Thursday, January 26, 2017


Finding the right direction!

 We're all trying to find the right direction....and, as a result, in my classes (especially the online ones), I do a lot critiquing.    I seem to see  the same mistakes made over and over..hmm.. perhaps mistakes is the wrong word!  Rather - I feel that some of the designs and compositions just don't work as well as they might.

One of the most obvious problems is that of dividing the Picture plane–(I know that is art speak but it is a useful term so let's use it!)  The Picture plane is simply the whole area of your quilt top. It is that two-dimensional space  upon which you are creating the design.

Having a horizon in the exact middle of the Picture plane or a vertical line (such as the edge of a building)  divides the area precisely into two equal amounts.  Two equal areas that are similar are not as interesting as Unequal divisions.  We like a little variety or novelty...we're hard wired that way!  We pay more attention if things aren't quite predictable.

Split into two horizontally - Boring! and a bit confusing...what is  the quilt about?

High Horizon - much more interesting!

So put your dividing line/horizon line or edge of building line...whatever it is...slightly off center.  Some text books recommend dividing the picture plane into thirds, other recommend fifths.  I think either can work depending on what you want to emphasize.  In the image above I've shown the horizon line just 1/5th from the top of the picture plane.

If it's about an amazing sky pattern...then don't have the horizon in the middle: sky and land equally important - give the sky more space.      Or if the sky isn't important but it's the landscape ...then give it more space...maybe 2/3 of  the picture plane, or even 4/5. 

I  have a high horizon line in the quilt below,  this time it was about 1/3 down from the top.

Electric Fields
And here is a small framed piece with a low horizon line:

Another problem with dividing the space up equally is then you can end up with two quilts!  The right hand one and the left hand one, each side being equally important....because you (the artist) have not indicated which is more important.  Now occasionally you can use this device if you have a message you want to convey: e.g. something like War and Peace...the quilt divided into two equally with one side representing one thing, the other the other....showing that these alternatives are equally possible.  But we are rarely wanting to communicate that.  so think!! Just what are you trying to tell people about? 

In the quilt below, I was actually trying to communicate hard vs soft, industry vs nature or man:

Double exposure: spire
I do see a conflict in our need for power and our need for a more spiritual or natural life...and so I deliberately split the picture place equally in two.
But more generally: an unequal division will work better

A summer Day, long ago...

So.....keep your divisions unequal and you'll be just fine!!
And now for a nice cuppa tea.....and perhaps a little piano practice -  gotta prevent the pedagogue from tearing his hair out over me!!

If you have been, thanks for reading.....

PS...please do let me know about your experiences with splitting the picture plane......

Friday, January 13, 2017

You don't have to leave home!

You don't have to leave home, or at least not go very far, to find inspiration. Keep your eyes open! When I got up yesterday and looked out of the window I saw a wonderful misty morning -  I hurriedly grabbed up my camera and dashed outside. As you can see no neighbours were around to accost me in my deshabillĂ© (!) and I was able to get some very inspiring photos.

Always keep your eyes open for an expected beauty and be prepared to act on the moment -  and you'll find things that other people overlook or simply don't bother to take the time to see.

 From the picture above I might make a quilt design with all the beautiful curves of the roads   and the trees intersecting with each other.   Or, I might simply use the colours - the browns and greys in very different values. Or I might take a good look at how the shadows of the trees appear on a wet road. 

In the photo below, I was intrigued by this strange effect of the double horizon, the illusion  of the floating row of bushes; it's something I might try in a quilt at some point. I have made a quilt little bit like this before as you can see in the photo below this one.

I've was able to captures some of the atmosphere in the photograph but not all of it. Interestingly the shibori fabric turned out to be perfect for both the foreground and for the pond reflections. But I think I would also like to try capturing some of the grace of those slender trees.

 Isn't this photo so evocative? Can't you just feel the coolness on your face and the promise of the day to come? See how the values become paler as the objects received into the distance. Notice how the texture and the sharpness of the edges also becomes much much softer into the distance. There is so much to be learned from chasing the evanescent moment!

 And it was evanescent too, in about 10 minutes all this beauty was gone and we were back to an everyday view. But I saw it and I captured it and I have it in my memory and I will use it for work in the future. Perhaps not tomorrow, But sometime…

 And now I think it's time to get dressed! And, of course, time to make a nice cup of tea. If you have been, thanks for reading. And do please comment and tell me about your evanescent moments! Elizabeth