Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Purple Stairs.... an art discussion with questions for you

My Favorite shot
I am thinking about art and the art of making art today.
I took this picture of some purple stairs on my Labor Day walk. I took three pictures and have not altered them except to watermark them. The others follow this one.

I know a lot of you are quilters who primarily use patterns. I am hoping some of you  want to discuss some art principles with me today.

The thing about this picture, a very ordinary every day scene in West Annapolis MD, is the color of the stairs. I like that the purple seems darker on the treads as opposed to the railings except for the shadows on certain railings.

I like the" line" . One of the guidelines in making art is to consider line. I like the parallel lines going from the siding on the house to the treads to the diagonal lines in the roof  in the background. The strong vertical lines of the posts are also repeated in the window sashing. As a concept I love the idea of line in quilting.

Those of you making block quilts consider line for a moment. The way pieces intersect and form new patterns when set. We spend a lot of time on color but line is important too.
This is a slightly different angle and I do NOT like it as much. Why?
 I think it's because the roof in the background is not as strong a line. Also I lost the third window and artistic design calls for items in odd numbers to be more pleasing to the eye. Why do you think it's less interesting? Or do you?
Now I DO like this close up. The purple now fills the frame, the line has changed from almost equal amounts of horizontal, vertical and diagonal to nearly all vertical. There are almost no treads showing to repeat the horizontal lines in the house. I think if I used this as inspiration for a painting or a drawing, I would not use the shed in the back at all.

What do you think? After all is said and done, I like the first one the best and feel it would be an interesting exercise to take an hour and use it to make a piece of art.
Regarding color, purple is the compliment to yellow, in this case yellow-green on a color wheel. That means they look pleasing together, they enhance each other. There are so many shades of purple and green so I'd have to take care with fabric or paint to get tones that complement.

I have found using equal amounts of complimentary colors is almost too much to bear. Let one take the starring role and one support it. Don't forget to use light medium and dark of each as well, so the piece will sparkle.
 So, if you were to be inspired by a photo would you make it representational? Into a block design? Abstract? Let's talk!


  1. I've never tried making an art quilt although I've coveted several I've seen over the years. I do find however that when pairing up different blocks or border designs, the line idea you've talked about certainly comes into play. Certain combinations just make more sense to me - and now I realize it's about LINE.

  2. I have made a couple and I never had any formal "art" training. I agree the treads, but the posts appear darker too, but then i totally blocked out the steel building in the background. I do like the stairs against the siding though.

  3. I like the first one too. it looks like everything is on the right place :o) I'm sure an art quilt could be an artpiece, specially with the darker purple effects ...

  4. I am not a realistic quilter at all, so I would totally abstract any of the photos. The third appeals to me the most, perhaps because I only care about the stairway lines, not the building lines. Line--thought provoking--thanks!

  5. My choice is the first one too.. and this is what I see.... In the second one you are missing the upward movement of that second set of stairs which draws the eye up and also that in the first one you can see the horizontal lines of the stair treads. Also, Iike the framing in the first one with the green tree/bush on the left, and it is not weighted as heavily on the bottom as with more prominent green bush in the second shot. Finally the first one is just more inviting.. leading you up those great purple stairs! Much better balance! Just my take! :-)

  6. Gorgeous (as always), especially the first one-my favorite. ;)

  7. My response to the photos is emotional, not literal - any quilted project that came from the inspiration photo would reflect my emotional response (freeing me from having to "draw" the stairs, etc.). I would pull the angles, the colors, the shapes, and the impressions and combine them into something that would most likely have nothing to do with stairs at all.

  8. Sorry, I have too big a headache to be able to consider this question at all. I'm going to go see what Cole has to say...

  9. Gosh, I'm not artsy enough to comment. I'd love to see what you come up with based on that. Love the colors. (Those are bold folks to paint their stairs purple. You don't see much in the way of purple houses around here, although their is a purple and yellow one we sometimes pass on our walks. It's down by the beach, and seems to work there!)

  10. I enjoyed reading the art lesson and would like to learn more. I totally did not see the shed until you talked about it. How's that for observant? I still am in the follow the pattern type but want to learn more about color. Love the purple stairs. I knew about odd numbers of things looking better and I guess that pertains to quilting too. That's why a quilt with just four rows down or across just looks odd to me. Now I know why.

  11. I like the first photo best ... the second one loses the focus when that big bush gets in the way ... and the third one with the shed in the back just muddies up the nice stairway lines.

    :) Linda

  12. Very interesting. Your favourite is definitely the best composed: in the second one the bushes at the front are too prominent I think and the stairs too cramped. I actually like the shed in the background - mostly because of the yellowy green colour but also it adds those sloping lines and somehow anchors the staircase. I think it is the combination of strong lines and the paler colours supporting the fantastic purple that makes it work. In the third one I would lose the shed, though. I always go abstract, can't help myself, so I guess if I started here I might aim to keep the verticals and the colours and go from there.

  13. I've never made an art quilt, but when I design patterns, or choose patterns to create, I agree that line is very important. The shape within the negative space created when blocks are put together is just as important to me as the blocks themselves.

    :) Kelly @ My Quilt Infatuation

  14. Hi LeeAnna!
    Purple stairs! Great to see colour being used outside like that!
    Design and colour get mixed until it just feels right!
    Lines, groupings, texture, shape, I just spent the morning working/rearranging a front garden until it just felt right for both of us!
    A strong cup of coffee! I'd love to join you and discuss this further!
    Great lesson today! Thanks!

  15. I prefer the first one because the treads are more prominent, only one plane of the shed is seen, so it becomes just a touch of color and not a competing object. I would do an abstract with line and color being foremost. Good topic, thanks. P.S. Could not access your Throwback Thursday post because it must be too far back in time without updating. Please check out my post there to see if you remember my title fabric.