As an artist the seasons all represent opportunities for exploring various quilt concepts. Summer though is my favorite for working outdoors. Generally the term "plein air" is associated with painting and drawing subjects outdoors. The term plein air or plein air painting is a phrase borrowed from the French equivalent meaning "open (in full). I think the phrase is applicable to designing quilts.
I like both nature type designs as well as graphical and geometric designs and thought of a project to combine all.
I took the train into downtown Salt Lake on a hot 100 degree day and went into the City Creek mall for a cool drink to take and enjoy at the fountain. While enjoying a cool off moment I thought of a quilt design that would combine nature and also represent many of the bright colors in the storefront windows.
The nature part, This particular mall has a portion of a stream (City Creek) running right through the mall. I have followed this stream from its origins in the mountains to the North East of the city. In the stream running through City Creek Canyon there are wild trout. The stream in the mall also has some Trout, I nicknamed them Mall Trout, (photos below)
The project in mind would be an art quilt with the trout graphically illustrated along with supporting designs
For this post I have included photos of the inspiration for my design and in subsequent posts will keep adding project work and design. The point I want to express in this post is to look for opportunities that inspire design. Generally one may not think of a large city mall as a possible place for inspiration to design a nature themed quilt but take a look around you and you may be surprised on what is awaiting for your design touch.
|City Creek Running Through Mall|
|City Creek Fountain|
|City Creek Food Court|
|City Creek Trout|
Inspiration to design
Now that I have several ideas for a design all inspired by my plein-air quilt idea I have started the process of turning inspiration into design. First I make some sketches of my general ideas and then further refine them into a composition. My inspiration for the design was narrowed down to making Trout the center of my composition. An integral part of my composition is to represent the bright cheerful colors I see throughout the mall in the store windows and also the people dressed up. Shown below are some of my sketches and an overall rough draft of what the finished composition may look like.
|Ken making design sketches at the mall|
For this quilt I want a graphical design that is an abstract representation of the fish. (not very realistic at all) As you look at my fabric selections and the patterns therein I hope to have incorporated fabric patterns that abstractly represent fish characteristics. (please post a comment on your thoughts on this quilt and my design and workflow process)
Now with the primary composition in place I work on supporting designs that will include backgrounds (negative shapes) and the borders and border designs that may add to the composition. For this quilt I liked the idea of vintage fishing bobbers.
|Vintage bobbers to be used for border design|
( I have a very unique project to teach others how to build vintage bamboo fly rods with a high tech makeover. If you are interested the blog is http://bamboocompositerods.blogspot.com/ and believe it or not I am working on a fly rod built from bamboo and linen. )
For now take a look at the drawings and quilt top in progress.
|Completed Quilt top|
Color and fabric selection, PLEASE do not consider my preferences as perfect. I give thought to the elements I choose and will describe my reasoning but I hope my ideas will be useful to you as a guide only . There is really no right or wrong in my book only guiding principles and ideas.
When selecting fabric and colors I consider several things including,
Value, Light and dark. I look at how the value of colors will be combined on the main subject. How the value of the main subject will work with the supporting designs. The value of the colors used in in the design will help to create the contrast I want to achieve to make my design really pop.
Textural elements. This quilt top was made from cotton fabrics. The blue material surrounding the fish was a white fabric that I dyed so as to get the broken uneven color I wanted to represent the water.
Embellishments, just a few textural and colorful elements can add a whole lot to your design. I look for elements that will add a touch of color represented in other parts of the design.
Please comment on this Trout quilt, and please share with others who might be interested in following my design processes. I have several works in progress right now and am working diligently to get the work posted to this blog and also my Art Quilt Lab blog http://artquiltlab.blogspot.com/
Kind Regards! To all!
For those who would like to make a trout quilt using my design process I have made a kit that includes 3 pieces of muslin fabric with the trout patterns printed on full size. I am trying a new idea, I make blocks with the line art and print them on fabric. The printing is a bit crude but I like it and will use the process to do some additional fabric dying before adding the appliqued fabric to the background. The kit also includes a CD with my MPEG 4 video files with more descriptions and information on my design process. The CD also has printable pdf drawings of the bobber patterns
The cost for the kit with priority shipping is $20.00