Monday, March 18, 2013
a new take on stitched-up photos
i took a weekend embroidery course with artist anne brodersen at her studio out in ringkøbing, near the west coast of denmark. it wasn't a typical embroidery course, where you learn stitches, but where we learned some unique new techniques for combining embroidery and photography and embroidery and other materials (like sticks and stones found on the beach). in addition to learning some really inspiring new techniques, my very soul feels renewed.
we took a photo with good lines to it and traced out the best of those lines with a pen. then, using a lightbox (must have husband build me one of those), we transferred those lines onto a sheet of handmade paper that could withstand stitching. then, with two black threads, we stitched those outlines. i chose this photo of husband looking down at something on the beach. the water, the horizon and husband's silhouette seemed like the perfect subject matter for my first attempt.
it took me awhile, but i stitched up all my lines and then it was time to add watercolors. me being a sucker for non-fiction, i didn't intend to stray too much from the colors of the water and the photo as it was. it did end up a bit bluer than my photo, but that had more to do with my color-mixing abilities than with what i actually wanted to do. i clearly need some practice to achieve the colors i want.
i love the notion of combining my many photographs with paint and stitches and i want to explore this technique further. i think it will push both my photography and my stitching, not to mention my painting skills. it feels like anne was able to open a door to a whole new world of possibility for me.
longtime readers of my blog or those of you who know me in real life, may have noticed that i'm not the most patient person in the world. both stitching and working with watercolors on handmade paper require patience. patience that is difficult for me. i was actually fine on the stitching part and even achieved that meditative state (when i wasn't philosophizing on the intersection between art and craft) that i can't seem to achieve in actual meditation. stitching the black lines helped me clear my mind of extraneous, racing thoughts and i was just there, in the moment, stitching. it was wonderful and relaxing.
in places, my watercolors were too wet and they bled through my stitched lines. unfortunately, right there where it made it look a bit like husband had had a little accident. happily, on the second day, anne showed me how to fix that with some pastel pencils that i brought along, so it wasn't the tragedy it seemed at first.
i still haven't fully processed the experience - it was two days and they absolutely flew by. we drank tea and discussed art and artists. we talked about how giving and open anne was with her techniques and how even tho' they were unique and "secret," in passing them along to others, she didn't diminish what she herself was doing with them. the three of us who attended each achieved something very different with our individual applications of the techniques (i'll show photos of that in another post). for each of us, it was quite unlike what anne was doing and somehow reflected our own personalities and preoccupations. it made me think that there needs to be a whole lot less fear about sharing out there in the art world.
here's my finished product. we backed our delicate works with interfacing, to make them a bit more sturdy and i'm going to find a frame for it and hang it here near my desk, to remind me of husband when he's not around and of an inspirational weekend where i began the next chapter in my personal creativity.
i'm already started on the next one, using one of my many shots of the field across from our house. i can't wait to get stitching.
the second photo in this post is one of anne's works, where she used this technique on a photo of obelisks on a beach in bretagne. she takes to the level of art, don't you think?
more on the other techniques i learned and what my fellow students (including elizabeth) made in another post.