The Evolution of a Reluctant Painter

by Mary Boalt

I never set out to be a painter. I can’t draw. It just sort of crept up on me the way extra calories do. I think it started when my sister, a paper artist, started sending me unsolicited rubber stamps. “No!” I complained. “I don’t want a new hobby.” “I have enough craft supplies already!” “Where am I going to put this stuff?” After attending three Design Outside the Lines retreats sponsored by Marcy Tilton and Diane Ericson, I started investing in stencils, silk screens and paint. All of these supplies could still fit in a drawer. I was safe. It was still manageable. Under control.

Then I was asked to teach painting on steam a seam at a fiber artists/quilters dream store in Sacramento. And to keep the “beast” well fed, they sold Diane’s stencils, Lois Ericson’s stamps and Jacquard paints. Right in the store! Right under my nose! In mass quantities! These new tools were taunting me and whispering  in my ear, “You need me. Take me home. Think of what cute things you could do with me!”

Soon Rubbermaid totes full of supplies were being wheeled into the classroom on a dolly. I sincerely believed that my students deserved to have plenty of supplies to work with. Heaven forbid they should get bored with a stale assortment of toys to play with.

But the turning point came when Gayle Ortiz of taught me how to paint graffiti style on canvas, cut it up and sew it into purses. OMG! The heavens opened up and a blinding light struck me. This was way too much fun. The ability to design ones own fabric! And no “mistakes” can be made when it’s graffiti style.

Christine, Heidi and Sandra saw what I was doing and must have thought that I knew how to paint. So now here I am having the best time exploring new ways to put paint to canvas and showing others what I’ve learned. I now own:

80 stencils

55 foam and rubber stamps

3 sets of alphabet stencils

8 Diane Ericson stencils

20 silkscreens

21 texture plates

5 Gelli plates

6 sets of foam alphabet stamps in different fonts

a large assortment of pool noodles, furniture feet and other found objects for stamping

several roller graphs and GALLONS OF PAINT

So in preparation for the Pine Tree Quilt Show I have been painting up a storm. My contribution to the booth will be large canvasses ( enough for two totes ), half canvasses, purses and patterns. Enjoy the photos.  And please stop by our booth May 6 and 7 at the Nevada County Fairgrounds to say hi and to see what new treasures Heidi and Sandra will have.

I still have just a couple of spaces left in my retreat class. So if this looks interesting and you would like to let loose your inner painter, we would love to have you join us. I have plenty of toys for you to play with!

16 thoughts on “The Evolution of a Reluctant Painter

  1. Love your inspirational creativity! I am so excited to be taking your retreat class again! I see some new dots and circles in my future!

  2. Thanks Kari! Some of those new circles are round gelli plates. I love them. I’m so glad you’re in the class again. Your work is so thoughtful and well executed.

  3. Thanks, Rosemary. The canvasses have a little different look this year, don’t they? Are you returning to take someone’s class this year?

    • Thanks Gayle! I’m having a blast trying new things. The circle gelli plates have been really fun to experiment with. Wish I’d had this arsenal of techniques when Patty and I did our demo so many years ago.

  4. I love all your latest work! I would love to attend one; do you ever teach at Houston International Quilt Festival? I see that you use Jacquard paints; do you use others?

    • Thank you Sandy. We would love to have you at Zephyr. I have one spot left. Yes, I use Jacquard paints. Mostly Lumiere. I started using this paint when I started teaching painting on Steam-A-Seam. It looks the best for this application. I also have come to really like Folk Art paint. Yes, the stuff from the craft store! Each paint is good for a different reason.
      No, I don’t teach at the Houston Quilt Festival. Just Zephyr.

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