refold ALL of my fabric to learn what I have and where it is. Then I pull fabrics and work out of a beautiful pile. I upheave it to find new color relationships. It grows very high, unless, of course, I am using one of Vicki’s gradations. Then, the thread takes over.
Where can we see more of your work? Are you on the web?
It would be hit or miss to view my work. I exhibit locally and nationally, and have been published. I do not have a website because I do not know enough about establishing one.
Do you teach? If so where can we find information about your classes?
I AM a teacher, but not in fiber arts. I retired from the University of Kentucky where, for 25 years, I taught writing, literature, rhetoric and pedagogy. I was allowed to be academically inventive; I guess my imagination is still with me.
Thank you, Christine, for sharing your beautiful work with us!