Saturday, 24 September 2011

Paint or Stitch? Probably both!

I've been having a bit of a bead frenzy. Lots of seedbeads stitched onto embroidered and quilted hand painted fabric.

I've been known to get carried away with beading but it's hard to resist when the work just cries out for a little glimmer and gleam of copper. The garden always looks a little melancholy at this time of the year but the seedheads are the stars of the show. These papery poppies have spots and dots just like my beads.

I love them so much. It's good to look up close - who'd have thought they had such spiky stems? I never know what to do first, shall I stitch or paint?

May have to do both! Here's the first stage of a watercolour. I want to keep the seedhead pale and delicate so I've started by painting in the background with a fluid wash of deep indigo and sepia. The paint is still damp so I've scattered a few grains of coarse salt on - it's already beginning to work its magic.

I've tilted the page so that the paint runs and flows.

Once it's completely dry I'll brush the salt away and carry on with the painting. At this stage anything could happen. I'll let you see how it turns out if it's OK. If you never see it again you'll know why!

Of course, while the paints are out and you're waiting for one painting to dry you may as well have a crack at another one! Iris are complicated shapes to tackle but pretty distinctive. As long as you get something vaguely iris-like it'll be recognisable.

It may not be the time of year for new resolutions yet but I've promised myself to make time every day for a quick painting session. Even if it's only half an hour - everybody has half and hour don't they? Of course I've had good intentions before -  we'll have to see what tomorrow brings!

Have a good weekend!


  1. The saving grace for cooler temps are the seed pods. Your's are extraordinary. Do you know the variety? I love to watch the poppy heads change and eventually become skeletonized. Wishing you a beautiful weekend and paintings that make your heart soar.

  2. Hi Jeannie,
    They're a self sown poppy. Pale lavender with a dark burgundy thumbprint in the centre. No idea what they might be called but we love them non the less!

    Thanks for getting in touch - I like to know someone is out there reading this stuff!

  3. This is lovely Linda. Is that a freezer paper mask you've used in the shape of the poppy seed head to protect the fabric while doing the background wash?

  4. I love the fact that water colour paints make that magical transformation in the presence of salt that silk paint does. I am very inspired to get back to water colours again - having done a weekend course a couple of years ago.

    And just to reassure you, I love reading your blog. It is inspiring and exemplifies the open and sharing spirit of the textile community, to which I am honoured to feel a part, if only in a small way! Hilary

  5. Ah, poppy seed heads, my favourite. I think I like the seed heads even more than the poppies themselves.

  6. Yes Ro, I feel the same. Not that I don't also love the flowers!

    Patti, I'm working on watercolour paper this time. The white area is just unpainted paper. As long as I work to a dry line the colour doesn't flow beyond the edge of the shape.

    I am planning to try the same effect on fabric next. I'll let you see that soon! I have done a bit of silk painting in the dim and distant - wish I could get the same salt effects on cotton fabrics but I've found it doesn't work very effectively on anything heavier than cotton lawn and that's usually too fine for my sort of work. I'm happy to be contradicted if anyone knows different!

  7. Linda, what a stunningly beautiful blog entry! The bronze and copper of the beads on that stormy blue background is one my favourite colour combinations. As always, your sketchbooks never fail to inspire and your entries are always so encouraging.... hmmm not sure that my 1/2 hour endeavours would create such results!!!

  8. Thank you Leslie! I finished the poppy seedhead yesterday and will post a picture of the page soon. I love the combination of blue and brown too. I know it sounds really dull but as long as the values are varied it does work!

  9. Linda, that beading on the poppy seed head is exquisite! Stunning. I am so inspired to get out my beads and fabric...alas, it is all in boxes - packed for moving. I may just have to break down and order some goodies right now!

    thanks for an inspiring blog post!

  10. Hi Scooter,
    Who was it who said they could resist everything except temptation? Go on - buy some beads. They eat nothing and just sit there till you need them! Just have them sent to the new address then you don't have to feel guilty about packing more stuff.