It's always interesting to read about artists' working processes, especially in regard to designing the artwork. There is some literature on art quilters' methods but a lot more on painters. And just about any two dimensional design process can be translated into any 2D medium. I've always found that what the "great" painters do/did to be really helpful and enlightening. Plus it gives me a great excuse to buy loads of luscious art books!
Edward Hopper, for example, created a large number of drawings or studies for each of his oil paintings. He experimented with different angles and lighting, and in very many of them he tried leaving different things out. Once you start to do this, you can get an idea of what you really want to focus upon in your composition. Any art work that tries to be about everything that you can see or remember or that is in the photograph is going to become confusing, even chaotic, and won't convey your real idea or emotion.
Hopper's paintings have everything unnecessary stripped away - only the most beautiful and expressive light, color and shapes are left for us to enjoy. Paintings like this grab and hold your attention.
Most people work from photographs, especially quiltmakers. It would be very hard to make a plein air quilt!! So you do need to be very selective in what you use from the photo...the camera includes everything and gives most of it equal weight. That's not, actually, how we really see things. If you look at something, the object at which you're looking is in focus, but the objects around it are not.
Good composition is the key to getting people's attention.....and keeping them looking. Daniel Gerhartz (the portrait artist) advises the artist to arrange the lights and darks in the composition to form interesting but fairly simple and obvious patterns that extend through much of the composition.
Jeffrey Hein says that merely copying what in in the photograph is "craft", but "adding composition and an intelligent idea" is art.
The so-called "rules" or "guidelines" are basically just the ideas that have worked in the past, and that have lead to art that has stood the test of time. As a round wheel usually works better than a square one! However, it is important to understand why those guidelines have been so popular and how they actually work. Then you know what you can change, and what might (if changed) make your work less interesting.
The next class I have coming up at www.academyofquilting.com is the class that lead to my book Inspired to Design and describes some of my working processes for my cityscape quilts plus a long hard look at those guidelines!
And, now for a nice cuppa tea...and then piano practice for I meet with the pedagogue tomorrow and there's nothing like deadlines for getting work done!
If you have been, thanks for reading! Elizabeth
Do check out Through Our Hands on FAcebook, they are producing a wonderful online magazine.