Linda Beach has been attracted to fiber since a young age. When she discovered art quilts it opened a whole new world of creating. Inspired by nature, she enjoys exploring the lines and light created by nature. She has created a body of work exploring trees in different seasons and the shadows they cast.
When was the first time that you remember realizing that you are a creative person?
As far as I can remember, I have always enjoyed creating.
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Starting with my first box of crayons and cutting up shapes of colored construction paper, I moved on to making loop pot holders and then, when I was older, knitting, embroidery and needlepoint. In retrospect, I was always attracted to fiber.
How did you get started designing art quilts? Always an artist, or was there a “moment”?
I became interested in traditional quilting in my early thirties but quickly became frustrated by the “rules” and limitations of patterns. I had no idea that art quilts existed until one day I came across a magazine and realized that I could create my own images.
What do you do differently? What is your signature that makes your work stand out as yours?
While I am not unique in my piecing style, I do think that I am definitely in the minority by piecing my fiber art.
By “piecing”, I mean that I create my work in the same manner as a traditional quilt in that I am sewing together all the pieces of fabric that you see as opposed to fusing layers together or painting the surface of the cloth. I am very strict with myself about only using piecing to create my images without adding any surface embellishments.
While this technique can be limiting in portraying small objects, I find the challenge of portraying my ideas this way irresistible. I find it hard to see, but I have been told I have a “fractured landscape” style by several people.
Are there recurring themes in your work? What is it about a subject that inspires you to continue exploring it?
Yes, trees are definitely a recurring theme! I’m not sure exactly why I narrowed my focus to trees fairly early on but I continue to be fascinated by them. Their lines, shapes, the play of shadows they create on a landscape provide constant inspiration.
What motivates you artistically?
Nature, a beautiful landscape, a combination of gorgeous colors no matter what their context.
Do you plan your work out ahead of time, or do you just dive in with your materials and start playing?
With my piecing technique I really need to plan my work ahead of time.
At the beginning, when I’m sketching out ideas and pulling fabrics from my stash, I have time to play around. Once I draw my pattern, though, there really is not much flexibility. I can change out one fabric for another but the composition is set at that time.
How do you manage your creative time? Do you schedule start and stop times? Or work only when inspired?
I definitely plan out my creative time and try to schedule as much as life will allow.
I am very protective of my time and think you have to be to get anything accomplished but I don’t have scheduled start and stop times. My plan is to get into my studio as soon as I can every day and stay as long as possible.
Unfortunately, I am one of those people that cannot work until other tasks in my life are taken care of (laundry, errands) so it is a bit of a juggling act. Even when I’m not feeling particularly inspired, I will go into my studio and do some mundane task like sorting fabric or taking care of the business side of things.
By making myself “show up” for what I think of as my work, I more often than not do get inspired. At the very least, my studio is neat!
Are you a “finisher”? How many UFOs do you think you have?
I am definitely a “finisher”.
I like to concentrate on one project at a time and don’t have any UFO’s. I consider my projects carefully before starting and, even if I’m not happy with how they are going, I will finish them as I find that I learn something from all my projects.
Describe your creative space.
Presently I work out of a spare room in my home, about a 20 x 25 foot space. I store my artwork inventory and as much fabric as I can in the closet and then make do with storage cubes for other items.
One wall contains my design wall which is 6 ft. high x 9 ft. wide. My sewing machine has some drawer storage below it and then I have room for two craft tables that are 3 ft. wide x 6 feet long. Both of these tables are collapsible and easily moved so they are convenient to store when I’m not using them or move them into whatever configuration I need for the task at hand.
What are the indispensable tools and materials in your studio? How do they improve your work?
My tools and materials are pretty basic – a non-computerized sewing machine, fabric, thread, etc.
Aside from having the working space of my two large tables, I would say the most important aspect of my studio is my design wall. I love the larger size so I have plenty of room for whichever project I am working on as well as space to audition fabrics next to my work in progress.
Being able to step back and see what you are doing straight on, as opposed to looking at something from an angle on the floor, is very important when considering my compositions and trying to decide what works.
How often do you start a new project? Do you work actively on more than one project at a time?
It takes me approximately 4-6 weeks to complete a project, depending on what is going on in my life at the time. I never work on more than one project at a time. If I am lucky, I may have two or three ideas waiting to be worked on with a quick sketch on a piece of paper or a key fabric set aside.
Can you tell us about the inspiration and process of one of your works? How does a new work come about?
My current project was inspired by a trip to the mountains and the view from a picnic site. As I thought about this image and how I might want to portray it, I came across some large scale fabric prints that I had collected years ago. The scale of these prints seemed perfect for what I had in mind, a rather large and vertical portrayal of aspens.
From that idea, I played with a few sketches, deciding on the exact dimensions and composition of my piece. The beauty of working with trees and nature inspired subjects is that I can create the landscape to suit my vision, hopefully creating a successful composition.
Which part of the design process is your favorite? Which part is a challenge for you?
My favorite part of my process is cutting out the fabrics, pinning them to my design wall and seeing my design take shape. No matter how much I think I know what it will look like, there is always something that surprises me along the way.
The most challenging part of a project for me is the quilting of the artwork at the end. I free-motion quilt all my work so it takes some concentration and a steady hand, not a very relaxing or enjoyable task for me.
How do you know when a piece or project is finished and needs no additional work?
I have learned that what best works for me is to walk away from my design wall after I have cut out all my fabrics and made all my creative choices.
I come back the next day, before I start sewing everything together, and look at it with fresh eyes to see if everything looks right or if a change is needed.
How does your environment influence your creativity?
In every way that I can think of, from the minute I look out my kitchen window first thing in the morning to all my tasks as I go about my day.
I am always watching the trees and the sky as the light and seasons change. As I travel, I am always watching the landscape.
Do you critique your own work? What is your process?
I always critique my own work though I find it very rewarding to belong to a critique group.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
Follow your own voice. And the one that always makes me smile since I frequently forget: it’s ok to use both sides of the fabric – you’ve paid for it.
Where can people see your work?
They can see my work on my website, www.lindabeachartquilts.com . I also work with Artful Home, Linda Beach Fiber Artist | Artful Home. I post work in progress on both my Facebook Page, Linda Beach Art Quilts and Instagram, lindabeachartquilts.
Interview posted August 2023
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