This week’s Sunday sketch is inspired by art that I saw on Twitter. I follow a few accounts that serve up wonderful art every day – images of paintings or other creations and the people behind them. My favourites are @MenschOhneMusil and @womensart1.
PL Henderson, the art historian who curates the #WOMENSART feed, posted a series of works by Ukrainian-French artist Sonia Delaunay in early October. The image of 1920s-1930s clothing designs caught my eye. Those shapes and colours!
I’m embarrassed to admit that I didn’t know much about Sonia Delaunay or her work. She combined abstract geometric shapes and bold colours in art and fashion. And she was a quilter! Well, she made at least one quilt, a process that apparently prompted her to change the direction of her art practice.
Anyway, it seems fitting that I’d be inspired by one of her designs. If you check out the image of the clothing designs on Twitter, you might spot which dress sparked this idea.
Delaunay’s sketch of a dress design uses a quarter-square triangle for the bodice and two squares flanking a triangle for the skirt. I created the same shapes and linked them in columns with another quarter-square triangle added in-between; that let me ensure that the ‘skirts’ in adjacent columns didn’t interfere with each other.
In the next version, I coloured the ‘skirts’ differently from the bodices and extra quarter-square triangles. You can see that I inverted the shapes in alternating columns.
Because there are so many shapes, there are lots of other possible variations in colour placement. This next one is perhaps a bit heavy in this colourway. But sometimes it’s fun to play, just to see if any new ideas emerge.
I also tried two shades of a single colour, which also looks good, I think. This approach also makes it clearer to see secondary shapes and other apparitions emerge from the design. I feel like there are a few serious dogs (or bears?) wearing shades in this version. (Can you see what I mean, or do I sound like I’ve lost my mind?)
There are a couple of ways this design could be made into a quilt. You could create a bunch of quarter-square triangles and lay them out in columns, separated by columns made of flying geese and squares laid vertically. Or you could set the whole thing on point, and use squares and half-square triangles instead. I think it’d be pretty easy once you got started.
If you want to read more about Sonia Delaunay, check out this profile in the Guardian, published to accompany an exhibition at the Tate Modern in 2015, and a more recent article from this year, in Daily Art Magazine.