Sunday 1 May 2016

Four in Art: Colour & Music - Rhapsody in Blue

Welcome to the latest reveal for Four-in-Art.  We are a group of quiltmakers who take turns to choose an annual theme as inspiration for a quarterly quilt.  Our theme for this year's quilts is 'Colour', and we have added a quarterly sub-theme - this time it's 'Music'.

These were great themes to think about.  They make an interesting combination because there is one particular form of synaesthesia where music and colour are linked and particular keys or sounds are experienced in colour.  While I was thinking about this my daughter's piano teacher mentioned in passing that she associates keys with colours - for example C major is red and gold.  The colour/music relationship in synaesthesia would make a lovely theme for a quilt and I'm keeping that in the back of my mind!

However my first Four-in-Art quilt for the 'Colour' theme explored the possibilities of monochrome black and white and for the second quilt I was interested in then moving on to one colour and focussing on that. I thought I would choose a piece of music and try to express the mood of it in a quilt.  The obvious choice was Rhapsody in Blue by Gershwin which is one of my favourite pieces.   The choice of colour was already in the title, and so I just had to think about the images it evokes.

Gershwin described it as "a sort of musical kaleidoscope of America, of our vast melting pot, of our unduplicated national pep, of our metropolitan madness".   It's been used as soundtrack music in the films Manhattan and The Great Gatsby but even before I saw them it sounds to me as if it opens on a big city at night - it sounds decadent and seductive and busy.    In the first performance of Rhapsody in Blue Gershwin improvised some of his playing and so I decided to make an improvised quilt with the idea of a night-time cityscape in mind.

Here is Rhapsody in Blue.

I know there is a pictorial quilt in me but at the moment I'm quite interested in making quilts which could be abstract or have a meaning.  In this quilt the flying geese could represent roofs, the gold squares lit windows and the circle could be a moon. The odd shape is a motif from an art deco building contemporary with the music and I liked it because it could also represent a trumpet which plays one of the themes.

I used shot cottons in various colours but where the warp thread is always blue and supplemented it with all that was left of some treasured gold metallic silk for city sparkle.   The quilt is partly pieced with added fused applique.   

 I quilted in the ditch, and around the central panel.  I thought I should stop there but am tempted to go back in again and do some more quilting round the shapes - there is always the fear of making things worse though!

We have a blog, Four-in-Art Quilts, but please do visit the other Four-in-Arters here!
Simone (not taking part this month)


  1. THis is a wonderful quilt Catherine: You worked well with the different blues and I find the different shapes of square triangle and circle work wonderfully together. The balance is very nice. You are giving me some inspiration here.

  2. Catherine,
    I'm loving your abstract quilts, as they are so inspiring to me how you work the themes in so succinctly. I, too, love Gerschwin's song, and your idea about the trumpet/art deco motif really "sings" to me. The different blues, and the gold all combine to bring up that jazzy feel of the music. This is terrific, and I love it!

  3. This is a very nice piece. Not knowing the background, upon viewing it I would quickly think city at night. The different blue squares kept my eyes moving and examining.

    Blue seems to have been the color of a few of us.

  4. Catherine, I really like this piece. I saw the roofs, or trees, and the moon and even buildings before you suggested they were there. The whole piece has a beautiful shine and movement to it. Lovely. And I can't believe you are the third of us to mention hearing/seeing colors with music!

  5. Your pieces are ALWAYS inspirational Catherine! I love your Rhapsody In Blue- graphic and bold, but with blue, it has a peaceful quality to it! Congratulations- you nailed it!

  6. Yet another beautiful rendition Catherine! I love the way you used blue warp fabrics to carry across the blue theme. A really nice riff on the composition.

  7. This is a beautiful quilt, Catherine. I love the way the gold shapes are both harmonious and contrasting with all those blues. I think you've got a perfect balance of being abstract whilst conjuring up images of the cityscape. I think you've really created a 'picture' of that music :)

  8. I'm such a fan of Gershwin, shot cottons, metallic, and music in general. This is really lovely.

  9. Catherine, I love your interpretation and your backstory is great as well. Shot cottons, somehow, always tell a deeper intensity and your placement is spot on. And while further quilting could be fun, I wonder what Gershwin would do??!! Great job!

  10. Catherine, I love your interpretation and your backstory is great as well. Shot cottons, somehow, always tell a deeper intensity and your placement is spot on. And while further quilting could be fun, I wonder what Gershwin would do??!! Great job!

  11. What a perfect combination of title and quilt, and you always do abstract so well. Love those shot cottons, they just seem to glow with their intense colour.


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