Saturday, September 22, 2012

Starting with the easy decisions.....

 Like the birds and the river - they're easy fabric choices and the most important elements as well.  So I like to get those done first because everything else will have to work around them.  I know I want the birds to be black with very dark greens and purples.  The river fabric is one I really like and it fits perfectly with what I envision.

Next is the harder part, filling in the rest of the elements.  Some projects come very easy to me, you draw a tree and the bark will naturally be one color while the leaves will be another.  Definate shapes and objects speak for themselves in their color choices many times.

But with this project you can see that the rest of the quilt doesn't contain any specifically drawn objects, just random shapes.  To me, that makes it a little harder and I feel like I need to start treading carefully with my next choices in color, pattern and value.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Getting ready to draw that first line....

 I recently got out my huge roll of butcher paper (18" wide, you can find it online where paper supplies are sold or at restaurant supply stores) to start making my full-scale pattern for my new piece.  The size is going to be approximately 38" high x 56" wide so I cut several lengths of paper, attached them together with a glue stick and then scotch-taped over the seams for extra strength.

I then like to take my quilting rulers to mark out the size I want.  The large square ruler is my favorite to use as I then end up with a grid that later helps me when I draw.  Using an ordinary ball-point pen (it's subtle but permanent as there will be lots of erasing later on), I divide the quilt into squares or portions of squares and trace around the ruler, using the large straight one to also help me stay "square".  Then I like to take a Sharpie felt pen and outline around the edge of the pattern - just having that line down already makes me feel like I'm doing something with all that white space and gives my eye some point of reference.

Now to give me a little more of a structure to work within so I can have fun with drawing the details (which I'm still thinking about), I sat down and figured out the main lines, sections or "bones" of the piece on a bit of paper.  I also used a contrasting yellow line to divide this sketch into quadrants so I could more easily draw these lines onto my pattern.  At this point I just need a steady hand and a good eraser to start making those first lines.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Value and Composition

It's been a busy week and I've been thinking about my birds darting over a flowing river the whole time.  Yesterday I had my first chance to go through my fabric stash and pull some likely prospects.  Even though I might not have the chance to start drafting a pattern for this quilt right away, I like to make time to gather potential fabrics so I can have time to mull them over (I'm big on mulling) and do a little bit of tweaking here and there.

As I mentioned previously, I want to make sure that my birds will stand out against the background so it's important to establish the right values now between the birds, the river, the foliage, foreground and the sky.  I believe that value trumps composition (though composition is a close second), so I need to make sure the value contrasts are good from the start. What I like to do to test this is to gather any and all fabrics that I like and arrange them vaguely in the placement they might have in the finished piece.

The blue with the linear pattern in the middle is going to be my "river" (at least for now) and I want that to have a strong presence, though not more so than the birds.  The birds are going to be a very dark value so, going by that criteria, the river needs to be a middle value.  The potential fabrics for the birds are folded together at the very bottom of the picture so I can judge the contrast. With those two anchors in place, I went looking for foliage, rocks/gravel and skies.  You can see that I chose mostly light values for those and ones with very muted tones as well, almost neutral in color with very pale grayish blues, tans, celery and moss greens.  There will probably be a little more adjusting, but I think I've got a good base to build upon for this project.