Peace on Earth

My beloved uncle Dan, a Vietnam veteran, anti-war activist, and all around wonderful person, asked me two Christmases ago for an original artwork with the theme of peace. I was very happy to deliver it to him yesterday, at long last. I’m very proud to know Dan Gilman and I’m gratified he liked the artwork, even though it took me forever.

A snapshot of an older white man wearing a face mask and glasses and blue shirt, posing in the bright sun with a framed peice of artwork depicting a number of hands stitching together a quilt with a peace sign on it.
Gracious gift recipient Dan with his new wall art.
Snapshot of unframed artwork depicting a number of hands stitching together a quilt with a large peace sign design.
The completed artwork! Dan’s Peace Art, acrylic ink and paint and colored pencil on bristol board, 7-19-2020

Process

After mulling over Dan’s prompt, “Peace”, I had a stunning idea to draw a dove and a hawk locked in battle. After a birthday party in his home I realized that the only reason I though that would be an appropriate idea is because he already has wall art with this content. It’s a beaut, too–can’t compete on aesthetics! So it was back to the drawing board for me.

Later, while obsessively researching American quilting traditions, I realized that what I like about quilting is that many can work together on what seems to me to be an impossibly complex, tedious project: a piece of functional art made for survival as well as comfort, made of many small pieces and many small stitches, layered and adjusted and secured as one goes.

Like everything good in our society, it is the repeated small actions by people in collaboration and connection with each other that make a quilt, and a state of peace, exist. Peace isn’t just the absence of war, it’s an act of creation.

Close up photo of artwork depicting a number of hands stitching together a quilt with a large peace sign design.
Detail: Dan’s Peace Art, acrylic ink and paint and colored pencil on bristol board, 7-19-2020
Second close up photo of artwork depicting a number of hands stitching together a quilt with a large peace sign design.
Detail: Dan’s Peace Art, acrylic ink and paint and colored pencil on bristol board, 7-19-2020

I used inks, colored pencils, and finished off with acrylic paint to do the stitches, and I can say now that I finally understand what people like about coloring books. I know that this isn’t really the way a quilt would be laid out for the quilting stage, but accuracy wasn’t the project at hand.

Thanks for the request, Dan! Happy Christmas 2018!

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