Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Looking back

Yesterday I taught a class at a meeting of the Cape Cod chapter of the American Needlepoint Guild on how to stitch skies using the technique of needle-blending.  I had the most wonderful time, working with a group of very talented stitchers eager to try something new to them.  The experience led me to think back on my 16 years of stitching lighthouses, and the various ways I've handled the sky behind them over the years.  To the left is my first model of Cape Cod lighthouse in Truro, Massachusetts.  I had a lot of blue to stitch and thought, at the time, "Better use a pattern stitch to fill in all that blue."  Try again!
In 2002, I started adapting some of my lighthouse designs for use as inserts in Sudberry House bookends.  Pictured right is Camden Island lighthouse in Maine.  I started layering the skies, using gradual shading of DMC floss in a random pattern of basketweave.  Notice that I didn't "cut in" the values of blue--there's a definite line showing between the layers.

That same year, I tried something different for a Sudberry House pencil box insert of Portland Head lighthouse in Maine.  I was still basketweaving the sky with gradual values of DMC blue floss, but VERY randomly to incorporate clouds in the sky.  Yes, it looked realistic--my youngest son tried to convince me I should stitch all my skies that way!--but it was virtually impossible to duplicate from one lighthouse to the next.

Ten years later, with the ins and outs of the needle-blending technique
under my belt, I stitched East Chop lighthouse on Martha's Vineyard,
Massachusetts, with a foggy sky. (Photo right.) It was one of the lighthouse canvases
members of the Cape Cod chapter worked on yesterday.  Is it realistic?
Absolutely!  I copied the details line by line from a photo my youngest son
had taken for me when he visited the island on a foggy day.  Can I duplicate
the look?  Definitely--I've done so since with other lighthouses.  And by
using the same "foggy sky" recipe with the canvas turned upside down, I've created "gloomy" skies, too.

You may be saying to yourself right now, "All these skies were stitched in basketweave and that's just boring!"  Well, not boring to me.  I've seen simple skies and extremely complicated skies filled with patterned stitches that made me want to cringe.  I've always held that the background should stay IN the background without being boring.  You have to admit that a simple sky with the twist provided by needle-blending keeps the subject of the canvas--the lighthouse itself--in center stage.

1 comment:

Needle Nicely said...

So much for thinking, "It's just the background. Ho, hum"

Glad the class went well.