Just read a charming little children's book about design that says a great deal quite succinctly.
it's called A Book about Design: complicated doesn't make it good by Mark Gonyea.
He states that good design rests on how we perceive relative shapes, sizes and colors (amongst other things).
In Chapter 1, he begins a little narrative of two shapes, let's say two squares, equal in size and while different in color, the colors are both mid value and equal levels of saturation. Wherever you might put those shapes in your design, neither is really dominant. They're equals - and like the two players on a tennis court, you look first at one, and then at the other. BUT if one of those tennis players is a LOT bigger, or in human terms a much Bigger Name, then that one will stand out.
But...the story continues....the second lesser named player develops an attribute that makes us want to look at her. It could be anything, a funny wiggle, an unexpected tremendous backhand, or perhaps she has a bright orange dress and the Big Name wears a plain grey one. Any change in one person's shape (the wiggle), the color (bright saturated orange) or ability (stature of her playing) will now make her the dominant one: the one we want to watch. She has drawn attention to herself.
But then....the Big Name develops the same attribute, when Lesser Namw wiggles, she wiggles - since they're now both wiggling (just imagine!), neither is dominant.
But then, the Lesser Name, changes her racquet and suddenly her game improves immensely - now we start watching everything she does again.
So you can see how, when you have two or more squares in your quilt, any changes you make to one square will affect the other. They might begin as equals, but if you do anything Interesting to one, then we'll see that one as dominant - it will dominate our attention. This is human nature, we're hard wired to do this. Interestingly even if it's negative. So we all paid a lot more attention to a certain ex-governor of Alaska because she was different - even though she was different in largely negative ways. She made the other candidates look somewhat boring! Until of course, another candidate with a Different Quality came along, and then our attention went to that one.
So two clear points to remember:
1. Make it a bit different and it will stand out, and it will also make the other one look less interesting.
This works with all the shapes in a quilt design, it works with athletes, comedians, politicians, products in the super market etc etc.
2. When things are in close proximity, they affect each other.
Well that's just Chapter 1! This is a kid's book with profound implications for life!!! Definitely succinct to the nth degree!! Strangely enough, my kids thought the book boring - and I, the designing grandma, though it fascinating.....hmm is second childhood on its way already?
If you have been, thanks for reading.
Now to go and play with shapes.... Elizabeth