I love the spontaneity of improvisational piecing and the unpredictable sense of movement and liveliness it adds to quilt designs. One approach I've enjoyed in recent years is to start with a few basic design features and a rough idea of block placement, and then to fill in the space between design elements or otherwise experiment with block arrangements in order to achieve a desired visual effect that is both structured and improvised. In this case, I began with the Gee's Bend-inspired quilt technique of VMQG member Paul K., which he has used to produce a series of vibrant quilts with a powerful graphic sense. I made six improv-pieced log cabin blocks, each around 18" square, whacked them apart, and then started playing.
I originally thought I would use a block configuration similar to Paul's, but when I tried it out, it just didn't work. I think that between the relatively low contrast of the blues and the grays and the busyness of the prints, my first effort just didn't produce the kind of strong graphic impact that I wanted. With the square in a square arrangement, the different non-gray fabrics reinforced each other much more convincingly, so I decided on the four large blocks in the center (each formed from four whacked blocks), with a linear arrangement of individual whacked blocks on the sides, and semi-random bits of filler where needed for additional visual appeal and complexity.
I'm thrilled with the results thus far, and I'm looking forward to getting this thing basted and quilted.