Thursday, March 21, 2013

Quilted Abstract Landscapes

I am currently taking a "Not So Exact: Working Abstract" class from Melody Randol to explore techniques she uses in creating her art quilts. She creates a "quilt canvas" then lays the pieces for the landscape on it. The pieces for the landscapes are fused pieces of material covering a range of values in different color palettes. She roughly cuts the shapes for each part of the design layering it from the background to the foreground and from the top to the bottom. As she places her pieces she quilts as she goes, not necessarily waiting until all of the pieces are fused to quilt. 

We used landscape photos for inspiration and made some small studies to experiment with the techniques. I found that I can't just roughly cut a shape and have it look like a flower, a bush, a tree or whatever. When I roughly cut shapes I end up with blobs, so I used the photos to create loose patterns for making my shapes.

This is a photo I took at the Chicago Botanical Gardens of a water lily. I used this photo to create the following small study.

I spent the most time on this study than I did on the others and of course it came out better than the others! I did some quilting on this piece before completing it to see how that would work. I could see where it would be beneficial to stop and quilt before totally completing a piece, especially if you wanted to add more depth with thread. Melody's comment about this piece was that the design in the leaves was too graphic and drew the attention away from the flower. I think that I could tone down the color differences in the leaves by laying black netting on the leaves. She said that the flower was well designed and with good values. Her suggestion was to crop the piece to emphasize the flower...something like this:

I do like how this looks. She advises taking a cardboard mat and cutting it apart into two right angles. You can then place those two pieces into various sized frames around your piece to view how you might improve the composition by cropping out other areas. 

My second piece was based on a waterfall photo.

I got started ok with the rocks and shrubbery, but then I couldn't figure out how to do the waterfall to get the right kind of transparency.

I decided to apply angelina fiber. Melody's comments about the angelina were not is too shiny and distracting. She suggested that organza would work better. I have never used it before so will have to try and see what kind of effect it creates.

My third photo was of a bonzai tree in the Chicago Botanical Garden.

Here is the quilt piece that I created from that photo.

The tree is kind of unfinished as I could add many more values of fabric to create the shading and lightening effects.

My fourth photo was a river.

And here is the quilt study.

Interestingly enough Melody thought this was a good composition piece even though I didn't like it. My classmates had the same opinion that I had in that the white finger-type pieces didn't work. They were suppose to create the white shimmering of the water. I also didn't like how the shrubbery turned out. I think the photo has potential. It may be one that I go back to and try again.

If you look at Melody's website, you will see some stunning work. She has an excellent eye for value and using just the right fabrics to create amazing art landscapes. I have a lot to learn!!