Five Questions for Fiber Artist Ann Shaw

We’re so pleased to have fiber artist Ann Shaw joining us for a fall workshop on designing quilts from photographs from October 28-November 3! Before her workshop, Ann took a moment to fill us in on her background and approach to art!

Q: What was your path to becoming a full-time working artist?
AS: Working full-time as a quilt artist blossomed for me after I retired from an academic career as a biological anthropologist and forensic specialist. Though I have been passionate about quiltmaking for many years, I now have enjoy the time and freedom to explore pieced pictorial quilts as a artistic medium. This style of quilting is tactile, has explicit connections to the traditions of patchwork yet poses fascinating challenges such composition, color, texture, and abstraction. For me designing new quilts and sharing my ideas and techniques through teaching and inspiring others are part of the same creative spectrum. 

Q: Do you work on multiple pieces concurrently or focus on exclusively one at a time? If the former, how do you balance that? If the later, how do you decide which one to start next?
AS: I tend to work on multiple pieces concurrently. Some are pieces are new designs that join my quilt pattern series. Other pieces are one-of-a-kind designs that explore how the technical aspects of pieced quilt designs affect the visual impact of the completed piece. And then there are the bed quilts I make for my family, often based on traditional quilt blocks…… the walls of my quilt studio often have a number of different projects as well as piles and piles of fabric that sometimes get intermixed from project to project!

Q: How do you come up with ideas to begin something new?
AS: I am a very visual person and I enjoy taking pictures, so my pictorial quilts begin with photographic images. I am constantly working to develop my skill of “seeing”, that is looking at the world and in my mind abstracting from it elements that make an interesting composition, that tell a story. For me, attempting to capture these images photographically is the first step to creating a quilt design. I keep many portfolios of images and ideas that inspire my work. When starting a new project, I select something that inspires me or is important to me in that moment.

Q: What keeps you motivated to continue making art?
AS: Both the personal sense of satisfaction of seeing a project through to completion and the satisfaction of sharing my work with others keep me motivated.

Q: What’s the biggest “risk” you’ve taken in your journey as an artist? Creatively, in a business sense, or in life?
AS: For many artists, it is a big “risk” to share one’s work with others. Pouring one’s heart and soul into projects not knowing how it will be received by others creates both big risks and big rewards. I think it is the push and pull of those elements that makes one’s creative life interesting.

Learn more about Ann’s workshop here.
Find out more about Ann on her website and give her a follow on Facebook & Instagram.