Saturday, 15 June 2019

Intuitive Color & Design :: A Book Review

2017 was the first year that I worked at Festival of Quilts and I did not get much time to view all the quilts.  One gallery I did pass through numerous times, on my way to and from the stand, was that of Jean Wells.  I was just struck with how wonderful her quilts were - the composition, the colour choices, in fact just everything!  I know she does do workshops sometimes in the UK but have been sadly unable to make one yet.  So what's the next best thing?  Her book of course!

Intuitive Color & Design Adventures in Art Quilting was published in 2017 and is an updated version of her book from 2009. It is published by C&T Publishing, and is available in the UK through Search Press.  Oh the joy to get my hands on a copy to review!  Jean Wells is a an author of 30 books, a teacher and the founder of one of the first quilt shops in America, which is still running today in Sisters, Oregon.

What did I find inside this gorgeous cover?  So much inspiration but also the tools to create new works myself.  The subject is broken down into manageable chapters covering such topics as Inspiration for Quilt Design, Launching the Design Process, Nuts and Bolts of Quilt Design, The Design Process and the all important Tools and Techniques.

A photograph is just one of the journalling tools Jean uses to create quilts ....

I always enjoy looking at quilts, either in person, in print or online, but what I like even better is to know more about the quilt, such as its story or the design process or how it was constructed.  You learn a lot about the quilts in this book which I love.  I think that it is by knowing how someone created something that you are able to start your own journey taking the piece or the artist as inspiration.

The photo above is inspiration for an abstracted design below ....

This is a book you could flick through but I am actually reading it from front and back because the content really speaks to me.  It has already sparked a lot of ideas and has bought home to me the value of journalling and sketchbooks.  I have had the pleasure of talking to several world class artists and quilters and they all observe, record, sketch and draw almost constantly.  I don't view myself as an artist and very rarely draw anything although I do constantly observe.  I would like to start this practice and, as is quite often the way, I already have some blank sketchbooks to hand after being inspired by a quilter several years ago in a class!

Both the natural and man world world are referenced in the book and from both the use of line is discussed.  Breaking down the whole into its constituent pieces and sometimes finishing up with a piece that doesn't resemble the original inspiration at all but you can see how it has been influenced.  I have always been a avid photographer and have lots of design inspiration in them from the UK, New Zealand and from backpacking.  Now all I need is more time.  If any of you know how to get more hours in the day then I am all ears!

I always keep an eye out for UK teaching dates and still hope to take a class with Jean some day.  Until then I will be reading, re-reading and referring to this book as I continue my life long journey in quilting and creating.


  1. An interesting review, it’s the kind of book I really enjoy and I haven’t come across it before. Thank you for that, I’m off to check it out further.

  2. I have her 2009 book, and it is one of my favorites. Whenever I need to be inspired or encouraged, I pull it out and read through it once again. I have yet to start her process of design and sketching (not sure why I'm not doing this), but I really like her ideas. In the 2009 book, she wraps a quilted piece around a 9" square canvas. If that's in the new book, give it a try. It is grand fun!


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