Tag Archives | Abstract

Online Class with Jane Davies

After getting so much out of Jane Davies’ book about abstract elements I decided to take an online “class” with her.  I put class in quotes, because this was not interactive.  You just download the content and do the exercises on your own.  More like a book – although she does have interactive classes, too.

This was MUCH more challenging, primarily because it involved a lot of – to me – tricky painting techniques I wasn’t familiar with.

The first exercise was easy enough, however: paint a lot of paper in a monochromatic colorway, then combine it in a gridded collage.

An online class with Jane Davies. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

I made two.

An online class with Jane Davies. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

The ease stopped there.  The next assignment was to make a horizontal collage with different background colors top and bottom.  That part was fine.  But then, I was supposed to sort of merge the background and foreground.  This is what Jane does so brilliantly that is completely foreign to me!

An online class with Jane Davies. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

I did 4 of these, with my most successful 2 shown above.  In places, I pulled the color of the collage into the background and in other places I painted a background color onto the collage.  I had no idea what I was doing!  But, it WAS interesting.

Next came an assignment that started with a cruciform composition.  That part was okay, but the quadrants were each supposed to be different, and again, the two were supposed to be merged with paint.  Again, lots of completely random attempts on my part.

An online class with Jane Davies. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

This next 3 examples are so hideous I hesitate to show them to you.  Ugh!

An online class with Jane Davies. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Again, these were cruciforms, with paint added everywhere and then wiped off.  I completely overworked these three!

Finally, it was time to put it all together.  After watching her video twice I was ready to start.  First, I referenced my earlier sample papers showing a variety of ways to make marks with paint.

An online class with Jane Davies. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

For this assignment I followed Jane’s example of painting over every single layer, (until I got to the last few elements.)  Here, the orange circle and the black lines are not painted over.  Everything else is.

An online class with Jane Davies. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Finally, I had a little bit of success I think.

Things I learned:
– I  love the look of partially veiled paint, but I don’t know how to do it.
– I love the idea of foreground and background merging, but I don’t know how to do that with paint either.  Maybe with fabric?
– I continue to be entranced with skinny wild lines, inspired by some of Jane’s work.

Questions going forward:
– Can I get a veiled look with fabric?  Maybe with sheers or overprinting with paint?
– What’s the best way to add those skinny lines to my fabric art?
– Can I successfully  merge both fabric and paint in my art???

You know me: I’ll HAVE to do some more experimenting as I try to answer these questions.  Stay tuned.

Ellen Lindner

6

Abstract Exercises: Line and Composition

Continuing with my abstract exercises, I focused next on line.  (Although I’d been using it since the very first exercise.)

What kind of line(s) did I like?  What came naturally?

Line and Composition. Ellen Lindner, AventureQuilter.com/blog

I’m still trying to figure that out.  On the grid above, my favorite line is the one top right.

The next assignment was to use two shapes and add a line.

Line and Composition. Ellen Lindner, AventureQuilter.com/blog

I love that little squiggly line above!

The next exercise required multiple shapes, arranged in a grid format, with line added. By now I found myself leaving space for the future line.

Line and Composition. Ellen Lindner, AventureQuilter.com/blog

I was beginning to smile more and cringe less at my results.  It was beginning to gel in my brain, I think.

Line and Composition. Ellen Lindner, AventureQuilter.com/blog

Finally, I read (or saw?) something in the book that surprised me.  First, some background: I’ve often heard that elements in a composition shouldn’t “kiss.” That is, they shouldn’t just barely touch.  They should either clearly miss one another, or clearly overlap.  Same for elements in relationship to the edge of the composition.

However, Jane’s work often has elements kissing.  So, I decided to test the kissing, non-kissing concept.  I cut out similar elements and made two different compositions.  The first one had no kissing.

Line and Composition. Ellen Lindner, AventureQuilter.com/blog

And I was pretty happy with it.

Next, came full on kissing!

Line and Composition. Ellen Lindner, AventureQuilter.com/blog

Hmm, to my surprise that wasn’t too bad.  It had a certain edginess to it.  I decided I might occasionally ignore the “no kissing” rule.  But not at the edges.  I didn’t care for that.

How about you: kissing or not?

Ellen Lindner

10

“Spring Forth” Complete

After many distractions, I finally got back to working on my Red Bud quilt.  I decided to name it “Spring Forth,” because I was captivated by the way the Red Bud blossoms pop right up out of the trunks.

Spring Forth, an art quilt by Ellen Lindner. AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Spring Forth

 

I got lucky with the background fabrics.  Many of them had colorful dots which worked well for implying more blossoms.  I love it when the fabric does the work!

Spring Forth - detail, an art quilt by Ellen Lindner. AdventureQuilter.com/blog

As you can see, I abstracted the flowers quite a bit.  That was fun!

Spring Forth - detail, an art quilt by Ellen Lindner. AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Find more details, dimensions, and purchase information on the Spring Forth web page.

Ellen Lindner
P.S.  I’m the queen of cropping.  It VERY frequently improves the composition.  Which I sorta noticed in the second image.  I really like that composition, too.

19

Abstract Exercises: Pattern and Scale

While working through Jane Davies’ book, Abstract Painting: The Elements of Visual Language,” my next exercises had to do with pattern.  This assignment was to find a variety of pattern scales, which I did with fabric.

Abstract Exercises: Pattern and Scale. Ellen Lindner, AdventurQuilter.com/blog

She talked about how a variety of patterns, in a variety of scales, can really enhance a piece.  This was my first exercise adding patterns to a basic background.

Abstract Exercises: Pattern and Scale. Ellen Lindner, AdventurQuilter.com/blog

I started with four fabrics and one magazine image of a strawberry.  It was pretty boring.  I added patterns, with markers, and that added TONS of interest!  I’m a believer.  And perhaps you can tell that some of the patterns I added mimicked those that were already there, only in different sizes.

Here’s another one, before.

Abstract Exercises: Pattern and Scale. Ellen Lindner, AdventurQuilter.com/blog

And after.

Abstract Exercises: Pattern and Scale. Ellen Lindner, AdventurQuilter.com/blog

Once again, the patterns added a lot to the composition.  (Although I think I may have over done it with the circles.)

Jane said if you’re going to vary the sizes of patterns or shapes you should do it in a big, noticeable way.  This was my interpretation of that.

Abstract Exercises: Pattern and Scale. Ellen Lindner, AdventurQuilter.com/blog

As you can see, I wasn’t trying to make great art here.  Generally, I just used whatever I picked up first.  But, I was really learning a lot!  Each exercise confirmed one of the book’s concepts.  I was gluing things down and writing notes.  Very exhilarating!

What great books have you learned from?

Ellen Lindner

 

4

Now I’ve Done It

Well, now I’ve done it.  I’ve dipped my toes into learning more about abstract design and have become – what is it the Borg say? – ASSIMILATED!  At least for now.

I “blame” Jane Davies.  She wrote an excellent book, which got me going. It’s called “Abstract Painting, The Elements of Visual Language.”  It was that last part that attracted me.  I didn’t want to do any painting, but I DID want to learn Jane’s way of approaching design, because her pieces are wonderful.

Learning about abstract design. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

So, I started STUDYING her book, doing every exercise multiple times and creating a few more of my own.  (Like I said, “assimilated.”)  My plan was to do my own exercises in fabric and thread, rather than paint.

The first was to experiment with mark making.  Not only in the shape/line/thickness of the mark, but also in the technical materials and processes with which the mark was made.  I did this.

Learning about abstract design. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

It was a good reminder of ways to add marks that I don’t use very often.  Like that sketchy stitched multi-line near the top.  That’s pretty cool, right?

Jane is brilliant with line and after reading her approach and looking at her examples I was ANXIOUS to use more of it.

Next, I did collage exercises with various prompts.  This one was meant to be shapes I don’t use that often.  I used primarily scraps and altered their shapes very little.

Learning about abstract design. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Note: I was NOT trying to make great art here.  The emphasis was on learning, so I purposely ignored balance, etc.  I just played and it was exhilarating!

Next, I shifted to magazine pages as my collage material of choice.  This one was my response to a high contrast assignment.

Learning about abstract design. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

This was great fun.  I used shapes that were not in my usual wheel house, with a variety of edges.  And by now I was getting enamored with the idea of line, so I found myself adding it even when it wasn’t requested.

Here’s the low contrast result.  (See that low contrast line again?)

Learning about abstract design. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

The next assignment was to create a composition with lots of negative (background) space.  No problem.

Learning about abstract design. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

But then I got myself in trouble.  I decided to emulate Jane’s example of painting over elements, adding new ones, and completely altering the piece.  I did NOT have the skill set for that!  Here’s my result.

Learning about abstract design. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Oh my gosh!  Can you say “hideous?”  Not wanting all this effort to go to waste, I decided to look for viable small compositions within this larger one.  I used white paper to isolate small sections and found many wonderful options.  I photographed each one.

Learning about abstract design. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Okay, so all those little compositions made me feel better about this piece.  Not that I really felt bad to begin with.  I KNEW I was experimenting and learning, so I wasn’t expecting awesome results.

This is just the beginning of what I’ve been up to.  I’ve got lots more to show you.

Ellen Lindner

 

6

QBL Classmates at Work

My classmates at Quilting by the Lake worked hard and did some amazing work.  I somehow missed final images for most of them, but these few will give you an idea.

Rosalie Dace, our teacher, circulated around the room almost non-stop.  She gave one-on-one advice to each student.

QBL Classmates at Work. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Barb worked late each night and almost completely assembled her piece by the end of the week. (Here it is still in-progess.)  It was inspired by a stone wall, but she took a lot of liberties with her color choices.  I loved it.

QBL Classmates at Work. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Peg started with rectangles and turned them into house shapes.

QBL Classmates at Work. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

This is Lisa’s piece very early on.  Hers is the one inspired by her engagement ring.  She quickly mastered curved piecing and it’s a good thing.  As you can see, she has quite a few yet to do.

QBL Classmates at Work. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

I wish I had a photo of Lisa’s work further along.  She used some wonderful hand dyed fabric and many bright colors.  It was really singing at the end of the week.

Olan was the only man in our class (or at QBL for that matter,) but it didn’t seem to phase him in the least.  He pieced these intricate feathers as part of a very large stylized piece.

QBL Classmates at Work. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Emily went for a minimalist look and for good reason.  When she began to play with these fabrics, they interacted so well she didn’t want to break up the composition.  She hand appliqued them in place and her top is finished!

QBL Classmates at Work. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

My neighbor in class was Annemarie and she brought these vibrant colors.  I knew I’d like her piece when I saw them.

QBL Classmates at Work. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Sure enough, here it is.  I love the composition and contrast!  It was my favorite.  This is it at the very end of the week.  She just had a few more seams to stitch.

QBL Classmates at Work. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

One of the great things about taking a class is learning from your classmates.  I definitely did that!

Ellen Lindner
P.S.  If any of my classmates read this, I’d love to receive photos of your finished pieces.  With your permission, I’ll add them to this post.

 

2

More Black and White Exercises

One of the great things about taking a class is that you get to learn from everyone around you.  In my class with Rosalie Dace, she was very good about going around the room and coaching everyone.  And she didn’t mind eavesdropping, so I overheard quite a few good tips.

I thought you’d enjoy seeing how some of my classmates tackled their black and white exercises.  Each one started with a single shape that was then altered, multiplied (maybe) and explored at least three more times.

When Stephanie alternated the values in her shapes she got something that looked almost like a rib cage.

A Class with Rosalie Dace: Black and white exercises. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Olan cut his very exact shapes with an exacto knife.

A Class with Rosalie Dace: Black and white exercises. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Mary’s sharp triangles morphed into a large flower.

A Class with Rosalie Dace: Black and white exercises. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Lisa used her engagement ring as a jumping off point.  Thus, the curves, which emulated her oval stone.

A Class with Rosalie Dace: Black and white exercises. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Kenna did an awful lot with a basic triangle.

A Class with Rosalie Dace: Black and white exercises. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

And look what Cathy did with the same shape.

A Class with Rosalie Dace: Black and white exercises. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Annemarie’s composition seemed pretty basic at first, but wait until you see what she did with it.

A Class with Rosalie Dace: Black and white exercises. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

More triangles.  Betsy used very sharp ones.  Almost like thorns.

A Class with Rosalie Dace: Black and white exercises. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

What a lot of diversity!  These little sketches turned into some really awesome quilts.

Ellen Lindner

2

A Class with Rosalie Dace: Black and White Exercises

Are you familiar with the work of Rosalie Dace?  She’s a fabulous art quilter from South Africa and a highly sought-after art quilt teacher.  I’ve been wanting to take a class with her for quite some time and I finally got to at Quilting by the Lake a couple of weeks ago.  It was very good – although somewhat different than I expected.

She gave us some very useful tips, concepts, and pep talks each morning.  Our first assignment was to use black and white paper to create some “sketches.”  We were to choose one shape and then explore it over and over at least five times.

I chose the humble rectangle.

A Class with Rosalie Dace: Black and white exercises. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

These are shown in the order in which I created them.  This was actually quite a stretch because it was sometimes difficult to come up with one more variation. I noticed that I was somewhat enamored with the idea of line.

For our second shape, Rosalie suggested that we choose something special to us or familiar to us.  I chose a palm frond.

A Class with Rosalie Dace: Black and white exercises. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

As usual, I had to make a literal depiction in order to get that out of my head.  In doing so, I was able to focus on the long skinny tapered shape within the frond and I started playing with it.

A Class with Rosalie Dace: Black and white exercises. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Soon, things got interesting.  I really liked the last 3 above. Rosalie wanted me to make more, so I began to search my favorite two for tiny compositions.

A Class with Rosalie Dace: Black and White Exercises. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

There were many that I liked.

A Class with Rosalie Dace: Black and White Exercises. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

A Class with Rosalie Dace: Black and White Exercises. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

A Class with Rosalie Dace: Black and White Exercises. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

A Class with Rosalie Dace: Black and White Exercises. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

A Class with Rosalie Dace: Black and White Exercises. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

A Class with Rosalie Dace: Black and White Exercises. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

A Class with Rosalie Dace: Black and White Exercises. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

A Class with Rosalie Dace: Black and White Exercises. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Can you believe so many viable compositions came from those little sketches?

The fact that these designs no longer say “palm frond” is not a problem.  As a matter of fact, it’s actually the point.  The idea is to play with shape only and to see where it takes you.

I found these black and white exercises to be fun, enlightening, and useful.  Why not give it a try?

Ellen Lindner

8

“Circular Abstractions,” an Awesome Exhibit

While at Quilting by the Lake, I got to visit the Schweinfurth Art Center, which was hosting an exhibit called “Circular Abstractions.”  Oh my, these quilts really make an impact!

As you can see, they’re quite large: each about 80″ square.

"Circular Abstractions" Exhibit. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

By Kaci Kyler, Marks IV

The quilts were meant to be inspired by a large Bulls Eye pattern.  That is, four quadrants, each with a bulls eye (target) motif.  The challenge was proposed by Nancy Crow, and she invited certain students to participate.  Some artists got very creative with their interpretation of quadrants and bulls eyes, as with the quilt above.  But, that was sort of the idea.

Others stuck to the bulls eye motif more clearly, but still with LOTS of variation.

"Circular Abstractions" Exhibit. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

By Randi Morgan, Traveler

Some artists disassembled the components and put them back together askew.

"Circular Abstractions" Exhibit. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

By Patricia Guthrie, Rolling Color

Our class teacher, Rosalie Dace, gave us the assignment of selecting a piece to buy if we were gallery owners.  This piece was my pick.  I really love it.  Wouldn’t it be great in a large public space or on a business wall?

"Circular Abstractions" Exhibit. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

By Tommy Fitzsimmons, Orbicular I

Tommy, (above) really S T R E T C H E D the proportions and I think it’s very successful.

Rosalie also asked us to select a quilt we’d like to take home.  Although the one above tempted me mightily, I just kept gravitating back to the one below. I think I could look at it for hours!

"Circular Abstractions" Exhibit. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

By Kaci Kyler, Marks III

Doesn’t it just glow?  When you look closely, you can see the woven effect created by ALL THOSE LITTLE PIECES.

"Circular Abstractions" Exhibit. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

And then, finally, you notice the VERY TIGHT matchstick quilting.  Compare the texture to that of the wall.  Amazing, right?

"Circular Abstractions" Exhibit. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

This is a FABULOUS exhibit, which demands a little bit of study.  It’s divided into trunks and is traveling around the country.  If it comes close to you, you’ll definitely want to see it!

Ellen Lindner
P.S. I only showed you a few of the quilts in the exhibit.  There are about 20 or 30.

6

Should I Make it More Abstract?

I’m really happy with the way the background of my Red Bud quilt is turning out.  Here it is before quilting.

Should I Make it More Abstract? Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

This image shows the heavy quilting I did on the tree trunks.

Should I Make it More Abstract? Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

But, about the time I finished quilting the background I had a sort of disturbing thought.  That is “would it look better if it were more abstract?”  Hmm.  Making something abstract isn’t disturbing at all to me.  But, doing so this far into a quilt seemed daunting.

Still, I began to sketch options on my computer. First option: what if I cut the background into three pieces and added to each of those to complete three different quilts.  The idea was intriguing, but the work load was not.  (You may remember that I’ve done a bit of this lately on a smaller scale.)

Should I Make it More Abstract? Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Next thought: what about leaving the center as is, but changing the two sides dramatically.  Maybe painting over them and continuing.

Should I Make it More Abstract? Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Or maybe I should just leave the background as it is and do all the abstraction with the flowers.  Since I had no idea how I was going to make the flowers, anyway, this was pretty appealing.  Maybe something like this.

Should I Make it More Abstract? Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com/blog

For now, I’m going to experiment with this last idea.  I really like the idea of abstracting the flowers. The question is whether the background will need something, too.

Have you noticed that I take a lot of detours?  It would definitely be faster is I just went from point A to point B.  But where’s the fun in that?

Ellen Lindner
P.S. UPDATE – Shirley asked “I am interested in how you use your computer to play with your designed especially in abstraction. What program do you use? I would love to see/hear how you so it.” In case you’re also interested, here’s my response.

I use Photoshop Elements for photo editing.  It gives me the ability to work in layers.  That way I can use different techniques on different layers, showing and hiding them as I choose.  For instance, look above at the image with the clear center but the faded sides.  The sides are a different layer, below the one with the in-focus center.  I reduced the opacity of the side ones to give a painted-over  look.

The bottom image is completely (and quickly/sloppily) drawn.  It was easy to do.  I created a new (invisible layer) on top of the full image.  I kept the full image layer visible.  Then, I used the brush tool, picked the color from the original photo, and drew on the new layer, right over the original image still visible  below.  The paint didn’t “stick” to that layer, since I was painting on the invisible layer above it.  As though I was painting on glass with the photo underneath.  I hope that makes sense.

I don’t have a great deal of “go to” tricks when it comes to abstracting, but I generally try some version of simplifying the image.  In this case, I used the same painting technique described above, using a very fat brush.  This kept me from focusing on details and about all I could do was depict the direction of the petals.

But before drawing the petals as described above, I first used a skinnier brush to draw some big open loop/petals.  Just because I thought they’d look cool.  I used them a few months ago and liked them, so I guess they were still in my head.  See this post.

PSE is great software and commonly used. However, there’s a definite learning curve involved.  If you want to try it, I suggest a good tutorial book or online class.  I highly recommend the “Teach Yourself Visually” series for any new software purchase.  At $30, these books are awesome!

Good luck with it!
Ellen Lindner

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