April 11, 2012

Triadic color scheme with black

My sister Cookie asked for more about this quilt first, so here goes!  This is a small top (about 20x25) that will be my contribution to my quilting guild's biennial challenge for our quilt show.  The idea is that the show organizers set a challenge for guild members, some limitation that will determine this one entry.  (Of course we're all encouraged to submit other quilts as well.)  This year the challenge was to work in a triadic color scheme--that is, three colors that are equally spaced around the color wheel, like red-yellow-blue or green-violet-orange.  I had a stack of solids put aside that I built off a palette taken from flowers in my spring garden: peonies, poppies, and sage.
To reduce this to triadic, I took out the deep pink, leaving me with coral, lavender, and sage green for my triad.  So, what to do with these fabrics?  Maybe you'll be interested to see how even a very simple design can involve many steps.

I started with an image I love--something I saw recently at a superb exhibition of contemporary drawings at the Art Institute in Chicago-- a small piece by Marija Vladimirovna Ender, "Color in Space":
I love the simplicity of the swatches of color on a plain background, so my first thought was to line up rectangles, using black as the background, to better show off the light-colored fabrics:

Very boring.  Moving the rectangles further apart didn't help either:
 Then I tried wonky squares:

And then regular squares:

Still boring.  Then I changed the scale, making the colored squares much smaller.  This I liked!

So then I just had to play around with placement of the colors, and I threw in a little variation in value also (see photo at top for the final layout).

The next stage is quilting.  I made up a small sample with 3 squares and have begun experimenting. (As always, double-click on the image to enlarge.)

 I used charcoal gray thread here on the black fabric; I may switch to black.  I may quilt each small square with something different, or all the same, or I may leave them unquilted.  Then there will be a decision about binding: black? one color? three colors?  Decisions, decisions. . .

And since I'm on the subject of challenge quilts, here's the one I did in 2008:

This is 18x27 and hangs on the door to my studio.  The challenge in 2008 was to work in pieces of three fabrics handed out to you--I know the pink was one of them, and probably one of the greens and one of the blues.  I used this as an occasion to try out some improvisational piecing, which I'd done very little of, and also some contemporary quilting designs, varying them across the space.  

This was the first piece I quilted where I actually enjoyed the machine quilting part, so it was a very successful challenge!


  1. Wow! Quilting is definitely complicated...so many decisions. I'm not tempted to try it myself; instead, I'll just enjoy looking at your beautiful quilts while learning what all is involved.

    Can you print the picture of the flowers onto cloth? Then you could incorporate that image into the back of the quilt to document what influenced your palette choice.


  2. One nice thing about quilting is that it can be as simple or as complicated as one would like. Most people follow a pattern, which tells you how many pieces of what size to cut, and some people even work from kits, where the fabric is chosen for you. I like both working from a pattern and coming up with my own.

    Yes, I could print the photo of the flowers onto the cloth--thanks for the idea! I could use it as part of a larger label.