Sunday, June 28, 2009

Mother Nature is a Quilter

There is much that Mother Nature can teach us about quilting and the elements of design — line, shape, form, composition, contrast, and color.

For instance, Mother Nature knows that lines draw the eye in direction in which they travel, pointing the way to an important area of the design. . .

and that a diagonal line can be a very strong, eye-catching element in any design.

She knows that straight lines give a sense of structure and formality. . .

while curving, flowing lines give life and movement to an image.

Straight horizontal lines are restful. . .

while vertical straight lines suggest power or strength.

Curved lines can give a graceful or serene feel.

One can outline an area to emphasize it and root it firmly in the design.

Mother Nature knows that shapes provoke a response in a viewer.

Straight edges, squares, rectangles, and lines appear formal, hard, and direct.

Curves, circles, and undulating edges are softer, more organic, and natural.

Images need a sense of light and shadow to give a 3-D effect.

The importance of contrast is another lesson that Mother Nature shares. She shows us that the effect of contast can exist in many different forms:


Rough with smooth

Shiny with mat


Light with dark

Warm with cool


Contrast can also be created by setting one object against a group. . .

or by using curved lines against straight ones.

Mother Nature helps us study the importance of composition, the arrangement of objects in a design and their relationship with each other and the space they occupy.

She might move an object to one side for more interest.

We learn that leaving slightly more space between the subject and the bottom of an image helps prevent the illusion that the subject is sliding down the background.

Or that an object might fill an area better if placed at an angle.

Mother Nature doesn't forget the importance of color and color relationships.

Green is Mother Nature's neutral. . .

. . . though she also likes black and white.

She knows that contrasting colors work well together. . .

. . . that contrasting colors stand out in a pastel, pale, or neutral scheme. . .

. . . that lack of contrast makes things blend. . .

and that delicate colors can get lost or overpowered when surrounded by dark or bright colors.

Mother Nature knows her techniques:


She works with alternate materials. Is it a whale or a bird?

A butterfly?


She quilts lines and curves. . .

veins. . .

feathers and pebbles.

She loves to stipple.


Look at those french knots!

Crazy Quilting

She embellishes with beads. . .

and bugles. . .

ribbons. . .

braids. . .

and trims. . .

ruffles. . .

lace. . .

and fringe.

She even plays with threads. . .

and Texture Magic!

Yes, Mother Nature is a MASTER quilter!

Special thanks to my friend, Jan Mitchell, for all the wonderful photos used on this blog.

© Janis R. Mitchell and Annette L. Unrein — June 2009. All rights reserved.


  1. Wonderful pictures and great lessons for all of us. This world is beautiful.

  2. this is amazing, Annie!!! I thoroughly enjoyed this! Judy Brennan - Overland Park, KS

  3. That has to be one of the best blog entries ever! What a lot of work but so beautiful and really revealing. Thank you!

  4. Annie,
    What a beautiful post! The pictures are amazing. I think you should publish this as a quilt book. I would buy it and put it on my coffee table. I'm serious! Your writing was as serene as the pictures.

  5. Beautiful pictures, Annie
    Barbara J Mathison

  6. absolutely stunning! This brightened my entire day. Thank you,
    Tricia Livingstone

  7. Thank you for sharing these wonderful, impressing photos.Yes you are right : nature is amazing, we just have to open our eyes to see it. It is all around us and we can enjoy it for free.
    Just wanted to let you know that I´m Spain and your pics were enjoyed this far away.
    Thank you again for sharing. Monica -Spain

  8. Oh my, what a lovely lovely blog you have. These photos are so awesome, and your commentary is so right on! I am so grateful to generous souls such as yourself. Thank you. Best, Ani - a faithful Annie U fan ^.^

  9. I suggest you and your friend Jan Mitchell publish the photos and commentary! It could be an excellent small gift book for quilters. I loved it (especially the stipple picture, it was perfect!) Linda

  10. the pictures were stunning. Nature is so beautiful.

  11. This is one of the most inspiring and interesting posts I have ever EVER seen. Well done and thanks!!


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