Thursday 1 August 2019

A Walk in the Park on August 1st

Late Summer in the Blue Ridge

At first I thought of cars in a parking lot. I spend a lot of time walking around looking for my car in the car park. I do. But a conversation with a friend got me thinking beyond car parks and county parks. I realized there are all kinds of parks. Then my mind went to Shenandoah National Park in my beloved state of Virginia.

For my non-American friends, the Shenandoah River meanders through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and West Virginia which is in the northern part of the American South. As in Dixieland. Virginia was Confederate state during the Civil War in the 1860s. In the song Take Me Home, Country Roads, John Denver sings, "Almost heaven, west Virginia, Blue Ridge mountains, Shenandoah River..." Yes, it is all that..

The Blue Ridge Mountains are one of only two places in the world where the chemical isoprene, released by the (red oak) trees, imparts a blue cast to the atmosphere. (The other is a eucalyptus-forested area in Australia.) Other mountains in the world might look blue from a distance, but, apparently, not to the extent of these two places.
Yup. They really do look like this.

Since I happen to have a lot of gradient blues in my stash, I thought I would do something like this. But then I thought about what it is like to actually walk in late summer in these mountains among the trees and flowers. When you are standing on a mountain, it doesn't look blue.

My favorite kind of quilt making is to use only what I have on hand. I have had some muted 2.5 in/6.35 cm blocks hanging around for several years, so I started fiddling with them. The idea was to use up as many of those blocks as I could to represent the textures of the Blue Ridge as you stand on them. Thus, Late Summer in the Blue Ridge was born. The colors remind me of the dusty heat that is present there this time of year.

The 156 blocks finished at approximately 20x21 in/51x53 cm. I quilted it in wavy horizontal lines to mimic the peaks and valleys. It's the first abstract representational quilt I have made. Hope you like walking in Shenandoah National Park with me. Here's the song if you care to have a listen:

The tiny flowers remind me of little gnats buzzing about.


  1. I love how you used beautiful traditional fabrics to create a favorite place, but also included the reality of the gnats! A well-rounded portrait of Shenandoah. :)

  2. There is something very calming about your quilt Maureen, it really does capture the peace of a late summer day in the mountains.

  3. So pretty! I love the thought that went into capturing the beautiful colours of a particular season, and your wavy quilting is perfect. (Love the gnats too :-)

  4. I think the blue shades of the mountains are what come to mind when we think of Shenandoah, but you've reminded me well that there are other colors of beauty in those mountains as well. I've never been there, but hope to, some day. I agree that your interpretation is very calming, and the gnats make me smile.

  5. I love the way you have created an abstract quilt with traditional fabrics to represent the colours and textures of those stunning mountains and quilted to suggest the peaks and valleys. It is a beautiful piece. I'm glad you decided against a car park!

  6. I have only driven through the Blue Ridge Mountains, never walked in them. You made a lovely abstract interpretation of this lovely place with traditional fabrics (as Janine said). Thank you for sharing a bit of scientific information with us about the red oak trees.

  7. stumbled on this blog. I also make art quilts and I also belong to an on-line art quilt group and I also live in VA. Love the Blue Ridge Mountain piece... so true!