Saturday 1 May 2021

Color Theory: Flights of Fancy

Color Theory was a rather broad topic, and I went all different directions with it. I searched for inspiration on Pinterest, and something triggered a memory of a mixed flight of finches we kept some many years ago. This was pre-digital camera days, and so I didn't have any pictures of our birds. However, I was able to find all the images I needed on Creative Commons, where images are available for use free of charge with proper attribution. Any images used from the site have been attributed to the original photographer in keeping with the requirements of Creative Commons. 

Our flight included a pair of Owl finches. They have the sweetest owl-like faces. 

Image source: "Owl Finch" by guppiecat is licensed with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

Also in our flight were a pair of Strawberry finches. They have the most beautiful song.

Image credit: "A Strawberry Finch in the evening's golden light" by Hari K Patibanda is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

For purposes of this challenge, however, I wanted to talk about the pair of Gouldian Finches we kept in our mixed flight. These are the most beautiful birds. They come in all colors. Our pair consisted of a red-headed male, and a black-headed female.

Image source: "Mareeba. A pair of Gouldian Finches. They are on the endangered list and almost extinct. Mareeba has a breeding program." by denisbin is licensed with CC BY-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

They were a breeding pair. We often found their little eggs in the bottom of the cage. The eggs were approximately the size of a peanut M&M. Consulting with our friends in the Rose City Exotic Bird Club, it was suggested we provide them with a nesting basket like the one pictured below.

Image source: "Gouldian Finch" by Peter Radunzel is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

After several tries, they successfully raised a brood of three chicks. It takes several weeks for the chicks to "color up," and they start with fairly uniform gray feathers. 

Image source: "Lady Gouldian Finch - Baby" by Geek2Nurse is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

As they matured, we wondered what colors we would end up with. Surprisingly, they raised a red-headed female. We called her Lucille (after that famous red-head, Lucille Ball).

Image Credit: "Gouldian Finch" by Bernard Spragg is marked under CC0 1.0. To view the terms, visit

There was also a black-headed male. There was something wrong with his feet, and he couldn't sit on a perch. We called him "Tiny Tim."

Image Credit: "Gouldian Finch" by mtsn is licensed with CC BY-NC 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

The third was an orange-headed female. We called her "Penny," for the copper pennies of American coins.

Image Credit: 
"Gouldian Finch @ Jurong Bird Park" by _paVan_ is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit

So when the Gouldian finches came into my mind, I realized they included all of the colors of the color wheel, and I endeavored to make a little "mixed flight" quilt of the birds in our flight. 

To do this, I first created a composite of all three birds, and then traced out a transparency to use for creating applique pieces. The individual birds were first constructed on a pressing sheet.

When each bird was complete, I peeled it off the pressing sheet and fused them to a background. Also, I had to bring their individual perches together on a single branch. It was hard selecting a background piece that wouldn't be too busy to show off their colors.

From there I added two borders...

and my quilt top was complete.

Each bird was given a little seed bead "eye spot," which brings more life to the eyes. Their beaks were shaded with crayon.

The edges of the applique were stitched down with invisible thread. I do this after adding the batting, but before adding the quilt back. The stitching holds the batting in place, and then I do more quilting after the back is added.

I quilted a sort of leafy meander in the background.

More leafy motifs were added in the two borders.

From there, it was ready for binding, and my quilt was complete. I call this quilt "Flights of Fancy." It ends up at 24 x 28 inches.

Here's how it looks from the back:

I had great fun making this quilt, and the trip down memory lane was well worth it. Our sons were young when our birds were raising their chicks, and so it was a fun process to witness along with our boys. I hope you like my quilt! I'm looking forward to see what the rest of you came up with. 


  1. Love this. The birds really pop off of the lovely background fabric you have chosen.
    So vibrant and happy and I can imagine birdsong just looking at it.

  2. I think that we all found this a rather broad subject :-). We've all had such a different approach to it and I love where it took you! This is a stunning quilt - so much thought has gone into the detail including the quilting, the rainbow colours which really enhance your birds, the tropical green and yellows, and your choice of background fabric that just works so well.

  3. Those birds are adorable -in "person" and in the quilt! Isn't it interesting how many of us turned to books and internet articles to get our creative juices flowing? That's why I love this group; every quarter is a new learning experience, individually and as a group. A birdie with "all the colors!" Who knew?

    1. Also, I didn't now you could quilt just the top and batting first!

  4. Beautiful rendition of those birds and great idea for the challenge.

  5. I loved hearing about your flight of finches and seeing all the photos you found. They really are beautiful little birds and your quilt illustrates them with amazing accuracy. I also think you background is perfect. This is a wonderful art work to remind you them :)

  6. What an inventive idea for this theme Barbara, brilliantly executed too :)

  7. This is a very creative and fun way to capture the Color Theory theme, and I learned something new, too. Having assumed that the baby birds would "match" the parents, it was fun to see that the baby birds are a bit of surprise as they hatch. Your quilt really turned out nicely!

  8. This is just superb!
    When I read the theme "Color Theory", I just thought about making a piece that straightforwardly illustrated the idea, sort of like a technical illustration in a science book. It never occurred to me to apply the idea of color theory to a different subject entirely. I love the way you have done that, and I think it embodies what "art quilt" means. I hope that insight stays with me because my work would be richer for it! :)

    1. Aw...thank you! I struggle to think of myself as an artist, so your comment is appreciated.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.