Mary 5-19-09: I love both designs….just hope they are what we are after….. [Click on small images to see larger view]
RaNae: The underlying structure of both these mandalas is good. If I had to choose one, I’d go for the second one — I like the spacing of large and small areas of this design. However, take a close look at your black-and-white layouts of both designs: the clockwise/counterclockwise placement of the wedges in these designs doesn’t match what you’ve done in the colored versions. You could play with the the symmetry of the wedges in these designs, but whatever you do probably should match across both halves of the design.
As for coloring, you have so many colors in each flow form that we’re not seeing them — your lovely design is obstructed in what looks like that old children’s game Pick-up Sticks because you’re thinking about coloring in terms of individual triangles, not in terms of flow forms. Also, you’re using the same colors and coloring patterns in every spoke of every spiral and every flow form. The center of the first sketch is good, but then you run into this “pick-up sticks” problem in the outer ring of sketch 1 and all the way through the colored version of sketch 2. The black-and-white version of the second design is the most interesting. Here you have used dark and light to emphasize a kind of spoke structure that really works. I would suggest developing this design, using strong differences in color and value to bring out the structure as it shows in this B&W sketch.
Remember the coloration needs to focus on the flow forms. Try one sketch with just one color in each flow form so you get a feel for how they move from spiral to spiral. It might be helpful for you to look at Dianna Kihs’ recent sketches and the comments about them.
You’re on the right track, you need perhaps just a bit less enthusiasm when you get to the crayon box! 🙂
Mary: Thanks for the note. I really was interested in the structure. I was away with limited resources for coloring! Or maybe I had too many! The only place I like the coloring is in the center of #1. I thought that the outer portion was way too busy. I didn’t want to go any further until I knew that I was on the right track. Thanks.
Mary 5-24-09: I just loved your pick up stick analogy. I’m sending three colorings of each design. I think my garden has sent subliminal messages to my crayons! I hope this is more what I’m looking for. I like both designs and if you think I should play further, I’m happy to do that. I just don’t want to keep going if I’m in the wrong direction.
(The first mandala, 3 different colorings)
(The second mandala, 3 different colorings)
RaNae: Ooh, Mary, I envy you your garden. I can definitely see it sending messages to you! And I see that you found that 64-color crayon box, as it were. Isn’t it amazing how different the same design can look by just changing colors? You’re definitely on the right track.
One suggestion I could make about the first coloring of the second mandala is that if you alternated lighter and darker shades of the same color in the outer border (the orange as you have it there), it would look like a ribbon twisting over and under. Deb Sorem originally had a border like this on her mandala, and I love it, but she ended up changing it. If you felt inclined to color yours this way I would be happy to see it here. You’re really close to it already — all you would need to do is to take the darker orange that you have in your spiral centers and extend it into the adjacent spoke or flow form.
One thing I found particularly intriguing in the second design here is the way the inner spirals connect to the “branches” that then connect to the outer ring. And there is something about the white space here, how this negative space became a sort of reverse design. I could almost see this design made up just in black and white — or navy blue and white. It somehow reminds me of a Deflt plate. It might be really interesting among so many quilts with so many colors to have one or two with a really limited color palette — like black and white, or blue and white. Can you see what I’m talking about? Does that idea appeal to you at all?
Which coloration of each mandala do you like best? Is there any here that absolutely makes your heart sing? If there is, let me know which one. If you think you haven’t quite found “the one” yet, then try a few more colorations. I really like what you’ve got going.
Mary 5-25-09: I just couldn’t put the pencils and crayons away last night, so here are two more. I like what is happening in 1h with the blue working its way around the design. In 1g, the black adds some interest. I showed the colorings to my husband. He thought that each one was a separate design, not two designs with different coloring!
RaNae: Well, Mary, you are officially a Spiromaniac now! Have you started losing sleep yet? Or dreaming in spirals? 🙂
Interestingly, I find that for some reason, in your designs I am attracted to the negative space, the white areas. So, for example, the coloring of this design that most attracts me is the first one in the previous group — the green and pink. I’m not sure why it’s your designs that are striking me this way, but in any event, I just wanted to let you know that it’s happening, and it might be something that you feel inclined to explore.
Mary 5-26-09: Here are two colorings of design #2 above:
RaNae: Mary, I love the coloring on the right, and it’s really remarkable, but there are ARE elephants in the coloring on the left…
Mary: Design #1 drafted with spirals.
RaNae: Please go down and read Mary’s comment below dated 5-26-09. She has some great insights about negative space, color and drafting.
Mary 6-1-09: Two blue and white versions of the black-and-white sketch above.
RaNae: So, Mary, with so many wonderful choices, which are you going with?
Mary, 6-3-09: I came up with these instructions for drawing a wedge in PhotoShop 8, if anyone is interested.
-New document – 8 ½ ” X 11” [letter]
-On the top tool bar, choose ‘Shape layers’ [it is the first in the series of ‘buttons’ to push – ‘shape layers’, ‘paths’ and ‘fill pixels’ – you want ‘shape layers’]
-Also, on the top tool bar, choose the weight of your line [I chose 1 px]
-Also, make sure that black is set for the foreground color
-Holding shift key down, using the line tool, draw a straight vertical line at 5” [extending from about ½” to 10 ½”]
-Choose ‘Free Transform Path’ You will get a set of three squares on the line, at the top, mid point and bottom
-On the top bar, where you see the angle indicator, type in the angle you want [I wanted 36 degrees] [R: this will give you a 10-wedge circle]
-Hit the check mark [your angle should now be fixed in place]
-Holding shift key down, using the line tool, draw a straight vertical line from the bottom point of your angle to the top of the page.
-Voila! – a perfect angle
-Save as a Photoshop PDF
RaNae: Thanks, Mary!
Mary 6-2-09: I drew a 36 degree wedge in Photoshop [just the wedge, no inside lines] and scanned my sketch of the wedge with the inside lines and had both printed at Staples in actual size [30″ radius]. I then used the scan under the blank wedge to get my lines for the wedge. [I didn’t want to use my sketch as the pattern because the enlarging made the lines very thick and the wedge made in Photoshop was much more accurate than the one I sketched.]
Here is the result. [Click image for larger view] I did not sketch in the lines where the background will be. Hope this is an acceptable way of doing it. It was very simple, only cost a few bucks and I think it will be very accurate for my pattern. I welcome any suggestions that might help in the construction.
Mary 6-13-09: [R: Here’s her blue mandala, version 1]
Mary 6-14-09: Ok, I’m obsessed! But now I’m finished.
RaNae: Mary, I agree that this is an improvement — amazing how a subtle change can make such a difference, isn’t it? The effect of just the blue and white is really striking. I like what you have going.
As I look at both of these photos, the one thing that comes to mind is that you might want to consider using a white fabric with a tiny bit of pattern — maybe something like a subtle, lacy scrollwork in a fine light blue or grey line — in just a few places, to add some interest to the white sections. Perhaps just right next to the blues, or right in the center of the white. This fabric would still read as white, would not separate from the other white, just add a bit of rhythm. You would still preserve the strong contrast that you have going between the white and the blue, but there would be a little bit of texture or movement to hold the eye’s interest over the wide expanse of white. Something to think about….
I’m excited to see your progress, and your design is lovely!
About your color palette: Amazing what changing the order of the colors [in the mandala] makes. In the mock-up I see lots of contrast, in this gradation-ordered arrangement of fabrics, I see almost none.
Of the blues, two fabrics stand out from the pack: the 5th from the left has a more pronounced pattern than the ones surrounding it, the 9th from the left is a geometric (directional) while all the others are non-directional. Neither is a reason to get rid of these fabrics, but just watch their placement a little more carefully than the others — they are not wallflowers!
In the whites, there is a similar issue with the 4th fabric from the right — this has a prounced, directional pattern while all the rest are non-directional textures. By now you have probably seen my comment in the previous email about adding in a white with a bit of pattern — perhaps you might want to replace this “stripe-y” fabric with the kind of print I described there. Try it an see what you think. If you do keep this fabric in, again, like with the blues, just be aware of how you place it.
I think it’s going to be a lovely mandala!
Mary 6-24-09: Thank you so much for your lesson on Saturday. It was very helpful. [R: Mary came into the city with her daughter and niece — hope I got that right — and we spent the day doing some drafting work on her mandala, going to Max Brenner’s chocolate restaurant and visiting the Indian sari shops in Jackson Heights.]
The tip that you gave me about lining up the pencil point with the ends of the lines was great. I try to use it on EVERY line. Takes practice. Also, I think the tip was in the book about using different colored pencils for each round. I wasn’t having any trouble with the triangle shapes, but was getting a little lost on the four sided shapes and went to the colored pencils until I could do it correctly.
I now feel confident that my wedge is drawn correctly and will be able to sew it. I’ve attached for your review… And I’m happy that I made the size smaller. I can now print the individual spirals from my computer. I couldn’t get out to have the wedge enlarged, but had a blank wedge printed in actual size and so I drafted it right on that using my small copy as a guide. I’m going to have it scanned so that I can use it from my computer…. Let me know what you think.
RaNae: Mary it looks like you’ve done a really good job of drafting this. My only thought is that you have used many small increments, and you have a LOT of rings of triangles to sew in each spiral. This is NOT a mistake. I’m only thinking of your endurance factor in sewing these. If you think you might find this many pieces daunting, you can draft your spirals with fewer rings (6-8 rings might be a comfortable number) by using larger increments. However, if you’re comfortable with the size and number of your pieces, and you don’t want to draft this again, go ahead with what you’ve got. It looks good, and you’re on your way to a beautiful mandala!
Mary: I did realize that I have a lot of wedges [R: I think you meant “triangles” or “rings” here], but I think that I will be happy with the curves this way. I have no problem with the sewing. I sew very quickly and accurately, so not a problem. I’ll do one wedge and take stock!
RaNae: Okay! You definitely have enough colors in your fabric selection to handle a lot of steps of color gradation. Keep me updated as you sew.
Mary 7-4-09: Here’s my finished mandala (actually one wedge finished and Photoshop-ed into a circle):
March 2010: Flow Blue won Viewer’s Choice at the 2010 Northern Star Quilt Guild show.
7-13-10: Mary’s quilt was juried into the International Quilt Festival in Houston. It’s an honor just to get in! Congratulations Mary!