Smart Editing

 Keep the good bits and discard the rest: that’s the goal in all creative work. This wisdom is true for making fabric art inspired by a photograph, designing fashions for a Project Runway competition, cooking a meal, or writing a blog post! Creating art always requires some smart editing. 

Here is the reference photograph I used to create a commission piece for my friend Teri. Her grandson is seen with Teri’s dogs. He is posing, standing in the center of the photo in the shade. The dogs are black. There are a lot of trees. All of these things are challenges.

Reference photo

There are things to make the most of too. Those are the good bits to save. The pose is very cute, there are highlights on the dogs and the child’s arm and hat, and the zig zag movement of the bright green grass calls for further attention.

The finished piece is 11 X 11

I simplified the shirt, kept the bright green, and used fabric and stitching for kid and dog highlights. I eliminated details of the background by using a batik fabric that suggests the texture and smell of a forest. 

Here are more examples of reference photos and the artwork that they inspired.

Reference photo. Notice the background and colors.
Fresh Outlook 32 X 43 2006 The background in the art is ambiguous and also repeats the horizontal lines of the railing.
This is one of two photos used to create one art quilt.
Notice the shadows and background.
Full Measure 27 X 27 2010 What bits from the photos did I save?
How did I communicate the idea of wind?
I did not choose to duplicate the cobblestones in this reference photo!
Generations 40 X 30 2016 Fabric choices are a comment about our technological world.

Each month I share a recipe at the end of the blog. This month I am borrowing a recipe from Dec. 2017. My grandchildren really love Mexican Lentils. Soak 1 1/2 c. dry lentils in salty water for 4 – 8 hours. Drain and rinse. Add lentils to pot along with 1/4 c. raisins, 1/2 bell pepper chopped, 4 minced cloves garlic, 1/4 t. dried red pepper, 1 t. each chili powder and ground cumin, 1/2 t. dried basil, 3-4 c. water. Simmer for 40 minutes and add one 6 oz. can of tomato paste. Stir well before serving. It is good topped with yogurt or sour cream.

5 Responses to Smart Editing


These photos & resulting quilts are especially amazing, beautiful & instructive. It helps to see the photos that inspired you and to learn of some of your artistic considerations. Thanks.


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