Continued from Part 1
5) Take a closer look at the animal you are trying to create — is it wild or domestic? Does it live near a lake, mountain, ocean, forest, or desert? What makes this animal happiest…lying in a sunny spot, rolling in the mud, or chasing a butterfly? Taking the time to connect with the animal you are trying to create will enhance your work. There are many beautiful fabrics to choose from.
In Part 1, I directed your attention to light, medium, and darks of the colors you wish to use. But which colors should you choose? This seems to stop some people in their tracks. I graduated from art school and have years of experience to guide me, but you don’t need a degree to be an artist. If you aren’t confident in selecting colors and wish to try your hand at fabric collage, then you can simply look at nature. There are so many harmonious colors all around you.
Study any landscape—what colors stand out? What calls to YOU?
Examining a simple photo of nature can help you choose colors that will look brilliant together. Look at the sample photo of wild flowers. Which colors do you feel will enhance your animal? Keep it simple and start with three colors. For example, if you were to choose orange, magenta, and purple, what do you think would be the next step?
Break it down into lights, mediums, and darks. Find three shades of each of your three main colors.
Orange: peach, medium orange, rust, deep red orange, or paprika shades
Magenta: pastels, cotton candy, medium pinks, rose, or dark fuchsia
Purple: lavender, medium purple, iris blue violet, or eggplant.
Choose lights, mediums, and darks in large and small prints.
6) Once you have selected your fabrics, it’s time to begin cutting out and assembling them. The method I use requires only the line art or photo you have selected (see step 1 in part 1). This is your pattern. I don’t use freezer paper, clear overlays, or other templates. You will be cutting the images apart, so make a few extra copies.
Photos: Again, read about copyright and copywrong in Part 1 carefully before using photographs.
I always use full color images and convert them to black and white, keeping the color copy as reference. Be sure you have selected a photo that is in focus (no blurred edges) as you will need to see important aspects of facial features and anatomy. You may need to adjust the contrast and lighten the shadows in order to actually view important elements. This can be done in the settings of a photo copier. I often work with many photos to help me become better acquainted with the anatomy.
For example, when working on eyes I may download several closeup views of the animal I have chosen, in addition to my main image. For instance, if you are creating a wolf, look for other photos which isolate the eye. You may discover details you aren’t able to see in the main photo you have selected. It does not have to match the size of your eye exactly—you are using this as reference only.
Line art: When using a simple line art pattern, you may need to do a bit more researching. The method I use does not look like a stamped image or cookie-cutter shape. If this is what you wish to achieve, I suggest you continue your search with another textile artist. I mean this sincerely—I am not criticizing, just being very clear that the method I teach may not be for you.
For example, look at the coloring book template of a parrot. We have an overall idea of its shape and anatomy. But where are the lights and darks? What are the special characteristics of this bird? Look for images of parrots to guide you. The color photos will help bring “life” to your fabric collage. They do not have to be in the exact position as your line art; just choose several images to help you see different components of your subject. This will also help you determine which fabrics to use.
In Part 1, step 4, I wrote about selecting fabrics that help accentuate the anatomy. If you were to create this bird, you may wish to look for fabric that has petals, leaves, or geometric shapes that help “imply” feathers. Study the animal and select fabrics that will do the work for you.
For example, in creating the lion in “Wishing On a Star”, I wanted to help indicate the area where his whiskers were. I chose a newsprint fabric. Can you see how the eye interprets this area?
7) Using a small pair of paper scissors cut out the outside overall shape of the animal. This step is very important because this is your template. I cannot overstate the importance of having small sharp paper scissors when doing this work. I use them to cut out intricate areas of the pattern that bulky blades cannot touch.