Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Drawing to Stitch

Drawing is a learned skill for me which is definitely ongoing.  I thought I would talk about one of my ways of drawing for stitching.  I like to immerse myself in my subject for as long as it takes. I seem to know when enough immersion has taken place - in this case many hours wandering beaches in Wester Ross ( Scotland). I then let all the visuals percolate in my mind; sometimes it takes a few days, then using a fine point pen I just doodle. The imagery just appears without any thought or pre - knowledge or even choosing a subject. The only condition I have for this kind of drawing is that I must have some sort of empathy for the subject. ( Wouldn't work if it was steam engines).

I'm sure I didn't see any imagery like this on my beach walks but that is what comes out of drawing spontaneously.
I had walked on miles of shingle, seen tons of seaweed,  seen thousands of shells and many animal skeletons. This kind of stylised drawing  translates to stitch much  more easily for me than an observational one would.
Having said that  - nothing beats real drawing, but you don't always have the time or energy to draw in a life-like kind of way unless you are one of the gifted few and I'm certainly not one of those. Every little bit of progress I make in drawing is akin to getting blood out of a stone but I'm programmed to keep plugging away.

A sample piece from these drawings.

I traced the shell- like imagery from my drawing on to tissue paper and free-motion machine stitched over the tissue following my lines. After I removed the tissue I dinked about a bit with some fibre tipped pens to highlight some areas.
This resulted in a  useful sample which may inform some later work or be cut up and used in some other piece of work. 

Following the same drawings I spread some paint over my sketchbook page with my trusty credit card and drew into it in the same kind of non thinking way and the imagery appeared just like magic. I can see the sea and the mountains and the birds flying across  and maybe the start of an old boat. I won't do any more to this sketch because now I've named what I can see I will lose that spontaneity.
 All this is making me homesick for Ullapool and I'm not due there until September.


  1. I love reading about artists and the processes they use to develop ideas. Thanks for sharing. I too love Ullapool after a holiday there in my 20s - perhaps I will go back one day and find it is exactly as beautiful as I remember! Love the stitched sample too.

  2. Oh wow love the way the imagery transferred into stitch under your hand! Its got pagan feel to it, earthworks and cave art as well as the beach. Good luck with the exhibition! Oh yes and the tidying just think what treasures you will find ! thats the only bonus, you might find things youd forgotten you had, or had lost!