Tag Archives | Creativity

Listening to Fabrics and Other Odd Behavior

That’s the title of my newest lecture and I’m very excited about it!  If you’ve been reading my blog for a awhile, you know that I DO exhibit some odd behaviors.

Things like cutting up quilts and putting them back together,

Urban Sprawl, an art quilt by Ellen Lindner. AdventureQuilter.com

Using unusual materials,

And changing the shape of the quilt.

It’s kinda funny, because when I started searching my quilts for signs of odd behavior there were lots of them!  (Of course, I’ve been quilting a long time, so there’s plenty of “normal” stuff too.)

I’ll be presenting this lecture for the first time next week.  If you live in western Florida, maybe you’d like to come.  I’ll be speaking at The Piecemakers Quilt Guild of Brandon, FL on Monday evening, September 11th.  Cost for visitors is $10.  (And if you come, please introduce yourself.)

Ellen Lindner

 

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Fabric Cookies: High Fiber and Calorie Free

Have you ever heard of fabric cookies?  Me neither.  Until I invented them.

I needed a way for a my statewide SAQA group to thank a smaller group, so I asked the state members to make fabric cookies as thank you gifts.  I described them as something, about palm/hand sized made with fabric.  They ran with those loose instructions and came through in spades!  I received 107 cookies, which made a very significant pile.

Fabric cookies on Ellen Lindner's blog: AdventureQuilter.com/blog

They were all very different.

Fabric cookies on Ellen Lindner's blog: AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Fabric cookies on Ellen Lindner's blog: AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Fabric cookies on Ellen Lindner's blog: AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Fabric cookies on Ellen Lindner's blog: AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Here ‘s a closer look at some of them.

Fabric cookies on Ellen Lindner's blog: AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Below, check out the top left cookie.  It was one of TWENTY-SIX sent by Marlene Glickman!

Fabric cookies on Ellen Lindner's blog: AdventureQuilter.com/blog

And, what about the zipper treatment on the heart above?  I love that.

The next photo is not that great, but I think you can tell they’re fortune cookies.  Aren’t they cute?

Fabric cookies on Ellen Lindner's blog: AdventureQuilter.com/blog

The one on the right, below, was one of several I made.

Fabric cookies on Ellen Lindner's blog: AdventureQuilter.com/blog

My cookies were easy.  I just grabbed a few scraps (out of the trash can) and collaged them into loose circle shapes.  I stitched them together and later added hand stitching.  They were very easy and fast.

Fabric cookies on Ellen Lindner's blog: AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Presenting the cookies was lots of fun.  I went to a meeting of the appropriate group.  (We call them pods here in SAQA Florida.)  Several members pitched in to provide brunch which I got to deliver.  Once everyone had their food, I told them about a great homemade dessert that I’d brought for the occasion.  Then, I dumped the entire collection of fabric cookies on the table.  It was quite a pile and it had the appropriate effect of drama and awe.  They were very happy with all of this, and I think (and hope) they felt appreciated.

It’s so wonderful working with dedicated volunteers!  I’m so thankful for those who pitch in.

Ellen Lindner (Florida representative for SAQA, Studio Art Quilt Associates)

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Loosen Up with Torn Paper Collage

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you know that I like to interpret foliage and scenery around me.  The problem is that my literal brain wants to depict my photos exactly as they are.  But, I know my quilts will be more interesting if I can put my own personal spin on things.

So, usually, I have to make a realistic sketch, just to satisfy my brain, and then I can get on to something more creative.  Maybe a sketch, or a torn paper collage.

Loosen Up with Torn Paper Collage. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com

A torn paper collage is a great way to interpret a photo loosely because you CAN’T accurately depict the details.  Just what my left brain needs!

Loosen Up with Torn Paper Collage. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com

The resulting collage can serve as a sketch for a finished quilt, or just as a creative exercise.

Loosen Up with Torn Paper Collage. Ellen Lindner, AdventureQuilter.com

I’ve just added a full article about this technique to my website.  It includes lots of in-progress photos and tips.  Check it out and try it yourself.

Ellen Lindner
P.S.  One more example on my old blog.

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Liquefy and Crop

Are you playing along with me?  If so, you’ve printed out the liquefied image from the previous post and you’ve found some small compositions within it.

I found ten, but I’m only showing you four of them.

Ellen Lindner's color experiments. AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Ellen Lindner's color experiments. AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Ellen Lindner's color experiments. AdventureQuilter.com/blog
Ellen Lindner's color experiments. AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Again, any one of them would be a great start to an abstract quilt.  What did you find?

Later, I wanted to select one or two of my compositions for the next stage of experimenting.  The first thing I did was to turn them all upside down.  That gave me a new perspective.

I chose two and cropped them SOME MORE!  Maybe you can find their points of origin in the images above.

Ellen Lindner's color experiments. AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Ellen Lindner's color experiments. AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Finally, I began to play with the image above and to turn it into a viable sketch.

Maybe this?

Ellen Lindner's color experiments. AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Or, with slightly altered colors:

Ellen Lindner's color experiments. AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Hmm, yes.  I think that’s a good starting point.  As with Brainstorm, I won’t try to perfectly replicate the sketch.  I’ll use it as reference to get me started, but then – once again – take plenty of detours.  I’m already thinking I’ll add a little yellow.  We’ll see.

Ellen Lindner

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Taking Detours

When I’m in experimental mode, my plan is to take every creative detour that pops into my head.  What an Adrenalin surge that is!

After completing Brainstorm I wanted to continue to work in the loose, experimental way I had when creating it. First, I wanted to play with colors.  I figured I’d probably use the same ones I’d used in Brainstorm, but perhaps in different proportions.  Hmm, how to best audition my options?  Since my Brainstorm fabrics were still strewn all over my work table, I could have easily pinned them to my design wall.  But, I decided to do some coloring on the computer, instead.  (I used Photoshop Elements, but you could do lots of this with colored pencils and paper.)

I opened a picture of Brainstorm and digitally “sampled” the most prominent colors.  That is, I copied them.  I loaded my digital paint brush with each one in turned and slathered them onto a plain sheet of digital paper.  I tried to do it without a lot of thought.  I used the same size brush throughout and my only criteria was to spread the colors around.

Well THAT was fun!

Ellen Lindner's color experiments. AdventureQuilter.com/blog

As you can see I also drew on a few motifs that I thought I might use at some point.

Ellen Lindner's color experiments. AdventureQuilter.com/blog

I was pretty floored at this point, because either of these could be tweaked a little and turned into a wonderful quilt background.  Wow, what a concept!

Next, I decided to make blocks of color in a computer file that I could fill in with the colors.  I didn’t intend to make a blocky quilt; I just wanted to play with proportions.

Ellen Lindner's color experiments. AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Woah, another good result.  What’s going on here?  I like these proportions a lot.

But, as I said, I didn’t want a blocky quilt, so I did some digital magic.  I “liquefied” the above image.

Ellen Lindner's color experiments. AdventureQuilter.com/blog

Also very cool.  But, I don’t want to make a quilt with that much action in the background.  No worries.  I’ll go back to that recent exercise where I found small compositions within the larger piece.  Now, doesn’t that sound like fun?

All this play would be more fun with some playmates.  Would you like to join me?  You could do something similar with one of your favorite quilts as a starting reference.  Or, I tell you what:  I’ve made the image above copyright free.  You can print it and play with it to your heart’s content!  To find compositions, use two L-shaped pieces of cardboard to create a frame.  Move them around, adjust their size, and tilt them some too.  You’ll find many intriguing little designs.  Draw them on your image and cut them out.  I suggest cropping way in and getting 3 or more compositions from this.  But, that’s up to YOU.  I sure hope someone will join me.  My enthusiasm is getting hard to contain!

Preview:  Of course, after finding a composition I like I’ll take some more detours. 🙂

Ellen Lindner
P.S.  If you want to work with a larger version of this image, go here.

 

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“Brainstorm” Complete

This is one of the most enjoyable quilts I’ve ever made.  I cut loose and experimented and embraced lots of
new-to-me ideas.  And I love the result!

Brainstorm

Brainstorm, an art quilt by Ellen Lindner. AdventureQuilter.com

Brainstorm

Here are some detail shots.

Brainstorm - detail, an art quilt by Ellen Lindner. AdventureQuilter.com

Brainstorm - detail, an art quilt by Ellen Lindner. AdventureQuilter.com

I was kinda proud of the title, too.  Doesn’t it look like a brainstorm?  Certainly my process involved some brainstorming.

You can read about my process in the blog links below.  I hope you like it as much as I do.

Ellen Lindner
P.S. Would you like to audition this art in your home?

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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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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

 

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