Tag Archives: negative space

Completion of “Negative Space” quilts

Last spring I took an online art quilt class at Quilt University from Marilyn Belford  (www.marilynbelford.com) .  I posted photos of some of my class homework at the time.  I have finally completed several of these class projects and am including photos here.  All of these projects were done on fusible web.   As a reminder, each project started with a large shape such as a circle, triangle, or rectangle being cut out of one fabric (with fusible web attached).  Then that large shape was fractured into a bunch of smaller shapes, which were then “stretched out” on top of a second fabric and fused down.   For the later exercises, shapes were cut from more than one fabric.

I did a lot of these exercises in the class and I still have three more to finish.  In all cases, the little quilts were completely finished from my fabric stash.   For the finished projects shown here, most of the pieces were machine appliqued using a fine thread and a small blanket stitch.

And now the quilts.  This first one has “fractured” triangles and other assorted shapes:

Multicolor geometric shapes

Multicolor geometric shapes

And the next one has a fractured circle and fractured triangles:

Circles and Triangles

Circles and Triangles

And now one where the assignment was to think of a feeling and express it using simple shapes.  The feeling I used was feeling “unbalanced”:



And the last one was an experiment (I don’t think this was actually a class assignment, but I could be wrong) where I decided to try simplifying an animal shape while retaining the “essence” of the animal so that it would be recognizable.  I used bald eagles because they are so recognizable and also because they roost in our trees here and we often see them performing acrobatics in the sky.

Acrobatic eagles

Acrobatic eagles

I used a gold metallic Shiva Paintstik to add some dimension and shading to the tree.  It worked fairly well considering my lack of painting experience.  The one negative is I can still smell the paint on the quilt — but then it has only been two days, so perhaps it will go away with time.

I really like these little abstract quilts.  The question is, what do I do with them now?  I don’t believe they are very marketable.  My cousin, who is an abstract painter, tells me that abstract art is a tough sell:  90 % of all people aren’t much interested in art; of the remaining 10 % who do like art, 90 % aren’t interested in abstract art.  So selling a good landscape painting (or quilt) is going to be a lot easier than selling abstract art quilts.  Good thing I don’t have to make a living with my quilts!


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.