It’s been a long time since I properly shared my quiltmaking process, and I receive regular emails and messages asking about this so I thought I’d write a blog series again.
Every new artwork begins with lots of drawing. Even before the drawing begins, though, I like to think about my subject matter. I like working with a theme, to creative a cohesive body of work. I see ideas for quilts in everything so selecting a theme also helps me to focus on something. I consider several things in choosing a theme. My worldview is important. I am inspired by God’s creation, and how everything works and fits together in it. The laws of nature, botanical and zoological interrelationships, and the God-given role of man in the natural world all stimulate me to further explore new ideas and designs in my textile art.
I also want to work with subject matter that speaks to me personally and is available to me in my immediate environment.
I currently have two themes happening in my artwork. My botanically themed artworks highlight the beauty of the plants and trees that are ‘everyday fare’ for us here in Australia. There is so much beauty in the details of each tree, for example, in the veins that produce pattern and texture on a eucalyptus leaf, and the huge variety of colour to be found on a single plant.
My childhood-themed artworks, although not quite as popular as the botanical pieces, are my current favourites, perhaps largely because they are more challenging for me. Observing children at play, these artworks aim to capture a sense of childlike wonder. As a mother I am privileged to observe that awe of little children discovering for the first time things which we as adults have long since taken for granted. Observing small children notice budding flowers, snail trails, ripening fruit, textured leaves, floating bubbles, dripping rain and pencil marks on paper for the first time is a wonderful reminder of just how special these ordinary things are. I hope I can retain some of that wide-eyed wonder myself, and continue to express it in my work.
Having decided (perhaps broadly) on a theme, I do a lot of sketching. This time is fun, but can be frustrating. I never know how long it will take to develop several quilt designs I am happy with. I am thankful to be living in the age of digital cameras, as I like to take hundreds of photos of my subject matter, from all different angles, as a reference throughout the whole design process.
At first I draw without too much intent, familiarising myself with the subject matter. Then I will start developing my ideas, trying various alternative designs, and stylising my drawings so that they lend themselves to the style of quilts I like to make (specifically, to machine piecing). This process takes place in my visual diary, which is an important record to me. I constantly refer back to original ideas and inspirations as recorded there. By the end of this stage, I have a collection of all kinds of sketches – photorealistic (for familiarisation of subject), line drawings (with piecing in mind), quick thumbnail sketches, bold marker drawings (for developing overall layout without getting bogged down in detail), simple design layouts, as well as detailed line drawings with the quilting in mind.
I find quick thumbnail sketches very useful for working through a bunch of potential designs for a given artwork. When I’ve settled on a design concept that I like, I draw it up more completely.
The final step in the drawing process is to convert my sketched design to a pattern for piecing. This pattern shows all the cutting/seam lines for the final artwork. In other words, each white space in the sketch represents a separate piece of fabric.
Stay tuned for the next step in my artmaking process soon!
Here’s an overdue post to let you know that I hope to teach at Quilt Symposium Christchurch 2017 in October. As some of you know, my teaching engagements are few and far between at the moment (due mostly to my prioritising family time here at home), so this is a rare opportunity!
I’m listed to teach two workshops.
The first is ‘Designing Your Own Pieced Botanical Quilt’, with more details available here. This is the workshop where you come armed with a bunch of photos of a plant that you like, and you create your own quilt design based on those. We also work through the basics of beginning to piece your beautiful botanical art quilt. This includes fabric selection; creating a working pattern from your quilt designing, cutting out the quilt, and making a start at piecing the bits together. Phew! That’s a whole lot to cover in two days. I’m going to work you hard!! This a crash course designed especially for all of you who have asked many times for a workshop to cover my quiltmaking process.
The second is ‘Enriching Your Quilt with Hidden Imagery‘. In this two-day workshop, we work through ways to enhance your free-motion quilting. I love to use the quilting process to add another ‘layer of interest’ to my art quilts. I like the quilting to help in telling the ‘story’ of the quilt. Together we’ll work through a number of ways to do that. In the workshop, we work through a bunch of samples, to equip you to apply fantastic quilting to your future quilt projects!
If you’re going to Quilt Symposium Christchurch, I look forward to seeing you there!
Blossom Joy 1
© Ruth de Vos 2016
Size: 77cm by 77cm
Hand-dyed, machine-pieced, hand- and machine-quiltedFibre reactive dye, cotton homespun, cotton linen blend, cotton threads
© Ruth de Vos 2016
REMINDER: Don’t forget that you can currently get 30% off all my artquilts by using the code ARTQUILT30 when checking out! Code expires Monday 12 Dec.
90cm high by 90cm wide
Fabric paint, cotton fabric, cotton batting.
Screen-printed, hand painted, machine-pieced, machine-quilted.
This artworks has a sleeve stitched onto the back for hanging purposes, and can be hung using a gallery-style hanging system, or with two screws in the wall. More info including pictures here: http://ruthdevos.com/blog/how-to-hang-an-art-quilt/
There's a first for everything! Here's my first online sale! 30% off all the art quilts in my shop. So if there is one that you've been eyeing off, now might be a good time. Just enter the code ARTQUILT30 when you check out! (The smaller ones make great gifts for engagements, weddings, wedding anniversaries or just because!).
Thanks so much for your interest in, and support for this artistic journey!