Monday, October 5, 2020
Space in Quilts
. Space? Not outer space! Space in your quilt designs. It's fascinating how using deep space versus shallow space can vastly alter the image. Many 20th century painters explored varying space...David Hockney in particular enjoyed flattening and deepening and even reversing! Traditional paintings (prior to the late 19th Century) usually portrayed a sense of depth or 3-dimensionality – foreground, middle ground and background. Once cameras were invented, painters began to explore ideas other than the reproduction (however beautiful) of a specific person or scene. Many painters chose to flatten the space in the picture as they wanted to emphasize the idea that a painting was just that: a painting. It does seem ironic that after the struggles of painters in the Middle Ages and Renaissance to develop depth in their work, just a few centuries later artists would be eschewing such pictorial ideas!! In fact, some of them even pushing in the other direction with reverse perspective such as David Hockney has played with. Most traditional quilt patterns don’t involve ideas of depth: their abstract designs were well ahead of abstraction in the fine art world! (Which, of course, the Whitney eventually realized with their show of the Gees Bend Quilts a few years ago!). So for art quilt designers today there is a choice – shallow space or deep? Do we want to convey the illusion of deep space or not? If we do, there are a number of devices by which this can be done. People ask me about perspective; I personally rarely use it to indicate space – but I do, however, think it’s important not to get perspective wrong unintentionally. Quilts that have a lot of perspective drawing are of a much more controlled style than I am interested in. If you look at books on linear perspective drawing, all the illustrations look like blueprints rather than art. However I do think it’s worthwhile to read a couple of articles or books on the subject and work a few examples, so you have a sense of the different kinds of perspective (one point, two point etc), how it’s indicated in a reproduction, where the horizon or eyeline is and what effect that might have upon various 3D objects in your design. Apart from actually using perspective there are a number of tools you can use to indicate depth - and these are the ones that most artists do use. Overlapping: if we see a picture of an apple in front of a box…we “know” the apple is in front, we don’t think that the apple is behind the box which has an apple-shaped hole cut in it! The same for a man in front of a wall. or a tree in front of a lake. Overlapping is one of the major ways by which we judge depth. Think about it when you’re driving around town!