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.
I was so excited when I created this week’s sketch, I set it aside thinking I might actually make it into a quilt… I even bought fabric! But I’ve since been distracted by many other designs and ideas… and even used some of the fabric for something else. That happens more often than I’d like to admit…!
You can probably see how this sketch evolved from last week’s. I wasn’t going to post that one last week – I much prefer this design, and I didn’t think it was really necessary to show the precursor – but I ended up sharing it so I could talk about how easily different people can come up with similar designs.
But back to this week’s design. This version chops the ends off those chevron-y bits, and instead turns them inward, creating what look like squares that are on point and overlapping. The flying geese units topping each square are still there, and there’s still the opportunity to play with foreground and background colours (and negative space). Instead of there being a vertical straight line between blocks, there are now columns of smaller squares.
A more restricted palette helps to play on the repetition in the design and introduce some more movement, I think. Those internal background squares help to join diagonally adjacent shapes of the same colour, so your eye zig-zags back and forth across the design.
Those smaller flying geese can go uncoloured (or take the background colour), which changes the main shape into something with a cut-out rather than an extension.
It’s pretty much just another excuse for my usual palette of rose pink and bright orange.
There are a few different ways that this design could be made into a quilt. I’d probably make columns of flying geese and alternate them with columns of quarter-square triangle units or square-in-a-square units. My default is always to imagine designs in solid fabrics, but I think this could work with the right prints.
This week’s design isn’t overly original, but I enjoyed playing with this concept and felt like sharing it.
I’ve played with these split quarter-square triangles and split quarter-rectangle triangles before – see Sunday sketches #166 and #188, for example (two of my favourite sketches!). I really love these shapes and how they create movement in a design.
I also love how your eye is drawn to different sets of lines, depending on colour palette and placement. In the top design, I look at those diagonal lines first, but in the bottom one, my eye’s drawn to the vertical lines instead.
Split quarter-square triangles are easy to make – just cross a half-square triangle with a solid square. Ditto for the split quarter-rectangle triangles, although I must admit I’ve never actually made one. I’d probably paper-piece them instead, just to be more precise (and save all the fabric wastage I often seem to get when I make HRTs two at a time).