3 Ways to Design Art Work: Variations on a Theme

libbysleaves2a

Libby’s Leaves #2 by Laura Wasilowski

My second method of creating original art quilts is called Variations on a Theme. This way of designing artwork comes in handy when my brain needs a little kick start. Like a jolt of coffee in the morning, it spurs me into the “create zone” and I’m off and running.  

Please note that all of the examples used here are made with pre-fused fabric. (You can learn more about fusing here.) But you can apply the same methods to a pieced quilt as well.

variations1Variations on a Theme

The first step in creating this type of design is to select a theme or motif and create variations on that theme. The motif in our example is a unit or block with a square shape set on a rectangular shape. As with any design method, there are pros and cons when selecting the Variation on a Theme method.

Pros:  Repeating a motif lends rhythm and balance to your design. It gives the design a sense of unity.

Cons: The design may feel formulaic and static. By restricting yourself to one motif, the design may feel static and uninteresting. The key to making it interesting is to bravely change up the motif. Slice that fabric!

variations2

Variations on a Theme by Laura Wasilowski

Here are some tips when creating your variation on a theme:

  • Start with a simple motif block. You’ll be repeating this block several times and an easy-to-make shape aids the process.
  • Explore ways to slice, flip, skew, enlarge, and diminish the motif block.
  • Determine a focal point or place where the eye first rests on the design. The rule of thirds applies here. Divide your design into thirds vertically and horizontally. The juncture of those grids lines is good destination for a focal point. The focal point may be a change up in size or spot of high color contrast.
  • Join the motif blocks together so they read as a unit. Note that the spaces between motif blocks (negative spaces) can be just as interesting as the blocks themselves.

Stay tuned for our third and final method of designing artwork: Design Triggers.

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