Sunday, February 22, 2009

Children's Art: Adapting to Needlepoint

Over my many years as a needlepoint designer, mother, and now grandmother, there is no subject I have enjoyed more for adapting to needlepoint than the spontaneous visual creation of an imaginative and gifted child. This is the subject of the article I'm preparing now for Needlepoint Now (deadline is pushing hard), so I thought it would be a good time to pass along the method step by step while it's fresh on my mind. I know there are many out there struggling a bit with tracing a design onto canvas - and it's actually very simple with a bit of patience and practice.

Aaron's self portrait in tempera on white drawing paper was brought to me several years ago by his great grandmother, - and after I painted it onto canvas for her, she stitched it beautifully and had it framed. She graciously sent me a photo of this masterpiece, and I love it! It is obvious that it began life as a tempera painting, as it even has the little spots and smears on it.
Jake is my grandson - child of my daughter Jennifer, and he has had an ongoing romance with Natalie since they were babies in play school. They are five years old now, so I decided I had better use this one before he learns to write his name properly and be offended by my use of it.

I waited too long to do something with Madeline's lovely paper collage and cotton ball Santa - which she did before she learned to turn the "D" in her name the right way. Charming!! The first time I got it out to make a design from it, she was horrified, so I put it away for a while.

The first thing I do with these is to decide what size I want them, which usually determines the size canvas I will use. I wanted these pieces to be as close to the actual size as possible - but the determining factor was the detail of the lettering. These small elements in the design can be painted on any size canvas, but they won't stitch if not done properly. This is what makes a wonderful canvas a pleasure to work!

I start by placing a small scrap of canvas over whatever element I know will be a problem, and then can tell how much I need to enlarge it - and then a tracing is made, which goes into my copy machine for enlarging.
This is the enlarged tracing ready to put onto canvas. At this point, the canvas is simply placed over the enlargement and traced onto the canvas very very lightly and carefully with the proper pen - as always, I use the Sharpie ultra fine point pen - as it has proven totally trustworthy over the years. The lines drawn should always be ON THE THREAD and not down in the grooves between - That's what makes a canvas difficult to stitch.

Remember! Stitches are made on the threads, not down in between them. The arrows indicate where I left threads between the marks drawn so that the spaces are left where they should be. The "E's" could so easily run together if not drawn in this manner. I also like maintaining the character of the art itself - as the arrow points to where the line around the face doesn't meet.
On the Santa drawing on canvas, again I have marked with an arrow to show that the line is ON THE THREAD and hasn't slipped down in between them. The name is stitch traced, which was very easy to do, as I just dotted the stitches instead of drawing them as lines - to make sure they will work
Incidentally, if you are wondering which is Jake and which is Natalie - we have decided that the figure on the right is Jake, as it has hair sticking up and two swords. The figure on the left has beautiful green eyes, pigtails, and a red dress, so must be Nat.

I was too tired to paint these tonight, but will do them tomorrow and we'll have a Chapter II lesson in canvas preparation.


LIZ said...

How fun! Your article for NN should be well received. I'm looking forward to seeing it!

Denise Felton said...

Wonderful tute! Brilliant idea! I've scheduled a link to this post to go live on my blog tomorrow morning (Central USA time). You have plenty of fans already, but maybe it will bring you a couple more.


Nina said...

Oh what delightful fun!

Corby O'Connor said...

I have an attic full of my grown sons' drawings. Can't wait to have some fun with them. Thanks a million.