Tag Archives: faces and hands

Body Work

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.

Color Scheme

Color Scheme

 

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.

A body to go with the hands

A body to go with the hands

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.

A face with the body

A face with the body

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Talk to the Hand

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.

The hand

The hand

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.

The face

The face

I’m liking the detail in the eyes and mouth.

Next week I hope to fuse the body and put the pieces together.

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Thread Painted Features in Quilting Arts Magazine

The latest issue of Quilting Arts magazine in now available. It contains the next article in my series on thread-painted facial features. I believe this article is on twitching the mouth. Look for it on pg. 39. To purchase a copy follow this link: http://www.interweavestore.com/quilting-arts-june-july-2016 .

_QA81_Front_Cover_WEB

Below is a description provided by the publisher.  The bold type was added by me…and why not?

You’ll love this if:

  • You are looking for art quilt inspiration for this summer.
  • You want to learn new techniques, including embroidery, surface-design, and quilting motifs.
  • You want to be inspired and encouraged by fellow quilt and fiber artists.

Get ready for summer with art quilt inspiration and technique tutorials! Inside the pages of the June/July 2016 issue of Quilting Arts Magazine you’ll find all of this and so much more. Discover techniques to take your embroidery to the next level with free-stitched Embroideries by Laura Wasilowski. She shows you how to take small vignettes of everyday life and hand stitch without a patterm. Discover how to dye beautiful fabrics using ice with Susan Purney Mark. Beautifully dyed fabrics will come to life. You are the designer! Details are drilled in on with Applique Portraits with Lea McComas. This issue is packed full and it doesn’t stop here, travel “up up and away” with results from the “What’s Your Super Power?” Reader Challenge. Whether perfecting a technique or falling in love with a new project, this issue is a must have!

Order your copy of Quilting Arts Magazine June/July 2016 today and be inspired by more than 25 stunning art quilts.

Quilt artists featured in this issue:

  • Sandi Colwell
  • Julie B. Booth
  • Lea McComas
  • Susan Purney Mark and many more!
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Fused Applique Portrait Class

My Fused Applique Portrait class at CraftU begins March 7. There is still time to sign up. Here’s a link if you are interested:

Fused Raw-Edge Applique Portraits

https://www.craftonlineuniversity.com/courses/fused-raw-edge-applique-portraits

 Here are some samples of portraits done with this technique:

portrait-Jim Lea applique portrait

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Is Your Face in the Right Place?

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.

Golden Mean Calipers Pt 3: Facial Features

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.

Face and Hands

Face and Hands

Shirt and shorts

Shirt and shorts

Horse in Hands

Horse in Hands

Thread-painted face

Thread-painted face

Finished piece

Finished piece

 

 

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See Me on The Quilt Show

I recently taped an episode of TheQuiltShow.com with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims.  Subscribers to that website got to see that episode last week.  Many thanks to those of you that sent kind words through email and Facebook.

sitting talking

Photo by Gregory Case

Now, I can share a link to that show with the rest of you. Click on the link here and you can watch too.

Watch The Show

This link will work until May 11, so make a cup of tea and sit back to enjoy.

Let me know what you think Also, for those of you that subscribe to The Quilt Show, I have a new series of lessons in the “Classroom” section of the website.  This course is on “Contemporary Batik”  If you’ve ever wanted to try batik, but were afraid of the mess, check out this class.  It will be FUN, and EASY!! http://thequiltshow.com/learn/classrooms FTI: you have to be a subscriber to the website to access this class.

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Just the Right Face

Too much shadow.

Too much shadow.

The second figure has come together, but I don’t like the face.  Even though it is turned away from the viewer, it is still important to get it right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hair and face distinguished.

Hair and face distinguished.

First, I don’t like that the head is a solid black shape as it creates too much shadow.  Replacing part of that black shape with brown helps to distinguish the hair from the face.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

reference tools

reference tools

With that done, my attention now turns to the line of the profile. To make it accurate I  refer back to a drawing I did for my book showing the correct placement of features.  I hang it next to my fused image. BONUS: the drawing happens to be almost the same size as face of my rider.  Using a ruler I hang in front of the fused face, I place pins to mark important benchmarks: top and bottom of the head, bridge of the nose, bottom of the nose.

 

 

 

 

From there, I make some nips and tucks and put the best face forward.

Now its right!

Now its right!

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Better than Wrinkle Cream

One of the things I’ve learned in my challenge to create great portraits in thread is that subtle value changes can make a big difference.  Sometimes the effort to define facial features leads one to over define, or to define with thread that is darker than necessary.  Here are two examples of a portrait I did of a woman I photographed in eastern Turkey.  She was a member of a nomadic Turkeman tribe that I visited in my travels back in the 90’s

photo 116In the first photo, you can see that the crease running from her nose around the corner of her mouth, known as the nasolabial furrow,  is stitched with a dark thread, one that is more than one value shade darker than the surrounding area.  It is harsh and makes her appear older and, well, a little harsh.

 

 

 

 

 

Consider the next option where the details are stitched in a lighter thread, one that is just one shade darker than the surrounding area.  The details are not as strong, making the subject appear younger (relatively), and visually, the results are more pleasing.  This is a case where less is more.

photo 117

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Bloopers-Part 2: Know When to Walk Away

As I blog about my bloopers, my plan was to start small and build to the big one. However, the really big goof up is like an elephant

1st Lt. Jacob Wright

1st Lt. Jacob Wright

in the room. There is no space in my head to process words about anything else, but coming clean on this is embarrassing and it has taken me 2 weeks to decide that I have the ego strength to share this.

If confession is good for the soul, then here goes…

The hardest thing about thread painting faces is getting a big beautiful smile to look right. My nephew, Jake, graduated from college this spring and was commissioned as a US Army Officer. This was a huge achievement and I wanted to honor him with a portrait in my book. Here is the picture from which I worked.

 

I know, I know, he is right in the center, directly facing us, with a great big smile. I should have walked away, but pride wouldn’t let me.  The only thing that could make this more difficult would be facial hair.

"The mouth is weird."

“The mouth is weird.”

 

When I finished stitching, I sent a picture to my sister Hope, who is tactful, yet, brutally honest and she called me out, “Great! but his mouth looks weird.”

 

Can't get it right.

Can’t get it right.

 

 

I tried several times to do some corrective stitching: add highlights, adjust accents, but it just got worse, and worse, and worse, until the piece was so thick is created a muzzle. I’d show various attempts, but I’ve already destroyed the evidence.

Hmmm, pondering life's challenges.

Hmmm, pondering life’s challenges.

 

Sometimes, it is best to accept defeat. So I gave up and started over… with a profile shot.

 

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Bloopers and Out Takes-Part 1

Too dark too soon

So, about my book, The Thread Painted Portrait… Just talked with my editor and it on schedule to be available by the end of October.  As I mentioned a few weeks ago, getting there hasn’t been without its challenges.  The creation of several new portrait pieces was a necessary part of the process.  Each phase or step was photographed to illustrate my process. The book, of course, will only contain the successes, but, to be honest, there were some bloopers and out takes.  While it is uncomfortable to reveal ones flaws and weaknesses to the world, thre is some learning to be gained from it. I’m going to share some of those with you in the blog over the next few weeks.

replacement thread choice

replacement thread choice

One of the pieces that caused me some heartburn was the Turkeman Crone.  All went well until the stitching.  I attempted to simplify the process and work her face in just 5 threads.  My mistake was with these thread choices where I went from light to dark too quickly.  The result was that she appeared to disappear in shadow.

Original photo

Original photo

You can see from the original photo, that this was not the case.  I was able to do a bit of course creation by over stitching with a lighter thread.  Of course, had I intended to create the shadow effect,  this would have been a brilliant move.

Finished portrait

Finished portrait

Hmmmmm, I like being brilliant, so perhaps its time to edit my version of reality.

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