Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Artistry in Quilting: The Lion and the Paintbrush

Last week during our Quilt Market tour post, we showed you Valerie Funk's art quilt, "The Lion and the Paintbrush." Today we're back with a post full of process photos and an interview with Valerie to learn more about her gorgeous work of art. Enjoy! 

"The Lion and the Paintbrush" by Valerie Funk, 

Q. How did you get into quilting?
VF: I moved to Iowa and was looking for something creative to do, something that would use my degree in photography, graphics and design. After learning traditional quilting, I ran across a couple applique quilts. I started looking at quilts from an artistic standpoint as opposed to a utilitarian quilt that would go on a bed. I liked what applique added to the quilts, but needle turn wasn’t going to work for me. Being introduced to fusible web was eye opening, and the flood gates opened up. I had all these designs in my head and I couldn’t get them out fast enough to create them.

Q. How do you design your art quilts?
VF: It depends—at first, I did all of my sketches with pen and paper, and then I’d photograph the design and have it printed at the size I needed. Then I got a tablet with a pen, and for some designs I’ll draw on the tablet. With more lifelike quilts like this lion, I’ll find images online to use as inspiration and pull details from them to create my design.
Almost everything I create is a mixture of images I like. I take a handful of iamges I like, put them on my tablet, and then I’ll draft my designs on paper using bits and pieces of what I liked from each image to create my own.

Q. Talk to us about your color choices.

VF: I’m a freeform kind of artistic. The only color I planned ahead of time was the lighter yellow base, because it wouldn’t muddy the design, and the other bright colors would stand out on top of it. The colors were planned on the fly—I got to each piece and made a decision. Sometimes I keep a color wheel by my project to help me choose what colors will look good together.

Q. Your lion is not what one would call “traditionally colored.” What prompted you to go with such a rainbow of a palette?
VF: When I started designing animal quilts, it was definitely stepping outside of my own comfort zone to do these in no-traditional colors. When I was working on the lion, I said to myself, it’s either going to be amazing, or I’m going to die crying. That was a bit of a scary moment. But after I finished the lion, I really liked the way it looked.

Q. Let’s talk about assembly.
VF: The lion is probably by far one of the most complex quilts that I have ever put together. I work one piece at a time, adding them to the light yellow lion head. After fusing all the pieces, I do a zig zag stitch to secure them. I like the look of the zig zag because it blends better with the quilt. I don’t want the topstitching of the pieces to be what stands out.

Q. The quilting on this is wonderful to look at—each piece has a different motif!
VF: The custom quilting—there’s so much in that quilt. I love the way it turned out. I hid a paintbrush in there in one of the tufts of fur and I hid my initials somewhere else. Each piece of the lion was addressed separately. I think for every piece in there, I changed thread to make sure every one was perfect.

Wavy lines on the black background:

The quilted lion from the back of the quilt--so much detail! 

Thanks, Valerie, for sharing the details of your lion quilt with us! Stop by later this week to see two more of Valerie's quilts made with our Painter's Palette Solids. 

Visit Valerie's blog here
Visit Valerie's Facebook page here and check out The Lion and the Paintbrush photo album to see more close-ups of the quilt. 

See all 168 colors of our Painter's Palette Solids here and ask for them at your local quilt shop. 
Find a list of shops carrying the Solids here


  1. He’s magnificent! Thanks for sharing your process.

  2. Thank you so much for this interview. I love reading about the creative process and seeing the progress photos. I love the bright colors and I truly hope this becomes a pattern at some time.

  3. What a great finished piece, and being able to read about the creative process is appreciated!

  4. It is now 11/17/18. I'm commenting here because I see on FB that Valerie's quilt, The Lion and the Paintbrush has been stolen from where it was displayed in local business in Terra Haute, Indiana.I f you have any information please call Valerie Funk 641-414-4879 or the Terre Haute Police Department 812-238-1661. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10218281301410668&set=a.10200922795178861&type=3&theater