GAIL WHITE Her art spreads warmth on many levels

"This is my palette," says Christine Porter of Boardman as she pulls out a drawer of neatly folded fabrics. "I never know where a piece will end up. I just love the fabric, love the texture."
Standing in her studio -- her grown daughter's old bedroom -- Christine is surrounded by fabrics of all shapes and colors. A flannel workboard gridded in 2-inch squares covers one wall.
This is where the retired speech pathologist creates her artistic masterpieces.
Ten years ago, Christine didn't know what quilt art was. Today, she is an accomplished quilt artist.
"I have just now accepted the title, artist," Christine said as she smiles in her deeply honest manner.
"It is not by me. It flows through me," she explained. "I am very grateful for that."
Key to success: Learning how to let her work flow has been the defining success of Christine's quilt artwork.
"I didn't know anything about art," she confessed. "It's been an evolution learning how the textures flow, the colors, the composition; watching everything come together."
As Christine walks through the rooms of her home, showing me the various pieces of her work, her kind and pure spirit is as touching as her quilts.
With every detail, every example, her eyes search for connection with mine. She wants me to understand her art.
What I come to understand is her soul.
"I tried watercolor painting," she said. "I didn't like it. It was too much work, too much effort."
I stand in her living room, looking at her 8-by-12-inch framed watercolor painting of a beautiful ocean scene. I turn to view a 4-by-5-foot quilt of a mountain setting.
The deep maroons of the rocks, offset by the pinks and blues in the sky take my breath away. I can feel myself being drawn into the scene.
I stare in awe, wondering how this immense wall mural, pieced together two inches at a time from more than 30 fabrics, was "less work" and "less effort" than the small watercolor painting on the other side of the room.
Christine seems unable to answer that question. She simply explains the quilt.
"This one is called 'Sedona,'" she said. Sedona is an area in Arizona between Phoenix and Flagstaff. "It was so beautiful. I stood at the bottom, surrounded by those rocks and drank in the beauty."
While the quilted artwork reminds her of the memory, it makes me feel like I have been there, "drinking in the beauty" as well. It reaches out and pulls me in.
Much like its creator, "Sedona" has an aura of rising, radiating beauty emerging from quiet, solid rock.
Learning experience: In another room, Christine points to one of her early creations, a pastel-colored, quilted artwork. "I don't like this one," she said. "But I hung it up here to remind me of everything I learned doing it."
Her next venture, a beautiful quilt of a flowery heart, was a "copy" of a picture in a quilt art book.
Upon meeting the authors of the book, she showed them her work. "You have taken this to the next level," she remembered them telling her.
"I didn't know what the first level was!" Christine said, laughing.
From there, she stopped "copying" and started letting the ideas flow from her mind and heart.
The enveloping draw of pieces like "Sedona" is the result.
"It has been a glorious adventure," she exclaimed. With several awards judged by "people who are supposed to know good art," Christine is expanding her artistic realms.
"I am interviewing fabrics," she said. "I am breaking through -- going to use curves."
Two-inch squares have become too confining. Swirls and swishes are her next horizon.
And her next quilt may just be a horizon.
On a recent trip out West, Christine exclaimed, "I wanted to take the sky home!" Though not sure what art will come from that trip, she assures, "I have images flowing . . ."

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