Category Archives: SAQA

2017 SAQA Benefit Auction

Benefit Auction starts Sept 15th!
As a member of the Studio Art Quilt Associates, I'm happy to support their annual and ever popular Benefit Auction fundraiser which begins on September 15 and goes until October 8. Once again, I'm proud to be able to give back to this organization that has given so much support to artists like me and continues to work hard to promote quilt art. 368 members donated a small piece of art, 12 x 12 inches, which will be auctioned off in a reverse auction - bids start high and then drop each day. This year, I've donated a piece from my Horizon series again.
To find out more about how the auction works, visit click here. Check out each group to see the wonderful array of artworks available. My piece is in the third group which starts bidding on October 2. Don't miss the Dream Collections curated by member artists. It's a fun way to see the artwork through the lens of fantasy collections.

Abstract and Geometric

abstract-and-geometric-sielman Abstract and Geometric, another stunning book in Martha Sielman's series on quilt art, has just been released this month and I am extremely fortunate to be among the artists selected for inclusion. As she explains in her introduction, Martha received over 1300 images in answer to her call for entry from 461 artists, the best of the best in the field. Profiles of 29 major artists and three galleries featuring 97 more fill this full-color feast for the eyes. I found many of my favorite artists as well as some whose work was new and very inspiring to me. Even if I weren't in it, I would have to own this book! Yum. Abstract and Geometric is available at
Also posted in Published

A Very Warm Reception

elena-stokes-connect-by-stitch-reception7 This past weekend I spent a lovely time with friends and fellow artists at the opening reception of Connected by Stitch at the Gallery at Penn College in Williamsport, PA. This is the first exhibit mounted by the SAQA Pennsylvania region and what a beautiful exhibit it is in both the caliber of artwork and the spacious venue. Two pieces from my Infinity series are in the show. elena-stokes-connect-by-stitch-reception elena-stokes-connect-by-stitch-reception1 elena-stokes-connect-by-stitch-reception3 elena-stokes-connect-by-stitch-reception4 elena-stokes-connect-by-stitch-reception5 elena-stokes-connect-by-stitch-reception6 Many thanks to Meredith Armstrong, our SAQA PA regional rep and curator, and Penny Lutz, director of the gallery, for the long hours they put in to mount this exhibit, and to New Mexico mixed media artist Joshua Willis who was the juror. This is a very special exhibit not to be missed.
Also posted in Exhibitions, Infinity series

Welcome Back

After a long break from social media and even my own blog, I'm back. With lots of news. Just over five years ago, I joined SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) and answered a call for entry for an exhibition called Seasonal Palette and exactly five years ago this week that I found out I was one of the lucky thirty-seven artists to be included. We were charged with creating a 32 x 78 inch long art quilt inspired by one of the seasons, mine was spring and that is how I came to make Tranquil Marsh - Wild Iris. And now, five years later, it's back. It went on a long sojourn around the globe, from Houston, Texas to Tainan City, Taiwan. The last time I saw it was four years ago during the Seasonal Palette premiere at the International Quilt Festival in Houston but after that, I wish I could have been rolled up with it and gone along for the ride. Here are a just few pictures of the many ports of call over the years.
quilt art, IQF, Elena Stokes

At the Houston Premiere

Elena Stokes, quilt art

IQF, Houston, TX

Gerald R Ford Museum, Grand Rapids, MI
Elena Stokes, quilt art

Texas Quilt Museum, La Grange, TX

Elena Stokes, quilt art

National Quilt Museum, Padukah, KY

Elena Stokes, quilt art

Tainan, City , Taiwan

Elena Stokes, quilt art

Gerald R Ford Museum, Grand Rapids, MI

And, so it's back! And, I am, too.

Also posted in Exhibitions

The Art of Layering

I took another pass at my Pears painting in class last Friday by adding more layers to the under-painting. Working with acrylics is such a different experience than working with textiles. Acrylics dry fast! Rendering them unworkable. The first day of class, our instructor Maureen had supplied us with an acrylic retarder which, when poured on top of and blended into acrylic paint, keeps it from drying out so fast and prolongs its working time. We were on our own for the second class and I thought I had purchased the correct product, a blending medium with the word retardateur in the French translation, but it wasn't the same at all. So, I was at a disadvantage struggling to keep ahead of the drying paint and mixed the colors as best I could. Despite it all I'm happy with the results...
 Pears under-painting

Pears under-painting

I enjoyed mixing my own colors and layering them to achieve color, shape and texture. It was very interesting. And challenging.
Pears, day 2

Pears, day 2

One of my reasons for embarking on this painting journey is to stretch my abilities in how I work with textiles in my artwork. I'm already accustomed to using textiles as a painter uses paint but instead of blobs of paint, I use bits of fabric to recreate my imagery. But, in past work I've used an orderly structure of horizontal strips which is wonderful in creating depth as with my impressionistic landscapes like Tranquil Marsh - Wild Iris. It's a difficult and meticulous process that, if so desired, can help one develop a galloping case of OCD.
Tranquil Marsh - Wild Iris detail

Tranquil Marsh - Wild Iris detail

Which is why I turned to abstract work as with my Infinity series. It's still meticulous work but not as exacting. I can improvise more with the color, shapes and lines until it feels right.
Infinity IV detail

Infinity IV detail

So, after my first painting class, I tried a small landscape, 6 x 8 inches, with a looser, semi-abstract feel. I tried layering smaller pieces of fabric in a less structured way, a more painterly way. This piece is Horizon II, the second in a new series which lies somewhere in between my impressionistic landscapes and my Infinity abstracts. I made this one to donate to the upcoming SAQA Spotlight auction during the 2016 SAQA Conference in Philadelphia, PA on April 1st.
Horizon II

Horizon II

I'm liking this direction and want to take it even farther. How about you? In what ways do you find yourself pushing and stretching yourself and your art?
Also posted in New Work, The Learning Curve

SAQA Celebrating Silver Artist Talk

Here's a video of me talking about my piece Moonshine in SAQA's Celebrating Silver exhibit at the 2014 Houston Quilt Festival. At the time, I had no idea I was being recorded or that it was posted on You Tube. Surprise! And, a delightful surprise it was. I wish my talk had not been accompanied by Monsieur Le Frog de la Throat, though I managed to croak it out pretty well in spite of it... ribbit!

Celebrating Silver is a beautiful collection of quilt art, all of which you can see or purchase on the SAQA website. The catalog, a gorgeous hard-cover book, is available as well. I must thank juror Yvonne Porcella who selected an amazingly talented group of artists. I am so honored to be among them. And another big thank you to Nancy Bavor, the managing curator, for that unexpected and very sweet introduction (that's her wearing the silvery hair - it was Halloween!) and all her hard work in bringing this wonderful exhibition to life.

Also posted in Exhibitions

Quilt National, SAQA and a little Moonshine

It has been a while since I last posted and a lot has happened, good and not so good. But ultimately very good.

First, some good. The Houston Quilt Market/Festival is underway where SAQA's latest exhibit Celebrating Silver is premiering. SAQA, Studio Art Quilt Associates, is celebrating their 25th anniversary and invited a select number of artists to create a work of art in honor of this landmark. I was lucky enough to be one of the artists selected. We artists had to keep images of our work under wraps until the premiere but I can now share my piece, Moonshine.


It is made with a luscious cobalt blue dupioni silk, silver lamé and a woven blue and silver textile. I will be attending the festival next week and can't wait to see the entire collection hanging together. For those who can't attend the opening, you can see the all the quilts on the SAQA website and where they can be purchased. The catalog is also available (it's gorgeous!) on the SAQA website. And, today I found out a UK publication, British Patchwork & Quilting magazine, has a beautiful write up on SAQA and the Celebrating Silver exhibit, and my Moonshine is one of the featured quilts. What a nice surprise.

More good...this summer my main project was creating a piece for Quilt National, which I've never had the privilege of being in mostly due to not entering. Over ten years ago I entered something that I knew would not get in, I wasn't ready but I wanted to give it go to understand the process, and of course, it didn't get in. This year, while recuperating from three herniated discs, I thought long and hard about where I wanted to go with my art. I knew I wanted to move away from impressionistic landscapes into abstract work. I knew I wanted to work large and minimal and I knew I wanted to continue using the salvaged silk sari remnants I'd fallen in love with. Most importantly, I knew I wanted to start working in a series. This summer I made and entered the first piece in this series in Quilt National. It was accepted.

This is insane. This almost never happens. Most first time artists submitting to QN try for years to get in. Well, I'm going to take this as a sign that I have found the direction I've been digging down into my soul searching for. This feels good.

Which makes up for all the physical difficulties I had over the summer while making it and preventing me from making a second piece. Without getting too graphic, my back issues were exacerbated by, if not in fact caused by, a very large fibroid pressing against my spine. Ultimately, it was surgically removed (the fibroid, not my spine), along with some female odds and ends I had no need of. Compared to the back pain and sciatica, the surgery was a cake-walk. It's been a difficult year and, at the same time, one of my very best years.

Feeling so much better now, I'm headed to Houston to walk my assets off looking at quilts!

Also posted in Exhibitions

Dream Collection

Every September, Studio Art Quilts Association holds its biggest (and funnest) fundraiser, an auction of 12 x 12 inch art pieces which have been donated by the members. To help promote the upcoming event, members can curate their own mini collection, a Dream Collection, of six pieces that are posted on the website. Here is my Dream Collection :

WATER - under, in, nearby, glimpse of, affected by, or not a drop of WATER

Siefkin Lawler Schwarzenberger GarnerS Snell MillerD  

I was having a difficult time selecting a theme because there were so many pieces I found fascinating. Finally, I just picked six that I loved and then looked to see if there were a unifying element that connected them and there was! Water. I'm so happy to be able to include my good friend Mary Schwarzenberger's piece in this collection. I just love her work and she's a super fun person.

I have a piece in the auction as well. Click here to see my Blue Lagoon. And if you want to see more, check out all the beautiful artwork available in the SAQA 2014 Benefit Auction. I will post more as the auction draws near.

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SAQA Conference

Last month I attended my first SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) conference, which was held in Old Town Alexandria, VA and marked SAQA's 25th anniversary. This year's SAQA conference focused on the business of being an artist with many lectures on how we can better present and promote our work, exploring the various goals and career paths available to artists and interviews with a number of working artists who shared where they are and how they arrived at their own various points on their artistic journeys. It was a very enlightening conference and it is what decided me to start a blog again, not only to share, but to record as well my work, process and my thoughts behind the work. I will also share what inspires me and delights me in the Art World.


But, the SAQA conference wasn't all business; there were a lot fun things going on, too. I met a lot of fellow artists, ate a lot of good food (too much!) and saw a lot of great artwork. One of the best evenings for me was the Anniversary dinner and SAQA's Spotlight auction. I wasn't planning on bidding, I just wanted to see the artwork, which were all small 6 x 8 inch pieces matted, and watch the excitement. And then I saw it.

Martha Wolfe Sea Birds

This beautiful piece by Martha Wolfe, called Sea Birds, is made with layers of silk organza, hand stitched and beaded. When I saw it, I literally gasped. The color shifts are so subtle and delicate. I love the watery transparency. And then, there's that orange beak, perfect. I had to have it. I had to win it. And so I did. It now proudly hangs in the entrance of my studio, welcoming me and visitors alike. Thank you, Martha! Please visit Martha's wonderful blog where she shows her process making this piece. See it here.


Now, back to my studio where I am working on a large piece I am creating for my entry for Quilt National. Fingers crossed.

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