Exercise 2 – Combining textures & colour effects using pastel colours.
Here I stuck to my Perle 5 threads, firstly because the pastel colours available in the range is huge and secondly because I love them. They are easy to use, have a slightly polished sheen and are a ‘corded’ tightly wound cotton which feeds through fabric well without snagging and tangling. This is important when working in a twisted stitch such as French or colonial knots because it can save a lot of time and angst.
I’ve used four colours and have moved through pale green (it looked more beige before stitching) to yellow, peach and finally a mulberry integrating each into the next colourway as I’ve gone along. In the previous exercise I did a fairly fine example of knotting in the blue and red so here I decided to see if colours can graduate well enough using a thicker more chunky effect. I initially tried it with just the single thickness of Perle 5 but then did the sample above using it doubled. I’ve got some very nice fat colonial knots (a change from French knots in the last exercise) and whilst the colour changes can be seen quite obviously I like the effect.
When going with this size of knot the colours chosen are going to make a big difference to the finished look. Colours very close to each other on the colour wheel are going to work better as the similarities will mix to better effect and not stand out so much. This can be seen on the right hand end of my piece with the peach and mulberry threads. The colour change works very subtly but are much more pronounced and visible between the green/yellow/peach part. Obviously the finer and smaller the knots the better colour changes will work.
I’ve picked out a couple of colour samples which would work together well to give harmonious colour changes.
Here we were asked to take one of our pastel coloured drawings and stitch another sample based on that imagery. Well I hadn’t actually got a drawing in pastel colours so I took a photograph of an open tulip (which I have been drawing – but only in pencils) and using my Inktense pencils I drew it on fabric. These pencils have to be wetted to activate them and I found it a little difficult to control how my colours bled into each other but overall I got a reasonable background to work on.
From there, and staying with my Perle 5 threads, although in a single thickness this time to get finer stitches, I started to use a mix of French and colonial knots working from the centre out. The exercise requires us to show a good colour graduation, or mixing, in pastel colours, however, I needed to use a dark purple on the stamen in order for them to stand out from the rest. Without that it was starting to look a little ‘blobby’ with no definite anchor for the eyes.
It was fun doing it but it did take a long time. If I were continuing on with this piece I would now start using a little dull green towards the centre and along the sides of the petals before using pale yellows, beiges and pink/peaches to continue outwards.
Having said that, I don’t like too much knotting. I think it looks superb alongside other stitches and in small groups but a piece of work fully filled with knots wouldn’t be my choice. Maybe I’ve just been looking at it too closely and what is needed is a view from further away.
I’ve consulted my text-book and read a bit about Georges Seurat and how his painting techniques evolved. I’m not a fan of pointillism and I prefer his earlier work such as The Gleaner (1883) where he has built up tonal gradations by varying pressure and density of marks in a criss-cross web of strokes. If I had to pick a favourite it would probably be Bathing, Asnieres (1883-1884) which uses directional strokework and has some excellent colour mixing. I have some very good close up pictures of this piece and it clearly shows and details some of the multiple layering techniques he used.