When I was at the University of Alabama, I took an art class my freshman year to fulfill my “liberal arts” requirement (I was a business student, so I jumped at any chance to take art or art history class). Anyway, the professor in this class was an abstract artist and made crazy, mixed media collages out of anything you could imagine. I remember not being very impressed by his work, until he assigned the class to create an abstract collage. We could basically use any medium we wanted, but the end result had to be attractive to the viewer, and it had to embody some basic design elements we were studying in the class. I think before this assignment, I was like a lot of other people who thought that those who created abstract art were not as talented as, say, a Rembrandt painter. But after trying it out for myself, I realized – it’s a lot harder than it looks.
Since then, I’ve realized that creating something abstract is much more difficult than creating something realistic because, well, you’re creating something that doesn’t exist in real life. Like, it’s easy to paint an orange because we’ve all seen an orange fruit, but it’s harder to paint a fruit that doesn’t exist in real life. The painter or artist must have a good eye for design and an even better imagination to create something so abstract.
Now, I’ve never studied art very seriously, so all I really know about abstract art is what I learned in that class, and also what I’ve learned by making my own “modern quilts.” For those of you who aren’t aware, there’s been a major shift in quilting design these past 10 years or so. Modern quilting is a movement of quilt design that, according to the Modern Quilt Guild, is characterized by the following:
- the use of bold colors and prints
- high contrast and graphic areas of solid color
- improvisational piecing
- expansive negative space
- alternate grid work
A lot of what I like about creating abstract quilts is that I can focus on how colors and prints work together, rather than worrying about the shapes and technical aspect of the quilt design. I love that once I have the basic measurements written out for a pattern, I can then put the book away and create a design that is all my own.
The quilt I’m working on this week is a modern version of a Lone Star quilt. This is another pattern featured in Denyse Scmidt’s book, “Modern Quilts, Traditional Inspiration”. I love this pattern because the design requires a lot of improvisational piecing, which is like the equivalent of painting a canvas with many paint colors. :)
At first, I wanted the star in the quilt to feature a lot of golds and reds. But, as it came together, I realized I was using a lot more pinks and purples in the design, and I loved how it all came together with time. With abstract quilting, I’ll lay out the pieces on my cutting board, take a break, and then come back later in the day to see if the colors work out together or not. It’s a fun, but not very quick process. However, putting away the measuring tape is very liberating, and it’s nice to take a break away from garments to make this sort of thing.
I’ll be sending this quilt top off to my long-arm quilter, so it might be by August or September before I can show you the end results. In the meantime, I can’t wait to get started on the Colette Patterns Hawthorn Sew-Along. It’s my first ever Sew-Along, and although I’m a bit nervous about my skill level, I’m determined to make a go of it and participate along with the group!!
I’ll post updates here, but until then – hope ya’ll have a great weekend!!