Impressionist quilling

9OOnf8With our village art show coming up in a few weeks’ time, I’m busy preparing for the quilling demonstration that I’ve been asked to give, and also getting together a few framed quilled pictures to offer for sale. I’m confident that I will be the only paper filigree artist present! I decided it was high time I produced a new picture, and chanced upon a lovely photo of a turtle dove in flight that I have had tucked away for ages in my ‘Inspiration Box’.

In the past, when working on an image like this from nature, I have attempted to follow the exact patterns and colours of the subject very precisely – but the subtle complexities of this particular bird’s plumage really did not lend themselves to that. So I decided to try a more ‘impressionistic’ approach, using a wide variety of different quilled shapes and simplified colour combinations to try and convey the basic ‘essence’ of the turtle dove.

The more pictures I make, the more I feel drawn to utilise as many different quilling techniques as possible. Like most quillers, in my earliest pictures I would simply fill up spaces with multiple interlocking leaf shapes in appropriate colours – but now, to be honest, I regard this as being rather boring … not just to quill (all that repetitive work!!), but also – dare I say it? – sometimes quite boring to look at, too. There is so much more to quilling than variations of the closed loose coil – let’s start exploring all the options!

So, my turtle dove incorporates many different techniques in an effort to convey shape, movement and texture. Plus I utilised a new approach to selecting and using quilled shapes in different colours to represent the overall visual effect of the complex plumage. First I traced the outline of the bird and scanned it into my computer. Then I overlaid the outline (digitally) with a very faint image of an interlocking jigsaw piece pattern before printing it out and placing it under clingfilm on my quilling board. My idea was that each jigsaw ‘piece’ would represent a contrasting area of quilling in terms of colour and/or technique. I chose jigsaw shapes instead of squares for this purpose because they curve and blend naturally into one another in a visually flowing way. So, taking the area of each jigsaw piece in turn, I would study the corresponding area on the original photograph and decide which quilling techniques and colours could best be used to represent that area in an impressionistic way.


This technique would, I think, work particularly well when creating quilled pictures which are composed of several large and subtly patterned areas. For the turtle dove, I had to ignore the jigsaw piece boundaries in some places in favour of the actual contours of the bird, but the jigsaw pattern did help me to focus on creating variety in terms of techniques and colours throughout the various sections of the design. I will definitely be trying it again.

My bird is now mounted, framed and ready to take with me to ‘Culture on the Common’ in Hartley Wintney, Hampshire, UK, on 3rd August 2014. Will it find a new home? Only time will tell.



6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. pilynunez
    Jul 16, 2014 @ 19:47:36

    It is a very interesting concept that you have when you create this original composition. I really enjoy it!



  2. Zoe Brener
    Jul 16, 2014 @ 22:20:37

    This is unusual, especially your approach using the jigsaw pattern. Love the idea of impressionist quilling. Let us know how the show goes.



  3. lulupnq
    Jul 19, 2014 @ 05:38:29

    impressionist quilling – haha, it reminds me of paintings! good luck with your upcoming village art show!



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