Womandrake: the diary
Sept 2011 – In order to prepare for the “Speaking of Fibers” event, I’m stitching several hours a day on the BIG girly:
Her glow in the dark spider web is in place with a happy spider: along with some GREAT dimensional leaves worked in handmade paper, Liquitex soft bodied acrylics, and a WHOLE LOT of satin stitches… and I’m still stitching…
She’s at about 60% finished for her debut, which is exactly where I was hoping she’d be I’ve added an applique border, and filled her body with hand made paper, couched fiber, & dimen- sional stitches. To get her leaves ready, I added 4 and 6 inch long woven picot units and a LOT of DMC Memory Thead. It really makes nice tendrils & root-like filaments. (THANK YOU Alison at DMC for sending a whole BAG of Memory Thread to keep me stitching!) I also added a sweet little mantis on one of the leaves: (with Memory Thread legs)
(estimated date of completion is August 2012…)
September 2011… LOTS of stitching….
Preparing Glow in the Dark threads for night time stitching of the spider web at the KC Crafter’s Society.
The last 10 days have seen a HUGE push of progress on the Womandrake (some from a clear vision of her direction… and some from pure panic over the impending exhibit, and the upcoming public appearances… !!!!). In anticipation of debuting her for her first stitches at the KC Crafter’s event June 23 at the Scarlet Garnett Gallery in downtown Kansas City (MO), I developed the underpainting by laying the canvas down & sitting on it (!) so that the paint wouldn’t run.
Of course, Moshi cat sat at the edge of the frame watching to make sure that fiesty botanical lady didn’t run off…
I developed each half of the painting seperately so the drying time was right — one of the hazards of working watercolor on fabric (or paper for that matter) is that you must be aware of the dry vs. wet timing and be ready to course correct when things start to dry. I also discovered that there’s a real trick to working with muslin. First, it’s internally sized, so if you want a good result from the medium, you must not wash the fabric. The sizing makes the watercolor crayon behave beautifully (those of you who know me know I am absolutely loyal to Lyra watercolor crayons) I also indulge in Derwent Inktense pencils — which dry waterproof — so it’s simply a matter of what results you have in mind. I more often than not work back into my paint, so Lyra works best, but if I’m certain of a look, I go with Derwent every time. Visit the Lyra History in Tools&Workspace
SO — I finished the underpainting and prepared for stitch. I decided that since the KC Crafter’s debut was a night time event, I’d work the spider’s web first and use a blended needle of antique silver and glow in the darkthreads!! I carefully packed her up in the driveway, loaded her up, and chaperoned her downtown — the gallery was lovely & set me up right outside the bay doors so the public could watch:
May 2011– It’s been a GREAT week with the Womandrake!!! Not only is her underpainting cruising along, but just TODAY I spoke with the Missouri Fiber Artist’s “Speaking of Fibers” exhibit organizer and she suggested we hang this big beautiful Woman dead center in the exhibit! WHEEEE!! Dont you just LOVE it when your children get the attention they deserve? That means I officially have until October to finish this thing (eeeeek). There’s also a big gallery crawl on the 1st October that I’ll have her up for.
Next, I’ll begin defining some of the Womandrake’s figure. I’m dipping into the “classics” and letting mixed media stitch rock stars Jan Beaney & Jean Littlejohn lead me via their book “Creative Embroidery” as I experiment with how to create a rooty, gnarly feel for her body. I’ve used that book SO much it looks 100 years old!
I’ll post as I complete the next steps…
April 2011 – It is indeed a very historical week!! The Womandrake has been conjured: I finally got her enlarged to the right dimensions, pinned on her foliage, and sat beaming as the happy couple finally met in my sitting room!
To watch her coming to life Visit the video
Next, I commenced to laying down the first graded wash to reveal her leaves in negative space. The weather was perfect and I spent two glorious hours communing with red birds and my muse.
After discovering that the spray paint was NOT going to work, I turned to my favorite old reliable Lyra watercolor crayons and hand painted the first inklings of background.
After two hours of painting, I took her back into the sitting room for another variegated wash where Moshi cat and Nimo dog took their time investigating the strange naked lady in the sitting room.
If YOU’re ready to do some experimenting, visit the Schoolhouse & sign up for a painting class!! I’ll guide you through the basics & have you going in NO time!
Also check up on the other Sinisters:
Mandrake: *visit Mandrake*
Monkshood *visit Monkshood*
Foxglove *visit Foxglove*
Poet’s Narcissus *visit Poet’s Narcissus*
Curious about the “how”? visit Tools & Workspace
Wanna get the BIG picture? visit Sinister Stitch Home
*************************History & Background************
This project is going to be both an inspiration AND an education…
I’ve begun cleaning out the studio
And I’ve stretched unbleached muslin 6 layers thick in Ye Trusty Olde Chalkboard frame using carpet tacking strips and nails. I’ve got the whole thing drum tight & ready for under painting:
just like I did to create The Roots at Dusk — (in 2009 the Roots at Dusk developed from 4ft X 5ft spray paint, acrylic, & watercolor:
Visit the Roots Diary
It was a great project, and I’m really looking forward to sharing the next one with the world.
So– the Mandrake…
Who are these poisonous lovers? The Man & Womandrake go WAY back in the historical imagination. Above, dated to the 12th century, they exhibit the typical characteristics of a male-female botanical. As I began developing my Womandrake last year, I turned to my first love: figure drawing. I wanted my woman to be long, and feminine, and luxurious:
I had her pictured from the back, but it just wasn’t working, so I went back to the drawing board:
Beginning from the Mandrake’s leaves, I experimented with the frontal angles, and then she just fell into place. I knew exactly what she should look like.
I began thinking of her as a BIG project as I entertained the idea of including the fruits and flowers of a mature plant — it would be fantastic if it was 3 or 4 feet tall! And thus, she was born:
I’ve been researching and sketching for several months now, and have flipped her to face to her left rather than right; it’s important to me that she have her back to the Mandrake — though not for the supposed reasons. She is not turning away in anger, or rude defiance – quite the contrary. She is secure in her trust for the Mandrake. She is confident in their shared bond, and the strength that it affords. Therefore, she knows he “has her back” and is perfectly comfortable looking and dreaming off in her own direction knowing full well that he is at her back, on her side, and worthy of being “behind her”. This affirmation is a huge statement for ME, having been indoctrinated by strong female role models, against the needing or relying on men. I have FINALLY allowed myself to trust, to Let Go… and this piece is definitely a reflection of that…
I began visualizing what she’d look like on the canvas by pinning the leaf stencils to the fabric:
Sketchbooking like mad helped to figure out the underpainting using watercolor crayon and colored pencil scrapings:
Thanks for stopping by! For MORE of the project, visit the other poisons… see you soon!