Ok, now that I gave you enough information to make a quick art quilt if you wanted to, let's back up a bit and look at some ideas for inspiration. This part is usually not super hard for people; they often have ideas, they just are uncertain as to how to make them happen. But just in case you do struggle with that, we'll cover some options.
Really, inspiration is everywhere! You might see a color you like in the tile in a restaurant bathroom, or some other random place 😂 (Quilters and other artists are notorious for taking photos of things like that!) Or, you might have a favorite flower, or other photo you'd like to turn into a quilt. You have probably noticed by now that I don't tend to be an artist with lots of drama and needing to make a statement. I generally stick to landscape type designs. (I do have a purpose beyond just making pretty things though... I believe we were created to create!) But maybe that's where you get your inspiration. And of course, being outside or traveling can offer endless ideas for art quilts.
I'm often inspired by plants, animals, or scenery. But really, I often start a new design with color rather than an idea for a subject! We'll get to that in a couple of weeks. I take SOOO many photos. If you want to photograph something intentionally, try to get it from different angles if that's possible for your subject.
A tricky thing can be when we are inspired by someone else's artwork. It can be very hard to find the line between 'inspired by' and 'copied from'. This is why it is always best to get your inspiration from real life instead of other artwork. It's still ok to try techniques, or color schemes, but not to recreate someone else's design, at least not without permission.
On a similar note, if you are inspired by a photograph, you should always get permission from its owner before using. Sometimes a photographer will give permission, others will charge for it. It's their creation, so they have the right to do that. I wasn't always as mindful of that early on, but I definitely am now, and even more so after seeing my designs copied enough times. 🤪
Your artwork will be more meaningful if you are the source of the inspiration anyway. It's fun to make a quilt that reminds you of a place or event where you took the photo! And of course it helps if you live in a spectacular place like I do, but it's really not necessary. Inspiration is everywhere; we just have to slow down a bit and look for it!
Next week is borders, which, as you might suspect, I don't do like regular people 😂
PS: Here’s a tip! If you are thinking of joining along with my Simple Secrets class ‘more structured edition’ this fall, take lots of pictures between now and then! And of course, you can join the class anytime and still participate in the fall.
This is the second week in my Basic Art Quilting series. Last week I said the simplest background to start with is just a piece of pretty fabric, especially one that looks like it was hand painted. This week is about the simplest way ever to add a foreground, and that is to use a silhouette. Just the outside shape, no details required. Of course I'm not opposed to details, I'm just trying to give you the absolute simplest way to get from zero to a cool art quilt 😃
Here are a few examples, and remember, silhouettes don't have to be black. Even my raven silhouettes are rarely black! I usually make them a dark version of one of the colors in my background, this one is teal. I think they look less harsh that way. (this one has a more complicated background, using collage. However, the middle third of it IS just one fabric! And this one landed on the cover of Art Quilting Studio magazine even😊) But they don't even have to be dark, as you can see here. I don't often use both of these super simple techniques in the same quilt, but the canoeing one, Seagull Lake Sunset, pretty much is. Aside from the borders, there are only two fabrics in that quilt, and two pieces of each! And the polar bear greeting card just has one more fabric in the background. The Moonlight Moose has several different colors for the shapes, but they are all still silhouettes, just the outline of the shapes.
So, if you did rummage through your stash and find a fun background fabric, I hope you will be inspired to put a silhouette on it, and of course, share it with me! Either in my On the Trail Creations VIP group, or the Simple Secrets group if you are in the class, or just send me an email, email@example.com.
Next week we'll talk about where to get inspiration for art quilts. That may seem out of order, but remember, I wanted to you be able to make something as soon as possible. So, if you already had an idea that would work for a silhouette, you're ready to go. There are many other simple backgrounds and foregrounds, but I think this combination is the very simplest for getting started! I can't wait to see what you do 😃
Happy sewing! Beret
If you are new here, you still may have already noticed that I am quite passionate about helping people with art quilting. Whether it's getting started in the first place, or improving your skills, or simply gaining some confidence to try it, I'm here for it! So I decided to do a short series covering the basics, probably 5-6 weeks. Nothing as involved as the free motion series, which some of you are still working your way through! (If not, sign up for my newsletter in the sidebar to get that😃)
I always like to break things down into bite sized pieces. Most of my art quilts, if you dissect them a bit, are not very complicated at all. I just have lots of tricks/secrets 😀 A whole class full, in fact, but I will share some of them here! (I've been starting to take notes for a 'next level' class too, lots of ideas!) For this series, I will share a few of my 'secrets' in these categories:
I also really like to get people to have success as soon as possible, because that's what motivates us to do more, right? For example, if you are working on something like saving money or losing weight, it's usually more motivating to continue if you have had some success. If things keep getting worse, it's more discouraging than motivating. (And as it turns out, success in something like art quilting can actually increase your confidence and motivation in other areas too, so it's a win win! It's good for our hearts and brains to create!) After next week's segment of the series, you will have enough information to make a very simple but potentially effective art quilt.
So here's this week's 'secret'. (I need a better word though, I'm not too fond of either 'tricks' or 'secrets', don't really love 'hacks' either, but I haven't been able to come up with a better idea.... anyone??) The most simple background you can do is just to find a pretty fabric that does it for you. I love the ones that look hand painted; they are great for landscapes. Here are a few examples:
I didn't add a lot to any of those, because the background fabric did all the work for me! If you have any of these in your stash, maybe dig it out for next week!
If you are already in my Simple Secrets for Art Quilting class, I've been working my way through and updating a bit and getting rid of bugs. (Like photos that magically replaced themselves with something totally unrelated...🤨😑🤷♀️)
Also, at first I really loved the format of this class, because I could keep updating it. However, I have discovered a few issues with it! The biggest one is it's so self guided that it's easy for people to forget to get in there and do it. I hoped the fb group would serve as a reminder, but if people aren't in it, or there isn't a lot of activity, then that falls by the wayside too, including for me! SOOOO..... I think I'm going to try to do a more structured version, maybe twice a year or something? It might even be just 4 weeks of a Zoom call each week, plus some emails, still working on details. I'm thinking September for the first one, kind of a back to school month anyway, right? Stay tuned for details!
Happy Sewing, Beret
This week I did something I never thought I would do! Actually, it was more that I DIDN'T do something... When I get the application in the mail for the UAF Women's bazaar, I usually fill it out and get it immediately to the nearest post office. But even before the bazaar last fall, both my husband and I (he carves wooden spoons and things if you are new!) had decided that bazaars mostly don't fit into our plans anymore. I will probably still do the Raven Art Show, and maybe a smaller one here and there, but I can no longer afford the three months it takes me to get ready for bazaar season. I have too many other fun things going on! So while it was a hard decision, we're both still confident that it's the right one.
For now, the only place I'm selling finished quilted cards is the Quilt Tree in Anchorage. They ordered some more this week, which was good timing, because as usual I didn't have enough in stock and had to make some. That's fun for a day, but it was a good reminder that I don't want to do 50 of those days 😂😅
I challenged myself to use only scraps, and mostly only scraps from collage quilts, which are really accumulating... I started with one bin, now two are stuffed full. I made 13 cards today, all collage backgrounds, and didn't make a dent! I did do a couple of cool new things though, so I'm going to show you those, then scroll to the end to see them all!
All of the cards I made started like this... random pieces laid on batting, with interfacing for the backing. (which is my process for most things I do, sometimes muslin instead of interfacing.) Then I covered them with netting, and quilted it all together. But for this one, before I put the netting on, I covered the scraps with a bunch of thread I had saved, probably after a class when all of my threads were all tangled up😂
Remember the messy middle from last week's newsletter? This is it 😂 It doesn't look too promising, right? Before I get to the final photo of this one, I'll show you my second unusual technique (and tell you what I SHOULD have done 😛😅)
I wanted birch trees for a few of them, but I thought it would be fun to collage those too. So I took strips of fusible web and covered them with scraps. I then had to tack down all of the overlapping pieces, so I should have just put fusible web on the scraps to start with. I could have fused them together on the pressing sheet, and then peeled the chunk off and cut out trees after it cooled. But this still worked ok. I saw someone this week do a similar technique, (@busy_quilting on IG!) but she had traced her design onto parchment paper, fused the scraps to that, and then she could cut it out from the back where she could see her line on the parchment paper. Brilliant!
I had planned to have my trees go all the way across the card, but they were a bit short. So I rounded the bottoms and moved them up a bit. Problem solved!
Ok, here are all of the cards. They are such a great way to try a design, color scheme or technique. I hadn't made any in awhile, so it was fun. It's pretty easy to spot the birch trees and the crazy thread, but they look better now! Even the moose screen prints were kind of scraps, as they all had imperfect feet so I didn't want to put them in kits, but I knew stitching some willows would fix that! The bindings were all from the leftover binding bin. I hope you are taking time to play too! Happy sewing, Beret
Beret Nelson's On The Trail Creations Blog Page
I am a homeschooling mom of three fun kids, who are now old enough that I have a little time to pursue my passion for sewing! After several years of making quilted cards and art quilts, I'm now designing kits and patterns. Some of my designs have been in Keepsake Quilting and Art Quilting Studios magazine! I teach classes online, and am starting to do more traveling and teaching. I also have many tutorials, including some on YouTube. I am blessed to live in Alaska where I am surrounded by the inspiration provided by the beauty of God's creation!
Free card pattern and also an e-book, and a quilt planning checklist!
"Like" my facebook page!
I am also an independent distributor for Plexus supplements, since I credit them with enabling me to be healthy enough to do all these fun things! They target blood sugar and gut health, which are at the root of so many modern health issues. E-mail me for more info, or check out my website! I am as passionate about getting people healthy as I am about getting people creating :-)