It stopped raining, the clouds parted, and….. the next stormy weather front came in. The current world is either water or in training to become water- the mud is a particularly good vintage. Bright, calm days are a rarity, so it is not a surprise that the present beastie is muted, drab and dribbly. I returned to a favourite site, about 5 miles away, not by bike but in a nice warm car, clutching a thermos.
It was always meant to be sketchy and scribbly, moody rather than hard, and more about mass rather than detail. Colour would be secondary to textures. On the whole it has worked that way with the usual amount of frustrations and moaning of course.
The work is built in layers, each deliberately incomplete, first the rough sketch, then quick scribbles and scrubs of watered down emulsion. Initial stitching is barely there on the horizon, thread matching the cotton canvas. The murky weather blurred the distances so the lines of stitch wander and weave, never describing too clearly the receding layers of woodland and hill. The closer trees are in thicker Gutermann quilter’s cotton thread to give more bulk, pale grey variegated for the distant ones, darker and bolder colours for the main two. Chunks of frayable synthetic fabrics were laid into the stitching, finer offcuts and snippets of various colours for the central tree.
The main trees were done with dense directional work on the trunks and branches, then single line scribbling for the outer twigs. The scraps of fabrics then cut and frayed for colour and texture.
The lump of woodland to the right was handled differently – blocks of fabric, then slabs of grey crosshatching with a top dressing of green stitch. It was meant to be a presence on the picture rather than a character, framing the spaces and counterbalancing the other trees.
At about 1/2 done, the whole was dyed up again, coffee stain and dye added quite brutally.
This was last Sunday’s status when I was building up the density of the stitch work. It was washed to knock out the excess dye and paint -do not recommend boiling water. biological soap powder and a scrubbing brush approach for your delicates. Too much of the dye and paint came out, leaving only stains behind. This meant another round of dying – this was mid storm ‘Henry’ – dye splattering every where, the fabric trying to take flight in the strong wind. Then more stitching, ripping and tearing on the rough ground to the left, and
adding quick growing branches to balance the tree shapes. and the thing was about done. Just some dark ink flooded in to deepen the tone, more thin emulsion to refresh the colour and a couple of hours of hard machining and it felt right, so a truce was called.
To make sure I couldn’t fiddle, it went straight on to a stretcher frame!