Using Line and Shape - Hope Wilmarth

SAQA Seminar (Artist Q&A)

Tell us about your artwork and artistic career.

In 2009, I made my first art quilt for a local juried gallery show and embarked on a new path: the creation of original, intuitive, contemporary fiber art and surface design. Prior to that, I made traditional quilts for many years while working as a registered nurse. Hence, most of my work is intuitive as I don’t come from an art background or training.

Seeking to learn more about art quilting, I took a class taught by Jeannette DeNicolis Meyer. She taught us to look carefully at representational pictures and reduce them to simple shapes and lines. Another important influence was Jean Wells Keenan’s book, Intuitive Color and Design, which introduced cutting cloth without a ruler and sewing unexpected colors next to each other, piecing units without regard to traditional standards.

Urban Cathedral by Hope Wilmarth


If the Elements of Design are line, shape, color, value, texture, and space, which one (or two) do you focus on most in your work? Why?

I focus most on line and shape. Line and shape can be manipulated to create texture and spacial relationships. I try to see simple line and shape when creating abstract pieces. Coupling random shapes and lines with the absence of color in my artwork lets me experiment with positive and negative spaces.

Fault Line by Hope Wilmarth

I realized the visual impact of black and white art (with a bit of hue), when "Fault Line" was accepted in Quilt National, 2015. This inspired the second in the series, which used two complementary colors and a bit of white. The absence of color made the boldest statement in later work, including "Urban Cathedral" with a few blocks of red, the “Construction” series and “Who Knew It Could Be So Complicated.”


What techniques and materials do you use to create the elements of design in your work?

I work mostly with commercial cotton material. One series of work has used a piecing technique by which 3/4” strips are pieced then cut into shapes. Other series relies on random shapes pieced together. The Encrypted series uses acrylic painted words written horizontally then vertically on top of each other without regard to space. This creates interesting abstract lines and shapes in the work.

Encrypted by Hope Wilmarth


Are there certain steps in your design process when you think more about the elements of design than others?

Since much of my work is intuitive there is a lot of trial and error, cutting and re-piecing the work, building on small groups of pieced work to create the whole. When painting on a surface to create art, I might calligraphy out a small paper design first before putting paint to cloth.

Who Knew It Could Be So Complicated by Hope Wilmarth


Is there a particular question you ask yourself or an idea that you keep in mind when you are focusing on the visual design of an art quilt?

I tend to lean toward abstract design rather than representational. Much of my work is in response to a call for entry so of course the theme of the call is the initial idea. As I am building units of work on the design wall, I try to keep the eye moving around the work. As I work with lines and shapes, I am cognizant of the impact of the absence of color, thus work a lot in black, white, grey, ombre. In my representational work, I focus on value as I manipulate shapes.

Constructions by Hope Wilmarth



Hope Wilmarth created her first, original, fiber art quilt in 2009, responding to a juried gallery call. The experience led her into the world of fiber artists which continues to challenge, excite, educate and open new opportunities to explore surface design.

Hope’s professional background is that of a Registered Nurse during which time she enjoyed traditional quilting, calligraphy, knit, crochet, macramé among other media which she now draws on for her work in mixed media, contemporary and abstract art quilts.

Hope is a published fiber artist, exhibiting nationally and internationally.


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