Denise Tallon Havlan’s award winning art quilts have been described with words like innovative, imagination , excellence in workmanship.
In her creative approach she has indeed marched to the beat of her own drummer and the results are stunning. The name she has given to one of her out standing quilts, ” Unbridled Passion” is a good description of her quilts as a whole.
Her approach to her work is passionate. It is alive with color. The design and composition are bold & strong. You are going to find it difficult to pull your attention away. You will not walk away and forget one of her works, they are memorable and unique
Here’s a peek into the woman behind those amazing images, the faces that look back at you and connect with you authentically.
1. What inspires me to create and how do I keep motivated –
My visual world is composed of images. I love to watch people doing the most mundane, everyday things like sitting and just waiting. People standing in a group conversing, animals at the zoo or in my own back yard. The human and animal form interests me the most and always inspire my thought process when imagining a new work. Happiness, sorrow, surprise….emotional reaction to something gives me an instantaneous vision that may stay with me for sometime and eventually come out in one of my drawings.
2. Where do I get my ideas and what about my creative process –
My ideas come from the subject matter that interest me at the moment. It may be a movie or book that I am reading at the time or just a thought or image that comes into my head or see in real time. I will begin with sketches that eventually develop into finished drawings. I enlarge this scene to the desired finished size I want the work to be. I create all the individual images within the piece using various surface design techniques like…painting, embroidery, hand and machine applique and sometimes I will even embellish my work with selected items. My quilting is machine free motion. I will occasionally use a decorative quilting stitch but most times rely on my imagery to carry the work and use simple stippling and straight stitching quilting patterns.
3. Who/what has had the most influence on my work? –
In the beginning of my quilting career I was most influenced by art quilters like Penny Sisto, Velda Newman and Annemieke Mein. I believe it was not only their subject matter that pulled me in but the way they worked with their tools to take the textile/quilt medium to a different level.
4. What do I do for fun –
I hang with my two grand children
5. Something funny that has happened to me?
– I was sitting under a shaded pavilion at the local park reading while my grandson played with other children. There was a collection of young mothers doing the same when my “darling” 5 year old grandson walked up to me with a little friend and said “this is my grandma…..she’s 60”! Oh, well….
6. Handling the business side of my career –
I stay away from it as much as possible. Working on the business means not working on the “work”. Much to my chagrin, I spend a minimal amount of time on the business side. I maintain a website, network with a small group of professional quilters, belong to 5 professional associations and teach and lecture in the Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana area. I am a studio artist and I like it in my studio!
7. Advise for an inspiring fiber artist just starting –
Take all the workshops/classes you can by the quilt artists whose work you like the most. Once you get a handle on how to work with the medium (5 to 7 years) start doing your own thing. Use all the techniques and ideas in a new and original way. Always think outside the box. If your work looks like someone else’s you are not there yet.
8. How do I describe my style –
Boy! would I love to say that my work is my own style BUT……It would probably be described as “expressionistic”. I am not trying to create reality but more of an idea or expression of an emotion or feeling in the work. The originality comes from the medium I have chosen to work in. Fabric is allowing me to achieve a certain aesthetic quality with color and texture that may be new and different.
9. Describe myself in 5 words
– Willing to suffer for art.
10. What have been the biggest obstacles in achieving success –
MYSELF….By that I mean that I am not an “out there” type of personality. I should probably be more involved in the “quilting public eye”. I always say that quilter’s around the world know my work but do not know me.
11. Quilt artists I specifically admire –
To name a few…… I have great admiration for Caryl Fallert, Libby Lehman and Diane Gaudynski. They have achieved the pinnacle of success and share their talents and knowledge with any quilter willing to learn.
12. How did my interest begin –
My interest began with an impromptu 1989 visit to a quilt shop and wanting to buy what turned out to be class samples. The owner of the shop told me if I wanted one of those samples I would have to make it myself. I laughed and told her I did not know the first thing about sewing! She then said “I will teach you”. That was my intro into quilting and I have not stopped since. By the way….Those samples were Amish quilts which I still have a love affair with today
13. Has the recognition or acclaim effected me as an artist –
I suppose in some way it must. I have positive confidence that my work affects the viewer the way I intend it to. When work gets noticed that is a rewarding experience for the creator. What I must strive to do is to not let it affect the way I approach new work. In other words “I do not set out to make an award winning quilt”. Once I do that, failure is ensured. I approach each new piece with a new vision that must be created spontaneously as the work progresses. I want serendipity in the creative process to allow for that wonderful original vision to happen. This is hard to achieve in such a laborious medium as fabric. I do not concern myself with competition “rules & regulations” except for the obvious – size and 3 layers.
14. Proudest accomplishments to date –
The many friends I have made in the quilting world!
15. What keeps me inspired and motivated –
I stay physically healthy, close to my family and friends and always perceive myself as a “beginner”! That way there is always something new to learn and only one way to go…….UP!
Here are some photo’s of Denise’s award winning quilt Snapshot: Shannon’s Bantam.
She has included some nice close ups of details . I’m amazed by the thread painting, just incredible! For example look at the thread painting done on Shannon’s hair. The attention to detail is again, amazing, for example, notice the subtle pattern on her denim overalls. I’m running out of superlatives, so I’ll just say this is an outstanding work [a massive understatement]! Thanks Denise for sharing these close ups with us .
Be sure to check out her web site for more of her amazing quilts.