Abstract Fun: Background

Oh boy, have I been having fun!  Remember my “Paint Mojo” exercise and the three sketches it produced?  I loved one of them so much I had to immediately try to recreate it in fabric  use it as the inspiration for a quilt.  (Did you the notice the shift in my thought process there?  I want to produce work LOOSELY.  If I just copy a loose sketch it’s still copying.  Not what I want.)

Here’s the sketch I was working from.  (The yellow-orange is more orange in real life.)

ketch for abstract art. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Since I wanted to work loosely I set some limitations for myself, so as not to accidentally copy.  First, I studied the sketch closely and selected fabrics that exactly matched my colors.  I also studied the composition, knowing that I wanted to emulate it, not actually copy it.  And then I put the sketch away.

Working on a muslin base, I began to arrange and layer fabrics.

Abstract art quilt in-progress. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

 I knew I was deviating from the sketch and I figured that was a good thing.  I switched the center shape to orange.  I love orange with blue-green.  (Although the orange is much softer than it appears in these photos.)

Abstract art quilt in-progress. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Abstract art quilt in-progress. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Once I had the muslin covered it was time to do A LOT of tweaking.  I spent a good bit of time on the shape of the central orange element.  I thought it was important for it to undulate and for the width to change in an interesting way.  I also added a thin yellow line to the edge of it, in places.

Abstract art quilt in-progress. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

I completed the background without ever looking at the sketch again.    And I was very happy with it. In my next post I’ll show you the addition of the graphic elements.

Ellen Lindner

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It Was Bound to Happen

 Below, left, is my blue Frixion pen.  I write on fabric with it and then erase it by applying heat.

Oops, that was the wrong pen. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Above, right is my blue ink pen, with permanent ink.

Until today they lived in the same container.  And then it happened:  I picked up the ink pen instead of the Frixion one and drew on my quilt with blue ink!  GASP!

Thankfully, I was marking an area to be stitched with black thread.  I was able to cover the marks pretty well with SEVERAL passes of black stitching.

Whew.  Heart beating again.

And I moved ALL the ink pens to another drawer.

Ellen Lindner
P.S.  This is NOT the worst mistake I’ve ever made!

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“Tomato Encore”

Well, I did it!  I managed to push my brain into abstraction territory and I created this tomato.

Tomato Encore, an art quilt by Ellen Lindner. AdventureQuilter.com/blog

It’s called Tomato Encore.  

I kinda love it.  Partly because of the imagery, and partly because I’m proud of myself for FINALLY working loosely!

Here’s a detail shot.

Tomato Encore - detail, an art quilt by Ellen Lindner. AdventureQuilter.com/blog

I’m continuing to work on some loose experiments, in hopes of shifting into a somewhat more abstract process of creating my quilts.  At the very least, the journey is fun!

Ellen Lindner
P.S.  You might enjoy some of the related posts about this whole tomato/abstraction journey.

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Cardio for My Right Brain

As I mentioned in a recent post, I’m left-brained, meaning that I tend to be rather literal with my art.  Since I want to change that I’m actively “exercising” my right brain – the creative side.  I’ve been doing a variety of activities to strengthen my creative muscles.  Most recently, they’ve been the ones found in Paint Mojo, by Tracy Verdugo.

This book focuses on random, playful creating, rather than getting caught up in over thinking. As I’m doing the exercises I’m focusing on PROCESS, rather than product.

I especially liked the first exercise.  It involved making what I’m calling “ugly paper.”  There were a series of prompts to follow.  Things like mixing and using a dark color, dripping paint onto the paper, adding stamping, etc.  At the end it looked like quite a hodge podge of unrelated elements.  See what I mean?

Cardio for my Right Brain. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog
But, no worries.  Because the next instructions were to identify and cut out several sections with potential.  I turned it upside down for a fresh perspective and used L-shaped pieces of cardboard to visually crop and select sections.  I found 3.

Cardio for my Right Brain. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog
Next came suggestions for how to improve the pieces.  This is the left piece after the addition of some black and white skinny lines.  Low and behold I really like it!

Cardio for my Right Brain. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog
This is the center section which I over painted with yellow, among other things.  Not too successful, but a very intriguing PROCESS.

Cardio for my Right Brain. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog
The 3rd section is my favorite, although I think I’d rotate it to the left.  I added the center color to this one (which looks MUCH better in real life.)  It’s really yellow-orange without any green.

Cardio for my Right Brain. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Now that was fun!  On to the next exercise, which involved a little more introspection.  The instructions said to first write about yourself, then partially paint over it.  Next draw a circle, choose your paint colors and add your thumbprints to it.

Cardio for my Right Brain. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Spraying it with water made the colors run and blend.  But some glued on (leftover) white-on-white fabrics resisted the color.  I liked that effect!

Cardio for my Right Brain. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Final instructions were to draw a large motif and paint out the background.  I chose an angel and ended up with this.  Can you see those thumbprints still visible?

Cardio for my Right Brain. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Some detail shots:

Cardio for my Right Brain. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Cardio for my Right Brain. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Not bad, I think.  Oops, there I go again  thinking about the end result!  Ignore that.  The PROCESS was fun and engaging.

It’s very fun to work freely and quickly with paint like this.  I’m not sure how/if it will translate to fabric later but I feel like it WILL enhance my right brain skills.  I plan to work about a week or so on this type of thing.

Got some paint?  Want to join me?

Ellen Lindner

 

 

 

 

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Dye Day

My friend, Ruth Anne, once invited a group of us to her “barn” for a messy project.  This time it was dyeing.  Our first project was to dye 8 different gradations of black.  All with the same dye, just in different saturations/strengths.  Since black dye is made up from other colors, it will sometimes separate in some interesting ways.  That’s what I was actually hoping for with mind.  So, I didn’t mix it well.  I just scrunched the fabric and stuck in a bag.

And these are the results.  The photo doesn’t do it justice, since there are some dark blues and maroons in there.  Cool, huh?A day of dyeing. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog
Next, we did shibori.  After wrapping our fabric around poles, we applied the dye and left it to soak.  We used things like cut off 2 liter bottles.

A day of dyeing. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog
Ruth Anne was very organized.  She had a big bucket for us to set our containers in.  This held them upright and worked very well.

A day of dyeing. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

I clearly used too much dye and didn’t get the contrast I would have liked.  Still very pretty, though.

A day of dyeing. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

A day of dyeing. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Our final technique of the day was writing with a syringe and thickened dye.  I got two very different results when I used two different fabrics.  The one on the right is cotton, which worked well.  The one on the left is something unknown.  You might say that the colors look the same, but no.  The blue-green lines on the left piece were supposed to be dark blue.  And the pale greyed blue in the background is the same blue-green dye I later used on the right.  Can you believe the difference?

A day of dyeing. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

We also tried other things with our thickened dye.  Laura painted with hers.

A day of dyeing. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

And I tried some mono-printing.

A day of dyeing. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

I think some practice would help with this technique.

Any way you look at it, though, dyeing fabric is always fun!  And I’ve never gotten anything truly ugly.  There’s always a use for the resulting fabrics.

Ellen Lindner

 

 

6

Overcoming My Left Brain Tendencies

You know about the left and right sides of the brain, right?  The left side excels at logical thinking.  Categorizing, sequencing, etc. but sees things mostly black and white.  The right side is the creative side.  It considers many options and sees many shades of grey.

Well, I’m mostly left brained.  My brain automatically sorts, sequences, and plans.  Yes, I can create art, but it’s not as automatic for me.  Sometimes I need some warm up exercises (or days!) to get me into the creative groove.  And it tires me out after awhile.  I’m envious of those of you who can work on your art all day.  I HAVE to take a break and go read my email, balance the checkbook, or do SOMETHING that’s black and white, rather than open ended.  All those art choices can wear me out!

My left brain was quite happy with my recent tomato quilt.  After all, I basically copied a photo with fabric as the medium.  There’s nothing wrong with that and I like the quilt very much.

Vine Ripened, an art quilt by Ellen Lindner. AdventureQuilter.com

Vine Ripened

Ellen Lindner's tomato quilt in-progress. AdventureQuilter.com/blog

But, as I was finishing the quilt, I had a nagging dissatisfaction with my process.  Not the quilt itself, but my thinking.  I’m an artist, after all.  Did I really bring my hand, my vision, to the piece?  Did I alter it to make it better?  Well, maybe a little.  But, it seemed like I had maybe taken the easy way out.  I wanted to push myself more.  To abstract the image somehow.

In the past, I’ve had luck creating torn paper collages from magazine pages.  The inaccuracy of tearing causes the image to be looser.  This can often be a good way to abstract an image.  So, I decided to give it a try, again.  I tore a bunch of images and text from a magazine and got to work.

Ellen Lindner, torn paper collage. AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Ellen Lindner, torn paper collage. AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Hmm.  It was starting to look just like the fabric version.  Not really what I wanted.

This is as far as I got before I became completely bored with the exercise.

Ellen Lindner, torn paper collage. AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Well, that was no great success, but what did I expect when referencing the same image?  Clearly, I needed to change my focus.  Maybe I’d have better luck with a single tomato.  My favorite one, with the great curving leaves.

Ellen Lindner, inspiration photo. AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Using photo editing software, I loosely drew the main components of the tomato, putting each leaf and shape on a separate layer.  That way, I could manipulate each item individually.

Abstracting a tomato. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

I began to ask myself some questions about this tomato:
What is my favorite part?
What can I leave out and have it still represent a tomato?
How can I represent the round shape more abstractly?

After LOTS of experimenting I came up with this sketch.

Abstracting a tomato. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

What do you think?  I was kind of in love with it.  It was my first ever graphic abstract design.

I didn’t really intend to make another quilt when I started this process, but I just couldn’t resist.  Here’s the start.

Tomato quilt, early progress. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

It should go quickly, so stay tuned.

I’d love to hear your ideas for creating abstract designs.  Please comment if you have tips.

Also, I’m going to need a name for this piece.  Send me your suggestions.

Ellen Lindner

 

14

Stitching Tomatoes

After placing my three tomatoes on a grey background it was time to quilt everything.  I knew I wanted to use contour stitching, so I pulled out my inspiration photos for reference.  I drew contour lines with a pencil first, directly onto each photo.  Once I was happy with them, I went over them with a Sharpie.

Quilting tomatoes. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog
Next, I marked lines on the quilt, and took it to the machine.

Quilting tomatoes. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Quilting tomatoes. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Did you notice my unusual quilting foot?  It’s actually intended for cording.  I like it because it’s transparent, giving me good visibility.  But, mostly because the edges flare up slightly all the way around.  This means the foot is unlikely to travel up underneath the tons of fabric edges I have on my quilts.  It works beautifully.

Here’s the right tomato quilted.  It still needs to have the quilting marks removed and it needs a haircut.

Quilting tomatoes. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Same for the center tomato.

Quilting tomatoes. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

I stitched around the leaves and the edges of the tomatoes with black thread.  This added definition.

Quilting tomatoes. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Now, I’m finishing up with facing, a label, a sleeve, etc.  I’ll be finished soon!

Ellen Lindner

 

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Trying New Things

Do you like to try new things?  I do.  Especially as they relate to art and quilting.  Whether it’s a tool, a technique, or a color palette, I consider experimenting with such things to be adventures.  (As a matter of fact, that’s why I call my website Adventure Quilter.)

I recently discovered a new white pen.  It’s permanent and it works pretty well on fabric.  One coat is sort of faded looking, but two passes make a nearly opaque mark.

Trying New Things. Ellen Lindner, AdventurQuilter.com/blog

The pen is called Uniball Signo broad tip.  (The last is a misnomer, since the tip is about like that of an ordinary ink pen.)  Note:  The pen doesn’t cover quite as well as in this photo.

Do you have one of those favorite t-shirts or sweaters that’s so comfortable you want to wear it no matter how ratty it gets?  I have a t-shirt like that, which has been developing holes.  They finally got bad enough that I decided to do something about them.  Namely, mend them in a rather exaggerated way.

Trying New Things. Ellen Lindner, AdventurQuilter.com/blog

I enlarged the holes, patched them with contrasting fabric scraps and embroidered around them.  Now, I sorta feel like I’m wearing an odd work of art.  And I like it.

Have you done any creative mending?

Ellen Lindner

4

Design Class in St. Augustine – Part Two

More photos from my students’ awesome work during “Design Your Own Nature Quilt,” in St. Augustine.

I know you love the see the students’ inspiration photos as well as where they take them.  This was Victoria’s starting photo.  She planned to really play up the blossoms.

http://adventurequilter.com/old-blog/2013/03/design-in-destin/

And ended up with this.

Design Your Own Nature Qullt class, with Ellen LIndner. AdventureQuilter.com/blog

This is a wonderful example of our class motto:
Be inspired by your photo, not owned by it.

Victoria did an excellent job of keeping what she liked, exaggerating it, and altering the other elements.  She also resisted the temptation to make the background so dramatic that it competed with the blossoms.  As a matter of fact, that dark brown really sets off the bright blossoms beautifully, doesn’t it?  That’s what contrast will do for you.

Both Kathy and Mary selected white flowers as their inspirations.  These can be quite challenging, since it’s hard to show depth and shadows.  However, they came prepared with very good fabric selections for shadows.

Here’s Kathy’s inspiration photo of gardenias.

Design Your Own Nature Qullt class, with Ellen LIndner. AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Here she is, at work.

WEB - Kathy at work

And her quilt, nearly complete.

Design Your Own Nature Qullt class, with Ellen LIndner. AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Don’t you think her composition is better?  And she used tiny slivers of tans and pale blue to create shadows.  Nice work!

Mary used a magnolia blossom as her inspiration.

Design Your Own Nature Qullt class, with Ellen LIndner. AdventureQuilter.com/blog

She worked the background very loosely, but kept the flower very close to her photo.  Here it is, well along.

Design Your Own Nature Qullt class, with Ellen LIndner. AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Mary used white satin fabric for her flower.  The petals do look a little different, due to the grain of the fabric and the way the light hits it.  She’s also got some pale gray tulle she’ll add for shadows.

Mary often hand stitches her pieces down using a ladder stitch.  She plans to do this for the background and maybe the flower as well.  If so, it will add a great amount of definition to the petals.

Laura used a photo of – hmm, I don’t know – some type of blue/purple mountain flower.

Design Your Own Nature Qullt class, with Ellen LIndner. AdventureQuilter.com/blog

As with Rosemary, we discussed the challenge of ALL THOSE little flower clusters.  She decided she would edit the number of flowers in order to keep the details manageable.

The mountain in the background was important to Laura, so she spent a good bit of time getting it and the foreground grasses just right.  This was time well spent.

As with Rosemary, we discussed the challenge of ALL THOSE little flower clusters.  She decided she would edit the number of flowers in order to keep the details manageable.

For her flowers, she cut a background shape, but then sprinkled on little contrasting bits of other values.  Although she has a bit more fine tuning to do, this is going to work beautifully.

Design Your Own Nature Qullt class, with Ellen LIndner. AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Yes, she edited her flowers down to only three.  It’s a great composition, but I forgot to get a photo.

By the end of day two, most everyone had shed their name tags.  I was mock complaining since I often photograph the work, and then the student’s “chest”/name tag, so I’ll remember what belongs to whom.  Laura asked, “Oh, you want my name of my chest?” and did this.

Design Your Own Nature Qullt class, with Ellen LIndner. AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Just one example of the fun we had.

Would you like to schedule this two day class for your group?  You’ll find a full description here.

Ellen Lindner

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