The lure of abstract art quilts

Art quilts seem to fall into two categories…the more realistic which are often based on the use of applique techniques and abstract which are usually pieced.  I admit a bias to piecing which keeps me closer to original quilting roots of our ancestors even though I run like crazy from the tradition block designs. 

It was abstract designs which first led me to sewing curves and mosaics and I haven’t looked back!  With abstract designs I try to capture the “essence” of a subject, such as my landscapes, sunsets and beach/ocean quilts, or just a beautiful combination of colors as with my curved colorful quilts or abstract mosaics.  The blue abstract at the top of this blog is meant to be the essence of the ocean.  The blue green mosaic on the right is a collection of colors that sooth yet inspire me with the lightest fabrics in the middle reaching out like a beam of light.  The autumn colors in the small quilt below capture the essence of that season.

 Abstracts give you permission to explore color, different fabrics, and design.  I find that the fabrics themselves can add depth or texture to a quilt design.  Sometimes it is just a peek or an unexpected color in the elbow of a curve that absolutely makes the quilt perfect. 

I started making abstract curved piecing by identifying 6-8 fabrics and colors.  Then I moved on to a larger selection of colors and bigger quilts.  Some of my favorites are the triptych abstract designs which have the colors and designs traveling from one quilt to the next.  See the picture of a triptych in my shop shown above a queen size bed. I have made abstract art quilts to add a punch of color in a room, finding it easier to bring the design of the room together with carefully selected fabrics for a wall quilt. 

The design is driven by the curved cuts of the fabrics, one on top of each other.  I often don’t have a firm idea of how the next piece will be cut.  And sometimes I make a mistake and must take a piece off and start again with that fabric.  What works is what is pleasing to your eye a there are no rules!   

2 Responses

  1. Hi Sharon. I absolutely LOVE your abstract art quilts. I’ve been trying to find ideas for making Quilts for Kids. I belong to a group that makes them for low income families, kids in the hospital, etc. I discovered that the majority of quilts donated are more for girls than boys. Quilts for boys are almost non-existent. So I decided to try to find some patterns to make contemporary quilts with lots of colors and unique designs (for both boys and girls). Your abstract art wall quilts made me gasp with joy! While they’ll never be as beautiful as yours, I just have to try making a quilt with your unique approach. One of the most beautiful aspects of your art is that there is NOT a pattern. This is especially true for me as I developed brain damage 16 years ago when a virus moved into my brain’s blood vessels and arteries and killed over 100 spots of my brain tissue. As a result I lost ALL memory of how to quilt (after having quilted for about 16 years before the brain damage). Due to the amnesia, I didn’t realize that I’d not been quilting for the past 12 years. Fortunately, I was able to tell myself, “Well I learned to quilt once and I CAN learn again. I’ve got a very high-end embroidery/sewing machine so it was quilt a shock when I looked at it and didn’t even know how to thread it, let alone how to make a quilt! But I didn’t give up and I’ve finished a quilt for my son. YEAH!!! Now I’m going to try making and abstract quilt and see what happens. I think it’ll be fun and no one will know if I made a mistake! Thank you so much for sharing your expertise and your beautiful art. God bless. Linda

    1. What an amazing story! You are an incredible woman with spunk and determination. I’m so touched to learn how my quilt style is giving you an artistic outlet. I never once made it through a traditional quilt! I figured out 10 years ago that I liked my abstract approach…more fun, more creative and no one could see my unmatched corners! Thinking about quilts for your boys, I’d use colorful strips, sometimes running across the quilt and other times running diagonally. And regarding your high tech machine….I’ve had a 750 Bernina for almost 10 years and still look at it some days not sure what to do. The manual sits close at hand. Thankfully the Bernina store is 3 miles away and willing to help over the phone. Sometimes it is the simplest thing too but I haven’t don’t it for months so forgot how. Give yourself grace and enjoy being creative! Thank you for making my day special today by hearing your remarkable story.

Leave a Reply