The Art Institute of Chicago has several fantastic pieces of art that hold strange fascination for me. Modern art is a tough one for me to appreciate. I don’t know why, nor can I explain why I have difficulties with it. This is the chief reason why I started working with this style of artwork. I’m hoping that by recreating a piece or three that I’ll be able to better appreciate the style.
This particular painting, I’ve seen the style mimicked in assorted places by a variety of people. While there’s a simplicity to the design, Piet Mondrian creates a well-balanced composition. While I’m providing the link to the Art Institute of Chicago’s website, the photograph I used is one I’ve taken with my own camera. From the Art Institute of Chicago website, I present “Lozenge Composition with Yellow, Black, Blue, Red, and Gray“. The original artwork was painted by Piet Mondrian in 1921.
It wasn’t until I brightened my photo that I figured out where the gray was. I think. Since I have a hard time with certain colors, I’m purely guessing as to which sections are gray. I could be right; I could be wrong. All of the photos I’ve seen online of this particular painting vary the color placement a bit. Even seeing it in person a few times, I’m still guessing.
I do know that once I decided to actually start making this, I sat down with pencil and paper to begin getting my thoughts and notes in order. Basically, I started with a ruler and began measuring everything I could. From there, I went to the AIC website to get the original painting sizing details. It would be from here that I’d start to figure out what I’d want for a finished size, and how I was going to go about getting there. As you can tell, I was in a bit of a quandery as to where to begin. Yes, I have been know to actually ‘map out’ where to start and which way to go with a quilt. It’s basic piecing instructions, true. The question I’m really asking myself is do I start from one edge and work across or start from the middle and work out.
When I started figuring out my measurements, I began pre-washing the fabrics I planned on using. Unfortunately, there was a water main break a few blocks up from where I live. Uh, yeah. My whites? Yeah, not so white anymore. More like a dingy, dirty beige/tan color. I was livid. However, a call to the Public Works Department had me set up with some stuff to take the stain out of my fabrics and clothes. I was a bit hesitant to use it, having never done this sort of thing before. I was thrilled when my fabrics and clothing came back to their original colors!!
I’ve pressed out my fabrics and began picking where and how to cut them. With the exception of the white and the black, I was working with fat quarters. A fat quarter is a piece of fabric that’s 18″ x 22″. I knew that I wanted to put the quilt label on the front of this quilt, and not the back. Why? If you go to an art gallary of any sort, there’s a placard next to the art piece with the specifics on it. It makes sense to me. I’d still need to design that, but that’d be for a later time. For now, it was time to start cutting and sewing fabric.
Yep, that’s it. I knew I’d be adding setting triangles and framework, once I completed the main design.
Still looking at the photos of the original painting, I decided to start from the left and work right. I’d split the diamond into top and bottom, working each section as I came to it.
You may have noticed I added a little more of the black sashing pieces to different areas. I’d completely forgotten that when I trim this to shape and size, I left “empty” areas. The little add-ons were my way of closing those holes. If I trimmed them out, I wasn’t going to miss anything. However, if I trimmed out the main design and there’s a hole? That would be bad.
The nervous part for me is trimming this to size. The first cut would pretty much make or break this. If I cut at the wrong angle, I would need to start over. If I cut too shallow, I’d have to start over. So yeah, no pressure. I made the first cut, then stopped to look at where and how to make the second cut. Then, the third cut. It was as this point that I started measuring the sides and trying to even them out. Once I made the last cut, I knew I was a little over an inch smaller than the original painting. I could accept that.
The original artwork was set on a white frame and then mounted on the wall. I gave serious consideration to doing the same thing. However, I didn’t have any different whites on hand. Since I was using only solid fabrics to make this, I didn’t want to putz with attempting to dye or stain the white to a couple of shades darker. I had enough issues with getting the grays to fade out as much as I did. (I ran those through three bleaching cycles before I called it quits.) When I cut the sashings, I’d cut too many for my design purposes; these would be fine as framework.
The more I looked at this, the more I liked it. Next up would be the setting triangles. With the seam allowances pressed out to the triangles, I liked it even more. It was at this point that I stopped for the night. I had a couple of ideas I wanted to mull over, and it was getting late.
When I initially thought about doing the quilt label, I was going to add it to one of the setting triangles. As you can see, that didn’t happen. I had a different idea I was going to use. With that idea came the mental image I have for how I wanted the quilting done. I knew it was going to take some time to get all of the stitching done.
I added the borders, as well as the quilt label. It’s almost square. If you look hard enough, you might be able to tell where I was an 1/8″ off. I was hoping the difference would be eaten up in the quilting process. To give you some idea as to how heavily I was quilting All of those stitch lines? Those are the quilting lines I’d been stitching into place. I had to stop for the evening, as I’d ran out of white thread. I’d pick more up in the morning, giving my shoulders a chance to rest overnight.