Use of “negative space” in quilts

I am taking a class right now called “Art for Quilters”, taught by Marilyn Belford ( http://www.marilynbelford.com ) at Quilt University ( http://www.quiltuniversity.com ). One of the first homework assignments is in the use of “negative space” – that is, the space outside the design elements where there is no piecing or applique. Negative space is also one of the common elements of the Modern Quilting movement so popular currently. Although they don’t name it, traditional quilters often use negative space in the form of alternating plain blocks, plain setting triangles, or sashing. Negative space gives the eye a place to “rest” as it moves around the quilt. It helps emphasize the importance of the positive elements of the quilt.

I am pleased with the impact that can be achieved with simple geometric shapes and using a lot of negative space. Here are some examples from my class homework.

First, I cut a rough circle was out of a lavender fabric, cut it into irregular pieces, and then scattered them about on a purple background:

Cut up circle with negative space

Circle cut up for negative space exercise

Then, I cut a light grey square into strips and placed them on a very dark grey background:

Square cut in strips showing negative space

Square cut in strips for negative space exercise

I cut a green rectangle into smaller rectangles and other shapes and placed them on a blue print background:

Rectangle cut up for negative space exercise

Rectangle cut up for negative space exercise – I had to do some additional cutting to make the pieces fit on this one

And I cut up several black triangles and placed them on a marbled grey/mauve background:

Cut up triangles for negative space exercise

Cut up triangles for negative space exercise – this one looks sort of Native American to me

Aren’t these interesting? With some appropriate borders and free motion quilting in the negative space, I think these are going to make dramatic little quilts. I will report more progress as I continue.

I am very pleased with this teacher and the class materials so far. Marilyn Belford also teaches a class called Realistic Fabric Portraits at QU that starts June 28. She has a book available on the same topic Portraits For Fabric Lovers  (if you click on the name here it will take you to Amazon to buy the book, so don’t click unless you want to do that).

I was saddened to find out that Quilt University – where I have taken many classes and learned so much – is shutting down at the end of this calendar year. It was founded by Carol Miller who recently died after a short illness. Her husband Roger, who was always the technical guy behind the scenes, has decided to have a graceful shutdown and allow all us QU addicts to take the classes we have been putting off. I am going to be very busy for the next few months trying to do just that.

2 thoughts on “Use of “negative space” in quilts

  1. Karl Boettcher

    Congratulations and best wishes – we look forward to your designs and any hints on how a long arm quilter would quilt them.
    Lynn & Karl

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s