Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Playing with colour and contrast

In my last post I showed the little abstract quilt I made that was supposed to be about winter ice.

Winter Ice 1

It was for our art quilters group where we had been talking about contrast and I wanted further practice with abstract piecing. I was only moderately happy with it. The straight line quilting was something new for me and to tell you the truth I found it a bit boring. It's much more fun filling in with feathers and other curvy patterns.

As I examined the little quilt I thought that the lines were too horizontal to be icy and so I whipped another little quilt. This time I tried to add some more value in the background as well. Instead of an ombre fabric background, I added light, medium and dark fabrics.

Winter 2
I didn't bother to quilt this one although it is pieced. I liked the extra angles that I had included but I felt the two central upside down tick shapes were competing as a focal point.

I read somewhere that it is better to include only light and medium values and a hint of dark or the opposite, all medium and darks and a hint of light. So I had another try at it.

Winter Ice 3

You can see that I used only lights and mediums in the shapes and a hint of dark in between. I still had the competing focal point though and it seemed a bit dull and ordinary. You might also notice that I gave up on the piecing and to be quick I fused the pieces on.

I had another try, I only had the one focal point now and I added some different colours.

Winter 4
It still wasn't right, I felt that the pinks were too warm and I had lost the icy feel. That meant that I had to do it again but this time I made it easier still by gluing down the shapes with a glue stick!

Winter 5
This last one had the one focal point, more icy colours, more diagonal shapes and values from light to medium with a hint of dark. I was pretty burnt out by the time I was finished but looking at them now, the last one is probably the most successful.

What do you think? I'd love to know.

It might seem like a fairly pointless exercise to some but I actually think that it was a valuable learning experience. You can read all you like about colour and design but you don't really know unless you try it out.

Bye for now,

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Principles of Design - Contrast

The Waverley Art Quilters are studying the book Connecting Design to Stitch by Sandra Meech. This is the third and final year that we will have studied the book as we will have finished the book by the end of the year. We have art quilters at all stages in our group from beginner to advanced, so this has been a great way for the beginners to learn about design and it never hurts for the more advanced quilters to have a refresher course.

Last month we were reading all about Contrast. Contrast is very important in design because it highlights the centre of interest and affects the rhythm, balance and unity of a quilt.

One of the most obvious ways to achieve contrast is by value; value is the amount of light or dark in a colour. One of the best ways to find out if you have enough value contrast is to change your quilt photo into black and white.
 Most people have smart phones these days and you don't even need to take and photo and convert it to black and white with the modern phones. You just click on the black and white button in the camera app and you see the image through the phone.

I have a photo of a little quilt I did years ago and at first glance you might think that it doesn't have enough value contrast.

Summer by Linda Steele
When you look at the photo in black and white you can clearly see the value contrast.

Another way to achieve contrast is by size, I put different size fish in my Life on the Reef quilt to add interest.

Life on the Reef detail
Just for interest I looked at my Life on the Reef quilt in Black and White and although there is some value contrast I think I could have improved the quilt with even more. The bottom section has a definite lack of contrast.

For my Art Quilters project I wanted to continue my practice with contemporary piecing and so made a quilt where I was thinking about winter ice. The contrast with this is obviously value contrast; it is only small about 16" x 12"

Winter Ice ©2017 Linda Steele

Bye for now,

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Crazy Patch Swap 2017

I belong to an online Crazy Patchwork group called the Southern Cross Crazies, we are a pretty quiet group with busy lives but every so often we have a swap or some sort of activity. I decided to participate in the latest one because I am doing a lot of machine work at the moment and I thought it would be nice to have some handwork to do.

There are 6 participants so I had to make up 5 crazy patchwork bases and send them off to the next person on the list. They choose one block to work on for the month and then they get sent onto the next person to work on.

Here are the blocks that I made up, I used silk fabrics.

 It can be hard to photograph silk because it reflects light back onto the camera. They look better than in the photographs.

I received Patti's blocks in the mail, some of her blocks were green and some were cream. I chose a green block.

Patti's base block

She was quite specific in that she wanted cream thread on the green blocks and green thread on the cream blocks.

It took a lot of the decision making away when you can only use one colour. I managed to finish it quickly, well ahead of the allotted time.

Patti's block complete
I think that it looks pretty, I've been a bit worried that the lace flower motif is too big for the spot and it takes the eye away from the centre. I've been torn about whether to leave it or not and in the end I have decided to keep it. If she really hates it she can remove it and put something smaller.

Bye for now,

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Abstract Art

I have been busy working through an online course on Abstract Art with Lisa Call. I first met Lisa last year at the Fibre Forum in Ballarat where I did a 5 day Working in a Series class with her. You can read about that here. I caught up with her again at the Nancy Crow classes in New Zealand earlier this year.

This is a year of trying out new things and so I thought her Abstraction class would be ideal for me. I have learnt so much about the abstract artists of the 20th century; it has been a very time consuming but wonderful learning experience.

Every week we learn about a different style of art and then she gives us a challenge to complete and at the end of the week she critiques our work. There are only two weeks left of the class now.

I thought I'd show some of the work I have done.

In the second week we had to find a landscape photo and use it as inspiration. I picked a photo of trees.

Here is my abstract composition based on the photo.

Another week we had to work on non-objective art and think about variety, balance and repetition.

This is what I came up with.

A couple of weeks ago we had to copy an abstract expressionist artist to try and understand what they were doing. I have spent the entire course also trying to piece everything so I had to modify the design so it could be pieced in the allotted time I had.

I chose Gravitation by Kandinsky.

I thought it looked fairly simple until I started to try and piece it. I didn't like the brown background so I changed that as well.

I have really enjoyed the class and it's a shame that there are only two weeks to go. The work by the other participants has been fantastic, some are quilters and some are painters. I have learnt so much from Lisa's critiques of their work as well.

As you can see I haven't quilted anything and as they are only exercises I probably won't but I will never look at abstract art the same way again.

Bye for now,

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Art Quilters Challenge

The Waverley Art Quilters got together last month for our first meeting of the year. At our Christmas break-up dinner at the end of last year we were all handed a paper bag with our challenge for the holidays. It was a very uninspiring piece of fabric and some lace.

I looked at the fabric for weeks wondering what on earth I could do with it. I tried out a few ideas but nothing excited me.  Finally I decided to play it safe and made a needle case with it.

I put a piece of wool felt inside for the needles and pins.

The other members of the group were much more inspired than me and did a wonderful job with their challenges.

I don't think it is appropriate to put their work on my blog, however it can be seen on the Waverley Patchworkers Facebook page.

Don't forget that the Australian Textile Exhibition is on at the Cranbourne Gardens this week.
Bye for now,

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Australian Textile Exhibition 2017

The Australian Textile Exhibition is on again next week and if you live in Melbourne, Australia or happen to be in town, it will be worth the visit.

The exhibition will be held at the beautiful Cranbourne Australian Gardens, corner of Ballarto Road and Botanic Drive, Cranbourne.

The exhibition is organised by Leesa Chandler of Chandler's Cottage and it will be held from Tuesday 28th February until Sunday 5th March.

The gardens are open 10am to 4pm daily and admission is free.

There will be quilts, sewing demonstrations, a Chandler's Cottage pop up shop and the Great Australian Bag challenge.

I happen to have three crazy quilts in the exhibition.

Crazy about Australia

Naturally Crazy

Crazy about Spring

As well as the wonderful gardens to explore and the quilts and bags to enjoy, there is a lovely cafe.

Sounds like a great day out.

Bye for now,

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Fabric sorting

I have spent the last couple of weeks sorting out my sewing studio. Did you notice that I wrote sewing studio instead of sewing room? That is the term I am supposed to use apparently, actually I should use the term studio not sewing studio if I am to be taken seriously as an artist!

We will see how I go with that. I am sure if I say my studio to the family they will not know what I am talking about however my son in his 20's talks about his music studio all the time and nobody bats an eye.

Anyway, since coming home from the Nancy Crow classes I decided to change things around. It took ages and I got into a terrible mess.

I sorted out the fabric that I loved and wanted to keep. I packed up fabric that I loved but knew I wouldn't use again and gave it to the Waverley Patchworkers Gift quilts program.

I packed fabric that was not in the more modern style and colours but still liked into boxes and stored them out of my 'studio'. I know where they are if I want them again.

Then I got out all my plain and more modern fabrics and sorted through them.

I decided to try sorting them into values instead of colours, the way Nancy had suggested. I am not sure if I will keep them this way though. Time will tell.

I've got my lightest lights and lights separated into two drawers.

Then I have my light mediums, mediums and dark mediums.

You can see by the photo above that I am very short of light mediums and finally I have my dark and darkest dark.

Having the fabrics sorted this way makes it easy to see what I am short of but I still am undecided if this will work. If I had a green drawer for instance I could still sort them in values but they would all be values of green.

Here are my cupboards nice and organised with all drawers and plastic tubs labelled.

I didn't just sort through fabrics though, I also changed my room studio around so that I can press the seams without getting up from my machine.

So far it's working well, now I just have to get on with some sewing and find out if I am really going to like my new style and what sort of quilts I am going to make this year.

I have been buying more fabric though and I am finding it so exciting and refreshing to be bringing home some new colours.

Bye for now,