Monday, August 30, 2010

The Angels Finished!

I hadn't planned to show these again, but am pleased with the way they look together - and also by the fact that I finished them at all. I'm bad about putting things down and starting something new.
The green skirt on the "Margarita" angel (margarita is "daisy" in Spanish) has no shading, but is worked in Nobuko, which gives it a nice texture against the solid basketweave of the apron.
As the green is dark, it recedes and doesn't distract from the apron.
I'm now trying to get inspiration for what to do next - it's still so hot in Austin, I think my brain is baked. At least we've actually had rain this year, and it's still green out there.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Good Stuff!!

Another beautiful blog I'd like to share. As I always say, the images that imbed themselves in our brains are important, and this blog is one of my very favorites just for looking and browsing and wishing I could buy more. It's on my morning cruise list every day.

This incredibly talented young woman lives here in Austin, and I'm hoping to visit the gallery soon that carries her paintings - the larger ones. They are also shown in more galleries out of state - the list is on her blog.

Carol Marine has been doing a "painting a day" for several years, and then has them for sale on Etsy. There you can also see some of her larger ones! Anyway, this is certainly worth a look. The composition is great on these small works, as are the colors and brushwork - and some of the subject matter is quite whimsical.

The next subject is Anne Stradal's new Halloween piece - poker playing ghosties. These are as funny as her "ghostly trio" last year. I won't spoil the surprise by showing a picture here, but do be sure to visit her at The Cape Stitcher and watch the stitching when it's in progress.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Beautiful Kreinik!!

I don't do counted things, myself, but thoroughly enjoy watching others who do it well!

Two of my favorite designers, who do other things, are now stitching the same piece at the same time (a pattern designed by Ro Pace) on their blogs, but using different color schemes. This is always interesting to see, as color differences change the way it looks, even tho' stitched the same.

Also, I'm intrigued by the number of Kreinik metallics used - and the way they are used. I see ribbon here, as well as braid.

Be sure to visit Thread Medley (Jan Fitzpatrick) and Lizart (Liz Morrow) in the very beginning - today!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Angel Wings, Etc. (random commentary)

The "Calla Lily" angel is finished except for the wings!! As there is nothing carved in stone about angels having white wings with feathers, I have chosen another way. (more on the history of wings another time).
Incidentally, speaking of wings, if you haven't already tuned in to The Cape Stitcher, be sure to watch Anne Stradal as she stitches yet another of the "birthday angels." Her version of these guardian spirits has gold wings in December! Quite beautiful.
Also, at this point, I want to thank the people who have so kindly and generously offered their time in stitching models for me - I only needed a few, and have it covered already - but thanks beaucoups anyway!

Back to the subject of wings: I couldn't use white, as that would run into the white blouse - so chose DMC floss #712, which should be fine next to the sleeve. It will darken and dull when worked in basketweave.
The #822 that was used on the first angel is too dark for this one, I think, and doesn't have that little tinge of yellow that's in the #712.
The detail shows the floss (#822) before stitching, and how very light and bright it appears until stitched in basketweave. Then it is considerably darkened, due to the light on the surface being broken up by the stitches. An amazing effect that should always be considered when choosing threads.
In this detail, you can also see that I have taken out the sparkly earrings (I really didn't like them, as inappropriate for this lady) because I accidentally found the thread I originally wanted to use - Frosty Rays Y136. Much better!!
I have a lot of painting to do today, so will stitch more tomorrow, as I actually need a break from this project for a littlle while.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Great Classes for Stitches and Silk Ribbon!

Sharon B's wonderful blog PINTANGLE is one of my first stops in the morning while having coffee and cruising for art and inspiration on the internet (and great instruction).

She is now announcing her upcoming cyber classes on - a "Personal Library of Stitches," and also "Introduction to Silk Ribbon Embroidery." These classes are extremely reasonably priced! Do go investigate, and enjoy her blog if you haven't already discovered it.

I didn't have time this year to join her "challenge" - which was TAST, short for Take A Stitch Tuesday, but I never miss studying it each week. The pictured technique is clear and easy to understand, and the stitches have been useful in many cases for the surface enhancement I enjoy doing with my needlepoint.

BTW, while you're looking at Pintangle, do click on the classes, and also see If you aren't already familiar with it, it has the most fascinating online classes I've seen. I could spend the next few years doing taking classes in all kinds of wonderful fiber arts!

While you are looking at beautiful things, and in a learning mode, next visit the Florence Griswold Museum, where a fabulous exhibit will show from October 2, 2010 until January 30, 2011, in Lyme Connecticut - "With Needle and Brush: Schoolgirl Embroidery From the Connecticut River Valley." This exhibit deals with the "understanding of the traditions of needlework" and an insight into the schooling of young ladies before public education. The needlework examples are beautiful and amazing!

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Angel on Monday Morning

I worked a lot of hours on this yesterday, so she's showing more color now. I do like working on the unpainted canvas, as it's more exciting to see the pattern emerge this way.

At this point, she appears to be wearing white opera gloves - but I'll put "skin" color there today. (DMC floss #950)

I used T-Stitch on the sleeve, which ordinarily I wouldn't do right next to another textured stitch, but in this case, it's neatly separated by the single line of burgundy outline, which keeps the edge from being jagged.

I'm loving the yellow skirt - which is DMC floss - as it adds the finishing touch as far as the color scheme goes. As in grandmother's flower garden, the yellow needs to be there. Notice how the basketweave progresses. The dark fold was worked first, and then the background around it. Very simple.

I took a second photo of the hair at close-up, hopefully to show the direction of the satin stitches. (DMC floss #300) Due to the dark color, I couldn't get the shine of the stitches to show up well, demonstrating the different directions of the stitches.

Be sure to visit The Cape Stitcher today, as Anne has finished the December angel - and has done a gorgeous job of it!. I learn a lot from watching her, myself.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Calla Lilies and Earrings - the Angel Progresses

The angel with calla lilies has been very enjoyable, due to the bright colors - she's so cheerful!

The lilies are conventionalized, as they are in Mexican art, and rather flat looking, so I jazzed them up a bit by using Kreinik #032 blending filament with #3865 white in basketweave. I like this white better than the "blanc," which is great for many things, but would be too glaring for this piece.

I also felt that due to the lilies' being flat, the background should be textured a bit. Normally I don't do this, but in this case it worked! Nobuko was used, and I'm pleased with the way it fills the area - which was, of course, first bordered by outlining with the burgundy to keep the edges neat.

For the headband, neck trim, and earrings, I used Kreinik metallic 1/16" ribbon in 001Vintage silver. I chose using the ribbon instead of braid, as, due to the construction, the ribbon lies flatter and has a beautiful sheen - especially on the "bump" stitch that makes the earrings.

The hair is worked with satin stitches and DMC floss in 4 plies. The turquoise insets are RG Frosty Rays YO34. I would have preferred using the petite FR, but this is what was in my stash already, and the color is perfect.

Next, showing another idea that popped into my head yesterday. I had to make a quick sketch on crumpled tracing ipaper - but it serves. I decided to do one with a fat braid on top of her head, and a flower on the side.

The next step was to put the tracing under a piece of scrap canvas and play with stitch drawing it so that it works and will stitch properly. I have no idea at this point what she'll be wearing. The colored Sharpie drawing pens are great at this point! This is a project for another day - hopefully by Monday! Meanwhile, several people have asked what I'll do with these angels.

I have mentioned "stand-ups" several times, and by this, I mean a flat, padded, shaped piece with an easel on the back. I want people to see that angels in needlepoint have other uses besides just hanging on a Christmas tree, and as they are guardians, after all, they need to be visible all year..

This is the back of a Celtic cross I did a number of years ago. Vikki Pinson did the finishing, and, as always, did a remarkable job.

It is flat, lightly padded, and backed with moire'. There is also a cord attached for eventual hanging on a wall, if desired. Vikki only needs about two threads of background stitched around these shapes, as she does all of the stitching by hand - no glue at all - so is able to curve it neatly and well where necessary.

On this cross, I didn't yet know about using fewer rows of background, so added too much. Oh well.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Angels Painted

At best, stitching is slow - so I decided today to paint two of them that I'll be stitching myself so I could see how my chosen colors will look. Also to see if they'll work, as they are fairly bright and unusual for this sort of thing.

This first one actually looks better in the almost-finished-stitiching version, as the flowers on the headband and neckline give it so much life.

The second one is rather unusual, but I'm pleased with her - except that I had to paint the headband and neckline and earrings in gold because my new silver paint pen still hasn't arrived. I can retouch when it gets here.

I like the bright look of this, and decided after painting the yellow skirt that it needed that touch of burgundy. I have begun to work this one, and have used cotton floss with blending filament for the calla lilies.

The turquoise background of the apron won't be quite as bright when it's stitched, due to the light breakup of the stitches. Surprisingly, I do like the yellow skirt!! It works well with the lilies.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

More Color on the Dress!

This little canvas is going rather fast, to my surprise. However, I think stitching it on the unpainted canvas helps me stay focused, as it's interesting to watch it come alive with the color.

I should be able to easily finish the apron tomorrow, but am waiting for the skirt thread to arrive by mail. I wanted to show a bit of the calla lily angel tonight, but the white lily I've stitched doesn't show up well enough with no background behind it. Maybe tomorrow.

Meanwhile, check out The Cape Stitcher, as she has made some wonderful progress on the December Guardian Angel!

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Coming to Life!! The Angel has Color

The first picture is a detail of the face in progress - it looks kind of ghoulish at this point, but I wanted to show how I did it - something I worked out. I'm doing this in basketweave, of course (also called "diagonal tent stitch").

The arrow on the left points to where I've stitched over the eyebrows and eyelids in preparation for putting them back in with backstitches on top with just 2 plies of DMC floss. This is something I observed the counted X-stitchers doing years ago - an interesting technique, and it works well on needlepoint in this case.
You can see only two little dots remaining where the eyelid was. I left the lilps bare, as they will have pink tent stitches.

The arrow at the lower right points to basketweave in progress so you can see that it goes continuously up and down the diagonal, just skipping where there are already stitches or where it needs to be left bare - as the mouth. This makes a much prettier surface than it would breaking up the areas. These scans don't really show the color or sparkle as well as a photo would, but late at night the light isn't good enough to do it well either.
The next scan is what I've done so far, and it's so entertaining at this point, with the colors being added, that I hate to put it down to go to bed. Oh well.
Be sure to check out The Cape Stitcher today, as I think she might have some of her angel stitched - I'm anxious to see it!!

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Stitching the Angels!

I actually worked on one of the angels today, and after a tiring day yesterday dumping out box after box of stash threads, chose what I wanted to use. So many decisions for a little 7" high figure, but I very rarely do anything like this, so it wasn't easy to get started.

I do have some splendid help by long distance (e-mail, of course), from Cape Cod, where Anne Stradal (The Cape Stitcher) is also stitching one - a more serious angel. I had hinted, whined, begged, and otherwise manipulated her into helping me with this project, so do go watch her progress! I actuallly think she's having fun with it.

I'm also showing here the next one I'll work on. It's drawn very lightly on the canvas, as I do those I don't want to paint. I'm just choosing colors as I go.
These angels aren't the "norm" we usually see, but I truly believe they aren't just a Christmas thing, as most needlepoint versions are. Those who "watch over thee and keep thee in all thy ways" are year-round, so should be comfortable and with personality. MIne is a kindred spirit who wears earrings! I haven't decided what kind just yet.
I've used, so far, just DMC cotton , both floss and pearl cotton, and Kreinik metallic 002V gold braid, #12. I also have included the Kreinik Blending Filament in the design elements - the Smyrna cross flowers in the hair and at the neckline.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Guardians-by-the-Month: Changing Things

I thought I had discarded all of these things to avoid ever painting them again, but I found the entire file, unmarked, in the bottom drawer of my filing cabinet waaaaay at the back. I'm actually rather glad to have them, as I'm on another angel binge, and making smaller ones that are much simpler.

It's interesting to me, looking at what I was doing or not doing 13 or 14 years ago with threads and techniques. I wasn't stitching these myself, but had to bear in mind what other people who bought them might want to do. The diamonds are obvious, and were to be worked in whatever was available that sparkled.

The sweet peas are twining around the angel at the bottom and up the sides, and would be worked in simple basketweave to properly show the shading. Lots of gold metallic (Kreinik) was expected on this angel.

I really enjoyed "April" several years ago when I started doing the Birthday Crazy Quilts (you can see these by clicking on the label on the side bar), and had been using silk ribbon for a number of years already - quite a challenge working out the sweet peas!

Also, I had been using beads for a very long time, so made the diamonds with Sundance beads - #250 hexagonals (size 14 for 18 mesh canvas) for the glitter.

It's August now, but I'm not yet ready to do the smaller, updated version. However, looking at the silk ribbon gladiolus (Sword Lilies), I've decided to do the new one with silk ribbon also.

The original angel shows Poppies as the symbolic flower, but I was delighted to find the gladiola as a wonderful, colorful substitute, and my daughter, whose birthday is in August, agreed.

This gladiola project was a great collaboration in that I sent Jean at River Silks a picture of a few flowers - a gorgeous photo- and she matched the colors in silk for me, and sent me what I needed to make them come alive. I had to work these out for myself, as I couldn't find any in a book.

In looking at "September," I'm thinking she must have been one of the very first ones - I have a September daughter - because instead of painting asters across the bottom as I did the other angels and their flowers, this one is holding them. This is a difficult flower to paint any larger!

It was a delightful project, however, in silk ribbon on the CQ birthday heart for this month. I'm not happy with the face - I hadn't yet worked out better features, and she has no ribbon in her hair. There are a multitude, however, of areas for using sparkling/shining/interesting threads to make her come to life and be beautiful!

The October angel of long ago is showing what looks like Day Lilies - the only resource I had for this, besides what I had already known or assumed, was the Hallmark Store, as I painted these years before I had a computer for internet research.

To my delighted surprise, I found this time around, when I was doing the Birthday Crazy Quilts, that the Calendula is the October flower. Same kind of colors, and beautiful with the opals! Also much easier to render in silk ribbon!

NOTE: If you aren't familiar with the beautiful River Silks silk ribbon, there is a link to it on my side bar under "Good Stuff" - it's worth taking time to see!

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Angels with Personality: a Preview

This is what they look like before painting - an entire day's work, and only two small canvases. (the figure is 7" high) It's the initial idea, then the drawing on paper - and then the hard part, which on things this small take a lot of stitch drawing to make it work. One could just smear the paint onto the canvas without regard, but then the poor stitcher would have to struggle with where to put the stitches. (There is a lot of this going on these days)

The first one is "July" of what I've called the "birthday guardians" - but it may not get past July and December (which has found another home). Trying to make the flowers stitchable, and coordinating the colors of jewels, flowers, and dress, hasn't come easily.

When I was a child, my mother explained to me that I have my own guardian angel that not only watches over me, but tries, usually in vain, to keep me out of mischief. I felt this entity sitting on my shoulder, whispering in my ear when I was about to make a good or naughty decision. (She's still there in those little twinges when I might be about to make a not-so-good decision.)

In Psalms 91:11, it says "He hath sent His angel to watch over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways." I feel this is my personal angel, and as such, needs to share a bit of personality with me in order to be comfortable as we travel this road together. This is what led to the next one, which actually suits me better than Miss July!.
She had to have earrings, of course, and flowers on her dress and in her hair. Now to go spend the day painting these ladies (angels in the Bible were men - but I am giving myself the liberty of turning them into pretty girls.)
There are actually not a lot of angels on the needlepoint market - and these are very Christmas oriented, from what I've seen. They are either ornaments to hang on the tree, or stockings to hold gifts - or tree toppers. My thought is that our guardians are with us all year, and also, it's a waste to do something pretty that then resides in a box in the closet for 11 months.
I thought it might be fun to have one sitting on my work table - with an easel on the back for standing. Mine will be beside St. Clare (Patron of embroiderers/needlework) when I get her finished - I lost my original pattern, so have to re-do her.

Monday, August 02, 2010

A Very Beautiful and Inspiring Blog

I say often that I enjoy looking at the blogs of designers and "doers" of other textile and graphic arts for imprinting great images into my head. This thing of "cross pollination" sometimes brings up the most amazing things that I wish I had found several years ago - just by clicking at random on someone's blog list.

I found this amazingly, stunningly beautiful blog about a week ago, and can't seem to stay away from it. I will also say that her blog list is dangerous unless you have many many hours to entertain yourself looking at incredible work and lots of what we call "eye candy."
This first picture is from her needlepoint gallery, as she also puts her graphic and watercolour designs onto canvas. The second picture is the "sketch" she used to create the needlepoint canvas.

I chatted with Cathy briefly when I e-mailed for permission to "klep" pictures from her and show her on my blog, and wasn't really surprised when she said she's totally self educated in this art thing.

A true artist, born with the "gift" usually is impaired when the wrong art teacher takes over. I've seen this happen too often with very gifted children when the art teacher informs them that trees aren't blue. The spontaneity goes away, and true creativity is stifled. Just learning how to use an art medium is enough - then spontaneity of design and execution takes over in a most delightful way.

Actually, the same principle should be applied to needlepoint stitching inspiration. It's best to learn stitches - how they look, how to execute them, and which types of fibers show them to their best advantage for the intended purpose. THEN decide for yourself how to use them and where on a painted canvas for best effect.
There are blogs "out there" that have dreadful stitching showing, and it's so easy to get these images in the mind before you realize it, and have your own stitching creativity stifled or distorted!

Anyway - so much for why I love cruising gorgeous and inspirational blogs, and why I justify the time. (Actually, I'll use any excuse for doing this). Be sure to visit Cathy's blog at One Pink Goose. There is also a web page with galleries of her work in different media. Really really fine things. The spiral needlepoint is from an older post - go to her achives and click on April, 2008, to see this and more!!

Also, either click on "Faraway Hills" on the side bar, or go HERE to look at more of Cathy's amazing artwork. If I were remotely into plagiarism, this is where I would land and get images - they are wonderful to look at. The little picture is from Gallery 5.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Thought for the Day: My Motto

More buried treasure in old files I had forgotten. I don't even know where this one is - but obviously I finished it.

No comment on this tonight, as it's self explanatory, but will follow up with more another time.

This actually does't require discussion of stitches. It's all basketweave worked in Splendor silk - with a bit of Kreinik braid between the "bricks."