Monday, November 2, 2009


Compositional Conversation is now in Stage 11! We should figure up how many miles this work has logged. I'll have to work on that.

This week our artist is Valerie S. Goodwin. Known for her unique and beautiful work inspired by landscapes and cities, Valerie shares with us her equally unique process and approach to this project. Here are her comments.

Tuesday (10.27.09)

The package arrives from Paula ! After work, I opened the box and rolled it out on the dining room table and fell in love with what I saw. My initial thought? This piece is complete, there's nothing more to be done! Darn it....I got the composition at the tail end:)!

That night I had a strange dream. I was at my studio and all the other artists were with me. We were all discussing the quilt. Suddenly I look around and my studio space has miraculously gotten's south wall opened up and on the other side was a group of contractors -- all wanting to put in their 2 cents worth! They clearly just didn't "get it"......they wanted to know whose bed would it fit on! We started laughing and then I woke up for my nightly run to the bathroom;)

I know the dream makes no sense...but I thought I'd share it anyway!

Thursday (10.29.09)

I finally get some free time and retreat to my studio with our little project in hand. As I stare at it on the wall.....I'm still thinking "This composition is telling me to leave it alone". Good thing I had printed out a copy of it onto a sheet of 81/2" x 11" paper. My next step was to evaluate it at a smaller scale....for me this always helps.

Then I laid down a piece of trace paper and made a few sketches.

As I sketched a few goals surfaced:

  1. Give the composition more movement so it wasn't so static.
  2. Explore how the elements can interact with each other.
  3. Add a subtle sense of depth to the piece.
  4. Reconsider the green "line" that sub-divides the composition into 2 zones.
I moved the fabric pieces around for part of the afternoon.

At the end I hope I was able to deal with my four (4) goals by:
  1. Movement: I added a green shape on the left side so the eye could move back and forth more from one green circular element to another. In addition I shifted the axis of the key vertical elements so that they move back and forth with respect to one another.
  2. Interaction: I tried to give the illusion that the shape on the far left wrapped around and ended behind the red one.
  3. The green line in the center of our composition was given a hole. This gives the impression that the black element interacts with and penetrates the big green line.
  4. By breaking up the green line I tried to break that impression that the composition was not composed of 2 isolated areas. I think I could have done more of this.

So -- are we now having a conversation that is winding down? I guess that was my approach. I treated it like I was adding my take where the punctuation marks should be. I am not in any way saying that our subsequent artists need to take the same approach...this is just what I was hearing from our piece.

It was hard to let go of "Mary" (she told me her name;) Even now she's whispering to me. She is saying "I need tweaking here and I demand tweaking there!" I'll be curious to know what Mary tells Kathy next week.

My best to all, especially Terry........:)

A big 'thank you' to Valerie for a most interesting commentary. It appears that every stage of this project has it's special challenges. And now the work has a name. Will Mary speak to Kathy, Leslie, Marina or me....stay tuned as to "Compositional Conversations".


Valerie in the studio.

Valerie S. Goodwin is a mixed media fiber artist whose background as an architect plays a fundamental role. She began designing and making quilts in 1998. Her interest began as part of her involvement in teaching architectural design classes at Florida A&M University's School of Architecture. Her students investigated parallels between architecture and quilting as an introduction to ideas about composition, ordering systems, color and pattern.

City Grid II

Overall her art has moved through various stages from traditional quilting to an interest in abstract expressionism and, more recently, work inspired by real and imaginary landscapes and cities. In some cases her work shows an architectural sense of space with an archeological perspective. In others, the network of the city and its built form is more prominent. Her compositions work on a number of levels, from close up and far away as if you were looking at it from above.

City Grid IV

Goodwin's work is noted for its use of color, emphasis on line and density. Her quilts are part of a continuing investigation of ideas that focus on geometrical relationships, patterns and ordering principles found in architecture. Her work conveys these ideas abstractly, through the use of collage, layering, transparency, density and improvisation.

She earned a Masters degree in architecture from Washington University in St. Louis after receiving her undergraduate degree from Yale University. Her work has been widely published and exhibited. She has also lectured and given workshops across the country.

To see more of Valerie's work:


  1. i really enjoyed reading about your approach to the piece, your goals for the piece and what you added to accomplish these compositional goals
    The black piece flowing through the yellow-green strip really unites the composition.

  2. I completely love that the quilt told you her name, how perfect. :D

    I wish I could see a large, hi-res photo, it's a little difficult for me to see and understand the detail involved.

    It's looking a little like a fun Dr. Suess city, to me, someplace I'd like to visit and explore, with skyways and wonky buildings and bright colors.

    Nicely done, val, and oh my gosh, your quilts are fab, I love them!

  3. Judi and both of you! I think Terry has set up an interesting framework for all of us to work within.


  4. Watching this process has become quite a learning experience, both in what it means to have a conversation within the piece, with the other artists, how to critique in a positive way and how to documents your thoughts.

    Listing what your goals are as Paula and Val have done gave me insight into what they see with the piece as received and how they would like to proceed.

    Hearing about the struggles and excitement as they work also gave insight into why they chose to work with different elements and how they were going to meet their goals.

    Val's self snalysis of what she had accomplished added to the essay. Some of the best critique sessions have been when the artist not only talks about their process but also talks about what is working and NOT working within their own work. Seems like a great format to follow. I see what she was trying to accomplish. Her addition has added more depth and motion. great job!! PLUS I LOVE YOUR WORK!

    As I reflect where we are at this point in the conversation I feel like it is very similar to my own working process. First there is that easy flow playing with color and shape, then the struggle until you figure out what exactly is happening within the work and then the excitement as you see the elements come together. This middle struggle is so important because it causes me to really look and listen to what is happening and especially what is not happening

    Can't wait to see what happens next.