Tuesday, April 26, 2022

A Commission: Peony #1

This small piece was commissioned, and is headed off to its new owner soon! “Peony #1” Copyright Susan Brubaker Knapp. 8x10" White cotton fabric, acrylic textile paint, ink, cotton thread, cotton batting. Wholecloth painted and sketched with ink, free-motion quilted. 

Want to know more about my wholecloth painting process? Check out my blog post here:

Festa Della Terra 2022

What a wonderful afternoon! My friend, realtor Natalie Marrone hosted visual artists and a musician for Festa Della Terra at her home on April 23, and invited the public to stop in and drop off food for PORCH, a local hunger relief organization. This was the second Festa Della Terra. Visitors strolled through the woods and enjoyed art and music, had a beverage, and contributed to a great cause. 

Thursday, April 21, 2022

“For Ukraine”

“For Ukraine” (2022)

Copyright Susan Brubaker Knapp. 21.75 x 17.25"

White fabric, acrylic textile paint, cotton thread, cotton batting, cotton backing fabric. Wholecloth painted and free-motion machine quilted. 

I started this piece as Russia started its brutal war on Ukraine. As a former journalist, I find that I am glued to the television coverage when something big is happening. As my stomach churned, I turned to painting a sunflower – a symbol of Ukraine – to help me focus and calm. 

For information about my wholecloth painting process, please see my blog post here:

I’ll be teaching this process May 5-10, 2023 at Empty Spools Seminars at Asilomar in Pacific Grove, California. Students will work from their own photos and learn how to paint on fabric. Details here:

Here are some detail shots:

Sunday, March 27, 2022

“Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”

Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Copyright Susan Brubaker Knapp 2022
36" x 46.5"

I started this piece just as Putin began his war against Ukraine, and it helped me stay busy while I watched the horror unfold on the TV. I had begun the section with the orange strips about 3 years ago, and it was in my "to-do" pile. 

When I posted a photo of it in progress on social media and asked for names, it was interesting how many people linked the war to what they saw in this piece. I got lots of suggestions with things like “Incursion,” “Escape Routes,” and “Before the Seige.” 

I decided to call it “Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” which is a nod to the Mister Rogers song that he used to open his children's TV show. (I grew up in Pittsburgh, and actually met Mister Rogers when I was four years old.) The title refers to an idealistic view of the world, in which people want to be good neighbors, and is in direct contrast to what Putin is doing to Ukraine. I believe that the good people of Ukraine and the good people of Russia want to be good neighbors. It is a dictator, his cronies, and his war machine that make it impossible. Bombs have destroyed beautiful neighborhoods where people lived, loved, and played with their children. 

Here are the lyrics to Fred Roger's song: 

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood
A beautiful day for a neighbor
Could you be mine?
Would you be mine?

It’s a neighborly day in this beauty wood
A neighborly day for a beauty
Could you be mine?
Would you be mine?

I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you
I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you

Let’s make the most of this beautiful day
Since we’re together, might as well say
Would you be my, could you be my
Won’t you be my neighbor?

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Let's raise funds for World Central Kitchen!


Let’s raise funds to feed those fleeing Ukraine! 
While watching the news and worrying, I felt I had to find some way to help. World Central Kitchen is providing hot meals to thousands fleeing Ukraine, and to those still in Ukraine. In past years, it has provided critical nutrition services in countries facing war and natural disasters, including Brazil, Afghanistan, Tonga, Venezuela, and the U.S. It has a 4-star rating on Charity Navigator, so you can donate with confidence.
I created this little sunflower pin, and am offering the pattern for free on my website here:

In return, please consider a contribution to World Central Kitchen @wck here: (You can also access this link on my website when you download the pattern.)

Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Blue Water Film Festival

I’m pleased to have been chosen as the 2022 Featured Artist for the 2022 Blue Water Film Festival. They are using my piece, “Net of Wonder,” on their poster. The festival, held June 2-8, 2022, “encourages attendees to think broadly about how climate change affects planet Earth and think deeply about the universal concerns and actions needed to bring us into balance.” 

For more information about Blue Water Film Festival, visit

“Net of Wonder” is a piece I made for the exhibition “A Better World: Heroes Working for the Greater Good,” and celebrates the work of Jacques-Yves Cousteau (1910-1997), an explorer and environmentalist passionate about the sea and everything that swam or crawled in it. He helped develop the first scuba equipment, which enabled researchers to more closely study underwater environs. Cousteau warned us about the dangers of coastal development, pollution, exploitation, and over-fishing. His life was one of extraordinary passion and purpose. “The sea,” Cousteau said, “once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.”

As a child, I loved watching “The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau,” a TV show that aired in the U.S. from 1966 to 1976. In the Calypso, a former French naval vessel, and in his little yellow submarine, Cousteau took me to places I will never be able to visit. He opened my eyes to the diversity and splendor of the ocean, and the need to protect it.

Here are some photos of the piece in progress:

Tuesday, March 1, 2022

“Native Beauties in Fabric and Thread”

Hooray! My exhibition, “Native Beauties in Fabric and Thread,” at the North Carolina Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill is up! 

In lieu of a reception, I’ll meet with visitors and demonstrate techniques I used to create these 15 pieces on April 2. Please come; I’d love to meet you!

Arthur S. DeBerry Gallery for Botanical Art & Illustration
in the Allen Education Center
North Carolina Botanical Garden – Chapel Hill
Exhibit open March 1 – April 24, 2022
Demonstrations April 2, 11 a.m. to 2:45 p.m. 

If you’ve never visited this Botanical Garden, it is a real gem. In every season, there is something glorious to see. From fabulous carnivorous plants to rare wildflowers, the 1,100 acres offer visitors a way to explore North Carolina’s wide range of native plants in one location. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2022


43" x 41"
Copyright 2022 Susan Brubaker Knapp

Whew! I just finished “Oaks,” the final piece for my exhibition at the N.C. Botanical Garden coming up soon (it will be on display March-April 2022). Last summer, I collected oak leaves I found on my morning walks around my neighborhood, and I was amazed at the diversity of species I found. Some oak trees have leaves that can be pretty variable in shape, so it can be a little tricky to identify them. 

North Carolina’s capital city is Raleigh, known as the City of Oaks. 

I’m not an expert at leaf identification. But I think I have included pin oak, post oak, willow oak, white oak, shumard oak, and black oak leaves in my piece. 

I used a stencil of tree branches when I layered the paint on this piece, and I love how they give the leaves a feeling of transparency or shadowing of surrounding trees. I positioned them to give a feeling that the leaves were blowing through the wind. 

Cotton fabric, acrylic textile paint, cotton batting, cotton backing, cotton thread. Wholecloth painted, stenciled, free-motion machine quilted. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Turkey Tail Fungus

“Turkey Tail Fungus” 

Copyright Susan Brubaker Knapp 2022

20.75 x 25.5"

White cotton fabric, acrylic textile paint, cotton batting, interfacing, cotton backing, cotton thread. Wholecloth painted, free-motion quilted.

This piece is part of my Botanical Series, and will be exhibited – and for sale – through the North Carolina Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill March-April 2022. 

It is based on a photo I took on our property (I hesitate to call it a yard, because it is so heavily wooded, and “yard” conjures images of a carefully groomed lawn and shrubs.) We have been trying to leave the dead branches and leaves, as they are good for the birds and insects and other living creatures, and removing the invasive species (we have a ton of English ivy, and my husband has been tearing it down off the trees bit by bit). 

Right after we moved in to this house, in early 2020, I put on my boots and tromped down the hill and discovered this amazing Turkey Tail fungus growing on a dead log. Turkey Tail can grow in many color combinations, and this one had greens and yellows. I’ve seen photos of them growing in shades of browns and even blue-violets. 

Friday, December 17, 2021

“Pink Coleus” on Mancuso site


Look! Mancuso is using my “Pink Coleus” as the banner image on their website for Mid-Atlantic Quilt Festival (in Hampton, Virginia, February 24-27, 2022)! I love the Mancuso shows because they showcase many smaller exhibits that are so engaging. 

Here’s the whole piece:

Studio Tour Video

Our wonderful realtor, Natalie Marrone, who helped us find our home here in Chapel Hill, made a video for her business that features me! The idea was to tell folks interested in moving to the area about our active arts scene.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

Witch Hazel

“Witch Hazel”
Copyright Susan Brubaker Knapp 2021. About 26x21”.
Wholecloth painted, free-motion machine quilted.

I’ve been working on a new piece, “Witch Hazel,” based on a photo I took at the N.C. Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill. It is done now, except for the facing. This piece will be part of my exhibition “Native Plants in Fabric and Thread” at the Garden in March-April 2022. 

When the witch hazel was at its peak in mid-November, I took lots of photos of it, and chose my favorite shot. I decided to change the background to give the crazy bad-hair-day blooms more contrast. 

Here’s a photo of the start of the painting. I purposely left some white showing on the yellow strands of the flowers, for more of a water color look. 

And here’s a detail shot of the finished piece:

Hamamelis virginiana (Witch Hazel) is a species of flowering shrub native to eastern North America, from Nova Scotia west to Minnesota, and south to central Florida to eastern Texas. 

The information below is from Larry Stritch of the U.S. Forest Service:

American witchhazel posses some interesting lore and uses. The most interesting use as been the use of forked limbs as dowsing or divining rods. Early European settles observed Native Americans using American witchhazel to find underground sources of water. This activity is probably where the common name witchhazel came from. “Wicke” is the Middle English for “lively’ and “wych” is from the Anglo-Saxon word for “bend.” American witchhazel was probably called a Wicke Hazel by early white settlers because the dowsing end of the forked branch would bend when underground water was detected by the dowser. This practice had a widespread use by American settlers and then exported back to Europe. Dowsing became an established feature of well-digging into the 20th century.

From Wikipedia:

Native Americans produced witch hazel extract by boiling the stems of the shrub and producing a decoction, which was used to treat swellings, inflammations, and tumors.[6] Early Puritan settlers in New England adopted this remedy from the natives, and its use became widely established in the United States.[7]

An extract of the plant is used in the astringent witch hazel.

H. virginiana produces a specific kind of tannins called hamamelitannins. One of those substances displays a specific cytotoxic activity against colon cancer cells.[8]

The bark and leaves were used by Native Americans in the treatment of external inflammations. Pond's Extract was a popular distillation of the bark in dilute alcohol.