Dunes and Ocean

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mlcouch wrote
on 18 Aug 2011 6:56 AM

I'm new to art quilting and would love feedback. I want to learn more about perspective, shadowing, stitching in details... The actual size is about 14"x20". It depicts a mail box along the beach at Bird Island, Sunset Beach, NC.  See what you think and thanks for looking.

Hugs from Mary    

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ckquilter wrote
on 18 Aug 2011 10:51 PM

hi mary


i like the soft freeform quilting in the sky - looks like clouds. and the birds are nice too.

i also like the little bit of color in the sky (the warm colors add life to the blue).


the ocean isnice also - but how about a bit of sparkle on the water - from sunlight? maybe with a bit of metallic thread ? it would not be allover - just hat little bit that leads your eye to the light.

is the ocean really calm - or does it need a little wave action ? maybe a piece of chesecloth (could be lightly painted) tucked into the waves.

the colors in the sand are also nice, as are theswirled shapes in the sand. i don't like the straight linesbetween the different sand pieces, though. you have nice soft flowing lines, and then clunk, you hit the straight edge of the next piece. i would prefer them to continue that soft, flowing feel.

the cream sand in the foreground has a much nicer edge than the ones in the midground. and still has nice flowing quilt lines in it. you have also increased the scale of the shapes - good for realism.

your grass on the left has a nice, organic feel to it. maybe could have been a bit darker in value  - it is closest, so thecolors shouldbe brighter, darker than the sand far away. i could also see extending the grass clump a bit more on both sides - especially the left side , to let it hang overthe border more; and connect the pieces. and i would possibly curve the grass clump - into a bit of a half circle - rather than just the middle of the clump sticking up.

i don't like the grass on the right side, by the malbox. it looks linear and artificial.  and the bottom of the clump right under the mailbox is way too straight.

i am not sure about the value of the mailbox. if you auditioned several choices and this was thebest - you would know more than i. but it seems a bit dark in value to me. yes it is your focal point, but it seems a bit obtrusive. i would have auditioned a slightly more grey mailbox. a more weathered look, would seem to be more natural to me.      i do like the lettering. and i like the shading on the post. but again - living near the ocean - most wood fades to a grey color pretty quickly - and that dark post and box seem a bit out of place.

instead of making them so dark in value - did you try increasing their scale to keep them the focal point??

also - just for my own info - why did you choose the vertical format, instead of a horizontal format? you have both elements in the scene - the horizontal water and sand, and the vertical grass and mailbox. so making the quilt vertical lets us know that the box is the important element ?

or did it just need to fit a certain hanging space??

and why the chosen fabric for the border and binding? the soft blue and touch of brown does pick up the tones in the quilt body. but the quilting is pretty dull - and i think you could come up with a nicer quilt design for the border.

i might also have let the nearest dune spill into the border - and bring the post with it.

and just as i like the soft flowing lines in the sand and sea - i would have made the edge of the border a gentle curve - and probably curved the outer edge of the quilt as well. (but i like curves , and use them whenever i can. and that is a personal preference).   if this is meant to be a view through a window - then i would keep the straight edges - but find some woodgrain fabric to make a window frame. and then , of course would not extend the dunes, or grass or post into the frame.

are you gonna add any further embellishment (like real sand or shells or driftwood ? some found treasure from the day, to make it more personal ?)

a driftwood hanger would also be fun.


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tenpatch wrote
on 19 Aug 2011 1:37 PM

Don't be hard on yourself.  I think it a really good start.

Have fun playing with it.........or pop it up on the wall, sit back and and dream yourself in.

Well done.   Tenpatch x

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edyth wrote
on 26 Aug 2011 7:30 AM

Hi, I really like the picture...maybe different borders, that would not distract from the beautiful calming dunes & sea colors...

I give you 100% for being so brave to ask online what other people think....

If you are pleased...then that is all that matters.  success & keep us posted with your final results....if any.........

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RUEdOAK wrote
on 18 Sep 2011 12:04 AM

Your bands of fabric, and especially then quilted in the wavy lines for the sand, works really well. I'd say you have a good start on overall composition and design.

To my eye the mailbox seems too dark, but then let me ask you about your intent. What is the story this art quilt tells? If it is about the mailbox of "Kindred Spirit" then the dark value brings our focus to where you want it. But if the mailbox and "Kindred Spirit" are more contextual, supporting to the overall theme of beach, water, tranquility, then I would change it. The mailbox will become a focal point regardless, because of the vertical crossing the horizontal plane, so something more subtle will work well. You might even try making the change, if nothing else just for the learning, in your photo program. It would be fun to see what it would look like.


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firth wrote
on 3 Nov 2011 8:17 PM

I'm at Ocean Isle today.  Nice to see your work as this is a beautiful story of our coastal region.  Great job.

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Riverlovr wrote
on 6 Nov 2011 5:12 PM

Hi Mary,

Since you requested feedback (which, I agree, was a brave thing to do online these days!), I have just a few things to offer.  First, I think you were very wise to limit your first art quilt/landscape to a small format with a simple (not too detailed) scene, and I think you're off to an excellent start.

You knew to keep the horizon line about 1/3 from either the top or the bottom of your scene, and how to use value -- the ocean is darker in the distance and lightens as it approaches the shore.  The same with scale, making objects in the foreground darker and larger.  You placed your focal point off-center, and extended the grasses and mailbox post into the border, two decisions that encourage the viewer's eye to move throughout the piece.

The only thing that I might change is the binding.  It drew my eye away from the scene, so became distracting.  IF you wanted to change it but didn't want to redo the whole binding, you might be able to carefully & lightly darken the binding with a thinned fabric paint (in a color close to that of the border).

Finally, the only thing I might add is a bit of carefully-chosen lace, white Angelina fibers, or a tiny bit of  free-motion "scribbling" with white thread along the line where the ocean meets the beach to create froth.  (I just looked at your piece again, and wondered if the perspective is such that the dunes obscure the place where the waves actually break upon the beach.  If that's the case, maybe adding some of the white "frothiness"  in some key areas of the ocean to make it come alive, which I think was also suggested by the first commenter.)  I remember seeing a landscape quilt a few years ago where whitecaps were created in the ocean by fusing small, narrow bits of white fabric that were shaped like slender, elongated footballs; they were very effective.

Overall, great job on your first landscape.  I think you'll get better and better!

P.S.  Love the quilting lines in your clouds!



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ckquilter wrote
on 7 Nov 2011 2:20 AM

hi mary and riverlovr

some good comments - in depth and productive.  exactly what a critique (analysis) should be.

another way of adding ocean foam - do some free motion stitching on cheesecloth - i use white cotton thread (rayon is too shiny).  don't put the cheesecloth in a hoop, or stabilize it.  you want the stitching to randomly draw up th threads of the cheesecloth. stitch some areas more heavily, and other areas more loose. let some holes develop.     i then cut it into narrow strips, leaving thread wisps hanging out the top- and tack the bottom edge just enough to hold it in place.     it works as well as angelina (although it does not have that sparkle)  and looks better (more random) than lace.


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mlcouch wrote
on 7 Nov 2011 6:55 AM

I hit the jack pot when I asked for guidance. I've learned so much from the comments. I want you all to know that I did add foam to the edge of the water with thread sketching. I pulled the water onto the sand just off the center line. I aged the mailbox with gray oil pastels.  And I beefed up the grasses around the mailbox. It all worked beautifully because of you sweet critiquers. This has been a great learning experience and I would not hesitate to do it again. 

Hugs from Mary

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ckquilter wrote
on 8 Nov 2011 12:42 AM

hi mary

sounds like you made great use of everyone's input. and best of all - still thinking and making it your own ! good for you.

always remember, other people's ideas and comments - while good to listen to and think about and learn from, the final decision should always be your own. the rest of us may not be aware of what you want the final piece to say - and it is always important that it be your voice and concept that comes through in the final work.                   and you had already done that.  and with the little bits of alteration you did - it sounds like the final (???) product does an even better job of showing your vision.    well done !!                     ckquilter

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