Friday, July 22, 2016

Sketchbooks and Quilting

Sketchbooks loom large in my creative process.  I have two very distinct types of sketchbooks.  The first type is my walking-around-the-world sketchbooks.  These are small-ish, fit easily into a backpack, and contain sketches of a huge variety of things--everything from garbage trucks and utility services to cathedrals and sailing ships.  I sketch mostly with fountain pens and watercolors, with an occasional pencil or ball point pen image thrown in.  I have dozens and dozens of these sketchbooks dating back decades.   I usually  have no intention of using my sketches for anything.  I just like drawing, and I like looking through my old sketchbooks just to entertain myself.  (I'm easily entertained.)  My sketchbook sketches rarely ever become quilts.

Then there are my studio journals which are large working journals where I make notes about techniques Or products I've tried, and where I sketch out potential quilts or free motion quilting designs.  When I get an idea, I guess I'm worried I'll forget it before I get around to making a quilt, which I probably would, so I make a quick pencil sketch, and later I usually make a more detailed drawing and color it.

Most of the time, the original sketch doesn't look anything like the final quilt, but it's a starting point.  For example, my quilt, Farmed and Dangerous started off with a very rough pencil sketch, then evolved to the watercolor sketch on the left, and finally, to the quilt on the right.  Now I like the sketch better than the quilt.  Farmed and Dangerous 2 coming up.

I've read about art quilters who plan out their piece in great detail before ever cutting a single piece of fabric, and then stay true to their design all the way through.  I'd like to do that, since it seems it would save time and fabric, but I tend to be a two steps forward, one step back (sometimes 3 steps back) style quilter.  

I've also heard other quilters say they go straight to their design wall with a pile of fabric and a vague idea of where they are going, and start working.  That would be cool too, but wouldn't work for me.  Even though I don't follow my design very faithfully, I still need a starting place, and for me, that's a sketchbook. 

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