When walking in the rain, carry a brightly colored umbrella and you’ll contribute a touch of cheerfulness to a wet, dreary day. – Artist’s statement for Rainy Day People 3 by Terry Aske
I live in Vancouver, B.C. which is located in a spectacular scenic location between the ocean and mountains. With a temperate sea climate, we have mild but very dark, wet, dreary winters. After weeks of gray rainy weather, I’m always cheered when I see a pedestrian carrying a brightly colored umbrella. The idea of a quilt featuring people with bright umbrellas percolated in my head for a long time before I finally incorporated into my fiber art.
October 2012 – While in Houston for the International Quilt Market and Festival, I spent a few free hours in my hotel room playing with some fabric, fusible web and sketches I had brought with me. I cut out some pedestrian shapes from dark fabrics, and umbrella shapes from bright fabrics. I just used a newspaper as the background because I didn’t have the right fabric, but I really liked the look of it. Over the next few months, I started working on a design for an art quilt of dark pedestrians carrying colorful umbrellas.
December 2012 – When Cloth Paper Scissors announced a reader challenge to create a mini piece of mixed-media art, 4″ x 4″ or smaller, I decided it was time to introduce Rainy Day People. I reduced the size of the ‘umbrella people’ for this challenge. I used a gel medium to adhere the background fabrics to a 4” x 4” mini artist canvas, then fused the ‘umbrella people’ to the background. The umbrella spokes are drawn with a permanent marker.
February 2013 – I had two quilts to make, and decided to use Rainy Day People for both of them – this time in a city scene, with perspective. The first was a 12 x 12 inch quilt for the SAQA 2013 Auction. The second was for the Fibre Art Network ‘FibreScapes’ exhibit, which required that all submissions measure 17 x 26 inches.
For both quilts, I edge-stitched the fused buildings and the smaller pedestrians. The larger people and umbrellas were outlined with narrow zigzag stitch. After sandwiching the quilt, I machine-stitched ‘rain’ with a variegated black-white-gray thread.
March 2013 – Another Quilting Arts magazine reader challenge caught my fancy – “Text Me!”. The challenge was to create an 8″ x 8″ inch quilt inspired by text. That made me think of my original Rainy Day People in my Houston hotel room, when I had used a newspaper as the background for the photo. The newspaper text reminded me of rain. And thus was created Rainy Day People 4, with text and my favorite variegated thread as ‘rain’.
January 2014 – SAQA members were invited to submit 7 x 10 inch mini quilts for the SAQA 25th Anniversary Trunk Show. I had a tight timeline, so I decided to create yet another version of Rainy Day People, rather than starting a new design from scratch. I used some of the figures from my previous Rainy Day People quilts, and scaled the size to suit the 7 x 10 inch required size of this piece.
September 2014 – The Canadian Quilters’ Association (CQA/ACC) invited award winners of their annual National Juried Show to donate a 12 x 16 inch quilt for a traveling quilt show. The theme is ‘It’s Time for Colour!’ I had several ideas for colorful subject matter (tulips, fall foliage and sunsets all came to mind) but I decided to create yet another version of one of my favorite themes – Rainy Day People.
This time, I showed two small girls with huge adult-sized umbrellas, dressed in bright, cheerful colors to contrast with the rainy gray background. I also added colorful reflections.
I’m still fascinated by the concept of my Rainy Day People, so don’t be surprised if you see them in more quilts sometime in the future!
P.S. The title ‘Rainy Day People’ was inspired by a wonderful song by Gordon Lightfoot, a great Canadian singer-songwriter.