Sunday, March 26, 2006

Painted Canvas Phobia and the Flush Theory

Recently the ANG list had another interesting discussion. Painted canvas vs. line drawn or charted.

The discussion also migrated into the expense of painted canvas.

That caught my interest, as it always does. As does the expression of fear in stitching a paitned canvas. Hey, they don't bite. Needlepoint canvases are completely deaf, feel no pain and really don't mind if you make a mistake or two.

Painted canvas phobia????????

One thing to remember, it is all in the planning. For years I have been teaching needlepoint and part of what I teach is planning. Remember 4 things. Motion, texture and what level the object is in relation to the whole composition, be it foreground, background or mid ground, perspective.

Speaking of perspective, you have Aerial which is more realistic and Oriental which is flat. Something done is Oriental Perspective might be easier. You really don't have to worry about realism or delicate shading.

You must get the stitch going in the direction of the motion. Remember to keep the higher texture stitches in the foreground and the lower texture ones in the background.

Color plays a big part. The background color should always be quieter than the foreground. Mountains are not bright green. Look out the window. The mountains and hills have grayish lavender cast to them. That is if your mountains wear trees that are full of leaves.

The sky is not a solid color.

Direction of light. A good artist will paint the canvas paying attention to light direction.If something looks wrong with a canvas, do this. Take it to a mirror and look at the mirror image. Often the problem area will jump out at you. If possible, do this in the shop before you bring it home.

When I stitch a canvas, I let the canvas tell me what it wants. I rarely use a book for stitches, although I own a pile of them and some duplicates purchased by mistake. I never claimed to be organized.

I often lay my thread in the direction I think it should go and if it looks right, I plunge the needle. I create my own stitches.

My background was in embroidery. I had a very short lived passion for cross stitch. In about 1970 I was torn between crewel and needlepoint. I still love embroidery but don't have the time to do it. That could be why I seem to use a lot of embroidery stitches on my canvas. I love long and short, random stitches and, heaven forbid, I am even getting to like French knots.

A few things to remember:

Painted Canvases don't bite.

They don't cry and pout if you say a few unkind words to them.

They do cost more.

They are painted by human hands, not machines. Believe me; it does take more than 15 minutes to paint. Some take hours, others a full day and a rug can take several. They are painted by professional artists who must be paid a fair wage. They are not painted in huts in some third world location.

Break it down to cost to you per hour. A $300 purchase might take up to 200 hours to complete. Break it down to about $1.50 an hour. Cheaper than a movie. A heck of a lot cheaper than 18 holes of golf. And, I being the frugal one, often compare it to a nice dinner for two with wine and desert and tip for around $100. Takes about 2 hours to enjoy dinner. Yes you have to eat too but if you do that at home, you can do it for $5. And where does it all go in the morning? Flush.

It is all a matter of priorities.

There are some beautiful geometrics. I would love to stitch some myself but I can hardly find the time to stitch what I need to do for my own purposes. Would have loved to do Pink Champagne. Ro's class is stunning. I like anything Jean Hilton.

The only counted piece I ever designed was the Stitch of the Month Kimono. Did I enjoy doing it? You bet I did.

When I retire...well, I will probably croak with a paint brush in my hand.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Month later

It has been a month since my last posting. After writing that, I feel like I have gone to confession.

What a month. I had a delightful class at Designers Desk in Bloomingdale IL last month. I enjoy visiting Desinger's Desk. The owner, Pat, and her staff are so nice to work with and Pat is such a gracious host to teachers.

So I came home, was in my post travel "coma" for a few days catching up on life and work back at the "ranch". The weather went from bitter cold, snow to 70's and sun.

I have been working on a canvas that has lots of French Knots. Tuscan Cove is the canvas. I have it done except for the knots. Back when I was a kid, I embroidered too many pillow cases and dresser scarves, all with stem stitch, chain stitch and those dreaded French Knots. In my adult life I joked at substituting beads for the knots.

But this canvas was not a canvas where you would do that. It needed knots. Nice neat one and random sloppy ones. Every day I do a few hundred and those trees are blooming! I did have a few days off from stitching. I cut my finger on my left hand, messed up my pointer and thumb on my right hand and on Saturday I burnt my middle finger and ring on the right hand on my oven rack. That should teach me to stay away form the oven!

Aside from not loving French knots, for some reason I also hate to needlepoint with green or brown thread. Have no clue why. But if you are doing a landscape, green and brown colors are part of it. You simply plow on ahead.

So, in a short time I can post a photo of the Knotty canvas.

I will promise myself to post more often. In a few weeks I will be heading off to Dallas Texas to do a small trade show. There are times I really enjoy getting out of Mountain Top and there are times I would rather have 3 root canals without any novacaine. Right now I am in-between on my preferences.

Spring is here. There are robins in the back yard and I can hear the birds chirping away in the morning. Including Sam, my big parrot. He sings right along with them. The trees are starting to look like they are getting ready for another season of foliage. The lilies are poking up through the mulch and the last pile of snow has melted.

More when I get a chance.