The weather has been so warm and sunny recently (hip hip hooray!) that I’ve been feeling the need to use lots more yellow in my textile experiments – to be truthful the urge to use yellow started last year when we went to Andalucia and were submerged into a wonderful world of sunbaked olive groves, mountain slopes and goat tracks through fields of vegetation so dry they positively crackled in the sweltering heat. There were amazing thistles and grasses that I’d never seen before, in many shades of gold, ochre, creamy yellow and rusty brown. Apart from all this wondrous plant life, I think yellow epitomises the sunlight so bright it makes you temporarily blinded when you go back into shaded room. It’s the vibrancy and the light-heartedness of yellow that speaks to me at the moment.
I’ve started having a go at using stitching for shading techniques – using different patterns of stitches to create backgrounds and visual shadows on leaves. The one’s I’ve done so far have been manual using either satin stitch or pre-programmed machine stitches (mainly quilting stitches) but there is a lot of scope for doing digitized ones too. I’m playing around with the idea of stitching onto painted fabric (silk so far) and then painting areas again to alter the tonal values. I’m going to have a go at stitching this “shading” onto fabrics first then cutting out the shapes and appliqueing them on so their edges are sharper.
I wanted to try out stitching an outline first in a dark colour onto blank silk then painting inside the outline. A bit like colouring in a drawn shape as you would do on paper. This can look quite nice especially if the painting inside the outline isn’t too dark either – a bit like a watercolour wash. But I noticed that the outline can look a bit thin and weedy especially when viewed from a distance if it’s just one line of machine running stitch. This can be remedied by making the outlines thicker – I’ve used fme on mine but I could also use couching, satin stitch (trickier on difficult shapes) or a digitized outline – which has tons of possibilities for interesting patterns with tiny motifs. I like the way the paint has partially soaked into the stitch outline to blend it into the background a bit.
I’ve also been mixing in hand stitching on some shapes with free machine embroidery to merge them together. Something I started doing on my recent peacock painting. I think it looks great and I’d like to develop it further by bulking up the hand-stitching even more so it doesn’t sink and get flattened as much by machine embroidery. I’ll be investigating some methods of doing this and see which one is the most successful.
Here are a few progress shots of the samples.