Inspiration to Quilt

Posted by on 15 March 2021 | 0 Comments
This content belongs to Arbee Designs.

Last week I went for a 30 minute walk and snapped photos for inspiration (read it here if you missed it) and this week I'm going to use one of the photos I took to start working on a new quilt. There is a little ground work to do first before I can get to the sewing machine or even the cutting board but all these things will make for a better result.

I've decided to use the photo of the trees with the sun shining through....

inspiration sunlit trees

Last week's photo

However, I see that this, as it is, won't make for a good composition. Here's what I see:

  • the sun is too central - it is right bang in the middle of the photo
  • actually, there is way too much going on in the middle of the photo, the trees go from top to bottom as well
  • there is very little white space - the only bit is in the top left corner
  • the sides seem to run off so when you look at them, your eyes tend to leave the scene to move on to something else instead of capturing the viewers eye.

So what drew me to this photo when there is so much that won't work with it?

  • the sun shining through reminds me of a quilt a made years go - an idea I've been wanting to revisit for a long time
  • I love the straight lines of the trees
  • and there is some good contrast happening between sky and trees (color contrast) and the vertical trunks with very low horizon and sunlight field (line contrast) - both being important to create visual impact

Without going out to take another photo - because chances are I won't capture the sun as it is - what I can do is edit the photo.... but be warned, this is a whole lot of fun, almost as much as making the actual quilt!

I use GIMP which is a raster graphics editor or in other words, a photo editor. I use it because it's as sophisticated as Photoshop but without the cost - being open source it is free to download and use. I'm not going to show you how to use it today because there is just too much involved, but I'm going to show you some simple ways I used it to enhance my composition. (if you want to learn GIMP, then I suggest you sign up for my workshop "Free Software for Quilters" - you'll learn about GIMP and some other very useful software which are all free to download)

So to start with, I needed to move the center out to the side - I really do not like that sun in the middle. Placing it 1/4 - 1/3 across from the side is much more appealing. I'm going to move it right so that white space moves closer to the center of the quilt.

Easy enough to do, just cut the right side of the image off and add it to the left side, so it looks like this...

trees swapped

right side moved to the left side

Yes I have so weird looking branches hanging mid air but we can just ignore those or rub them out if they are too distracting - something like this.

trees removed branches

branches removed

You can still see the cut line, but that's much easier to ignore than those branches and remember, this is a draft to draw from, not the finished piece.

One last thing I want to do and that is to enhance that white space with a little color - not too much though. My intention is to create a few more horizontal lines to echo the horizontal lines at the bottom of the composition. I've copied a piece of sky from another photo I took at the same time and added it in.

trees sky added

horizonal lines added in sky

Now I have some better line contrast. The round sun and the sunrays also add line contrast but I think the subtle change in color in the sky gives it better balance over all.

The only tools in GIMP that I used was the 'select' tool, 'move' tool, and 'eraser' tool shown below. I also use CTRL-c and CTRL-v which are generic shortcuts for copy and paste.

gimp tools

GIMP tools

I'm going to print this out now and pin it to my wall to look at over the next week - maybe I'll make some more changes or just think about other decisions, like how big will this quilt be? do I want a border? what fabrics to use? and so forth.

Next week I'm going to ignore the foreground trees and start pulling all the fabrics I might use in the background. If you want to join me as I work along, by all means do so. I would love to hear your ideas too or maybe you have to prefect fabrics to begin making the background.... I'd love to see them.

Happy Quilting!

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