Most of my inspiration comes directly from nature, creeping in subtly through the colors I use, more boldly in images of trees, leaves, lakes and mountains, and sometimes only as expression of line, shape, contrast and texture. An idea can spring from the random juxtaposition of fabric on my work table or the leftover bits and pieces from a completed project. Life events also trigger ideas such as designs that emerged after my experience aiding a friend as she sought medical solutions at The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN.
These art quilts include cloth dyed and patterned commercially or by my own hand, some printed with photographs, highlighted and textured with quilting stitches, often embellished with beading and decorative threads. Sometimes I see images in the manipulated fabric and tease them out with stitch for others to see. And sometimes I find myself returning to the other legacy of my traditional quilting roots - geometric shapes and the rich dark colors of the antique quilts I love. Underlying each step is the excitement of discovery as ideas emerge from my materials and surroundings, finding expression within the basic framework of the quilt.
In 2006, I returned to my native northern Idaho after a lengthy stint in the Midwest - I so missed the rugged mountains and sparkling waters. With this backdrop a constant inspiration, I see no end to my exploration of organic designs and the simple geometric forms that bring me such pleasure.
Sheila Mahanke Barnes