I speak the language of color

Polychromatic Predilection

40″ x 40″ whole cloth painted with acrylic inks, free-motion machine quilted.

Over the last month, I’ve tried going on a news diet, limiting my intake of news to brief morning and evening reading. I think this is mostly because no matter what happens, nothing seems to change, and the frustration is overwhelming. So I’ve pushed myself to spend more time in the studio and work on things that make me happy and bring me peace of mind.

Each year Jamie Fingal and Leslie Tucker Jenisen organize an invitational juried exhibit under the name Dinner@8 and the call for entries this year was Personal Iconography: Graffiti on Cloth. This was the perfect opportunity to work with subject matter that brings me joy; succulents and color. Polychromatic Predilection is my entry in the exhibit and I’m thrilled to say my piece was accepted into the exhibit which will travel to the various International Quilt Festivals

I began with a photo I had taken of blossoms on one of my succulent plants. I altered the photo on my iphone in the Prisma photo app. This pushed the colors in my photo to be more dramatically saturated in color and contrast.

Next I created a line drawing of the image in photoshop by selecting ‘trace contour’ under the ‘stylize’ filter, that I could print out at full scale.

I placed the line drawing on my work table and stretched thin plastic painters drop cloth on top and taped it to the sides of my table. Then I stretched a high thread count 100% white cotton fabric over the top, taping it to the sides of the table.

The fabric is thin enough to allow me to see the lines through the fabric without having to trace the whole image onto the fabric with pencil. The line drawing is pretty vague, so I had to rely on looking at the photos on my ipad to really see the image to know what colors went where, the lines mostly helped to keep the image proportionate and to scale as I painted.

I used Golden and Daler Rowney FW acrylic inks to paint this. Acrylic inks do make the fabric pretty stiff when painted opaquely this way, but the benefit is the wide range of pigments available. The painted surface is also a bit more matte than textile paints.

The annoying thing was the week I was painting it was very hot with very low humidity, and my paint kept drying in my palette before I was through working in some areas. Luckily the colors changed constantly. I don’t think I’ve ever painted anything with a broader range of color than this piece has.

One of the other benefits I found to having the fabric stretched, was that it helped me blend the colors a bit easier, since I could ‘scrub’ the surface a bit with my brush.

Finished painting.

It’s amazing how black really makes the colors pop.

When you think you have all the colors of thread you could possibly need…

you discover all sorts of in between grayed colors you don’t have. So often I was wishing I had a light, medium and dark value in a variety of softly colored grays. I think you can never have enough colors of thread!

I think the first stitches are the scariest. I struggled trying to decide what was the best way to quilt this image. I decided to concentrate on matching colors and contour quilting within the space of each color. I changed thread colors a lot!!!

I find that my Bernina 770 doesn’t like super lightweight threads like Superior’s Bottom Line and it’s prone to breaking. I think this happens more with a painted quilt than sewing regular fabric because the fibers in the weave of the painted surface don’t ease apart, allowing the needle and thread to go through as smoothly. It kind of pops holes in the surface instead, this creates more friction on the delicate threads and they break, especially if you get going pretty fast. Occasionally the exact color I needed I only had in Bottom Line, so I resolved this problem by running 2 lines of thread (one off a bobbin) through my sewing machine needle, and that gave it enough strength for quilting and showed up better as well.


Once I finished the contour quilting of the succulent, I went out to my succulents to find inspiration for quilting all that open black space.

These are the drawings I made based on the different plants, that I transferred to my quilt using trans-doodle chalk transfer paper by Mistyfuse.

You can see in the photo above, that the painted fabric is pretty stiff by the slight buckling in the fabric. This is why I chose to try Alex Anderson’s Quilters Select light weight wool batting, because I needed to use something with a lower loft to make quilting a little easier. It worked great. For a quilt using commercial fabrics (not painted with acrylic inks) I would opt for a thicker wool bat that has more loft and gives great stitch definition.


These photos are blown out a little bit to make them light enough to show the quilting.


I’d love to spark your creativity at one of these upcoming events:

August 18,19  10+ Techniques with Acrylic Inks, 2-day  Meissner’s Sewing, Sacramento, CA

October 5-10  New Zealand National Quilt Symposium, Christchurch, NZ
Painting Imagery with Textile Paints 2-days
Tea & Ephemera
Paint & Print-A-Palooza
Blessings in the Wind: Mixed-media prayer flags

October 23  Paint & Print-a-palooza, Country Dawn Quilting & Patchwork, Whangarei, NZ
October 23 Whangarei Patchwork club, Lecture

January 10-14, 2018 Craft Napa
Blessings in the Wind: mixed media prayer flags
Tea, Thremofax and Ephemera
Blooming Inspiration
Painting Imagery with Textile Paints

Focus on Fiber Florida 2018
April 1-8 Atlantic Center for the Arts, New Smyrna Beach, FL
More info coming soon

August 14-18, 2018 Woodland Ridge Retreat, WI
5 – day Paint and Print-a-palooza retreat

October 19-21, 2018 Ephemera Paducah, Paducah, KY
Tea and Ephemera and Blessings in the wind: mixed-media prayer flags

Keep creating, Judy

IMG_5538Judy is an artist, explorer, image wrangler, knowledge seeker, instructor, speaker, creative alchemist, and purveyor of inspiration, helping others channel creativity on a daily basis.


32 Responses to “I speak the language of color”

  1. Christina in FL says:

    This is an exceptionally beautiful painting and your quilting really makes the painting even better… if that is even possible. Gorgeous!

  2. sejwhite says:

    Judy, this is a wonderful post and your quilt is beautiful! Thank you.

  3. Gabriele DiTota says:

    Beautifully done. The colors truly pop against the black. The background quilting is lovely! My favorite piece of yours.

  4. jeannievh says:

    Judy, this is glorious! I’ve always loved the way black frames a piece and makes the colors dance. Your painting and the quilting have made this an exceptional piece. Congrats!!!

  5. Joanie Wallrich says:

    Hi Judy, this piece is stunning! The colors are magnificent! I love your work, you are so inspiring! Thank you for sharing all your techniques and quilting techniques and inspiration! I always look forward to your new posts. Hugs, Joanie

  6. Cindy says:

    So interesting to read about your process, from start to finish. Your quilt is stunning!

  7. marysalmon says:

    I’m blown away with your art! Amazing and so gorgeous!

  8. Ruth says:


  9. Michelle Weatherson says:

    Absolutely beautiful, Judy! Not only is the painted image stunning, but the quilting is divine.

  10. Regina Dunn says:

    This is my favorite one of yours so far and I’ve loved so many of your works. And thanks for talking about your process in this post. You are very generous in sharing useful information.

  11. Jeri says:

    What a gorgeous piece! The quilting is spectacular and the 3-D effect of the painting makes the plant glow. Thank you for showing your process and inspiration!

    • JudyCoatesPerez says:

      thanks Jeri,

      and you are so welcome! I’m looking forward to seeing you at the Threads of Resistance opening, it’s been a LONG time. 🙂

  12. Ruth Crump says:

    Wonderful! Just might be settling in to do some fabric painting for a gift quilt I need to make. Thanks for the inspiration!

  13. Julane Schneller says:

    Hi Judy….WOW….Richness to the max!! You gave me the color therapy I needed today!! Thank you for being YOU.

  14. Phil says:

    Wow! I echo the other commenters – stunning in all aspects! And such depth of color. Did you use the acrylic inks straight out of the bottle or mix with a medium? Thanks so much for sharing the process

    • JudyCoatesPerez says:

      Thanks Phil, on this quilt I used the acrylic inks straight out of the bottle and did not add any water or medium to the colors when painting, because I wanted vibrant full strength color. The downside of doing that is that the fabric is fairly stiff, which is not as nice for quilting.

      I often use a medium like Jacquard colorless extender with acrylic inks when painting to make colors more transparent and help with blending but acrylic inks have a flatter more matte finish than textile paints, and I was concerned if I used textile medium in some areas and not others it would be noticeable.

      This was the first quilt I’ve painted this way, usually I have thinned layers of ink, built up on each other that create a finished top that is not quite as stiff. I love the way the finished painting looks though, and would like to explore it more when I have time.

  15. beachbrush2017 says:

    Absolutely stunning! Your choice of color is exceptional, thank-you for sharing your process – so interesting and informative.

  16. Lesley Riley says:

    A masterpiece for sure. xox

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