A Palette Challenge Quilts Unscripted Improv

I have been a member of a wonderful virtual Bee.  We are Quilts Unscripted!  In this post, I will share a bit about how we operate and the most recent challenge that required me to work with my least favorite color.

How Quilts Unscripted Works

The group started in 2021 with 12 members.  We now have 11 members –a couple of new faces joined us recently to replace some members who had to drop out.  Our focus is on modern improvisational quilts using solid fabrics.   The best place to see our work on Instagram under #quiltsunscripted.

Each month, a Bee Leader chooses two things:

  • A color palette (with references to a Kona color card to help us search our stash for ‘close enough’ matches because we can use solids from any manufacturers)
  • A design theme–which might be a shape and/or a concept.

Then, we have a month to make 1,2 or 3 blocks and mail them to the Bee Leader.   The design theme includes minimum and maximum sizes for our blocks.  In 2021, I resolved to use my stash and then discovered that my solids stash was a way short on colors.  So, whenever I needed colors for a prompt, I would buy them from my local shop or an online shop. In keeping with my commitment to sustainable stashing, I limit my purchases to 1 yard of a color because I know that I can always purchase more for a future project.  My stash of solids has become much more diverse and I dip into it frequently for many projects.

Here are some of the blocks that I created for the bee.

A 2022 Palette Challenge:  Art Inspiration and Brown!

In July 2022, The Bee Leader assigned us our palettes and a really intriguing challenge. The design prompt was to select an abstract artist as an inspiration.  Then, he also assigned us our color palette.

My palette included…brown….well, to be fair it is Kona Cinnamon.  To be fair, I doubt that I have used any shade of brown in a modern quilt.  I have used shades of brown in some of my artquilts like this one.

Dear Dorothy art quilt

My other two colors were a deep red(Kona Tomato Red)  and purple (Kona eggplant)–both definitely colors that I love to use.  We were allowed to add fabrics that were close shades/tone/hues that were adjacent on the color card but I decided to stick very close to the 3 colors to stretch myself creatively.

Artistic Inspiration

My first inspiration is Mark Rothko.  I was very fortunate to visit the Tate Modern Museum in London a few years ago when they had several of his large late pieces on display.  These pieces are subtle and mesmerizing — large areas of nearly monochromatic color on top of each other.  The palettes are often dark such as red over maroon or black over maroon. Words or even seeing them online cannot adequately convey the very subtle shifts of color that he incorporated into these truly masterful works.  Go HERE to see some of these works or search to see these works. (I am not displaying images to respect copyright.)

My second inspiration is Sam Gilliam, a Colorfield painter. Most people are familiar with his large canvases of bright colors that blend and morph into each other.  However, I went back to some earlier work where he was incorporating thin lines into the paintings.  See these works Here and Here.

My Process

I added a  deeper red/brown and a darker shade of red to my fabrics.  Then, I began improvisationally piecing segments such as these.  The thin strips finish at about 1/4 inch.

I started laying out the segments against the purple (egglplant) background.   I wanted to see how the segments worked together in terms of scale as well as use of the different colors.  I paid attentio to make sure that I included lots of the Cinnamon in each segment.

Here is my final layout.  These colors were a bit tough to photograph so I apologize for a bit of lost quality. The block measures 16 x 40 inches.

Here’s a detail of this block:


Pinot Noir: A New Series

And along the way, a funny thing happened….I fell in love with Cinnamon/brown and this entire color palette!  This challenge has launched a new series that I am calling Pinot Noir because the colors remind me of vineyards, grapes, red wine and the soil that nourishes the vines.

Here are a few of the first segments that I am making.  I want to play with scaling these pieces up as part of the series.   And, I am playing with the idea of expanding the color palette by adding either yellow or even subtle black & whites.  I am excited to see where this goes.

A QuiltCon Winner

I have to brag a little bit.  Sarah Ruiz gave us a prompt to make Alphabet letters in 2021. She wrote a beautiful post about her process here.

I made CLS (see below).  Well, her/our quilt won a prize at QuiltCon 2021 in the Group Quilts Category and it was displayed at AQS Paducah 2022 and is going to Houston Quilt Festival in Fall 2022.


1 thought on “A Palette Challenge Quilts Unscripted Improv”

  1. All of your blocks are GORGEOUS! And I love what you did with the Cinnamon/brown! I would be totally frustrated if someone told me to do something with brown, but you handled it well. And fell in love with it, too! Amazing! Thank you for sharing!

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