Thursday, March 27, 2014

Challenge 91: Art in the Gray Scale

Challenge Hostess: Karen Markley

Theme:  Non-representational

Due:  April 5, 2014

Technique:  Piecing - Take the challenge and see if you can piece completely your little quilt. Quilters like Ruth McCormick and Judy Dales have proven that even the most complex design can be pieced.  I know it is easy just to fuse things, but it will give you a nice feeling of accomplishment if you can see each piece together.  However, this is a design challenge and some of us just don't have the time.

Have you ever made a quilt, and when it was finished, you wished you had put some of the colors in different places, that they were brighter or more subdued?  If you had been able to audition your fabrics, or make a mockup first, you might have been able to avoid these disappointments.

The gray scale is the foundation of all color choices. Photographers use it as well as artists.  And not just with black and white photography. If you understand value, you can translate any level of the grey scale to colored fabric.  We’ve all studied black and white photographs and wonder at the pictures that capture our attention:  it’s the contrast between black and white that gives the picture sparkle.  The same is true for the old movies and early television – if they wanted to portray a dull, depressing mood, they chose very narrow parameters.  “Value or tonal contrast creates visual interest or excitement. … A low key painting is one in which the tonal range is narrower.”

If you choose a range of fabrics for a quilt and arrange them on the copy machine, you get a range of grays that tell you if there is going to be enough contrast. 

References and Samples:
Grace Errea teaches a great class on value.   if you go to her website, and click on workshops, she has a nifty chart with the grey scale on the left and all of the colors that correspond with every level - purples, greens, etc.   She also sells a little value tool that is invaluable in choosing your fabrics.  If you look at her quilts, you will see that value is a key element in their success.

Piet Mondrian, a Dutch painter, was the creator of non-representational art.  Except for his cubist period, he always used color in his paintings, but started with a white canvas and added bold lines.  A few of his paintings show at least 3 gradations from black to white.
Mondrian's book on Neo-Plasticism became one of the key documents of abstract art.  In it, he detailed his vision of artistic expression in which "plastic" simply referred to the action of forms and colors on the surface of the canvas as a new method for representing modern reality.

Gray Scale and Value Finder - BLICK art materials –

What Gray Scale Means in Painting -- Art Glossary Definition:

Grayscale Art for Sale - Fine Art America:

Grayscale quilts: or 

Even though a lot of the artists of that period used black and white, coupled with primary colors, we can attempt to recreate the abstract while still using a variety of values instead of just bold colors.

And one more thing: have fun with this!

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