She’s lot’s of fun, she’s addicted to color, and she’s a talented artist and designer: Meet October’s Artist of the Month Lynn Krawczyk!
I first met Lynn online, about a year before I started working for Quilting Arts. Lynn was a designer whose talent I always admired, and I reached out to her to make a few Thermofax screens for me (one of her side businesses). She was gracious and kind, answering all of the questions this newbie surface design enthusiast had with patience and humor. Which side is up? How do I clean these screens without ruining them? Why aren’t my prints clear? Thanks to Lynn, I had a good start at learning about paint, color, and applying patterns and designs in layers on cloth. In addition, I had a new friend and a mentor when it came to printing on cloth and creating intricate designs with fabric and thread.
Fast forward a few years, and we finally met in person: It was like sitting down with a long-lost soul mate and catching up over a cup of steaming coffee. Did I mention we are both addicted to that delicious brew? And since that day, I’ve valued our friendship, followed her success as she’s written books, designed a line of fabric, created numerous online tutorials, and watched her become a pillar in the art quilting arena.
Lynn’s work is rich with color, dense with hand stitching, and infused with meaning. Her palette reminds me of (an updated version of) my childhood 1970’s kitchen: steeped in mustard, avocado, maroon, and browns but radiating comfort and style. Nearly all of her work is complex, yet approachable as she adds layers of images on boldly colored cloth, then punctuates the work with hand stitching.
I just love it.
We’ve been so fortunate over the years to have Lynn’s work grace the pages of Quilting Arts Magazine. She’s one of our valued contributors who has not only written project tutorials, but also several columns on a variety of topics. Lynn has appeared on multiple episodes of Quilting Arts TV, shared her talents in video workshops, and traveled the country as a sought-after teacher.
This talented artist whose passion for color and stitch has reached so many fellow artists, has much more to share with the art quilting community. Join me in congratulating Lynn for being selected as our Artist of the Month!
1. As a full-time engineer, an artist, and working quilt teacher, you have quite a bit on your plate. How did you get into this field, and whose work influenced you in the beginning of your career?
Fate got me into this field. Which might sound corny but it’s the truth. In my mid-twenties I had back surgery and while recovering I watched an episode of “Simply Quilts” on HGTV. This was the first time I saw anything textile art related. Up until that point in my life I had no creative hobbies (unless you count being a math geek but I don’t think that qualifies).
I was fascinated as Alex Andersen explained how to cut fabric and piece it. I got books from the library and one of them was a crazy quilting book by Judith Baker Montano. That was the one that really set the fire off. I loved the controlled chaos, the variety of techniques, and the color! I made crazy quilts for several years and when I found an ad for Quilting Arts Magazine – which at its beginning was strictly CQ – I subscribed before the first issue was even printed.
I have called QA my gateway drug – as it evolved into other areas of textile art, I got to pick and choose what felt most like creative home to me and that is a wonderful thing to have. It’s an endless source of information – some I simply admire for how wonderful it is and others speak to me on such a deep level that it becomes integrated into my own work. It’s an incredible wealth of knowledge to be able to draw from.
2. You incorporate many symbols and images in your quilts. Tell us about what inspires you to quilt.
My favorite thing about working in textiles is that it’s such a common everyday thing that we overlook. From clothing to bags to pillows to curtains – it surrounds us pretty much at every turn. Using it in artwork makes people really stop and look at it with fresh eyes. That keeps me constantly inspired to push its boundaries and see what I can make with it.
3. You use color, whether with paint or stitch, masterfully. What do you love about color and how do you choose your palette?
Color, to me, is everything. When I look at artwork, the first thing I’m drawn to is the color in it. I think it defines the soul of the work – it has emotion and meaning. The cool thing is that either of those things are totally subjective. How I felt when I made it is not how someone else who sees it may feel when they look at it. I love color’s fluidity because of that.
Since I favor abstract art over representation most of the time, color is incredibly important. And since I’m fundamentally an introvert, color will do the talking for me and I can express ideas in a way that is more subtle.
The way I begin choosing a palette for a piece is to start with one central color. That one piece serves as the jumping off point for what else is chosen and what the work is about. I’m really into contrast and depth so there will always be colors that recede to the point you wouldn’t notice them without close inspection and ones that stand out as one of the first things you see. I call it the Color Dance – push a few colors back and pull a few colors forward. It’s the way to create delightful chaos.
4. What are your plans for the future? Teaching courses, writing more books, or another fabric line? We’d love to know.
It’s funny, running a creative business is like most other endeavors in life – the longer you work at it, the more focused you get on the things you truly love. My plans for the future are coming into focus and in the top three is writing (I’m at the beginning stages of writing my third book), surface pattern design (via drawing, painting, direct printing on fabric) and textile design.
I don’t have anything in the works right now for another fabric line but designing fabric has become central to where I want Smudged Design Studio to head. My biggest love of that activity is creating fabric that leaves enough space for other artists to use the print in their work but still maintain their own voice. I want my fabric to be a jumping off point that lets artists direct their work the way they want to. I’m not sure if I will work with another fabric company or manufacture my own. I’m looking into a lot of different options right now but either way, I am nowhere near done putting out fabric lines!
Traveling to teach has become hard to work into my life right now so I’m still planning online teaching. Amongst those classes would be project, technique and building a creative business. The hardest part is narrowing things down – I want to do it all!
I’m trying not to be too restrictive with where SDS heads, I want to leave space for opportunity to wiggle in. But I’ve taken some time to seriously think about what I want to do next and it’s pretty exciting to realize that it can be anything I want it to be!