Sunflowers – ‘How to’ – Be Creative With Workbox May/June 2017


How To: ‘PAINT’ A TEXTILE FLOWER PICTURE

By Barbara Shaw

You will need:

You will need

You will need

Scissors: A pair suitable for cutting small pieces of fabric.
Needle and thread: An average sized needle and neutral colour thread such as beige or grey
Pins: Fine pins with small heads-do not use pins with blobby ends as you will not be able to remove them easily.
Background Fabric: You will need a ‘Fat Quarter’ (50x55cms) of your chosen fabric or whichever size you choose to work on. I prefer patchwork cotton which is soft and easy to stitch into. For details of where to obtain the one I have used, please see the suppliers list at the end of instructions.
Scraps of material: You will need several shades of yellow, green, black, orange and your choice of coloured material for the jug. Cotton, lace, silk, chiffon, beaded and sparkly bits will all come in useful and small patterned fabric as well as others with bigger patterns will work well; anything that you can fray the edges of is excellent. Don’t worry if you don’t have this variety to play with as you can still create something beautiful using a limited range of fabrics and colours.
Ribbon: Several short lengths of 25mm+ width of organdie/chiffon on in blue, grey, lilac, yellow – it will be used for shading.
Mountboard: Big enough for the size of your finished picture-the textile picture will be stretched over this.

Artist tips:

I have chosen to guide you through an interpretation of a jug of sunflowers as most people are familiar with these flowers and have an idea of the shapes and colours of them. It is an impression rather than a copy. I have made my picture relatively small (image size is 33cms x 47cms) so the project is less daunting. Although instructions are for these sunflowers, you can work to any size and adapt the method for any flowers you prefer.

Many artists sketch out a picture first or see what they would like to produce in their mind’s eye without initial drafts. I ‘sketch’ with fabric, pinning layers and chopping and shaping as I go along. For this project you need no sketching or embroidery skills, but just to be able to thread a needle and do simple running stitches.

Method:

Stitching

Stitching

Colour palette

Colour palette

background material

Background material

Adding a jug

Adding a jug

first pinned sketch

First pinned sketch

Background
I have draped my background fabric over a board on an easel, but you can hang it loosely over a tray or anything to hand that you can prop up and which is easy to work on.

Sketching the Picture
Roughly cut out flower centres in black then pin and build up petals in different shades of yellow. Fray the edges to soften the effect. As this is an impression of the plant, you can be very free with your interpretation

Progress on the picture
Continue to pin your outline, then hand-stitch the pieces together using running stitch; remove the pins as the fabrics are anchored. Don’t stitch right to the edges so that you can trim the shapes if needed

Building up layers

Building up layers

Building up layers
The picture is built up in overlapping layers with the previous ones showing through. This will give subtlety of colours and textures. Look closely at the patterns on the material and the weave so that you identify marks which could work as features e.g. black dots for the seed heads, material with a pattern of lines may be great for petals depending on which direction it is placed. Also, note where your light is coming from so that you can use darker colours for shaded areas. Here you can see I have used different patterned yellows for the flowers and have started to shape the jug. Don’t forget, you can use the back of material too to give a different effect.

Detail
Pinning and stitching as you go, continue to layer fabric so that you see features emerging. Add more yellow petals, darken the centre of the flowers and build up the jug. Here I have added a few leaves too.

Adjusting the composition

Adjusting the composition

Try looking at the picture from a distance; you will see where you could add a darker scrap of fabric behind a flower to bring it forward or a pale piece to make the petal recede. Gold, silver and shiny bits can be added in small amounts to give the impression of light. Don’t worry if the picture doesn’t look perfect, you can always go back and add more material at a later time, or trim areas if the shapes are not as you would like them to be.

Composition, Shading and Shaping
I decided my composition was not pleasing so I added some more flowers for balance. You will see I have used some printed sunflower fabric–when this is chopped up and covered it will not resemble the original. Use chiffon for shading and to introduce some depth. I have cut ragged lengths of blue and purple colours and stitched them on the flowers, the pot and the base.

Finishing

Stretching the picture

Stretching the picture

Stand back. Check the shading and the shapes you have created. When you are happy with the picture decide on the size you want the finished piece to be and measure and cut a piece of mount board to fit. Your picture can then be stretched over the card by trimming the edges of the fabric to give a few centimetres overlap at the back. Lace across the back with strong thread, zigzagging the thread and pulling the fabric taut. It is then ready for framing.

Suppliers
Hobby Craft – www.hobbycraft.co.uk
John Lewis – www.johnlewis.com
Fabric HQ – www.fabrichq.co.uk Mail order for background fabric (Moda Grunge Pool 30150 226) and other supplies.
Local shops such as florists, art/craft suppliers, fabric shops and cake decorating shops may stock many of the items you need.

Barbara Shaw
www.artintextiles.co.uk
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