Jan T (Urquhart) Baillie: My Art, My Quilts

Latest paintings

Why Utopia?

The dictionary definition is:

uto·pia, n., Utopia, imaginary and ideal country in Utopia
(1516) by Sir Thomas More, from Greek ou not, no + topos place

an imaginary and indefinitely remote place;
often capitalized a place of ideal perfection especially in laws, government, and social conditions;
an impractical scheme for social improvement

Imagine a place where quilters would have unlimited supplies of fabric, thread, sewing machines, ideas, coffee, food and no-one to say,

Are you ever going to come to bed, ( to make dinner), (to talk to us)?

That's what I started when I opened my retreat centre at East Maitland, New South Wales, in 2000. It's gone now, but the philosophy is present here on the website.

Ulysses Butterfly - Jan T (Urquhart) Baillie

And the butterfly?

For centuries, the butterfly has been the symbol for new life, and that's the reason for my using it as the icon for my new life after my husband was killed in 1999, and the theme of my new world in cyberspace — this website. 


You can find my art, my quilts and bits and pieces of my life. I am eager to have you visit and stay awhile.

What was I doing for the last 30+ years?

I was happily making quilts from the early 1980s until 2011, winning many awards for my quilts — which number more than 200, from 1½″ wide to 12′6" square.

Making quilts using big bits and fast inspired me to develop a fast-piecing patchwork system called Listen With Your Eyes, a system that has been adopted by quilters across the globe.

Publications - Jan T (Urquhart) Baillie


I have written four books on making quilts and written countless Internet articles on patchwork.

I was asked to be a guest writer for a series on computers and quilting in Patchwork Tshushin which has over 6 000 000 (!) readership.

My column (written for almost all of the first 160 issues) in Down Under Quilts magazine — Computer Quilts — had lots of readers.


I have had four solo exhibitions, The first was at the launch of my first book, then

As well, I have entered quilts in solo and group quilt exhibitions around Australia. One of my books was launched in the USA. My quilts from that book went too, but not me.

Teaching - Jan T (Urquhart) Baillie


Teaching (make that enthusing) people about quiltmaking, traditional and not so traditional for more than thirty years, was my life.

I travelled Australia teaching and made plenty of friends.

Because I taught many, many quilters how to use Electric Quilt software, they called me the EQ Guru.

You can find me in heaven (Utopia)

when I'm creating art!

The next 30 years

After spending 30+ years quiltmaking, what's the next thirty years (or whatever I'm allocated) going to hold?

So far some travelling in a caravan, and art, art, art!

I take my art supplies in a tool box and then when it's raining I get out the paper and brushes or pencils, and I'm in heaven!

My husband, Bob, and I are now retired in a beautiful little country village in the Midwest region of New South Wales. There is no patchwork and quilting, as we have downsized and taken a tree change.

I do have a studio in a spare room in the house we rent in town, so …

Rylstone Railway Station c.1894 (Now privately owned.)

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What is your favourite art medium?

Gift of art supplies

Mine is all of my media! Whatever I am currently painting with.

I have painted with acrylics for more than 35 years, because when I enrolled in a paining class at TAFE im 1980, I was so allergic to the other artists' oil paints, my eyes swelled shut and my asthma flared up. Sadly, I had to leave the class.

Acrylic paints to the rescue

Back then, the quality of the readily available acrylic paints was not so hot, but still made painting an enjoyable pastime. Student colours by Chroma are now pretty good quality, and are used by quite well known artists here in Australia.

student acrylic paint

Watercolours have no strong smell

My favourite watercolour paint comes from Art Spectrum. These Aussie paints are juicy and full of pigment. The range has many colours that I know you will love. There is a Landscape set, and a Starter set, both of which I have bought. The Starter set incudes a mixing palette, 12 tubes of colour, sponge, assorted brushes, all in a lovely wooden box.

I painted the picture at right, and lots of others, with these delicious paints.

If you are wanting to buy some wonderful, juicy, watercolours, you would be extremely happy with these.
More of my favourite painting media next time.

Read what some renowned artists say about their favourites

Art Spectrum™ watercolour tube paints

Art Spectrum™ watercolour tube paints

Abstract watercolour

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More time for art journals

love is

There are so many distractions when you want to make art every day. Life gets in the way so quickly, you hardly notice. I have painted nothing for almost two weeks and we are going house sitting tomorrow for ten days. Oh well!

My current obsession is watercolour. I love how it blends when wet, can be transparent or opaque, and dries in minutes. I love to make the paint watery and then tilt the page in different directions to make runnels on the paper.

The art journal page below is my interpretation of the prompt for the week “Love is in the air”, on Journalling Krazy Island Style. While I have done several courses in art journalling, I joined this course so that I had a ready-made start to the week — a prompt.

What is a ‘prompt’?

It is often helpful to use a prompt from another person or group, as you can start with an idea instead of a blank page. So, what is a prompt? A prompt is an idea or a word or even a technique that is proposed by someone other than you. This lets you explore a topic or technique which is in not your comfort zone. It is surprising how many great pages/paintings have started from a simple prompt.

Where can you get prompts?

Doing a search online for art journal prompts brings up almost 2 000 000 results. Choose the ones that you relate to, and join or bookmark the sites.

One of my favourites which is free to join is: Journal 52

See you next time.


love is
Love is in the air Watercolour in Strathmore Visual Journal

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Colour swatch challenge on Journal 52

I joined a free year long journalling group which has weekly prompts. Since I joined late, I still have to catch up, but am really enjoying the challenges, and am using them to experiment with some new techniques (for me!).

Week 9 was to select three swatches of colour, and create a page, so no point in choosing favourites, is there?

Inspired by a Diane R Nelson painting with two sisters in it, I painted a face that’s partly missing, a la Nelson’s painting, and used my own experimental techniques with Neocolor II water soluble pastels to make the page.

All in all, very satisfying!


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My latest two Friendly Faces

Jan T at 2

We had to draw ourselves as a child,  and the next as an older person. Easy for me, I am older!



I am so having fun and practice does make perfect. Almost! VBG

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Transformative Art Journalling from Krystal Norton

I signed up for this course last year and it began in January.

One of the first tasks we were set was to put a face to our inner critic, so we could address his/her comments. As well, we had to write 10 times: “I am a creative genius”.

creative genius

And here’s what I said to old square head.

creative genius

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Ink writing, song lyrics, journalling

ink writing, song lyrics

Journal Girl gave us an assignment, to listen to a favourite song, or read a poem we liked, and make a journal page around that.

This spread started with spray inks and alphabet stencils, collaged music pages and images from a magazine.

I wrote the words with dark brown ink, and highlighted the abc and doremi with gold paint.

Hated it! Dark, ugly…

Decided to overpaint with some bright yellow and pink paint. A bit calmer, but still no focus.

Painted some pale lemon, with a bit of Titanium white for added opacity, and the some pale, pale pink. Much better!

ink writing, song lyrics

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Friendly face painted

Learning new techniques keeps the brain cells going.

Journal Girl’s latest course is such fun and here’s my painted face:

painted face

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Pattern and pattern on a page

Samie ( Journalgirl.com) wanted us to get out five scraps of fabric, paper or lace that were patterned and that didn’t match each other.

Collaged them on a gessoed page and began to spray inks and make runs of ink, and stencilled inks.

Next morning when I went to work on the page I noticed a bird shape had magically appeared on the left of the page. I enhanced the shape with Derwent Inktense pencils and the page took on its own life.


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Creative Jump Starts 2014: First jumpstart

Second paint layer on dry first layer

Julie Fei Fan Balzer showed us how to use everyday household objects to make texture on our gelatin printing plate.

These are the odds and ends I used:


Pieces of lace, corrugated cardboard, tapestry canvas, grout spreader, tube from carpet tape, jar lid, bubble wrap and part of a plastic cake tray, were my choices.

First print

First print with purple and yellow paint

Second print with new layer of yellow paint and using the grout spreader

Second layer of yellow paint

New paint layers  were purple and magenta

First print collected the left over paint from the previous layers

print using netting and lace for texture

Cleaned the plate, new paint layers – blue and orange

Using lace for texture

Second print after first paint layer dried and new blue layer brayed on

Second paint layer on dry first layer

And magically the Gelli plate was clean enough to put away.

Thanks for the ideas, Julie.



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My favourite page from Life Book 2013

Introspection LB 2013

One of the many favourites!

Using inkjet image and gel medium to transfer onto the dress, collaged elements surrounding the woman, and lastly waxing her with beeswax.

The last step was using melted kids crayons to decorate the edges.

Lots of new techniques which I really enjoyed.

Introspection LB 2013
Introspection LB 2013

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Experimenting with colour complements

Experiments with green blue and red orange journal page

I bought a great book, recommended by Samie Harding (journalgirl.com), called Flavor for Mixed Media by Mary Beth Shaw. (You can buy your printed copy or a Kindle version from the links at the bottom of this post. I get a small commission which I use to help pay for my website costs.)

Using two colours opposite on the colour wheel, although the exercises show three, I began to play with tints and shades. My favourite colour scheme is blue-green and red-orange in all their flavours.

The two colours were scraped onto the page and blended together, using an old credit card. I added circles in tints and tones by adding black, white or each other and then lastly, used a fat Copic to add the ‘screen’ and a white Uniball pen, as well as a fine Sharpie for the doodlings.

Here is the palette after I finished with the page.

green-blue/red-orange palette

And my finished page:

Experiments with green blue and red orange journal page

Thank you Samie for talking about this great book. More experiments to come.