Friday, January 2, 2015

From Photo To Sketch To Fabric

      My art group, ArtsEtc, meets once a month except for July because that meeting falls on the July 4th weekend. This past summer, a small group of us decided to meet at my house that weekend and take a walk at a local park and take photos for inspiration. I came away with photos of Spanish moss hanging from large live oak trees, and close-up shots of beautiful textures on leaves and bark. The sunlight of the early morning left wonderful patterns peaking through the foliage as we walked down the shaded path towards the lake. Suddenly, the trees opened up before us when reached lake and this is one of the many photos I took as an osprey sat on one of the piers as it fed on a fish it recently caught that morning.
early morning on the lake
     I knew that I wanted to capture this moment in my art somehow. It was very quiet. I could hear the water lapping against the piers. I could hear some birds in the distance. No traffic noise at all. No wind. None of us spoke.
     So at my sketching group, I made a few sketches with this photo as the focal point. Some were more realistic. Some were more abstract. I eventually settled on one that I liked a lot that is a stylized landscape.
     I got out my monoprinted fabrics from here and some older ones and started laying them out on my design board to fit into the sketch background. That was the easy part. The harder part was to figure out how to translate the lines I had drawn on the sketch into fabric. I could couch them on with fibers, I could do bobbin work with thick thread, or I could try to paint the lines on. In the end, I decided to put two black threads in the needle at once and then free motion stitch as normal. To do this, you thread one spool as normal, and then put the other spool on the other thread holder and thread as normal but through the other tension disk. (Both threads go through the same and only eye of the needle; size 90 universal needle.) I had no problems with thread breakage or thread tension.
     I sketched out the lines onto the yellow quilting paper first and pinned it on top of the fabric and then sewed (with the double threads) on top of the drawn lines on the paper. Then I ripped off the paper. Here's a photo that shows some of the stitching done and some of the paper still on with the sketching on the paper.
in-progress stitching
If you think the fabric with the piers is lighter in color than you saw from the link above, you are correct. That's because I decided to use the reverse side of it. I felt that the "right side" was too dark and saturated for this quilt. Here's a close-up photo of part of it.
with paper and sketching waiting to be stitched
     The color inside the piers was added with Shiva Paintstiks. Now I have the stitching done and am down to some more difficult decisions. How to do the bird and how to add Spanish moss. I've made three birds already. One that I printed onto cotton fabric from a photo, but it just doesn't fit with this style of art. One that I painted onto fabric and just doesn't fit, either. And one that I printed onto sheer fabric and it is too faint. I have a few more ideas to try out for the bird.
     For the Spanish moss, I thought I was going to use painted cheese cloth, but the texture doesn't fit with this quilt. Neither does some wool roving that I have. I need something smooth and flat to go with the lines I stitched and the flat look of the painted piers. I have few ideas to try for that, too. Time to put on the creativity hat. I'm linking this to Off The Wall Friday where you can find other art quilt blogs. Please make comments on their posts to let the the artists know you stopped by. Thanks for visiting.


  1. I think you are off to a good start in capturing the feeing of the place. Good for you for threading two threads through the same needle. I have enough trouble getting one thread through.

    1. Thanks, Norma. Now if I can just work myself out of a design problem in a corner. In the sketch it looked good, but on the fabric, it didn't work out. Time for a redo there.

  2. your reflection in the water is perfect. I love the mood of the piece already!

    1. Thanks, Judy. I was going to color in the reflection in the water, but then decided to just leave the outline for now. I'll make the final decision after I have all the other elements finished.

  3. The reflection is wonderful and the color choice adds to the quiet reflective feel of the piece.

    1. Thanks, Linda. I'm glad the paint went through to the other side of the fabric so nicely. It was a little too dark on the side I actually monoprinted and just right on the reverse side.


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