Friday, June 5, 2020

Considerations on Abstraction for Off the Wall Friday

The feeling of Joy in Worship

Recently, I had a reader email me a question on abstract quilting.  She wanted to know how I made the jump from my traditional roots and figurative working more in abstraction.  My answer was not easily.  It seemed to me, looking back, that I took the long way around.  At first I admired abstract work greatly.  It all seemed random chaos to me....but a chaos that was  pleasing and interesting. The more I learned about abstract design, the more I realized that there really wasn't anything random or chaotic about it.  Really most abstract works are still based on the the design principals and elements, that figurative work was based on for hundreds of years. 

Okay, I get elements I its just not putting down random patterns and it!  But now what....

How to Make Your Quilts More Abstract

The same bird house repeated with unexpected colors
  • Pick a Feeling or Concept... I always found deciding what I want to say before I say it helps keep me on the right path.  So you want to make a quilt about anger over current events??  Think about the colors that evoke that .... the shapes that say it....the movement of your piece
  • Pick a figurative idea and then edit it to make it abstract.....You can repeat it, morph it with a photo editor....distort the size/color....take out key elements....add new elements...literally tear it apart and put it back together in a new way.  I've done several of these things to great success and its always fun to see where its going to lead you.  I find mapping out the changes before I start is helpful on keeping me on the right path,
  • Work in unexpected ways...choose unique colors, shapes, scales
    Suggests Urban Housing
  • Less Reality....More Suggestion....Abstractions work best with a bit of mystery.  A forest doesn't need to look like a bunch of individuals can just be a hint of greens and browns
  • Its not all Real or All Abstract....don't be afraid to do a bit of both ...switching back and forth.
  • Start with a plan but don't be afraid to let your piece take the lead.  If you see a new patterns emerging don't be afraid to embrace them.
  • Control the Chaos.  With Abstraction the possibilities are limitless right?!  So I suggest you use the A LOT, JUST SOME, A BIT...thinking.For instance with colors...pick a palette of greens, reds and use a lot of all different greens, some reds and a bit of yellows.  Or with shapes  A lot of small shapes a few medium and one big shape.  See??
    Notice how the bits of odds and ends in the shapes colors adds interest
I could go on and on I swear but this will get you started.  One of things that I really found helpful is I started looking at famous works from the last 100 years.  How did other artists abstract out their work?  What makes it so successful???

I cut up a Hopper painting and put the elements back together to get this
Another tip for success is while you are working don't be afraid to take time to do a quick self evaluation.  Check your values....check the movement of you eye....check what is your focal point...doing it as you work will save you a lot of heart ache in the end!!  See more posts on abstraction here.

So What Have You Been Up to Creatively?
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Lynda said...

Great post! Love the repetition. I'm going to try that. Thanks.

For the love of geese said...

Thank you for the linky party. Clear answer to your readers questions.

dq said...

Nina, your story to guide creativity in abstractions was an excellent read! It definitely comes natural to some and takes work for others like myself. I do admire, respect, and enjoy abstract quilting.