Class Details for Abstract Art for Quiltmakers

Number of Lessons: 5
Price: US$ 50.00
Tutor: Elizabeth Barton
Start Date: 2 March 2018
Weeks Open: 7.5

Features in This Workshop

  • A scheduled class
  • One-to-one Teacher guidance & help for questions and answers
  • Downloadable class information
  • Text & images only
  • A Design Class
  • Even though this class does not contain videos, it does have a number of links to online videos which are useful for the class learning

Highlight: This class is stuffed with exercises for designing many different kinds of abstract quilts… plus a great introduction to the wonderful abstract paintings of female painters so often overlooked.  You will end up with enough designs for a whole year of quiltmaking!

Have you ever wanted to be an abstract artist? Let’s explore twentieth and twenty-first century abstract art to gain an understanding of the design processes and the artist’s intentions that lie beneath the work. In this workshop, Elizabeth will show you how to make many different abstract designs suitable for quilts. In evaluating the designs for strengths and weaknesses, you will put design principles to good use and thus gain a deeper practical understanding of them. Elizabeth's aim is to show you how to apply the knowledge that artists have gained over the centuries to art quilts with solid, practical examples. She will also explain how to use value and color to make your quilts exciting and dynamic. All levels are welcome - designs can be simple or complex - though some sewing experience will be very helpful.

Supplies and Outline

Designing Abstract Art

Access to the internet.

Inspiration/ Composition/design

Pictures, photos, sketches are all inspiration for design.

Make a notebook of any interesting pictures or ideas you come across – start collecting! These can be abstract paintings, designs on floors or walls or t shirts, ideas in advertisements, photographs of strange objects in the tool shed – anything!

Plain paper (white) for sketches and notes. (at least 50 pages).

Sheet of ordinary brown wrapping paper.

Sheet of black construction paper.

Colored papers (from glossy magazine images) – torn out pages are fine!

Tracing paper.

White chalk pencil: General’s charcoal (white) is available in most art stores.

Ruler, pen, pencil. Pencil sharpener.

Exacto knife.

Glue (any kind, school glue, glue stick, tape etc).

A light grey, a medium or dark grey and a black felt tip pen for value studies. (if you cannot get grey then look for light brown, medium brown, and dark brown).

Camera (cell phone is fine).


Your usual fabric collection.

Batting and backing fabric.

Construction tools

Rotary cutter, board, rotary ruler guides, spare blade – or scissors.

Marking pencil (White Charcoal is good, most art supply stores carry it) (or silver) for marking fabric for cutting.

Usual sewing supplies: thread, needles, pins, scissors.

Optional: Freezer paper (only if you prefer to make templates).

Optional: fusing stuff – if you are a fuser!

Sewing machine in good working order.


Lesson One:

  • Introduction & Definitions
  • Divisions of Abstract Art
  • Abstract art, a brief history
  • The innovators and what comes next
  • Parallels between painting and quilts
  • Is abstract art merely pattern making?
  • Interpretations. Does meaning matter?
  • Exercise 1: Research
  • Exercise 2: Your Quilts
  • Exercise 3: More Research
  • Exercise 4: Discover

Lesson Two:

  • The early abstractionists
  • Design Exercise 1: Fracture
  • Design Exercise 2: Curves
  • Design Exercise 3: Three values
  • Exercise 4: Next step: evaluation
  • Exercise 5: Construction (optional)
  • Exercise 6: Exercises with another artist
  • Exercise 7: Research Good Art

Lesson Three:

  • Geometric Abstraction
  • The Design Techniques
  • Exercises 1-3: Geometric steps
  • Exercise 4: Your Own geometric steps
  • Exercise 5: The Next Step: Value Studies
  • Exercise 6: Researching Good Art

Lesson Four:

  • Other techniques used in abstraction
  • Exercise 1: Colour and a single shape
  • Exercise 2: Color copying
  • Exercise 3: Tissue paper and color
  • Exercise 4: Search
  • Exercise 5: Exploding objects!
  • Color choices
  • Exercise 6: Your Own Colorwheel

Lesson Five:

  • Putting it all together
  • Exercise 1: Sorting Designs
  • What are the key things to look for in critiquing one’s designs?
  • Critique Groups
  • What is the art about?
  • Originality
  • Tension/Energy/Variety/Contrast
  • The “rules” of composition
  • Exercise 2: Your own critique checklist
  • Exercise 3: Make the decision!
  • Exercise 4: Moods
  • Exercise 5: Color Inspiration Folder
  • Exercise 6: Color Samples
  • Making a sample or study piece