Elizabeth Barton's newly-published "Visual Guide to Working in a Series", subtitled "Next Steps in Inspired Design", is based on the on-line class Elizabeth taught through quiltuniversity.com. The course was the second of three I have taken with Barton. I have always been particularly drawn to her work because of her affinity for architectural themes.
The book opens with Barton making a persuasive case for working in a series, suggesting it will allow you to develop your own style while thoroughly exploring an idea, improving your technique, and creating a body of work. She proceeds to explain how one might go about choosing a theme and developing variations. As always, Barton is at ease referring the reader to artists in other media, giving examples of those who have used series as a vehicle to develop their work.
The focus then shifts to a discussion of evaluating both preliminary ideas and completed work. Barton recommends using drawing, watercolour sketching, collage, photocopying and photo manipulation as ways of preparing and refining a composition.
The latter part of the book is devoted to the principles of good composition. How can value contrast help make a successful piece? How can negative space be used to add interest to the composition? What makes for a strong colour scheme? How can one create a sense of depth? The book ends with a checklist of seventeen questions to be used to assess the work in progress and to evaluate the finished piece.
With over two hundred images of art quilts by Barton and others, this book is a wonderful reference for those who have mastered the basics and want to develop their own imagery, whether abstract or representational, and their own artistic voice. To get a better sense of what Barton is all about, check out her blog, always lively, thoughtful and informative.