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Art Quilt - Grandma

I finished the 50th Anniversary quilt for my parents in February and I've taken a few weeks off to think about my next art quilt project. I usually find inspiration by picking a subject first, then I consider what else I can put on the quilt.

I decided my next subject would be my grandmother. She will be 88 in April and she's my last remaining grandparent. She's a really kind woman and I'm glad she's been in my life so I thought I'd do something special.

Since I made a colored pencil portrait of my parents, I thought I'd do the same for this quilt. So I went through all the family photos and picked a few pics of my grandma that looked nice. I picked one from when she was a teenager, one with her holding a great-grandchild and one with her with some flowers she got on Mother's Day. Grandma loves birds, flowers, Ohio State football, has no sweet tooth to speak of, has always weighed 127 lbs. her entire life and loves everyone she meets.

Since I can't put a ton of stuff on her quilt, I decided to put a picture of her with her flowers in the middle, a young version of herself on one side and pic of her holding a grandchild on the other. Further out, I settled on a cardinal and Ohio State with a football helmet. Then I thought to make the quilt in the shape of the state of Ohio. This may or may not happen. I haven't done anything like that before so we'll see.

I started with the teenage picture first. This one must have been taken when she was around 16 or so and it looked like it was taken in a photo booth type thing. It's a tiny photo about 2x3 inches in sepia tone and there is harsh lighting so her face is bright white. I had to darken her face a little or you wouldn't see any features.

The second one I did was grandma holding her great-grandchild Sophie. This picture wasn't the greatest contrast wise. Everything was pink. Literally. My grandmother's face was a flushed pink, her blouse was a shiny mauve/pink color, the baby's face was pink and her little dress was light pink with darker pink skirt with darker pink flowers. It was horrible to have to draw and I had to make up a lot. 

Next, I drew a red cardinal on a branch and a Ohio State logo complete with a buckeye leaf and football helmet in upper corners of the state shaped quilt. Grandma really likes her cardinals and Ohio State football. I'll do more quilting around the bird and the block "O" and buckeye leaf instead of doing them all in colored pencil. 

For the center of the quilt, I found a nice picture of grandma on mother's day. My mom had taken her flower shopping and she was sitting on the front step of her house behind her new flat of petunias and geraniums. I focused on drawing her legs, arm and shorts first.


Then, I worked on her plaid shirt. Memo to me, never draw someone wearing a plaid shirt. Just don't do it. And I worked on the background some.

Lastly, I worked on the face, shading and of course her flowers. I also found out, its hard to draw white hair on white fabric so there's more gray than in the actual picture. The pictures don't really do the drawings justice. You can't see all the different tones, wrinkles etc., that make up the picture.

I'm pretty happy with all 3 portraits. They're not exact but they're fairly good likenesses of my grandmother. But she'll probably say something like, "Why did you make me look so old?" then she'll kiss me. 

I purposely, left the background (wood/shrub) behind her not come all the way out to her leg and I made the flowers flow down from upper left to lower right. I'm hoping that when I get all the background parts of the quilt (white area) quilted that she'll look like she's more 3D instead of 2D. That's the plan anyway. 

I'm also thinking that I need to do a wash of brown ink on the quilt. I don't want it to be bright white and I like the antique look. The brown wash will soften it a lot.

Here's a pic of all 3 pictures. I put some brown background on the portrait on the left. The others had a background of some kind and it looked weird without one. Besides, it really helped the picture stand out a little. Although, you can't see it the Ohio State helmet is in the upper left corner, the bird in the upper right and under the portraits is the bottom part of the quilt. 

At the bottom of the quilt, under the 3 portraits, I kinda ran out of room but I decided to throw in some dog paws. I was going to try to draw a portrait of a German Shepard (Grandma had one back in the 70/80's) but I wasn't feeling it. I think the space was too small for it and my creative brain balked. 


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