You know how everyone these days talks about the “Ps&Es” of design?
…..though they do sometimes get them mixed up!! The Ps and Es are not the same as the Ps and Qs of etiquette!! The Es are actually just the elements of design – in the same way that hydrogen and oxygen are the basic building blocks of water. Design elements are the “things” from which the design is made viz: value, color, texture, line and shape. In quilting terms these would come down to small pieces of fabric of different solid or patterned colors, some dark, some medium, some light and the quilting stitches. That’s what we have to work with: fabric and stitches. Pretty straight forward.
Ah, but what about the Ps…the “principles”….which are, by the way, guidelines not rules. Well, classically these are said to be: unity, variety, rhythm, balance and economy..however I’ve been thinking - nay - cogitating! I feel that these are merely the techniques one uses, not the final result one wishes to achieve, and definitely not what the Art Must Be. The Most Important characteristics that one would hope for in an art work (no matter the medium) are in fact the following:
• That it catches your eye, that you SEE it and want to LOOK at it….(or hear it, or taste it, or feel it…). Even the cave paintings at Lascaux done over 17 thousand years ago were done for someone to SEE.
“[Art] should call out to the viewer…and the surprised viewer should go to it, as if entering a conversation” .
(Roger de Piles, Cours de Peintre Par Principles, 1676).
• That it has great beauty (which could be a “terrible beauty” as in Geurnica, Picasso’s painting about the horror of war).
“When I think of art, I think of beauty. Beauty is the mystery of life. It is not in the eye, it is in the mind. In our minds there is awareness of perfection”.
• That it lasts – you can look at it every day and still get something from it.
This is probably the toughest to assess but I find that if I sew quite a few quilt tops, and don’t immediately baste and quilt them, but instead put them away in the cupboard for a few months, then when I get them out I can judge them better. Or I’ll hang the piece up in the living room where I will see it every day – if I’m sick of it after a week – I’ve got my answer!
Is there anything else d’you think? We want to see it, we must look at it, we can’t not look at it – it is totally wondrous and transformative…and we could see it very day and still love it.
Let me know if you think anything should be added to this…..
And, if you have been, thanks for reading!