My art work Texture

SAL Portsea Cliff #3 and a starting point for freeform embroidery

Well, I have been beavering away on the background undergrowth. I wanted to create the rounded shape of the bushes without being too detailed. The lighter yarn helps to add the illusion of highlights on the tops of the bushes.

Anne Lawson textile artist

The overall view shows me just working my way around the background, either using random stitches or a very loose form of cross stitch.

tree tapestry

I am happy so far. However, I am not sure what to do with the next elements. The tree (the blobby space in the centre) is the focal point, and so it need to be quite a contrast to the rest of the foliage. At the same time while the foliage on the right side of the tree is lighter than the background I have done, I don’t want it to compete with the tree. (The header photo on the post is the photo I am working from. Looking at that might make more sense!) I think I will have to work my way around the areas, looking to see what looks right and what doesn’t.

Thank you to everyone who left such supportive comments on my last SAL post. I got the feeling that some people would like to give freeform embroidery a go, but were not quite sure of where and how to start. A way to dip your toe in is by creating samplers.

An inspiration for my more over-the-top freeform style was Stitch Magic by Jean Littlejohn.

Jean encourages the stitcher to play with different stitches ~ exaggerating, layering, using different yarns and threads. So I did.

They are a small 10 x 10 cm square. Easy to play, without feeling daunted by filling a larger size. Little samplers that don’t have to be anything but experiments.

I love to use tapestry canvas, as it handles the bigger yarns, and I can work boldly and quickly. However, you could do exactly the same with linen or any other backing. Draw out a small square and see what your favourite stitch can do.

Which has made me think…maybe the trunk of the tree would work well if I couched it? Hmmm…..

A big thank you to Avis, who organises this stitch-a-long. We post on the third Sunday of the month, local time. I think, like me, you will be blown away by the beautiful work that the other stitchers create. Jump over and have a look, but remember, the time zone may be different.

AvisClaireGunCaroleSueConstanzeChristinaKathyMargaretCindyHelenLindaHeidiJackieSunnyHayleyMeganDeborah, Clare, Mary MargaretReneeJennyCarmelaJocelynSharonDaisyAnne

48 replies on “SAL Portsea Cliff #3 and a starting point for freeform embroidery”

your photo of the focal point – looks like it has “lights” on the top foliage, but a slightly different green to the surroundings and the inner/lower parts more grey/brown where I guess the sun doesn’t reach so well through the canopy to those branches/foliage…

so happy that your are back in the artist’s saddle and having time to create…


You are right Catherine. There are highlights on the tree. I have a variegated green yarn that I will try. Hopefully the lighter parts of the yarn will be light enough. I not, I will try another yarn. As you know, it’s all an experiment!


I read your comment Margaret, and had to go back and look at the beautiful work you added into the Travelling Sketchbook. It was a beautiful piece of free-embroidery ~ your interpretation of mountains and water. And then those delightful mini-works on the other page. I would have to disagree that free-form work is out of your comfort zone!


I love that bottom sampler piece, with the swirly greeny blue at the bottom and the pink and grey above; such a great colour combo and the contrast in the stitches is lovely. Would it help to ‘interpret’ the colour of the foliage a little rather than being accurate. A blueish grey-green tinge to the foliage might give enough contrast with the yellower/browner shades around it?


I did that sampler by the Murray River, looking at the trees across the river. I am glad you like it too.
I have a variegated yarn that I am trying. It’s quite green, moving to a lighter shade, so I will give it a go.

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It certainly occupies my brain! I am also enjoying working slowly on it, thinking it through. Usually I just charge on with a “this will do” attitude. It usually works, so I wonder is working slower will create anything different.


I think either some gray green or yellow green tones would be in order to bring focus to that tree. I can’t wait to see how you do the trunk! Your samplers are so much fun, the colors and variety of stitches make them quite interesting to study!


Some of the little squares worked better than others…but that’s the nature of them. If they don’t work, no worries and if they look good, that’s a bonus! The detailed work you do is beautiful!

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I have never been very good at painting inside the lines! It is amazing what can be done with a piece of yarn and a backing. Every artist will have a different way to use the same things to create.

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I love to see the way you paint with stitches! Thank you for the link to Stitch Magic! I´ll definitely look it up, because I have wanted to do something like this for a long time 🙂


I’ve seen a couple of those books by Jean and her cohort. I don’t need another rabbit hole to fall down into! I’m sure you’ll come up with a solution for your tree, although it may take a few attempts. Art is all about experimentation after all!


Brave Anne, surrendering to your needle and thread and going where they take you! Tiny seascapes and landscapes appearing on these tiny pieces of canvas. Very clever.


I’m almost speechless with how beautiful your work is. It also somehow makes me feel tense because I know a blank canvas — like a blank page — makes me freeze up! In 2020 I plan to teach myself embroidery stitches as a way to get more relaxed and dip a toe into freeform work. I’m so happy you have joined with SAL to inspire me even more!


Oh, thank you so much (and sorry to be so slow in replying to you). I would find it very difficult without a photo to inspire me, so I understand the fear of the blank canvas. The advantage of free form embroidery is that you don’t have to be precise or count threads. The samplers are a good, non-threatening place to start because they are just playing.


Thank you! Your comment about Instagram was good to hear. Sometimes I wonder that photos of the unfinished work is not stylish enough. Then I try to remind myself that it is about substance, not superficial style. I am glad you like them too!


Nothing like a good natter, so let's have a chat!

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