I posted several weeks ago about a quilt I was making from this paper collage:
I liked several things about this piece -- first, that it had fairly bold (and piece-able) graphics, and secondly, it had a sort of a tuning fork in the upper left hand corner.  I never can resist a tuning fork, so I decided to give it a go.

I decided to replace the green in the collage with red and the white with yellow/gold, keeping the black black.  So I pulled a range of values of red and several yellows.  Why use one fabric when you can use 20?
After several days of work, I ended up with this.  Yuck!
I was stuck, so I posted a picture of the collage and the picture above on my blog.  And I asked blog readers for help.  This just wasn't going well.  It was disjointed and overly fussy.  It was really, really awful.

I know I'm not the only artist who feels this way about his or her work.  My friend Maria Shell, who has a fabulous blog called "Tales of a Stitcher", just wrote about a large quilt she's been working on that isn't going well.  It happens.  And I don't expect every piece I make to be a masterpiece.  Honestly, if I make one masterpiece during my life I'll be doing really well.  But art, like life, is a progression.  I learn something from every piece I make.  

Several blog readers e-mailed me with ideas to salvage the quilt.  And the consensus was something that I had already realized:  I used too many shades of red.  The collage is pulled together by the single color of green.  By adding all of the different values and some tones of red I had chopped up the piece and made it chaotic.  

I decided to spend one more day maximum putting this quilt together.  And I edited it a bit.  A little better, I think, but not my best work.  It's about 30" wide by 50" high.
Red Means Stop!, 30" x 50"
So, what did I learn from this quilt?
  1. A piece that has many different elements must be unified in some way.  In this piece, a good choice would have been a limited palette.  A single red would have made it more cohesive.
  2. I did enjoy matching up some of the lines in this quilt.  I haven't had to match a seam in a very long time.  Good to know I can still do it!
  3. Don't waste time on a project that is going south.  I spent hours and hours trying to tweak the piece, adding even more bits that made it even more fussy.  It was frustrating.  It would have been better to put it aside.  At least for a few days.  A fresh eye can help you find solutions.
  4. When in doubt, turn it upside down.  I did, and I think I like it better.   A little.
Upside down.  Marginally better.
I still don't love it, but I did learn from it.  So it was worth it!

I'm linking this post to Nina-Marie's Off the Wall Friday, Confessions of a Fiber Addict and Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday.  Go see all the wonderful work there!


Julierose said…
Isn't it funny how you either really like a piece or don't? I am not in like/love/whatever with my two scrap works I am putting together this Fall..something just doesn't do it for me.
whereas, I like your piece; I find my eyes moving around in it a lot...looking at how the pieces come together...hugs for hoping it will grown on you...Julierose
Margaret said…
I confess I like it; first, better in the 'warm' palate than in the cool/colder greens; second, "upside down" -- where there's a bit more 'heft' or weight at the bottom, than at the top. Go away and leave it alone for awhile...when you return to it, you might feel differently. :-)
Vera Holmgren said…
Thanks for sharing, it was really interesting to follow your thoughts!
Maria Shell said…
Bring this piece to Houston. There are a lot of ideas here. We can talk with wine at midnight.... (Good thoughts going out to our Houston stitching people.)
AnnieO said…
Wow. Thanks for sharing the struggle to simplify. Editing is hard when you love color.
Norma Schlager said…
I like your second version and the upside down. Your fabulous quilting will also help to pull it all together.