Stitch Camp, an artist’s journey…

This workshop, an artist journey by Gwen Hedley, offered by was just what I needed!

With lengths of cotton, a three-color paint palette and a bunch of brushes and innovative tools at hand, Stitch Camp begins! My first attempt was an error of sorts by making it too small for the class purpose but it was a good and loose warm up! I discovered in doing so that my yellow wasn’t quite what I wanted. This gave me the opportunity to remix it to a more golden yellow.

These are only about 12″ x 6″, too small to do the class project.

I set out to paint the larger pieces (about 12” x 27”) of unprepared white fabric with black and yellow paint using my chosen tools with spontaneity and natural movements. Spontaneity and natural movements were the goals here. My mark-making was somewhat on target but the time between making the marks became more lengthy than on the smaller pieces of fabric.

To begin with, I couldn’t stop the thinking process and embedded muscle memory I have of painting a whole composition. At the same time, it was indeed a challenge for me to apply paint with abandon without consciously bringing my head to the table and also tasked with applying specific, thoughtful compositional value contrast. Brain freeze was the effect. I was definitely experiencing confusion about what I was doing/supposed to be doing/ wanting to do.

Below is what happened! Yuk! Pretty stilted! Although there are some good parts within, confusion reigned. The yellow is now changed. I was aiming for a more caramel color but ended up with more orange than I’d like, although it’s not as orange as it appears to be here.

I’m not assigning blame to the class directions for any of this.  It’s me; it’s been awhile ( a long while) since I’ve actually been producing much art. I’ve been cleaning and organizing 3 art spaces in my home, each on a different floor level; suffice it to say, I’ve met with substantial challenges.

Keep in mind that these will be cut up in the next phase, so whatever will be will be…

Not so pleased with the denser piece above but I’m happy with the lighter bottom sheet. This felt more natural – truer to my own style of expression

Gathering myself up, I determined to get outside of my head and shake off the effects of self-doubt! Deconstruction begins! Cutting into the cloth was perhaps the hardest part. There was no undoing the decisions I made as I cut. Arranging them may have taken the longest – arranging and rearranging, that is. After my first attempts, I realized I had to take pictures of each version because I couldn’t remember the various compositions after I took them apart.

Above were the unchosen of the bunch.

The final selection for reconstruction of the batch, in the making, above.

Next, I embellished and used a bit of commercial fabric that seems to facilitate the movement of the eye very well.

Embroidery is not referred to as slow stitching for nothing! I stitched and stitched for hours while watching On Demand movies. A significant amount of time involved ripping out some of those stitches with the self-assurance to think I could salvage the deteriorated fabric that was underneath those stitches. Persistence pays off. Up to this point my stitch choices were all straight, in keeping with the overall abstract design of the whole piece.

But as I looked at it with some objectivity, I realized I had already strayed from that abstraction by adding some more representational elements, so I went with the flow!

Above is my “open final.”

I’m happy with this! I went with some lightness and whimsy on the last embroidery stitches! It expresses me and my way of seeing things – laying bare the basics before allowing my feelings to mingle with the facts, lines and angles to settle in where they belong – to flourish with hope in my heart. Hope is all that keeps us alive when all else fails – it holds the structure together. Hope, so intrinsically connected with love imbeds itself into the survival of humanity, more or less, right or wrong, stable or fragmented – hope and love support life itself.

I think it’s finished but my habit is to set it aside before making that final call. I need some space from it before looking back at it. There’s no deadline here, so I can take the time to distance myself before a final look and a chance to make any improvements that may need to be addressed.

This is where you, my dear readers, come in! I welcome your comments! Thanks so much for staying with me on my journey!

7 thoughts on “Stitch Camp, an artist’s journey…

  1. Thank you for sharing your journey on this, Janis. I get’s newsletter and am tempted to take workshops. I love the process you went through. The choice of a limited colour palette. Then the mark-making. Then the cutting up and re-arranging. And embellishing the bits that need more emphasis. It seems to be the same as making a life and a journal of one’s life journeys. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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