Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Working with Photographs

Apologies for not blogging last week - I was having too much fun staying with a group of friends on Jekyll Island, GA.  Jekyll is a state park and although "they" are always nibbling away at its natural landscape with various "developments" aimed at the top 1%, much of the island is unspoiled.  Some of the beaches have been voted "most romantic" and are used for weddings:  I came across a wonderful "sculpture": an empty beach with two rows of perfect white chairs!  Facing towards the sea...I thought it was a comment on how little attention society is paying towards the environment, but was told: " no...it's a wedding".

Of course we took lots of photos which will be used for both memories and inspiration.  Not all photos are good inspiration for all mediums, however.  Take a look at these two:

This would be quite difficult to make into a quilt because art quilt designs based directly on photographs are  really fiber collage.  And collage is is the process of sticking shapes together.
Now it does work okay for a watercolor, because it's quite easy to use line as well as shape in a watercolor:

I've isolated one tree, added color and value and put the ocean in as a back ground...

Let's take a look at a different photograph:

one in which there are distinct shapes:

Now this is a candidate for both a watercolor and a quilt design.

First step is to crop and desaturate.

And the next step is a quick sketch:
and then the painting:
and I've not yet made the quilt...(I've promised myself an abstract year!) but as you can see from the sketch there are clear big shapes and it would be a fun piece - next January!

I feel that when you're choosing a photograph from which to make a design for an art quilt, you need to look for good shapes that bear some relation to each other (unity) but are not identical (variety). Furthermore, I really like it when the image tells a story.   Here are Marti and Heidi enjoying a bit of wave watching (I could tell because of the gentle snoring!!) and it brings back for me a lovely quiet day by the ocean.

So, if you have been, thanks for reading!  And for anyone going to the Quilt National '13 at Athens, Ohio - I'll see you there!!  Look for the tall gangly bird with short blonde spikey hair!!



Anonymous said...

Great post. I've been thinking more and more about my old photographs and new quilts. Nice to see that you are too! Take care, Byrd

Silvia "orkaloca" Dell'Aere said...

Hi Elizabeth,
thank you for this post, being in your "inspired to design" course I find this post useful in many ways :)

Just a question, can you please expand the concept of artquilt vs fabric collage? It seems that you think that a fabric collage can't become an art quilt... if I understood well can you explain why? :)


Elizabeth Barton said...

Fiber (fabric) collage is like paper collage: arranging cut out pieces of fabric (or paper) onto a substrate and
then fixing them down and then hanging the result on the wall!

Mary Couch said...

Love the tutorial... thanks for posting.
Hugs from Mary

Jackie said...

I am always amazed that a photograph need not be a work of art to be the inspiration of one. Thank you!

Marianne said...

Why do not we can not do an art quilt as you have your watercolor tree?

Pamela Price Klebaum said...

Hi, I have the same question stated earlier, "can you please expand the concept of artquilt vs fabric collage." Are you referring to art quilts by Quilt National artists like Charlotte Ziebarth, Wen Redmond, and Dan Olfe whose work is based on photographs?