Sunday, 30 April 2017

More Progress on the Victorian Couple

As you can see, I had massive problems to contend with.  Namely tone, quality of line for the faces and those dear windows...

I think I re-did the young fella's face about 5 times.  In the end I chose Gutterman's fine sewing thread and used a combination of straight stitches and couching.  I was still not sure about his face last night, but when I examined it this morning, I was surprised at my own success, because faces are hard and faces this small are really hard - one wrong move and you create the wrong expression, the wrong age, the wrong peek into his soul...

Books about portraiture are very helpful when it comes to working out how to do faces, because at each stage of our lives our facial structure changes.  One tiny mistake can mean disaster and I find when that happens, I like to start again.  Also with this chappie, notice his mouth is open and this is a very important part of this image, he's speaking to her and she's looking up and paying him attention, not the piano for that moment...

The whole time I was doing the face, I kept remembering the first time I saw this young man's face, and the funny thing was, it was his younger face that came through the image as I sewed it.  How sweet...

So that's sorted, now onto other things...

Then the windows gave me the most incredible amount of trouble.  I realised I needed the windows because the faces were being left white and they looked so white, I wanted to balance them out.?

Well of course, these dear windows start to steal the show and then need the most almighty push back.

I thought the windows were really going to tip the balance of the whole thing at one panic-stricken point, so that's when I decided to leave them alone, while I pegged down the young lady's face.  That took 3 attempts.  More so because I forgot I was using Guttenberg for the faces and plunged into using embroidery floss which was far too dark..

Her face still looks very dark but not compared to his and certainly not after I give her hair a lot of attention.  Hair is such fun to do!

I'm pleased with her face, or rather that its so understated by comparison to the young man's.  This is the correct note I wanted to strike e.g. he's visiting her, he has something to say and she is serene in contrast.  (As they drummed into me in art school all those years ago 'less is more'...)

Here's the image with the flash turned on.

This is a worthwhile endeavour in that it highlights the tonal problems of the piece.  Her dress is far too close in tone to the sky because I spent a long time evaluating sky tonal values while her dress was covered up.  But more than that, I did want her dress to remind him of the sky and I want his hair to remind her of'll see why in the end.  Its all about linking themes...

I was aiming for that association originally, but now I need to separate those ideas somewhat.  I'm still thinking about that and hope that by the time I've finished with the curtains, wooden patina of the piano and the decorative elements of her dress, then the whole thing will be OK.

But that's a long way off and a lot of work to do before I can be sure?  To assist me, I've looked at the image with all the swatches attached and viewed it from several distances, and even upside down.  So now I forge ahead...

In so doing however, I realised the piece has gone beyond the margins of the mount that I've lined up for it?  So now I'm thinking about some kind of border to encapsulate the whole thing and most importantly to hold in the bits I'll need to chop off and bring in line with the new dimensions I have to sort out.  

I have to rest a bit today though, as I noticed my index finger has a small blister.  I was never one to get along with a thimble...


Saturday, 29 April 2017

Two Posts in One Week - Whatever next?

Well, updates dont come much shorter than this.  Here's what I'm up to.
I was so pleased I managed to get the windows in, but alas, I must have been really tired by the time I tackled the gloss painting of the be sure, that section has to be re-done.

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Hello Everyone - I'm Back!

Well, its certainly been a long time and yes, I’m back.  

Pleased to say I’m well again and feel quite energetic once more (TG and all the angels…oh, and my own brains!) 

Not that I ever forgot y’all, and I certainly never left off what I was studying in needlework.  The thread really did continue and my exploration was always ticking away, always...

So, what I’ve decided to do this time round is not write really looooooooooong posts that drain every ounce of strength from my pre-frontal cortex, but instead make the needlework drive the posts, rather than the other way round…? 

Without trying to sound  immodest, you understand, I like to think I’ve made considerable personal progress, albeit intellectually, as regards certain mechanical problems in my needlework that keep popping up and were driving me personally to utter distraction….

Because of that, I knew I had to ‘go back to the drawing board’, trouble was I went back further and further and ended up, of all places, in the middle of the Cretaceous period? – I kid you not!  

Strange connection you might say, not really, because at the same time I was also re-designing my garden!

Ye old doodle cloth has been my trusty companion throughout.  Sorry no pictures of that bedraggled comfort blanket...haha. 

But you know, its funny how you start on a very private hunch that seems awfully like fretting, that can take you through quite a few months and yet at the end of the journey, eventually, you find you actually discovered something for yourself…So all that time spent away was not in vain.

I plan to return to all my previous projects and sort them out and this Victorian image is the one I decided to start with.

‘Motivation has to depend on emotion, if there isn’t emotion driving motivation, then it ain’t gonna happen’.
I heard that said recently, and realised that was what I needed to do, recall the original emotion that prompted the needlework idea and get back with the program!

Obviously, this one is extremely sentimental and speaks for itself. 

I have several problems with this piece and they only popped up as I went along and kept popping….

For starters, the padding of the shapes has brought all the curved areas forward to the same frontal axis.  Which is fine for a drawing, but is too confusing for a work that’s in relief, such as this. 

So I decided what I’ll need to do is make the relationship between the sleeve and the loose pleats of the skirt distinct. 

The way I decided to do this is the same as if it were a painting e.g. pick out areas of darker tone to push back shapes that are further from the centre of the image.  It may work, or it might be disastrous.  I decided to try a test section on a separate cloth first.  All I know is, I will have to do something about the problem, because otherwise the arm and the pleats will all have the same appearance…

Decoration and contrasting textures will help, but I need to press on, while at the same time think about how I will sort this one out?

I’ve also been working on Stem Stitch Filing as probably the most effective way I’ve found to fill a shape, if you want the the stitch direction to explain the form, like this leaf in the bottom left of the image:

As you can see, last year was my year for buttercups…

I like to think what’s different about these specimens is that I was trying to make ‘botanical’, rather than stylised depictions of the ‘Little Frog’, which is the translation of Ranunculus. 

Well, I have to rush off now, until next time xxx

P.S.  I hope this blog post comes out reasonably OK, as I've lost Live Writer and my computer is too old for the new Open Source version.