Design Basics: Part 2

by - 8:16 PM

All works of art, design and quilts are created with the Elements of Art and Principles of Design. The Elements of Art are considered the tools used to create art while the Principles of Design serve as a guide to use the tools properly. While the Principles of Design are very important, they are often used unknowingly by artists and designers. By learning what the Elements of Art and Principles of Design are and how to approach them, quilters can create strong visually appealing and modern quilts.

The Elements of Art include line, shape, form, value, color, texture, and space. Most of these are commonly known and understood. Shape and form are very similar. Shape refers to the two-dimensional space while from refers to three-dimensional space. Texture is often thought of as being a physical dimension that is felt, but it can also refer to a visual texture which is an imagined texture. Space can be described as positive (occupied) or negative (empty or "white").

The Principles of Design, pattern, contrast, emphasis, balance, scale, harmony, and movement can be applied to any element. Ask, "How can (Element) be used to show (Principle)?" At first, this may be challenging. Use the list below to help. How can color show harmony? The colors could all come from a refined color scheme or all be very muted. How can texture show contrast? Create a strong (physical or visual) texture on one area of the piece and a lighter one elsewhere. 

The Principles of Design
+ Pattern, a repeated element in an arrangement
+ Contrast, elements in juxtaposition to each other
+ Emphasis, prominence of an element
+ Balance, even or uneven distribution of an element
+ Scale, the size ratio between elements
+ Harmony, the way elements compliment each other
+ Movement, the way the work moves the viewer's eye

Modern Quilting
While both traditional and modern quilters use the Elements of Art and Principles of Design. Modern quilters tend to push the Principles of Design as far as they can. Modern quilters tend to use a refined color scheme, play with scale, balance (symmetry or asymmetry), balance, and often emphasis. Traditional quilters tend to stick to strict patterns using identical blocks, while modern quilters may change up the blocks more. When planning a modern quilt use the following questions as a starting point.

+ How can the pattern be disrupted?
+ Where can contrast be created or removed?
+ Which element or principle could have more emphasis on one area of the quilt?
+ How could I evenly or unevenly balance the visual weight of the quilt?
+ How could I explore the size of difference pieces of the quilt?
+ How might I make these elements connect or work together to create a holistic design?
+ How can I move the viewer's eye from the center to difference areas of the quilt?

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