Reference photo for tapestry

SAL #4 ~ Portsea Cliff

I am a little late in getting this post out, but I have just picked up my computer.

I did a very silly thing. A friend supposedly sent me a message, via Messenger, about a video I was in. I am usually very wary about clicking links and I am far more likely to delete a message/email/link than click on it. The message didn’t seem my friend’s style, and I couldn’t image that she would have a video I would be in, but instead of the warning bells going off, I thought “Oh well, let’s see what it is”. Click!

Of course, her Facebook account had been hacked and the message sent to everyone. So, caution finally kicked in, and I took my laptop to the computer shop…just to be safe. Everything is okay. Phew! I am a couple of days older, much wiser and far more cautious, and a little bit poorer, as peace of mind costs money.

So, I haven’t had the computer for a few days and this Stitch-a-long post is a day or two late.

I have been working. My wild, freeform work is progressing well.

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As you can see I have worked on the bushes in the foreground. (The photo I am basing it on is the feature photo at the top of the post.) I used the same yarn, a variegated merino wool, as I used for the tree canopy. The stitches are random cross stitches. I wanted to keep them small to look like the small leafed foliage, and to make them different to the canopy. I enjoy the challenge of working the tones with the variegated yarn. Often the effects are quite serendipitous.

I left parts around the trunk. I can fill them in after I work on the trunk, as then I will be able to tell where the tones need to be.

I am moving on to the sand and cliff face next, and am really looking forward to working all those nooks and crannies in the face.

Thanks to everyone for your very encouraging comments on the last couple of SAL posts. I am part of a supportive group of embroiderers who regularly post about their personal stitching work. Do have a look at the others involved in the group, hosted by Avis, and be prepared to be amazed by their beautiful work! A welcome back to Connie.

Avis, Claire, Gun, Carole, Sue, Constanze, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Linda, Heidi, Jackie,Sunny, Hayley, Megan, Deborah, Mary Margaret, Renee, Jenny, Carmela, Jocelyn, Sharon, Daisy,Anne, Connie

(Apologies to those of you who blog at Blogger. I would love to leave a comment about your work, and I have tried, but I can’t. Is it something between Blogger and WordPress?)

Reference photo for tapestry

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

Playing, with purpose

I have been playing with fabrics this year, playing and stitching and fraying, to create abstracted tree tops.

I have been thinking of them as samplers, because then I didn’t have to worry about them being something real, something finished. There were smaller ones (10 x 10 cm) that I liked, larger ones (20 x 20 cm) that lacked tension and then 20 x 15 cm ones that I felt worked the best.

Then, I put a couple of the 20 x 20 ones together and thought “Hmmmm, how about three of them next to each other?” And they worked in a row when they didn’t work as singles. (Apologies for the terrible photo.)

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I put batting behind each square

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and then pinned everything onto the backing material ~ pins everywhere!

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Then it was time to tack it all down

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and hand stitch.

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You can see that I have continued the running stitches between the two panels. It was needed to unify the piece.

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Now, I can hear my quilting bloggy friends thinking “Ah, yes, I wondered when Anne would realise she was a quilter at heart”! There are certainly quilting aspects to this piece, and I have enjoyed putting it together.

I have a question for those quilters (and anyone else who wants to throw in their opinion into the ring 😉 )….. what do I do with the back of the piece? This is what it looks like, so you can see why it needs to be hidden. I am thinking of covering the back with the same fabric, but happy to take suggestions about something else ~ felt? I don’t want to machine sew it, and am sort of happy to hand sew it. But would some form of glue work? I don’t want it bleeding through to the front. Any thoughts very welcome.

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Embroidery ~ free form landscape

Winter textile work

When I create a post I write, add photos, edit and then press ‘publish’. Most of the writing has happened in my head, so I am usually happy with what I write. This post has been different; this is the third or fourth go. The post is about ‘where to next’ with my fabric art work, and as I wrote I learnt more about where I am going. Let me be more concrete…..

This is how I began, and I am satisfied with it as it is mostly straight forward.

In my last newsletter I was musing about the textile work I do in Winter. I try to keep that story telling part of the newsletter shortish, so I want to use this blog to work through some of the things I am thinking about.

I have always loved hand sewing. My early creative career as a bag maker was begun as a way to use the embroidery I was creating. Embroidery has run parallel to my painting, but since my return a couple of years ago from my artist in residency at Mountain Seas Resort on Flinders Island I have been more conscious about creating. Slowly I have been thinking more about where I want this to go. I will return to this in a moment, but let me show you what I am talking about.

There are two sorts of embroidery I am doing. One is on tapestry canvas. I have found beautiful merino wool from Fibreworks; it is the right weight for the work I am doing and Gill dyes the wool to create colours of the Australian bush. Perfect weight, perfect variegated colours. I use my photos for inspiration, set up some compositional guidelines and then sit on the couch, in the warmth and sew. You can read a tapestry post  here.

This is the sort of work I have been creating, works inspired by Flinders Island

and this from last year’s trip to Menindee

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This is my current work-in-progress, again inspired by the arid, salt-bush environment of Menindee. I think is much better than the earlier one.

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Then came this section, which is a second or third draft. What I wrote made me consider the options I had.

Which brings me to my deeper musings…..what am I going to do with these?  I have written a few drafts about this, and that process has helped resolve the question. I was going to ask “Should I do this [put them in my Etsy shop] or should I do that [exhibit them]”. Thinking it through has made me realise that I want to exhibit them.

Using the E-word (Exhibit) in public is a big one for me. I find it difficult to approach someone to say “My work is so good that you should exhibit it”. There is the risk of rejection, and there is fear of Pride. There is the inner voice telling me I am not ready yet, that I don’t have time, to wait until I have done bigger pieces. You know the reasons, as I am sure we all have that voice which tells similar excuses.

However, there is a council-run gallery that has applications to exhibit in one of their spaces, and that must be the Universe telling me to stop procrastinating and just do it. That universe is made up of everyone I know yelling out to me “Do It Anne!!!!”. I can hear you from here! So, yes, I will.

Which is where I stopped. Something wasn’t right. Then the Universe came up with a weekly newsletter from Sara Genn. This week she was responding to a query about being ready for exhibiting. Her advice shows that you can’t rely on the Universe for any meaningful guide to the way forward, as it was this section that resonated:

Have you got a few hundred paintings?
Select from this year’s production your best 20. If you haven’t got an embarrassment of riches to choose from, go back to your room and paint. Your shortlist should be thematic but varied in ideation and show an evolution of imagination, technique and skill.

That’s what is missing, my body of work. It’s not my inner critic saying “You’re not ready”, it is this true statement ~ I am not ready.

So, now to create those few hundred works…… Realistically that number is not going to happen. However I do need to have a body of work that I can show a gallery, rather than an idea backed up by one or two pieces.

I am (almost) ready to press ‘publish’ for this post and then go back to my creating. But just before I do…..I mentioned above that I am creating two sorts of fabric work, and I only showed you the tapestry-style ones. The others use stitching, organza and other fabric to make trees (no surprise there!). You can see them on my Instagram feed.

Have you had any experience with exhibiting, or preparing a folio? I’d love other from you.

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In my studio, December 2016

What’s happening in my studio?

Well, not much painting-wise. Like you, I have been busy with other interesting things that this time of the year throws up, including a very interesting talk by Dr. Tom May, who spoke about “From mushrooms to the mycobiome”. But that’s not what this post is about…..

My Cullen painting is at the same stage as last month. It’s not going to be finished in 2016. 😦

I have sent off my #stitchingsanta parcels. It is a fun idea organised by Sheila at Sewchet. Back in October she sent out an invitation to play along this year. I love making connections around the world, so I was in. I asked for two people ~ a sewing and a knitting/crocheting secret santa. Then Sheila’s email arrived telling me who I was going to collect for. I had so much fun collecting things. But challenged too. They need to be things the present-opener would like, as well as having an Australian theme and flat enough to go through the post as a letter. I think I did well, but, as it is a secret, all I can show you is this…..

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In my studio I have some new treasures……

I can never go far without picking up something to bring home. These caught my eye on the path near the Botanic Gardens. I love how the weighty seedpods contrasts with the delicate wings, the smooth and the finely textured, the green and the pink, the shadow and the light ~ all this in one little miraculous package.

The other treasure is a print from my very talented friend Melanie Lazarow. I saw her recent exhibition and enjoyed her abstracts. Some are large and a wild mixture of vivid colours, some are small with detailed geometric shapes. She is also a wonderful photographer and her passion is recording how people fight against injustice. However, it was this print that cried out to go home with me.

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Image copyright: Melanie Lazarow

I love the colours in it, its moodiness, and of course the plants.

While my Cullen painting has been languishing, I have made progress with my embroidery.

It is such a different process to my botanic art. When painting I know exactly how I want the final image to be. The point of botanic art is to replicate the plant in fine detail. Many of the decisions about composition, colour, tone, the process and so on are made before I start. Major problems I encounter during the painting process have usually arisen because I haven’t thought through issues at the beginning. The colour may be wrong or I haven’t really considered how I am going to paint those fine hairs or realise that the original drawing was incorrect.

The embroidery is so different. I have an idea of how it is going to be at the end, as I often work from a photo, but that only gives me the broad outlines, the shape of the tree or where the sky is going to be. I am always problem solving as I go. What stitch is best to make this look like grass? How am I going to show the highlight? Is my yarn giving me the tones that I want? Why don’t I try this thread? So many ‘What if….?’ questions. And I love that about it. It’s playful.

So….what’s happening in your creative space? You will notice that I am not saying “studio” except in the title. I like the sound of it there! Creative space is much wider ~ I’m thinking studio, kitchen table, sketchbook, computer, note book, anywhere you create. And I am not limiting it to painters. Writers and quilters, printers and poets, everyone is welcome.

And it doesn’t have to be a final, well rounded piece. It can be, but it might also be a look at what you are working on, a tip, a technique, a new piece of equipment. It might be a photo of your work space or your inspiration board. Or even an inspirational quote!

Leave a comment below with a link to your blog post, Instagram photo, Facebook entry….whatever.