Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Inspirations

Several people have asked me to show the original inspiration photos for some of my quilts; I wish I had kept a nice neat file of them!! And of course I didn’t…but I would definitely advise you to do that.

Regrets my posting has been a bit sparse lately; it’s because I’ve been working on a new course for Quilt University about Working in Series.  It’s still going through all the editing etc and it will be Spring or even later before it’s up online – I will definitely announce that on the sidebar.  It’s a different kind of course and involved quite a bit of writing, so I was totally writ out with no energy for the blog.

So here are some of the quilts and inspiration photos I could find.  I always do a sketch from the photo and very often manipulate that sketch in many different ways before finally choosing one idea (or maybe more!) from which to make the quilt.  I never ever blow the sketch up to a giant cartoon.  I think this is a waste of paper!  and my energy and fuel in trekking all the way across town to the nearest copy shop.  But even more importantly, I think if you have a big plan like that then you tend to switch off your creative brain and just start following the pattern.  And, oh! you lose so much doing that!!  A small sketch with the values noted and a colour scheme is by far and away the best starting point.  The value sketch gives you the basic structure of the composition but dictates only the bold shapes and lines.  As you start to work, you can allow a mixture of serendipity and inspiration and sudden wild ideas to begin to ferment and that’s what brings the piece to life.  I have seen many quilts in shows that were made from one big cartoon and a lot of them (not all, there are definitely some amazing ones out there) but a lot of them look very stiff and lifeless.   They’re like those awful rigid commercial landscapes – everything is just right and there are 3 or 5 of this or that low maintenance bush planted exactly the same distance from everything else – and Nature has definitely been thrown out of the window (or should I say “wheelbarrow”?!). So please, don’t send your mind on vacation (even though Mose Allison suggests it!) or your creativity!  Make them keep working throughout the quilt making process.

Eniow, enough of the rant. 

Here are the pictures:

black white bldg inspirseparateandtogether

b&w 1 aedgingintoline72

old slide shamblesshambles

b&w 2 a  shadow5diamonds


 colliery free foto ofortuna72

cement works 5cement works red abandon100

 old slide whitby alleytheredgatewestcliffsteps

old slide whitby chimneyschimneytops  
old slide whitby harbour  Red Morning300
durham castlewherebongtreesgrow  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
old slide leeds terracepenley grove st   
old slide bootham bar cathedral,fin
farmhouse and barn   moorfarm

As you can see frequently I’ll make more than one quilt from a single photo.  Also I might change things around considerably  - first of all sketching the piece very literally, but then shifting around for different angles, omitting things, moving things, inserting other things etc etc.

any questions or comments??  I’d be most happy to receive them.  If you can guess where all the places are, I’ll send you a couple of my new postcards!!!

And, as always, if you have been, thanks for reading!  Elizabeth


Dianne Robinson said...

I will definitely look at my photos with a different eye. Thanks for the insight.

Jackie said...

Fascinating! I am interested in the alterations you make to a scene, the changed angles of a street, for example. I'm working on the knack of changing those angles of the walls and windows. Practice, practice, practice! Thank you for sharing these.

Dea said...

I just discovered your blog. What a great artist you are!
I am planning on making a quilt inspired by a photo. Your remarks on keeping the creative brain at work by sketching instead of copying a photo, make a lot of sense. I'll keep them at heart.

Elsie Montgomery said...

Appreciate this post and your creativity. Thanks again for inspiring me!

June said...

This is a glorious tutorial, without any words needed at all. Wonderful insights!

Patty said...

If I had the skill (motivation, time), I would do southern France.

Sally said...

Thank you for posting how you get inspirations for your work. I appreciate the glimpse into your design process.

McIrish Annie said...

Your work is inspiring. I like that you don't do a "blowup". I agree that things happen if you just start with the bones and then "add the meat". Lots can happen. Please let us know when the working in series course is available. I have taken classes through Quilt University and would be interested in that one!

cyn said...

beautiful... lots of character, and another level of life comes in the quilt. i kinda think, the worse your starter image, the more i like the quilt! :)

Elizabeth Barton said...

now that's interesting!! which are the worse starters in your opinion??
i'm v curious!

Ellen Lindner said...

I want a class in THIS!

Elizabeth Barton said...

I'd be happy to teach it!!! Just let me know....

California Fiber artist and composer said...

Am I imagining it or are some of the sketches in fabric? It would be wonderful to have a class on sketching from photos and design/color study sketches to work into a larger project. Do think about it.