(The well painted canvas, that is.) When I first generously offered to stitch this for Gail Hendrix to use as a model for her Squiggee Designs, she didn't know that I would have wheedled, begged, even offered to pay full retail for the pleasure of working with the beautiful colors and fun subject matter. After I received it, I pulled out every thread I could find in my stash - which was considerable, as this is one of my favorite color palettes- the "Caribbean" colors. I had lots and lots of leftovers from my own binge of designing sea shells and reef fish five or six years ago.
However, as I began to study the canvas, and decide what to use, I realized that overkill on the novelty fibers would ruin it, as would a lot of textured decorative stitches. I put away most of the threads with sparkle, as the beads that were already attached with fishing line on the back (I LOVE this - different from my method, and more versatile for this purpose) are quite enough for the sparkle and glitter on a mermaid. So I have opted for threads with shine, as a lot of YLI Ribbon Floss. Also, not wanting to use metallic gold, even tho' there is metallic paint on the areas, I have used the Ribbon Floss in the Honey/Copper, which gives a great effect without overpowering. The hair is done with this as just simple outlining, and then basketweave worked around it in yellow Ribbon Floss.
Incidentally, the border across the top is made with long-armed cross stitch in Kreinik metallic braid - a great edging that rolls over nicely in the finishing.
A needlepoint canvas that is well designed by an artist who knows her business should not be considered just as individual areas when choosing stitches. Nor should choosing the threads and colors be done by separate areas, which is the usual tendency. It has to work as a whole, and this means sometimes having to change the color just slightly to make it work with the other elements. (When I paint a canvas, it seems I can never find the color I had in my mind for thread - my "made up colors." Oh well.) Also to be strongly considered is the surface texture of the individual threads - not just do the colors work well together, but do the textures enhance each other?
This little canvas is an artwork itself, in that it has the elements of design arranged properly - which is an automatic and unconscious with most "real" artists. It has movement, and the lines and areas and colors are arranged to lead the eye around the 2-dimensional surface and back to the focal point in a pleasing manner. If one were to break up and fragment this effect by smothering it with decorative stitches and more sparkling stuff, it would ruin it, and it would no longer work as a "whole." Granted - this is just a little needlepoint rollie ornament, but it has direction of line, repetition of shape and color, which lead the eye where the artist wants it to go. For this reason - and because of the gorgeous color scheme, it is pure delight to be stitching!!
Now, for a closer "close-up." Gail said all mermaids have a pearl for a belly-button, but only very special ones have a pink pearl. Stitching around these beads already attached has been really easy - I never would have thought of it, but the random scattering is so much prettier for this piece.
I have used nothing more in the way of stitches than just outlining, basketweave, Scotch stitch, and a few "bumps" in the way of Smyrna cross and my own little bump over 3 x 3 threads. I did that in Splendor silk on the aqua portion of her tail, to make it part of her "dress." It stands out a bit more than just using the simpler stitch. Where the lines point to the little Smyrna cross bumps, I simply put them wherever there was a configuration of four stitches square. It gives a little more emphasis to the area without being obvious and overpowering. The pale aqua bump stitch is more obvious - the space was already there and marked by the grid.
Now back to stitching, painting another pillow for my friend Marilyn, and beading Anne Stradal's wonderful Pueblo pottery ornaments (for tomorrow). It's good to be busy!! Be sure to visit Gail's blog - she now has the peacock I stitched for her finished and on his beautiful stand.