What is a Modern Impressionist Quilt?

Hi again, Friends!

When I introduced you to String and Story, I talked a lot about "Modern Impressionist Quilts," but what are those anyway??

I'll tell you a secret: I made them up, I've been working on a few quilts lately that I just didn't have a way to describe. And I realized that what I've been doing is different. Like every artist, my work is a cumulation of my experience, skill, and taste. My background is full of watercolors and oil paintings; the National Gallery of Art is one of my favorite places ever, and by 9th grade one of my favorite books was Sue Roe's Private Lives of the Impressionists (It's 368 pages, and it's wonderful). All that to say, that when I quilt, each piece of fabric is like a brushstroke in my mind. But part of the reason I turned to quilting is because I love textiles and the snuggle/fort factor of quilts; I want my quilts to be "fully functional" if desired, but also beautiful for hanging on the wall. Thus, my quilts are not strictly art quilts, but they don't use traditional blocks or lots of negative space, either, so they also don't fall into typical "traditional" or "modern" quilt buckets. 

As I consider it, a Modern Impressionist Quilt:

  1. Usually depicts a specific scene, object, or idea. 
  2. Is strongly influenced by the world of visual arts (especially painting) and emphasizes use of color, value, composition, movement, and depth. 
  3. Uses tone-on-tone fabrics or fabrics cut such that they "read" as one predominant color. Use of solid fabrics is limited. 
  4. Can be free-motion or straight-line quilted, but the quilting furthers the overall depiction of the scene, object, or idea. 
  5. Can include embellishment such as embroidery, but the embellishment doesn't interfere with the usability of the quilt as a quilt. 
  6. Is often created with a single repeating shape of fabric (square, triangle, diamond, tumbler, parallelogram, hexie, etc) rather than different blocks because each piece of fabric is a "brushstroke." I've started calling this "working in tessellation." Alternately, improvisational piecing may be used for less "uniform" brushstrokes.

These are the guidelines I've established for my work as I consider myself the first "Modern Impressionist Quilter." I hope y'all will stick around to see where my journey goes, but even more, I hope you'll stick around because I want to share what I know as an artist and how I think it can be applied to quilting! Here on the blog we're going to talk about those influences I mentioned (color, value, composition, movement, and depth), and I'm going to offer ideas for how you can easily explore what they mean and how they can help you make "WOW" quilts. 

Be sure to follow @stringandstory on Instagram to stay up to date on what's happening in my sewing room, and use #stringandstory and #ModernImpressionistQuiltingExperiment to share your Modern Impressionist Quilts and Quilty Experiments!

Talk to Y'all Soon!

XO, HollyAnne

(The quilt shown is my most recent finish: Murmuration. Don't worry, I'm sure it will get its own blog post soon! :-) )