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While strolling through a quilt show, what is it that makes some quilts just seem to jump out and grab your attention? What is the secret ingredient the artist uses to effectively make you stop to notice their quilt over all of its neighbors? Emphasis is a technique used by artists to shift the viewers attention to what the artist finds to be the most important. Emphasis is one of those magic ingredients that can make your work stand out from the crowd.

Untitled by Lynn Czaban. Copyright free photography from Library of Congress Original 1936. (Image Road2CA)

 

In the case of Untitled by Lynn Czaban, what is the first thing you are immediately drawn to when viewing the quilt? Is it the background pattern or the monochromatic color plan? NO, it is the direct gaze of the man looking out at you, the viewer. Lynn purposefully has her subject front and center, because she wants you to notice him. He is what is important. The background is the supporting actor to the lead in this play.

So what are the tricks for creating emphasis when it comes to your quilt? Below are six ways you can make your quilt have visual impact when it comes to standing out from the crowd. But remember, your strongest focal point (e.g. the man) should have the strongest weight visually. For example, if you had a crowd of men scattered across the quilt, the emphasis on this man would not necessarily be as strong.

Isolate - Separate your subject from others by type or area of space.
Lead - Invisible lines direct the viewer to one specific point.
Contrast - Use color temperature or value to make a pop.
Size - Make your subject bigger.
Unusual - One thing is not like the others in the scene.
Location - Bring the subject up front, but slightly off center, to add more interest.

 

Now that you understand the ways that you can create emphasis, let's look at some excellent examples of quilts featuring emphasis:

Isolate - Separate your subject from others by type or area of space.

 

  Race To The Summit by Brigitte Villeneuve

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Flower Power by Maria Vuilleumier (Image patCHquilt).

 

Lead - Invisible lines direct the viewer to one specific point.

 
Missouri Barn by LeAnn Hileman (Image Road2CA) {Right} ; Daddy, hold my hand by Heidi Proffetty (Show 2406). [Image TheQuiltShow] {Left}

 

 

 

 

 

Contrast - Use color temperature or value to make a pop.

 
Ohio Snowball by Christine Perrigo. (Image Road2CA)

      

 
Unusual - One thing is not like the others in the scene.

 

My Hundertwasser by Brigitte Rossetti (Image patCHquilt) {Left} ; Pineapple Pleasures by Kaye Kohler (Image TheQuiltShow.com) {Right}

 

 

 

Size - Make your subject larger.

 


 

 


Say Something by Becky Goldsmith. (Show 611, Show 1704, Show 2401) [Image TheQuiltShow.com] ; Stargazer Splendor by Andrea Brokenshire (Show 1706) [Image Road2CA]

 

Location - Bring the subject up front, but slightly off center, to add more interest


Seasoned With Time by Karlyn Bue Lohrenz (image TheQuiltShow.com)

On Thin Ice by Deb Crine. (Image AQS)
 

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