Sunday, May 27, 2012

Little White Flowers

I love the little flowers that spring brings. They are so pretty and delicate and quiet. I made a little photo collection of them. Perhaps you will find them to be inspirational. I will start off with my stitched white flowers. Stitched in wool, perhaps it is not the essence of delicate beauty, but white stitching on tan fabric is always pretty.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Weekend Update!

It's been a few days now since the weekend passed, it's almost the next one now, but I am finally sitting down to write this in any case. 

First, I wanted to rephrase myself from my last post. I realized later that I hadn't expressed myself really well. I said I have seen other stitchers try and fail with their free embroideries. I didn't mean fail in any absolute sense, because trying something new is not failing. I meant they fail according to their own expectations, you can hear the disappointment in their words.

Now to the weekend. We went down to family summer house on the Baltic Sea coast for 4 beautiful days. There was walking, riding, photographing, drawing, bird-watching, grilling, and embroidery. Sounds like a perfect life. It was, so I was a bit sorry to leave. But home is where the heart is, and it was good to be home too.

I have just collected a few of the photos for showing. I will try to work in a few more in the days ahead.

A great view we found - the property is even for sale!

The blackthorn is so beautiful. This time most of the flowers were passed, but we found one big bush that was still in full bloom.
The elusive nightingale. It really does sing all night long, and what a song it has. We had to chase them around the island to be able to find one willing to show itself to us. This one was nice enough to sit long enough and close enough for a bunch of photos.
The color of new oak leaves is special.  The whole island is covered with oaks, some young some old, and they are all amazing.

Often heard, but not so often seen.  This pheasant sat still long enough for me to get some photos! I find him to be a fascinating creature, so I am happy every time he shows himself.
Small visitors were waiting at home!  They have already gone off now, headed down to the coast probably.

The photos aren't enough to convey the beauty and the feeling of being there. Photos are just fleeting moments. If you look around you, you will see the world is full of fleeting moments, just waiting for you to notice them. Take time to see the beauty even in the tiniest and most ordinary things!

I was thinking to break up this post, but it feels wrong. So I continue! My drawing then. I have mentioned that I began to draw last summer. I haven't given it as much time as I really want to so far, I keep at it, even if slowly. This is my first picture I am showing here then:

I really enjoy working with the colors. I take the time to carefully layer on the colors. It takes some practice to look at the photo and really see the colors, not the object. Sometimes when I am finished and I look again at the photo, then I see the colors even more clearly, which isn't so much help for the drawing!!

And finally the embroidery. I finally started the crewel fruit wreath project intended for the little footstool. I ordered some pretty new colors to work with.
I'm making steady progress on it!
I'm doing all the greenery first, saving the fruits for after. The colors are going to be fun to work with!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Freedom with the needle

Free, as in no lines to follow! I have been experimenting a little with this concept. Sometimes, it feels like too much to force myself to stick with the lines on the fabric. I'm not saying they are all bad (they are often very good!), but I am finding I need at least some freedom to see what comes out. In this little embroidery, it is done entirely free. I think it's my first attempt being totally free of any lines. It's a little abstract.
I did start with an idea. It didn't quite look as I thought it would, not that I am sure what it should have looked like. I wanted to couch down thick threads and hoped they might look like barnacles. Maybe they could, but I wasn't satisfied, so I put the embroidery aside and moved on to something else. But then I picked this up again and just started stitching more.

I made another circle, and then started filling in between them. I thought my project had some meaning, so I thought what the lines and shapes really reminded me of. I decide the white french knots represented the dead frog eggs, and the dark areas the live ones.  (I've spent some time looking at these guys lately!!)

The straight stitches are the water. I added clear, glass beads for the sparkle although the top photo barely shows them.

I'm new to this style of working, but that doesn't stop me from having something to say about it!! ;)

I have seen other stitchers try and fail. I can tell you why they do. First, like a blank page, a blank fabric can be intimidating, how to fill it. You have to start with a spark, I like to call it. A feeling, and idea, a thought, something to begin with to drive you forward. It doesn't matter as in this case that the project leads you to another point, you just need the spark to get yourself going.

Second, you must make your left brain quiet down and let the other side have a chance. You shouldn't use words, you should be very careful trying to make recognizable objects. You don't want to make the form of a tree necessarily, for example. You want to make the feeling, the impression of the tree, whatever that means to you. Maybe in the end it will be recognizable and maybe not. It all depends on what comes out.

Third is most important in a way. Shut off the inner critic! It will stop you in your tracks every single time if you let it. Even this project I have shown, what did I tell myself? Oh those barnacles don't look the way they "should". Put the project down right now and do something that makes sense and is easy to understand. I decided to pick it up again, just for the heck of it, and now I am glad I did. It doesn't matter to me if you like or understand the project. It means something to me, and I feel on some level it was a success, plus I can tell you that I didn't want to put it down, and I really looked forward to picking it up again. That feeling I don't often get. Yes, even me who loves to stitch isn't always looking forward to the next opportunity to pick up the needle.

Now one more final comment. You may say, well, I don't really like this type of stitching, I prefer to make projects with pictures of recognizable forms, and I really don't want to risk making a mess of a project by being free because it takes too much time to embroider, better to stick with a project with a known result.

First, these projects don't have to take that much time. This one is quite small. It was really a  matter of a few hours.

Second, so what if it is a "failure"? Use it as an opportunity to learn instead. Keep it as a record of progress. 

And finally the last thing are those that say they don't like the abstractness of it all. I will tell you that nearly all artists employ some kind of abstractness in their work, they can't help it. It's how you help create the feelings that you want your work to convey. Dealing with only the abstract for awhile will help you learn to use it, so when you go back to your regular type of projects, it will be another tool to use to create something with more feeling and meaning.

For those of you who made it this far! (This ended up a little longer than I thought!) This new way of working and thinking may be uncomfortable, but when we take a risk and step outside our comfort zones, we often get the biggest rewards.'

May 2012 Embroidery Journal Project

I've returned! My apologies for the extended away time. I just needed to think about what direction I am headed with my embroidery and other related things including this blog. I'm going to shift the focus a little to include my other thoughts and work regarding what inspires me and what else I create other than just with the needle. It all means something to me and is part of the bigger picture. I hope it "ok" to venture a little outside the bounds of just embroidery, but the other things impact my stitching in many ways, so I will handle things as such.

I have said it before and I will say it again (and probably many more times!), embroidery is an art form, and like all art forms it is an expression of what is inside. Things that you love, that happen to you, that you think, feel, and see all effect what is inside, so it's a useful exercise to examine what in your life guides your self-expression in whichever media you choose. You will learn more about yourself and the world around you if you take the time to contemplate your work and try to find the meaning.

Next I have a new blogging, stitching friend you can visit at Wonderland Woods. Starr is a new blogger and a new embroiderer. It's great to see new people take up the needle, and they should definitely be encouraged! She's been a great help to me in focusing my thoughts and ideas.

 Ok, now for this month's embroidery journal project!
I have stitched this piece on cotton fabric with wool, linen, cotton, and silk threads. Plus some little glass seed beads for sparkle. I painted the fabric with watercolor paints. The blue is a little washed out in my photo, but you get the idea. This project pictures the metamorphosis from frog egg to tadpole. Ok, so only 2 steps are shown in the project. I filled in with little plants and algae. I started with an idea for the project, but I made it without drawing on the fabric, so I could develop it freely as I worked.
The reason I chose this subject is because I have been watching the tadpoles develop this spring. We found a pile of eggs in our backyard a few weeks ago. The water in the yard was draining away and it was starting to freeze. So we scooped up the eggs into buckets and kept them in the cellar. In the days, we hauled them out to get warm, then back at night, changing the water so they would have plenty of oxygen. I watched the eggs develop day by day, then the tadpoles emerged. There are a lot of them!!! It's fun to see them grow and swim around. I am really hoping for a big pile of frogs.
Above is my inspiration for this embroidery.