Yes, Finally, all of the body pieces are working together and creating the depth of field that I’m looking for. With the face in place, I add some hair.
Yuck, that hair looks a bit too much like a helmet, but I’ll fix that when the background is in place. I rehearsed several fabrics for the background and settled on a piece that I made a few years ago in a dye/print/paint surface design class that I took with Susan Brooks in Louisville, CO.
Periodically, I take a class that is out of my comfort zone, just to learn some new things and get a fresh perspective. That was Susan’s class. I came home with lots of interesting pieces of fabric with no idea what would ever come of them.
How happy am I to find the perfect background in that stash of “experimental” fabrics.
Now, back to that hair….
This is better. Phase 1: Fusing is complete.
I’ve reached a place with my latest piece where I need to finalize a color scheme before moving on. So far, I’ve only chosen fabrics for the flesh. As I put these various body parts together, I’ve got to fill in the other elements of the composition (ie. dress, phone, background, hair.) I use my Itten Color Star to work this out.
This Color Star is my favorite color wheel for making these kinds of decisions. It comes with a full set of templates that let me block out colors I don’t want to use and let’s me get a better sense of what colors I will be incorporating.
The hair is going to include yellow and yellow-oranges, while the phone will be blue-green, and her dress will be blue.
No decisions on the background yet, I’m going to put the figure all together and let it talk to me (or perhaps text me).
This week I’m able to complete the body along with the hand holding the phone. I’ve dipped into my special stash for the phone. It is made from some hand marbled fabrics I picked up in Venice back in the 90’s.
Placing the face with the body, I have a real sense of progress. I’m not sure about the darkness of the upper body, but I’m going to move forward. I’ll audition some background fabrics before I decide whether or not to replace the body with lighter values.
The fusing has begun. This week I was able to put together the hand for “We Don’t Talk”. It is created from warm red-orange flesh tones that I hope will pop off the surface and give it a real “in your face” feeling. For greater realism, I’m working with 7, rather than my standard 5 values.
Next, the face emerges from those cooler red-violet fabrics. You can begin to see that there is a significant contrast in the temperature of these 2 features. I hope it works as planned.
I’m liking the detail in the eyes and mouth.
Next week I hope to fuse the body and put the pieces together.
Oh joy!!! I’ve finished something in less than a month; 2 1/2 weeks actually. It’s such a thrill to jump into a project and just breeze through to the end. With this piece, I took a break from thread painting and just did some dense stitching. The new challenge was to establish some designs that would fit with each element of the composition.
The blonde hair of the girl was easy. I used various values of yellow threads in long, undulated lines of stitching.
Next, similar, but shorter, wavy lines were put down with some variegated threads in a pattern that alluded to the hair of the dog. Several times I had to stop and pet my dear Coco’s face in order to really understand the changing direction of her hair. She didn’t mind too much.
Stitching the face was a leap of faith. It is so tricky to stitch the face! If you try to recreate the actual contours, and the lines aren’t just right, it throws off the perceived shape and makes the face look distorted. I decided to go in a completely new direction: loop-d-loops. I covered the entire face in a small repetitive design that had nothing to do with its shape or contour. I still varied the threads, letting the values do the work. I’m really pleased with the results.
The background was the most troublesome decision, just as with choosing the fabric. The print was complex and busy. Afraid that it would become too strong and overpower other elements, I didn’t want to stitch the printed design. I came up with a wandering ribbon design with a tiny meandering stitch to fill in the spaces. I feel like the 2 patterns of the fabric and stitching sort of neutralize each other and take away their power to dominate.
This week I’ve jumped back into my art with gusto. I’m tired of being on hold. I need to be creative!! With a 4-day weekend and plans to pack and move postponed (again!) it was time to make up for lost time.
This past week has been devoted to making a piece titled “Puppy Love”. I’ve done smaller versions of this piece in the past for small art auction donation pieces, but this one is big and bold.
It started with a selfie taken by my step-daughter, Maya with our little dachshund, Coco. While previous versions were printed on fabric and thread-painted, this one is raw-edge fused appliqué and 30″ x 40″.
A couple of marathon work days, and the piece was nearly completed. Selecting the background fabric had me stalled for day as I just couldn’t decide. I took audition photos with my phone and toggled back and forth between the shots until I was able to make a decision.
Now, it’s on to the stitching. I’m going to try something new and will share that with you next week. Check back in next week.
I’ve just finished a new piece titled “Simple Pleasures”. It features a young boy named Indigo who is celebrating his 6th birthday and is thrilled with his new plastic horse. How wonderful to find such pleasure in something that has no bells, whistles, screens, login, or even batteries.
In this weeks video, I show you how to check the size, location, and dimensions of facial features so that the face looks realistic and well proportioned.
This piece was a chance for me to try a bolder color scheme. I like the energy and vibrancy of it. Below are process photos to show how the piece came together.
This is my second video on how to use the Golden Mean Calipers. This week I show you how use them to crop a photo around a focal point so that the outer dimensions are harmonious and the subjects in the composition are well placed. These calipers are available in my web store. If you find these videos interesting or helpful, subscribe so that you get notified whenever I post a new one. I’m trying to do this once a week until I run out of things to say—like that could ever happen.
When I thread paint, I rely on the thread to do the bulk of the work. My technique allows me to blend colors and create subtle shading and contours, as if I were working with paint. In my process I find that there is an OTZ (Optimum Thread Zone). Stitching below the zone creates what I consider dense quilting, and stitching above the zone overloads the fabric and causes it to expand and buckle.
With this in mind, I consider the facelift that is needed by my horse. As mentioned last week, the shape of the nose needs some adjusting. However, having applied heavy stitching to the face already, there is a limited amount of thread that can be added without exceeding the OTZ. This means I need to get it right, right away.
In the original photo, the horse is moving his head as the photo is snapped, so it is blurred and doesn’t provide the details that I need. It is off to the internet to find images of horse heads that face the right direction, at a similar angle, and in the right light. I also look to reference books of paintings done by several Western artists.
Next, I place a clear plastic sheet over the face of my horse and outline its shape and key lines with a red marker. That sheet is then set on a white background where black lines indicate where stitching is to be added or changed. In this way, I can audition the additional stitching, erase, and redo as needed until it’s right.
Back at the longarm frame, I keep this plastic sheet handy and begin the facelift. In addition to creating a more boxy snout, highlights were added around the nostril and above the eye to give them more depth.