My inspiration for this quilt is Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. It’s a massively famous painting and I selected it because it’s very recognizable, has a lot going on in it (plenty of things for me to riff on), and the main focus is a woman. I also like that it has been interpreted in many different ways by different scholars and critics.
Working on a pattern for my own quilt, which at this point I’m calling Modern Venus (that may change), I started out by just looking at the original and noting the various components and details. Then I work to create an outline using Pixlr (it’s free! And you can use layers to isolate various parts of a collage which makes this kind of image manipulation easy) as well as making a graph paper outline by hand so I can be sure of the scale and dimensions I’m planning.
As you can see, these are very rough outlines that don’t have a ton of detail in them. They’re also what I would consider a rough draft in that I haven’t for sure decided on all the specifics yet – I’m just playing around to see how things look.
I make sketchy outlines of the figures in Pixlr so that it’s more like a coloring book than a photograph or drawing. It’s easier for me to see the shapes that way. As you can probably tell, I’m not going for super crisp outlines, though, as I don’t want to spend too much time on that, especially since I’ll likely make changes along the way and things won’t end up just as pictured anyway.
Right now I’m looking at Venus having a Blythe-esque head again. I do want the body to be less skinny than the Pullip doll body I have in the collage above – it’s just an easy model to use since I have it handy, and it’ll do for the moment. I’ve also switched out the shell for a book, and the trees will be White Pine trees, which are native to this area and where I grew up. One of the themes I’ve been thinking about is mental illness/stability, so I want to include some symbols related to that theme. The full moon and moths are in my outline at the moment, though I’m still exploring other symbols and we’ll see what I end up with.
Using the graph paper outline, I calculate how many quilt blocks I’m going to use for the various major sections of the quilt as well as making a decision about the size of the background quilt blocks for the piece. For this quilt, I decided to make 2.5″ quilt blocks for the background including sky, sea, and land.
I also selected what quilt block patterns to use for the various areas. I am using a traditional hourglass quilt block for the sky, using mostly pretty traditional quilt-y prints. My goal is to have the quilt contain a lot of traditional quilt design and features, even though it will be an art quilt and not super traditional as an overall product.
Then I went through my fabric stash to see what I have that fits the colors that I’m looking for.
Here I’ve got my blue fabrics and am grouping them by tone as much as possible. This process usually takes me a little while and involves me moving things back and forth from one pile to another and back as I decide what looks best with what else.
Then comes the selecting of the actual fabrics for each section and cutting out squares to make the blocks. Another post will be coming soon on that!