It's late Summer and I've been dreaming about what comes next for my Summer sketches. I've not quite finished my sketchbook but I'm really enjoying playing in a variety of mediums and techniques. Exploring, playing, dabbling, learning. After six years on this project I am also looking for new directions, seeking new ways to connect and share my work with the world.
In previous years as part of my 1000 words for Summer project, I created a virtual quilt where participants used the summer words I'd collected to create an image on a square piece of calico. I enjoyed playing along and stitching a recipe for Pavlova, frangipanis, scorching sand, swimming costumes, a summer christmas tree and my favourite, a knitted ice cream!
I've also done some stitched lettering for clients I love you to the moon and back, and more recently a stitched sketch of my Coffeeosophy coffee cup and I've illustrated the full moon over the ocean. Each year I try to create something in textiles, in fabric, knitting or thread. There's something about textile illustration that I love, the slowness, the tactility, the curved surfaces and over the years I've followed other textile artists and created a Textile Board on Pinterst.
I also follow the works of Julia Crosslands, Ana Isabel Ramos aka Air Billy, Poppy Treffy, Jude Hill aka Spirit Cloth and Deborah O'Hare on Instagram and I used to love the textile works of Kirsty Elson, although she's now doing more work in wood. Each one does quite different things, but in the direction of my dreams. I am lucky enough to have my mothers old Singer sewing machine, but I've yet to work out how to do free arm sewing. Clearly I need to do more learning, but whilst the sun still shines, I'm also trying to capture the Summer beach scenes! LOL is there ever enough time?!
Recently I came across Alex Falkiner aka Alfalky on Instagram. I saw images of her work and her Drawing with Thread workshop and they looked so appealing. The best part was they were on in Sydney! After doing courses online, I've been really keen to do some in-person classes, so I quickly signed up and it was a wonderful experience.
Attending the workshop on a scorching hot Summer afternoon Alex shared her super cool approach to embroidery and it wasn't long before we were stitching our way in a new dimension. It wasn't so much that they were new stitches, but a whole new approach and I found it so relaxing! Play is a BIG part of Alex's art philosophy and something I love to do.
Here's how my work looked by the end of the workshop. You can see examples of other students works here.
Did I say it was fun? Tell you it was enjoyable afternoon? The way Alex had us let the thread appear on the fabric was so expressive. As you might be aware, I LOVE doodling and this process felt very similar to my doodling in ink and paint. Working with the concept of "start where you are", I went home and used my Summer sketches as inspiration, but rather than copying or transferring the image exactly, I took some offcuts of linen and simply started sketching with thread! As you can see I made some light graphite lines to get me started, but the whole textural quality soon took over and the thinness of lines that could be achieved in thread was like the finest of pen nibs!
The next weekend I went along to Alex's follow-up Stitching off the Page workshop. It was quite a different process and a little bit more complicated. I can equally see how I could use it in my work but more play is required and definitely with some neon thread!
As you can see below I've been to the lolly shop! In the photo to the right, mine is the third one from the top and you can see other examples from this workshop here.
It's been a lovely way to play with my Summer sketches, sketching then stitching and sketching in thread allowing images to appear on the cloth just as they do on the page. I am really enjoying allowing this body of work to grow in this way, it's fun, playful and I find textiles very nurturing so I hope I can take this with me into the cooler months. I'm also doing a printmaking class, but I'll share more about that in another post.