I have been working on a private commission based on the Nickey Line, an old disused railway line in Hertfordshire. The client spends a lot of time running along the Nickey Line and also lives nearby so this place holds special memories and significance. As a family we also really enjoy walking, running and cycling along the line so I already knew the area and had a sense of what I wanted to make. Pathways are very much a recurring theme in my work, as are trees and I am currently working on improving on a sense of movement in my work. I love the shadows along the pathway in the photos below and that feeling of being drawn into the image whilst the trees rush by on either side.
I always begin my work with photos and sketches, it helps me to explore different options and run the colours and ideas by the client to check if I am working along the right lines.
Making the background: Even though I usually end up stitching all over the fabric I like to use different fabrics to create a collage for my background. I use scarves that I've bought from charity shops, felt, silk, lots of different fabrics. It helps me to relax into the work, so rather than working straight onto a plain piece of fabric I already have some idea of composition, colour and tone. I then use a Janome Embellisher to join all the fabrics together and soften the surface, almost as if I am blending pastels.
Then I begin stitching. I put in the main components first - the path, where the trees will go etc. Once stitching begins, I allow the work to evolve and periodically review where it needs to go next. This can mean roughly framing it, popping it on the mantel piece and keeping an eye it whilst pottering about the house or watching the TV. Thinking time and working out what needs to be done is important.
Am hoping to finish this piece by the end of this week - I ran out of the threads I am using so am reflecting on it whilst waiting for them to arrive. There is a lot to be done still, I've only really done the background so far - lots of detail and contrast to be added. Will post again once finished!