Susan M from Australia did this block for the Asian Challenge on the CQ for Newbies Yahoo group. She tied for 1st place and sent me her photo and the following message:
"I enjoy your other blog where you “pull apart” a CQ block that you like, the elements in it and so forth. I’d love for you to look at it and share any thoughts about it – positive or negative; things I could have done better; where I could add more or change things or whatever."
I love getting emails like this. It makes the time spent on a block worthwhile if I know someone else finds it useful. So having said that............Susan's embroidery skills are gorgeous and since this is only her third CQ block... she is indeed a CQ newbie.
Let me tell you first what I really like about this block. Of course there's the needlework as for me that is what it is all about .. She elegantly decorated the arch and columns in the focal patch and her seams are very intricate.
I love all the strong directional elements on the left and up over the corner... the straight back of the peacock, the bamboo that is surface texture for the odd shaped patch (a perfect solution), the heavily beaded print in the corner and best of all, the lovely wisteria hanging down into the patch below.
On the upper right side there are all kinds of curved elements to move the eye ... the stance of the maiden, the beaded spray and the beautifully done cherry tree. Lower right has a very original fan treatment and exqusite embroidered character..
Susan carefully chose her elements and they almost all make a strong Asian statement....but for me (and it's only my opinion) the ribbon just doesn't fit. It's beautifully done but doesn't fit...so with the magic of photoshop I removed it.. In its place I rather see a dragonfly, a butterfly or even best of all, the wisteria carried even farther down into the patch. Adding some of the purple and blue beads to the motif on the upper right would add a little extra bling there.
Then I would suggest the peacock's tail be lengthened. It is a perfect opportunity to add a stong directional curve to the that area. His tail is beautifully done but not long enough... For a while our neighbor raised peacocks and the male came to our house when he could get away and when he sat on the frame over the deck his tail was over 6' long.
The water lily is perfect although I did tint it a little pinker but the leaf needs to be larger and stronger to support it and add weight to that area... and she started with the ripples in the water around the leaf (a great idea) but stopped too soon. .... more ripples add another strong curved element... and finally the lace motif detracts from the oriental character in the lower corner which holds its own beautifully without it. A very small point but I REALLY like the character by itself ...
So here are the two blocks..The ribbon overwhelmed the block and when it is removed the focus immediately becomes the lovely needlework and with the blocks side by side I hope you can see the difference lengthening the tail and enlarging the leaf make....
This is really an exceptional block and I'm delighted it received the recognition it deserved.. I shall certainly be watching for future work by Susan.