Diane Stavola Blog

Archive for the ‘Master Craftsman in Design’ Category

Step 3: More Golden Rectangle

Friday, April 18th, 2008

I have been busy in step 3 generating several different quilts and beaded projects. I probably have well over a hundred different color ways for all of them combined. I want to stitch as many as possible, when the opportunity presents.

I took some of the photos and also made a large beaded chart using the colors from the pictures taken at street level.    The colors are quite muted in comparison to the bright primaries of the other applique quilt and bead chart.                                           

I did this chart in Bead Creator Pro. The manipulation of the photos was done in Corel Draw. The cost of beading a 5×7 hanging is prohibitive. So I decided that for my final project I would take one of the motifs and use it to create a pendant. beaded-quilt2.jpg 

I don’t tend to wear muted colors so I went back to the bright primaries for the pendant. As I mentioned, I did many, many color ways and in order to keep true to the original motifs and the spirit of Art Deco, I retained most of the original colors but made them more intense.

The first pendant chart contained well over a hundred colors. In fact, I think it contained about 150 colors.  This made for a lovely chart, but far too many colors. The more colors a chart contains, the more expensive the piece is. And there are many colors that  use only one or two beads. Paying $5 for a tube of beads so that only one or two can be used seems a bit extreme. bead-chart.jpg So I reduced the number of beads to three colors: yellow (gold), red, and blue. I used two different yellow beads: a matte and a shiny metallic. The red and blue are transparent and lined with silver. They are very close to being saturated colors, although that is affected by the light reflection from their shiny surfaces and the silver lining. As the lighting conditions change, so do the intensities and values of the beads. The yellow beads are less saturated. If I had used a more intense yellow, I think it would have overwhelmed the whole piece.    

 The chart at right contains the reduced color palette.  I worked my first sample in peyote stitch. It created a very supple piece of beading. Unfortunately, it was not suitable for the odd count that was required. Increasing in odd count became a problem.

My next choice was brick stitch. This worked much better. The pendant lost much of the suppleness, which was actually good for the overall work.              chart-1.jpg

 I made several mistakes and learned in the process that brick stitch can be cut apart and reworked with few negative consequences. For this I was very grateful, because my most disastrous error occurred when I was three quarters of the way through beading the piece.

As I approached completion, I found that the upper most triangles were just not appropriate to the design. They had been bothering me all along but they fit the Golden Rectangle parameter, and I was reluctant to  make significant changes to the size. I ended up having to any way.


   This is the final design chart. The amount required to lengthen the design in order to add the curves at the top was easily offset by adding a few beads to the width of the bottom curves. Those top curves add a great deal to the cohesiveness of the entire design.

Now I just have to complete the necklace that the pendant will hang from and I am set.


So Where Does the GR Take Us?

Sunday, November 11th, 2007

Now that I understand the Golden Rectangle (to a degree), I have been playing with my photos in several different software programs. I definitely want to do a quilt using the layout from the previous post. So I imported several pictures into EQ6.  There I created line drawings and resized the pictures and colored them in several different color layouts. (okay, okay, hundreds of different color layouts, but it is easy to do with the click of a button!!! So why not?) gr2.jpg

I will only include two here. golden-rectangle-3.jpgWhen I settle on the final colors, I think this will be a gorgeous quilt.   The design on the building is Art Deco, but combined in this manner, it is almost like a Persian rug. 

And this is just the beginning of my ideas.  I have two beading programs that I have put some of the design elements into and have played with them also. But that is for another day!

The Golden Rectangle

Monday, November 5th, 2007

I promised I would discuss the Golden Rectangle. It is a fascinating concept for which I initially had very little interest.  Afterall, not all art is based on this concept.  It is not a principle of design. Whether an artist uses it or not is arbitrary. It has a long history, but that doesn’t guarantee that its use will always produce a wonderful design. It is a tool, and as such, it is up to the artist to determine its appropriateness in any work.

Having said that, I have spent a great deal of time reading about it and studying it and trying to understand the whole concept.  You must realize that I am not a math person, and this is definitely a math type idea. I hate math. I can’t do multiplication tables past 2x’s. I need to use my fingers to add even small numbers. It’s just not me.

Somehow this mathematical construct or principle or whatever you want to call it has really caught my imagination. So much so, that I plan to create an entire design class based on it and intend to create several works that fit into it and fully utilize all it has to offer.

For the ancient Greeks beauty was wholly defined by whether or not a design was meticulously accurate in certain proportions.

The proportion of particular interest was the Golden Mean or Ratio.  Architecture, sculpture, pottery, art, science, philosophy, and mathematics were all subject to this ideal.

During the 16th Century, the Golden Mean became known as The Divine Proportion, following its rediscovery by Luca Pacioli, a Franciscan friar.   While not every artist since the 16th Century has based his work on this particular proportion, it has remained a valuable tool for both artists and architects to the present day. So what exactly is this Golden Mean? 

The Pythagoreans of ancient Greece are credited with describing a mathematical pattern that occurs so frequently in nature as to be considered of divine origin.  This Golden Mean divides or bisects a line by dividing the length of the line by the number Phi or 1.618. The resulting division of the line is expressed algebraically as follows: AC:AB=CB:AC  (Beaird, “Grid Theory,” pg 1) It is the basis for the construction of the Golden Rectangle.  It is within this rectangle that the artist creates his work.

According to the Golden Mean, when the Width is multiplied by Phi it gives us the Length of the rectangle.  W x 1.618 = L.  When the Length is divided by Phi it gives us the Width of the rectangle. L ÷ 1.618 = W. 

One method for sectioning the Golden Rectangle is to divide every line of the Golden Rectangle using the Golden Mean and draw lines to connect the divisions.  The result is a Golden Rectangle divided into 9 smaller rectangles. (Kent, 1995, pg 33)  This is very much akin to the modern concept of the Rule of Thirds in which the chosen rectangle (not necessarily Golden) is divided into thirds in both directions.  Areas of emphasis are then placed in the vicinity of the intersections. (Davis, “Divine Proportion”, pg 2)  It is Divine Proportion simplified.  

For greater accuracy in determining points for the placement of important details, the nine rectangles can be further divided by drawing a series of diagonals from and through points of division.  golden-rectangle5.jpgFor the artist, the concept of the Golden Mean and subsequent Golden Rectangle provide a tools for establishing pleasing proportions and balance in his work. 

 Clear as mud? That’s how I felt when I first started studying about it. After a few months, it began to make sense. It may be something you might pursue in the future, but for now,  it is how I determined the final size of the composition for step three, and how I decided to make the divisions seen in the previous blog entry.

If you have questions, or would like more info, I have quite a few references besides the three below and would be glad to help you out – if I can.  So feel free to contact me.

Jason Beaird, “Grid Theory,” The Principles of Beautiful Web Design (2007)
<http://www.sitepoint.com/article/principles-beautiful-web-design/3.htm> Accessed 6-3-2007
Robert Davis, “Divine Proportion,” Journey from Concept to Creation (May 2007)
Accessed 6-3-2007

Kent, Sarah
Composition, Dorling Kindersley, London: 1995

Master Craftsman Step Three-Corel Draw

Friday, November 2nd, 2007

It is going to be difficult to limit myself in the number of designs for this step. The more I play with the pictures I took, the more ideas I have, and I want to do them all! I suspect I see a series in my future.

Using the photos I had taken, I put them into Corel Draw, EQ6, Paint Shop Pro, and AutoBead. Playing in each of these programs has yielded me a huge number of variations and permutations.  I could probably spend the next few months just altering the pictures and creating different designs. I’d never get anything else done.

The final project for step three must be executed in a Golden Rectangle. As part of the design process, the work must be designed with three versions, each showing different areas of emphasis.

To start, I put the pictures into Paint Shop Pro. There I cropped and edited the pictures until I was satisfied with them. Then I moved them into Corel Draw and combined them into what I consider a very nice design. golden-rectangle.jpg

Once I got all of the pictures together, I resized the entire piece so that it was in the dimensions of the Golden Rectangle. Easy enough to do. I’ll go more in depth into the whys and wherefores of the GR another day.

Because this step involves development of areas of emphasis, I divided the whole using two commonly accepted methods.golden-rectangle2.jpg

The one seen here on the right is known as the Rule of Thirds. By dividing the rectangle into thirds, using the Golden Mean or Ratio, I created a grid like the one that is overlaid on the photo.  Where the lines intersect are good areas for focal points.

They happen to be toward the center of the design. This very much corresponds to the manner in which we see. Visually, while our field of vision might be fairly large, we tend to focus on a limited area within the center of the visual field. Test this on yourself. When you are looking at TV, where do you focus? And where is most of the action occurring? When you are driving, where is your attention?

The Rule of Thirds is a much simplified version of the Golden Rectangle and Divine Proportion, but it works in creating designs.

golden-rectangle3.jpgThe design to the right has also been divided in accordance with the properties of the Golden Rectangle. However, as you can see, there are many more divisions and intersections.  It is a more refined and detailed method of division, and it creates more possible areas of emphasis.

Using the intersections, I can find the best places to locate areas of emphasis. It will also make it easier for me to do the three required variations of emphasis. The grid is in essence a road map for me.

It is a fascinating concept, and I am thinking of developing a design class based on the Golden Rectangle.

Step Three

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

Step two is off for evaluation and I am getting into step three. I look forward to documenting the entire process for the design portion of each step.  It will give a good idea of what I go through as I design, as well as what is required by this particular program.

For this I need a piece based on an historical or ethnic theme.  I have definitely decided to go with the historical.  As part of my work for Cities and Guilds Creative Sketchbooks, I have had to make a collection of architecture.  So wherever I go, so goes my trusty little old (and I mean old – only 2 MB) Canon Digital.  I don’t think they’ve made this model for years, but it does what I need.

One the wonderful old buildings in my town is being rehabed.  Originally, it was a furniture store.   As part of the rehab, they are removing a brick facing that had been added to the building back in the 60’s. In speaking with Alison Blanton, Architectural Historian, she said they were not sure what they were going to find when they removed the facing.  They have pictures of the building with its original detail, but how much had survived was a mystery.  Well, alot has survived.  Grand Piano Building full side viewThis is a photo of how the building looks today as they are stripping the facing. This is a side view from across the street and way into a parking lot.  Most of the pictures will be mine, but if I can get permission, I will add some gorgeous photos that Alison sent me.  GP from the front

The workmanship on this building is fantastic.  And talk about quilt designs!!!!  And they say quilting isn’t art! Well, not everyone says that, but they are surprised when they realize it is art.

GP upper level

The yellow brick alone is stunning.

The style of the designs is definitely Art Deco, according to Alison. I thought it was but wanted to verify it with a pro.

 I will have to get a book out and do some research on Art Deco. gp detail a

The colors of my photos just don’t do justice to how beautiful this work is.  All of mine were taken from the ground looking up so they aren’t the greatest.  Even so, I think you can see why I am so excited about this project.gp detail b

I have been playing with these photos in Paint Shop Pro, Corel Draw, EQ6, and Autobead.  I have so many ideas and more each day.  I hope to be able to gp detail cinclude some of my alterations from the various programs here.

I already know that I have to do a quilt and a beaded piece.  At least one of each! Maybe more.

Step Two

Saturday, October 13th, 2007

step-2-long-hall.jpgI am in the process of finishing up the paper work and quilts for Step Two.  The assignment required a piece that demonstrates illusion of depth.  I had taken this photo of an exterior walkway in Charlottesville, VA.  I remember the friend who was with me thinking that I was a bit off my rocker.  She has since become used to me whipping out my ever present digital camera and running across streets to get photos for my design inspiration collection.master-space.jpg

My intention was never to replicate the walkway exactly, but for some reason I just love this photo.  It resonates with me, so I did want to retain most of that feeling in my work. I subjected the photo to numerous filters in my Paintshop Pro program.  This shows the addition of a vertical perspective filter.  It is the view I finally chose to use.

As I am working on a piece, I often don’t know at the beginning what it is I am trying to convey or why.  It was no different for this piece.

I did probably 50 or more variations of it in my Corel Draw and EQ6 programs.  I did at least 4 -5 color ways for each variation until I decided to stay as close to the original colors as possible. 

It wasn’t until I finished piecing the last of 5 small test quilts that I began to realize what this quilt is about.step2-c.jpg 

I see this as a representation of our entry into life and our exit from it.  I had opted to remove most of the detail from the side walls and unify the floor and ceiling so that they did not become too important in the quilt.  I had drawn many variations with all sorts of detail, but it was distracting me from the real purpose. 

How we enter life is pretty much well known. How we exit is also well known.  What lies between awaits our touch to add the details, but we have a general notion of how things will progress.step-2a.jpg 

The points of emphasis are the entry and exit portals, thus the name, “Portals”.

The exit is the same fabric as the entrance.  I wanted them to be tied together in that manner, even if it meant disregarding the application of atmospheric perspective to the door. 

I used an open form ( the entire object is not in the picture) for the doorframe as a device to require the viewer to participate in the completion of the picture. Where is she coming from, where is she going, what will her life be like? The viewer, to my mind, is actually an element of the picture that extends beyond the boundaries of the picture.


At one point in the process, I also tried a different approach to the direction of the lines for the floor and ceiling.  In this quilt, I used the obvious fading toward the vanishing point of linear perspective.

I was also tired of the colors with which I had been working.  So I used colors inspired by a Cleopatra Canna Lily.  The sense of depth is not as great, because there is not the gradual fading of colors in the distance that is the hallmark of atmospheric perspective. In “Portals”, I applied that concept to the walls, floor  and ceiling.

It is  less challenging than “Portals”. Sometimes that is exactly what we need: less challenge, more beauty.

Step One

Sunday, September 16th, 2007

I don’t think I ever worked as hard in college as I did doing step one of the Design Master Craftsman.

Using the provided bibliography as well as reading online, magazines, and newer books, I read almost 60 books before beginning my design.  Now do you have to do that?  Absolutely not!  You only need to do the work necessary to get the job done. Am I absolutely, certifiable? Probably.  But I have never had more fun researching and studying than for this program. 

Finally, I am doing only what I want and accomplishing what I want in terms of my art. In essence, I am creating the parameters for my work.  I am the developer of my own core curriculum.

Sunrise, Sunset

This quilt , “Sunrise, Sunset” (photo by Ellen Martin) was my final project for Step One which dealt with rhythm and balance. The final piece had to be an all-over pattern.

The motif was developed from a series of drawing exercises I did. The specific exercises came from Richard Box’s book, “Drawing for the Terrified.” It was a simple line drawing that caught my eye as I was reviewing my sketchbooks for ideas.

I put the drawing into EQ6, imported some fabrics, and played with a variety of settings and colorways. The motif was rotated and flipped to create a 4-motif repeat. This was then repeated across and down the quilt.  The outside borders are the motif elongated and flipped.

For the final colors, I chose a piece of fabric I have had for ages.  It has a black background with red-violet and blue-violet designs that are outlined in gold. This became the basis for the quilt’s colors,  and I was even able to use this focal fabric in the quilt.  That doesn’t always happen.  Sometimes the fabric is the inspiration for a color palette but never makes it into the piece.

sunrise-sunset-detail-_2.jpgThis detail shows the fabrics a little better. Click on the image for a larger view.

The entire quilt, including the borders, was paper pieced using the paper piecing product from EQ6.  I taped the multiple pages together using that pink hair tape some of us remember from way back when!  It is gummy and can be a pain, but it holds nicely if placed on both sides.  To avoid gumming up my sewing machine needle, I removed the tape as I reached it.

I debated removing the paper piecing papers, but, in the end, I left them in.  There is a tremendous amount of bias in this quilt, and I didn’t want to risk distorting the top hopelessly. The draw back to that is that when piecing the blocks together there is quite a bit of bulk at the points where they meet.  This is especially true at the corners, but also at any place along the edge where seams must be matched.  The matches are not quite as crisp as I would like. Overall, I am pleased with the outcome.

 My required essay was on visual unity.

I have passed with distinction!  And I am now on to step two. 


The Master Craftsman Program

Sunday, September 16th, 2007

The Master Craftsman program is offered through The Embroiderers’ Guild of America, Inc.  It includes a wide variety of the needlearts, including a module on Design and one on Color.

 It took me a while and some convincing (thank you, Carole Lake!) before I decided to commit to the Design module.

 Pursuit of a Master Craftsman in Design requires a minimum commitment of 3 years. The program is divided into 6 steps.  Each step covers a different aspect of design.  Evaluations are done twice a year in May and November.  

There are three components to each step.  They are: an essay based on specific aspects of design, a design that meets specific criteria, and documentation of the design process.

What I particularly enjoy about this program is that you are given the problems and time frame within which to complete the work.  How you study, what texts you use, what additional classes you take, are all up to you.  As long as you can document the appropriateness of your approach and the actual work, you are free to structure the program to your own abilities and skills. The techniques you use are also up to you as long as they are some form of needlework.

The Journey

Friday, August 10th, 2007


As an artist, I am excited to be able to share my works in progress. I see this blog as a way of documenting my artistic journey. I would hope that I will also be documenting my own growth as an artist.p> I know that, for myself, the most interesting blogs are those that detail the journey to the completed work. I find the journey more interesting than the finished piece. Work that has been completed serves as a milepost along the way. My intention is that this blog should act as a personal journal, and as such, a tool in the creation of my work. If along the way others find it interesting, so much the better. I know that I have gained a lot from the work and insights of others. Diane  

 “I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it.” (Vincent Van Gogh)

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