Thursday, 23 July 2015

Behind the Design - Lone Wolf

I want to share my process behind the design of the Lone Wolf quilt pattern, as it did not start with me visualizing a concept and putting it together backwards from there. Instead, it started with a few shapes sketched on the bottom of another quilt layout. I liked the look of them and made a mental note to go back to it. Months later, I was on a flight, heading to Lake Louise and pulled out my sketchbook and graph paper to play with the design. I was thinking it might end up with a layout of rows. I started with this:

Which turned into this:

And then I noticed they were turing into diamonds, so I completed the shape:

Then I filled the page with the pattern. I was thinking you could play with colour and value in many ways to vary the design. I jotted down some ideas to try out later when I had my coloured pencils. 

Now, before I was drawing, I had read this issue of Canadian Geographic:

Maybe it was the wolf still in my mind, or that human capacity to recognize faces, but I started to see a face in the pattern - diamond eyes and a diamond nose. It looked sort of wolfish to me. Definitely animal and not human -the shape wasn't quite right, but something was there. So I erased some of the design to get only the wolf head and started to shade in the blocks with my pencil, using darker blocks for the eyes and nose, leaving some white to highlight and colouring the rest in two shades of grey. The eyes looked too far apart still so I pulled out my magazine again and looked at the cover photo for some degree of accuracy. I moved the eyes closer and added a row to the ruff.

Once home, consulting with my brother, he thought I should add some trees to the design so it looked like it was camouflaging. I tried some abstract trees but the wolf face didn't stand out enough. The problem was that the background needed to be a different colour so the wolf stood out, and the colour that made the wolf's face needed to be different shades or values so that the features stood out. Once the trees were added, the contrast was lost.

 Instead, I decided to try adding in the rest of the parallelograms from the original design. I thought if they were the same colour as the background, but in a lighter shade, they would give a sort of camouflage affect too. And so I arrived at the final design. 

A few weeks later I was in at a sale at my local quilt shop and figured I might as well pick up the fabric for this quilt, though it would sit for a few weeks. I auditioned some greys and greens, as I was trying not to make all my quilts blue! The grey prints weren't really working and there was a brown Peppered Cotton on the shelf that I loved. So we picked out some browns to go with it and decided that the green was too literal. So instead, I ended up with some great blue prints that I had been eyeing up and resisting for a while anyway!

So this design really started with a few shapes and just took on a life of its own, without me setting out to draw a wolf. It really wasn't what I intended and I'll probably play with the shapes some more to see what else may come of them. But some things just come together. Near the end of April, when I was working on the quilt, I was driving to work one morning when I happened to spot a wolf.  The sun was just above the trees and it was shining off of old corn stalks and dead grasses on the side of the road, turning everything golden. I was appreciating the sun and turning a bend when it crossed the road in front of me, brown and grey and golden itself, camouflaging quickly in the undergrowth. I figured it was good sign and considered myself lucky to have been paying attention at the right moment.

Come back next week to see how the design developed again once I started playing in EQ7.

For a previous post about this quilt, click here. The quilt pattern, which includes 36 non-wolf variations, is available in my Etsy Shop.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your process. It's great to see how the pattern unfolded.