Ann Johnston- A multifaceted woman
Ann Johnson is multitalented.
Her start was as a traditional quilter for many years.. With some experimentation she branched out into art quilting. which in turn lead to her other lines of pursuit. She is perhaps best known now with new quilters as an international expert on fabric dyeing, an author and an educator. Certainly she is very successful in all of these fields. Her reputation is international.
However her roots began in quilting, she is a quilter first and foremost, these other facets of her talents sprang naturally from her quilting, a natural outgrowth. She draws on them for her first love, quilting.
When you pursue her online resume, it is quite impressive, more solo and group expositions than you can begin to imagine. The list of publications , books & magazines that have featured her quilts or featured her work goes on & on. Then there are the many books she has authored herself, very respected and well read books. She has come to be quite a trusted expert, that many turn to for help. She has in fact an updated expanded version of the extensive “The Quilter’s Book of Design”, published in 2008. It is, a complete guide for those who want to absorb and learn and grow in their knowledge and skills.
As an out growth of her quilting, she began to dye all the fabrics for her quilts, which has led to her international reputation as a fabric dyer and educator. In her books & workshops she has shared her experience & expertise with other quilter’s.
Would you like to gain more insight into this amazing woman? Of course you would. so read on….
Questions and Answers:
1-For many new artists, it is difficult to find their own voice and not simply emulate those whose style they admire. What has helped you to develop your own voice & perspective?
My first reaction to this question is to say that after making quilts for over thirty years, I am still looking for “my own voice.” I do admire many other quilters’ work, so I make a conscious effort not to be imitative or derivative. I am not trying to make a body of work that looks like it is all from the same person, I just make them how I feel, and they come out as mine. Of course, using my own hand dyed fabric with marks I made and colors I created makes it much easier to differentiate my work from other people’s. As I develop an idea for a quilt, I make sure it is exactly what I am interested in, and as I construct a quilt, I continually ask myself if the choices fit my idea and if they are what I feel like doing—in the end my work is my work.
2-You obviously have a successful career as a quilt artist, & are known for your fabrics and books about fabric dyeing. I know they go hand in hand, but do you have a preference for one over the other?
I do love teaching, and the book writing and publishing has been exciting. Both take huge amounts of creativity and energy and are extremely rewarding, but I prefer making quilts! I am focusing on the making right now, that’s where the mystery is.
3–Who or what have had the most influence on your work?
I would say that the greatest influence on my quiltmaking is my fabric. I haven’t used commercially printed fabrics since the early 80’s. For some time now, the fabric itself has been prompting ideas for quilts.
4- Do you feel that gaining recognition has affected you as an artist?
Yes, probably. It has made me busy doing other things. I do spend some energy trying not to look for recognition for the wrong reasons.
5–What has been your proudest accomplishments to date?
Well, as far as my quilting career, my books are going to outlast anything I have done. Being my own publisher has allowed me to make quality choices that I would not have been able to have elsewhere. I hired an experienced photographer, book designer, color and text editors, proofreaders and high quality printers, etc, and so my books are high quality as well as full of good solid information.
6–What do you do for fun [besides quilting and dying and teaching and writing books? ? What time?] ?
I have a close family and spend a lot of time with them, near and far. I travel and hike with my husband all over the place. This summer we walked across England on the Coast to Coast Trail and this fall we walked the Rogue River Wilderness Trail in Oregon. We have two grandchildren that live close enough to be with us at least several times a week. Now, that is fun!
Did you ask when??? I don’t get everything done on my lists, but the things that I must do, get done. I must make quilts, so I have always found time.
7-How have you handled the business side of your career?
This is a question I have been working on for a long time, and answers have evolved. I am at the point now that I get help when I need it and listen to advice when I ask for it! The business world would shudder at my attitude towards profitmaking, but I do get to make decisions that fit my world.
8-What has been the most helpful in achieving your success?
I would say that I work very hard and I have kept at it for a very long time. All the work and time has contributed to my growth as an artist.
9–How would you describe your artistic style?
I can’t. I don’t really want to.
10-Describe yourself in 5 words.
Waiting to make another quilt.
11-What have been some of your biggest obstacles?
I have been very lucky in everything that is important.
12-In creating a new work, what part of the process do you enjoy the most?
I enjoy seeing how it finally looks when all the decisions are made, so I can go on to the next one.
13- What advice would you offer to someone just starting a career in fiber arts?
Keep your eyes wide open, practice, practice, practice, and keep learning.
Ann Johnston 2012 Studio Workshops
Ann will hold a series of fabric dyeing and quilt design workshops in her Lake Oswego studio in 2012. To ensure maximum individualized attention, class size will be limited to four participants. Registration opens January 10, 2012. Registration closes for all workshops February 10, 2012.
web site - www.annjohnston.net/
1. Begin with Color by Accident: Low-Water Immersion Dyeing, 3 days, May 12-14, 2012
A fast-paced run-through of the possibilities with new variations offered by the low-water immersion dyeing approaches introduced by Ann in her book Color by Accident
2. Add Dye Painting and Printing to Your Options, 4 days, May 17-20, 2012
An introduction to all the basic surface design techniques with thick and thin dye, using brushes & rollers, stamps & blocks, stencils & screens.
3. Silk Only—Understanding the Alternatives, 5 days, May 23-27, 2012
An exploration of dyeing a wide variety of silks using methods such as painting, printing and immersion with soda ash, citric aid and vinegar, including the selective removal of sericin. Some experience with Procion MX dyes required.
4. Focused Dyeing, 5 days, July 20-24, 2012
Is there a particular texture or pattern or theme or color that you want to use for a quilt or series of quilts? Consider it a puzzle to solve in this workshop. Some experience with Procion MX dyes required.
5. Untangle Your Design Decisions, 5 days, November 1-5, 2012
A personalized exploration of the elements of design—line, shape, color, value, pattern, texture—to answer that constant question: “Now what do I do?”
6. Using Your Own Hand-dyed Fabric, 5 days, November 8-12, 2012
Bring a pile of your own hand-dyed fabrics to build on the ideas that prompted dyeing it or on ideas that are suggested to you by the fabric.