This is a technique called "Impressionistic Style Art Quilting" which I learned in a class with Ann Loveless. This particular technique could be used for any sort of landscape, but now I've also adapted it to other types of designs as well. It was helpful to begin learning this technique however by creating a floral landscape, because inspiration was easy to find. I browsed through old photographs of flowers and gardens I had visited before, landscaping and gardening magazines, and even online galleries of landscape photography, before I settled upon a photograph that I had taken of a flower garden in France. I selected the photograph based on its composition – placement of flowers, mixture of large and small flowers, and point of view – not necessarily the colors, which I knew I could change in my quilt very easily based on the colors of fabrics I would be using. It is helpful to begin with a photograph, because as you work you might want to double-check the placement of items or the size of them relative to the others.
The quilt itself is composed of four layers: backing fabric, batting, "fabric painted" layer, and tulle.
I laid out a large piece of batting on top of a backing fabric, and then began to create my "fabric painting." This layer is composed of of small, tiny little chopped-up bits of fabric – which can be batiks, hand-dyed fabrics, recycled clothing or UFO's – for this technique you can use ANY kind of fabric, even fabric with designs and prints. (Fabric which is colored all the way through on both sides works best; just think about how the fabric will look when it is chopped up.) It is helpful to have a rotary cutter and a self-healing mat. Simply lay down the fabric, and begin slicing and dicing with the rotary cutter until the fabric is like confetti. For more interest in certain areas of your quilt painting you can cut the fabric in smaller or larger pieces, or in longer strips vs. tiny squares.
I began to think of my fabric as "paint" and even got out an acrylic/plastic painter's palette with extra large ink wells and filled them with my chopped up fabrics, organizing them on the palette by hue. It helped me feel more comfortable with the idea of using fabric in this way, giving me a transition tool between painting with ink and painting with fabric.
Using the fabric as "paint," I began to "paint" on the layer of cotton batting. I began with the sky and worked my way down, painting in background areas, concentrating on lights and darks for contrast with the foreground. After the background was complete, I filled in the foreground with areas of color to represent the clusters of flowers on the ground. The poppy blossoms were fussy-cut from commercially printed fabric which had nice outlining and shading already, and placed on the quilt last so they would look "closer" in perspective. Stems were cut from fabric that was overstamped with metallic paint, to add a bit of texture and interest. I also used some strands of angelina fibers, gently placing them into areas dense with color so that the final piece would have a little sparkle and shine.
Finally, I lightly sprayed the "painting" with temporary spray adhesive (spray basting), and laid a large piece of fine black tulle over the entire piece, and free-motion quilted using clear monofilament thread (I also used "Bottom Line" thread in the bobbin, which is smaller and finer and creates less bulk on the back of the piece). I first outlined the shapes of the flowers and the stems, then filled in larger areas such as the sky and background with free-motion stitching that complemented the shapes that the variance in color created.
This technique is incredibally fun and easy to do – and has me thinking of fabrics as "paint" now – even the least favorite of your fabrics become instantly beautiful when chopped up and used as color!
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