I’m doing something today that I hardly ever do. I’m sharing images from my sketchbook!
I’m telling you right now – this makes me very, very nervous.
I didn’t go to art school and have no real art training. I don’t think I draw very well, and I can’t believe that I have a career in which I spend entire days drawing! Every time I sit down to draw for a new project, I think, “There’s no way I can do this. This is going to be terrible.” And the first things I draw usually are terrible. I just have to push past those initial drawings, draw a LOT, and then choose the ones that actually work. 🙂 If I share my initial drawings I’m pretty sure everyone will know I’m a fraud, and that’s not a very happy feeling.
So why am I doing it?
It’s because of a comment on Facebook.
I posted this image of a finished car, one of the initial patterns for the quilt.
I usually don’t show any drawings at all because I think my drawings look WAY BETTER in fabric – so usually that’s all you see. But I liked this car, so I shared it. Here’s the first comment I got. . .
You make it look so easy! I look at that and I think, “well, I could have done that!.” I sit down and nothing comes out of my pencil!
I replied that it really wasn’t cool of me to just spring an almost-finished design out there like I just dashed it off, and I promised to share a bit of what led up to it.
So here goes.
I start with some really rough little doodles. Earlier I said that every time I start drawing for a new project, the voice in my head says, “This is going to be terrible.” Of course, the voice means, “This is going to be terrible. You’re a fraud. I can’t believe you think people will buy something that you drew.” But I do my best to turn that around to say, “This is going to be terrible. You know it’s always like that at the beginning. Just take a deep breath, draw some terrible stuff, and get past it. It’ll get better.”
Sometimes it takes a few days to get better, but it usually does. 🙂
So I start with some terrible doodles, and I’m asking my self a lot of questions.
Do I want to show someone driving the car? No – that will be some crazy fussy piecing. No fun to make.
How about just the steering wheel? They can embroider it. No – it doesn’t add to the cute.
Do I want to show cut out wheel wells? Or just lay the tires over the body of the car? I’m not sure – I’ll try it both ways for a while.
How curvy/blocky do I want these? I need to try a bunch a shapes.
Do I want to show puffs of exhaust? It’s cute, but the blocks will need to be rectangles and I want squares.
It goes on like that for a while.
But then I see something I like – the tiny tall car right in the middle of the top of this image. I like the way the window is framed inside the top of the car. I like the way the bottom edge of the window is lined up with the top edge of the front and back of the car. It looks neat. And it will be simple to piece.
So I play around a little bit more with that idea and I try it with some other shapes. I try just one window and front and back windows.
I’m liking it! But they’re looking a little uniform. I try some weirder, less realistic shapes.
Ooh! I really like a couple of these! Oh – but it’s all cars. I need some trucks too.
Then I had to use Google Images to look up big rigs and dump trucks because I don’t really know what they look like. I used my Ed Emberley skills to simplify them down to some really basic shapes, and before I know it I have pages and pages of little cars and trucks.
At that point I draw nicer versions of the ones I like best. I make sure that they look like a unified group. If you look, you’ll notice that all the cars have small grey hubcaps on black wheels, the bottoms of all the windows line up with the tops of all the car bodies, and they all use the same color fabric for the windows. These “rules” help those individual blocks look like they belong to a cohesive group.
These sketches are where I was when I posted that image on Facebook. My finished quilts all have twelve patterns, so I try and do nice sketches of at least 15. Then I lay those out and see what works. For this quilt I wanted a balance between boxy cars, rounded cars, long cars, and trucks. I also needed a balance of cars facing left and cars facing right. 🙂
I ended up not using the one I posted on Facebook because I had a couple of other round-top cars I liked better, like this one.
After I finally narrow things down to my favorite dozen, I finally get to make them in fabric. I see them in fabric the whole time I’m working on them, but it’s still really fun to choose the colors and prints and see that it really works. 🙂
After all of that, I finally get here. A finished pattern!
When I see them all in fabric – with the bright colors and prints – I love them and I forget how terrible those initial sketches looked.
And then it all starts over again with the next project. 🙂