Are You Inspired To Design?

Posted by Elizabeth Barton on 3 February 2015 | 0 Comments


A great composition does not happen by accident. It takes planning, patience and knowledge. It requires you to think. Also it is important to know that the best learning is achieved by doing. Just reading a recipe is not as good as actually cooking and certainly not as tasty. "Vision is not enough," wrote playwright Vaclav Havel. "It must be combined with venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps, we must step up the stairs."

The first step in class... Inspiration (From Inspired To Design online class)

It is very rare for an artist to compose in a void; everyone needs a starting point.  Picasso, Monet, Renoir and Vermeer did not go off to work, pull out a blank canvas and compose something wonderful out of their heads.  Neither can we.

The first thing I want you to do is to collect inspirations such as  photographs, paintings, color combinations, anything that intrigues you.  Put each one into a sheet protector in a binder or glue them onto pages in a scrapbook.  You could also include notes you might make on specific experiences, or doodles you make while on the telephone, anything that catches your eye.  I am onto my tenth Inspirational Notebook. 

Include pictures of quilts you have made that you feel were very successful and from which you can learn and develop other ideas.  I think it is also helpful to include a few pictures of other people’s quilts that you really admire but try to include a variety of quilts by different people so that you do not get influenced too much by one particular quilter.  You want to develop your own voice, not imitate another’s style.

lesson 1 inspiration notebook

My first inspiration notebook with watercolor possibilities

lesson 1 inspiration corkboard

or you can pin up ideas and postcards on a corkboard

Look at your inspirational pictures and write down potential ideas. For a cityscape, you might note the interesting interlocking of the buildings.  For a landscape, the dynamic planes, peacefulness or a special sense of place might be what catches your eye.  In a still life, the repetition of a particular shape or pattern may intrigue you.  It is difficult to have a good composition without having something to compose.  Also consider a subject with a clear strong light source which will yield dynamic lights and darks.


No patterns, no rules! The aim of this workshop is to learn how to work from your ideas and discover your own personal voice. In the process, we will cover the basics of good design within the context of the art quilt.

We will discuss all the steps from the initial idea through the formulation of a strong composition and into the construction of a quilt. We will take three weeks to generate a lot of designs, and evaluate them, and to decide on a strong color scheme. In the final week, we will address the construction, quilting and finishing of your quilt.

See you in class!

...Elizabeth Barton

About Inspired to Design: Learn how to develop designs for art quilts based on your photographs. Your inspiration can be flowers, landscapes, cityscapes, patterns in nature, engines – anything! How do you go from a visual or aural idea to a finished design? Elizabeth will show you how to develop your drawings and how to use the shape, line, color and value to bring them to life. Read more...


quilting classes available at the Academy of Quilting

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