Friday, May 4, 2018

The Daily Doodle!

Consider taking a class in a medium other than that in which you usually work...
I think you can learn a lot about composition through taking a good painting class - one that emphasizes planning and structure, and consideration of values. Furthermore, you can quickly try out a few ideas without having to cut into expensive fabric!!

You can learn from others' mistakes, sharpen you critiquing skills, enhance your knowledge of basic design, and pick up ideas to spark creativity.

It's very helpful to see other students in the class make basic design errors that you just know you have seen in many quilts!!  Assessing other people's work is a great way to build your own sense of what will work and what problems need to be solved.

I recently attended a 5 day painting workshop - now too much of it was spent on demo - this is something that happens with painters, I find, and (thankfully!)  it's something you rarely see in a quilting class - how many quilters would spend 5 hours just watching someone else make a quilt??? you're itching to get into the fabric yourself!!!

Criticisms aside, I found several things about the class  to be very helpful.

The teacher began with a review of the basic elements...but stressed particularly shape.  When working from a photograph, isolate the large shapes and from them derive the basic structure of the piece:  horizontal, vertical, diagonal, radial, pyramidal etc.  He emphasized that an art work  (like an opera) should be about one main  subject  with supporting characters.  And, it works best if there is one main type of shape but with lots of variety.

For abstract designs, one way to begin is with a  doodle - doodle daily!!  Make a lot of them!  And then when ready to make a quilt, find the most interesting ones...the ones that are both pleasing to the eye...and have a sense of mystery or tension that forces you to want to look further.

 The great thing is that everyone loves to doodle, it doesn't feel like work...and it can be done anywhere, at any time...but you are exercising your creativity every time.   Don't just do the same obsessive doodle each time!!!! I know there's a temptation to do that...I like to make little  chrysanthemums that grow and grow with each circuit of the flower....

Sometimes beginning the doodle with your eyes shut, or with your non-dominant hand will jump start you into something different.  Just relax and take your pen for a little walk.....don't critique yourself as you go along.  Do keep all the little doodles though and pin them up round the edges of your design wall...if one looks boring after a week or two, take it down....keep the interesting ones.  The key to good design is to make it interesting, something that you want to keep looking at.  But make a lot! the first few are not likely to be very good....your old doodle habits may want to control things!

Another way to start is by looking at something around you - could be a table leg, or a bush or a distant landscape...keep working with a continuous line.   Look more at the object than the drawing itself.

As always I'd love to get comments from you - have you found doodling to be helpful? Or taking classes in another medium?  What would you recommend?

And, if you have been, thanks for reading!!!


Kristin said...

Beautiful quilts. Elizabeth!

Lee said...

It's surprising to realize how little I doodle now - I think it's because I rarely have a pen in my hand. It's usually a keyboard or tablet that I spend time with. Since it almost feels foreign, obviously it's time to add writing and doodling back into my life.

Elizabeth Barton said...

Thank you, Kristin......
Interesting observation, Lee - it's not so easy to doddle with a keyboard!! and in waiting rooms, everyone is scrolling through their cell phones!!! what an art we have lost!

Précille said...

Such striking quilts, my favorite today is the one with the arches. Talk about mystery! I keep going back to it, enlarging the picture to see the details, following its lines, discovering the beautiful stitches, hum...delightful and delectable! As far as doodling, well I just don't, I never did but will give it a try. I do sketch almost everyday, and I find that it helps me with being a little more adventurous with my stitching. I do love continuous line drawing, and thank you for the reminder to do more. A woman told me one day after I explained to her what continuous contour line drawing was that it was like free motion quilting. Seemingly, you use it more as a departure for a design, a darn good idea! Thank you, Elizabeth!

Elizabeth Barton said...

Hi Précille, good to hear from you. I was just thinking about you hearing about the volcanic eruptions in your neighborhood.
The arch one wasn't very big, but a nice little piece...I gave it to someone who admired it...and then I never saw them again!! c'est la vie!!!
Yes when you do your FMQ, think of it as continuous drawing - but with a needle...and it's amazing how well you can do.
I once had fun having people sit and model for me while I "drew" them on the sewing machine!! Elizabeth