Composition, or Setting the Stage….

“Life for a quilt comes through the play of one element against another. Color, shape, value and texture all play a part in the visual impact.” My observations about vibrant quilts can be applied to this photo from Crete, Greece.

Initially you take in the graceful curves of the door, the arch of the brick frame and the overhanging foliage. Your eye is drawn to the lightest part of the photo as if your next step was to enter. “The viewer’s eye will automatically go to the area of your quilt with the greatest contrast”, noted Irene Barry in QNM Dec/Jan 2009. I’ve found this observation extremely useful in designing my quilts.
The rich green color of the door, the lights and shadows of the composition as well as the variety of textures keeps me engaged in viewing this moment in time.

My photo of an arched door in the village of Mochlos, Crete is full of surprises–my own image was reflected in the glass! Roberta Horton in her book, The Fabric Makes the Quilt, offered five valuable ideas for designing your own quilts. One of my favorites of her suggestions is, “Repetition makes things go together.”
Note the strong curved lines of the arch over the door and the graceful palm fronds framing that door. Because your eye has been drawn to those dominant curves you will not immediately notice the square shape of the door itself. The subtle earth tone colors of the building and the entrance bring a calm to the scene. No jarring colors appear to demand attention, until you notice the lavender linen shirt reflected in the photo. Because the proportion of bright color is small, your eye is not overwhelmed but perhaps intrigued.

In both photos the repetition demands your attention.

The play of light and dark is quite different in each photo, setting the stage for your reaction. Whether sun-drenched or shade covered, the viewer will react to the mood portrayed by the light. Or as one wise quilter quipped, “Color gets the credit, but value does the work”. She meant that the contrast between light, medium and dark fabrics will make your composition interesting to the viewer’s eye. I keep practicing all this advice from my contemporary quilters. And it is still fun!

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4 Responses to Composition, or Setting the Stage….

  1. Lila says:

    What wonderful photos of doors! Portals!
    I enjoyed your observations about the compositions and interest in each photo, especially as they related to quilt design.
    And I spied you in the reflection very quickly!
    Such fun!

    • Paula says:

      Doors can be both invitation and barrier. Interesting or unique doors that are barriers can still be inviting compositions for our eye. With your discerning eye, I am not surprised that you saw the reflection immediately.

  2. Carla says:

    I love looking at things through your eyes! I always enjoy the observations you share and am frequently inspired to notice things I wouldn’t have otherwise. Thanks for that!

    • Paula says:

      My friend Joan and I recently had a conversation about practicing the skill of “staying in the moment” as the best tool for observing all the life around us. Perhaps that conversation inspired this blog. I’m pleased that you were inspired to take in all that surrounds you. Savoring moments becomes savoring our lives–yes?

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