Tuesday, November 6, 2018

First Steps Towards Becoming An Art Quilter

My name is Gwyned Trefethen.
I am the featured art quilter on 52Quilters.com
and @52quilters November 5 - 11, 2018.

First Snow Revisited
by Gwyned Trefethen
48" H x 42" W
Private Collection

An example of a monochromatic color scheme

Some art quilters come to the medium through art. They may have formal art school training. Others, like me, come to art quilting through the quilting side. I began by making traditional, popular quilts, starting with Eleanor Burns book, Quilt in a Day: Log Cabin Pattern. It was through making multiple log cabin quilts I learned how to press my seams so they would nest together at a join, cut straight strips of fabric, how design is enhanced through fabric selected for its value,  the importance of an accurate 1/4" seam, and how layout can significantly alter the overall appearance of a quilt. Gradually, very gradually I took baby steps towards tweaking patterns and eventually doing my own thing from start to finish. Representational quilts terrified, and therefore, eluded me. I needed someone to help me break through from making contemporary traditional quilts to making art quilts. I was told Sandy Donabed did just that. I enrolled in her next class. It was just what I needed.

Influential Books and/or Quilt Artists

Sandy taught out of her home. My memory is fuzzy as to the exact details. I took the class approximately 30 years ago. What I do recall is having an assignment for each class, even the very first one. Students were asked to bring in an object or two they found aesthetically intriguing to the opening class. My object was an egg beater. Seems even then I was captivated by clean, simple lines. We met for eight weeks. Each week Sandy would focus on a topic, often related to the elements of design. She may even have stated that was what she was doing and named each element she covered. I was so new to art, I had never heard of them, although I certainly could recognize line, color, shape, texture and more in art when I saw it. After several weeks we began making our art quilts. We would bring them to class to be critiqued. By week six we were thoroughly vested in our design and work had begun in earnest. It was then that Sandy asked us to "make a radical change" to our piece. That is the lesson I have never forgotten. It taught me it is never too late change direction and often that crazy idea turns out to be just what is needed.
One of Claude Monet's Water Lillies
an example of an analogous color scheme

Lets Look At Color:

I was unable to discover who first stated, "Value does all the work, while color gets all the credit." This is so true. We look at works of the Madonna and Child from the Renaissance and note the rich, royal blue of her outfit in contrast to the gold leaf of her crown, and the creamy peach tones of the skin. We don't think, dark to mid value, light value, lightest value. When I begin a new work, after I have the concept worked out or blueprint prepared, I select a palette. Common palette choices are:

  • Monochromatic: Only one color is selected, but all values may be included from a mere whisper of the color to its darkest value.
  • Analogous: This is very similar to monochromatic, but colors on either side of the main color on the color wheel are included.
  • Complementary: The colors used are directly opposite on the color wheel.
  • Split Complementary: Is a combination of Analogous and Complementary. A focus color is chosen and the split colors added to the palette are the two analogous colors which surround the focus color.
  • Triadic: Three colors which are equidistant on the color wheel. Common examples of this are primary colors and secondary colors.
by Gwyned Trefethen
35" H x 35" W

An example of a complementary color scheme
Rules are made to be interpreted. I think of the formal color palettes as guidelines. They are nice to refer to if as I select my fabric from my stash, the fabrics don't seem to be coming together. What could I add or subtract to achieve the effect I am after. I will often pull in other fabrics while working. It is not unusual for me to discover some fabrics I initially selected never made their way into the work they were selected for.

Tip of the Day:

I store my fabric by hue and stack it with the darkest fabrics of that hue at the bottom and the lightest at the top. This way it is easy for me to quickly locate fabric of  any hue or value.  I can easily identify areas of weakness and strength within my stash. For example, I can always use more of the lightest values of any hue. When I first started making quilts I would buy fabric for the project I was making. Now that is rare. Instead I buy fabric to replenish my stash, much the way you might shop for groceries, replenishing staples and buying perishables each week.

Comments and Questions:
I value your comments and questions. You may send them to me publicly by commenting at the end of the blog. If you prefer, you may address me privately via email. I will be hosting the 52 Quilters blog and Instagram accounts from November 5 - November 11, 2018. I will answer some of your questions in the final post on November 11th. 

Social Media Addresses:

Website: www.gwynedtrefethen.com
Blog: gwynedtrefethen.blogspot.com
Instagram: gwynedtrefethen

Juried Artist Member (JAM) and Board Member of Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA)

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