by Christine Barnes
For this post, allow me to digress from my retreat workshop topic, “Luster and Luminosity,” and focus on “asymmetrical color,” a concept I came up with to describe the way I often work with color. It’s a simple idea: color used in unequal quantities, in an asymmetrical block or quilt design. Let me show you what I mean:
I created this 12-inch block, which is just an isolated section of one of my symmetrical quilts, tweaked and enlarged a bit. With this design I saw an opportunity to use color in different quantities, in a way that looks and feels balanced.Putting the large-scale floral in the large square was a no-brainer, but what to use for the smaller shapes? I chose Kaffe Fassett shot cottons because, like the patterned fabric, they are low-intensity, or muted. The shot-cotton colors are related to the floral colors, but they don’t quite match, which makes the design more sophisticated and keeps it from looking formulaic.
Here’s the mock-block. The variations in the values of the shot cottons, from the light celadon in the lower rectangle to the dark merlot in the corner square, create a design within the design and enhance the off-center look of the block.
I found this to be a bit much; there’s no place for your eye to rest. (I’m a huge fan of “visual relief,” providing quiet areas within larger areas.) And when I rotated some of the blocks to vary the layout, the floral squares touched and looked even more fragmented.
So I spaced out the blocks, which begs the question: what to do with the plain squares? If you know me, you know my first thought is usually “stripe.” Now I’m looking for just the right one. Even without a fabric in the alternate squares, I like the light-and-airy look of this layout.
Changing gears, here’s another example, my quilt “Squares and Stripes.” I designed asymmetrical blocks and rotated them for the overall design. I also varied the width of the borders. But notice how I lined up the stripes in the borders to suggest planes of color flowing beneath the blocks. Sometimes you need a bit of symmetry to calm an asymmetrical design.Next time, I promise to show you new ideas for luminosity. Until then, keep experimenting with color. The options really are endless. So long for now!