“Seamster Mouse” – Freehand Embroidery, Nostalgia & Everyday Magic

Art

I’ve been told that as a toddler I used to watch “Cinderella” relentlessly. I’d sit totally enraptured, watching Ella’s story unfold in the 1950’s classic before asking my mother if we could watch it again. And again…and again.

While admittedly I’m a lover of just about all Disney tales, “Cinderella” will always hold a special place in my heart. It’s impossible for me to watch the film without feeling nostalgic – remembering all the times I watched it with my mother and grandmother, lost in the magic that came to a woman who persevered through hardship with courage and kindness.

My latest embroidery piece has ties to  the “Cinderella” story and was inspired by her rodent friends who gallantly help her sew the dress she first intends to wear to the Prince’s ball.

This piece was just about 2 months in the making (who’d have thought mouse hair would take so long to embroider?) but I do believe Seamster Mouse looks better in color. He’s come a long way since his initial sketch!

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Unlike in the movie where the mice help “Cinderelly” with the original dress that gets torn by her stepmother and step sisters, I imagine this mouse might be helping with the final product. This is hinted at in the blue thread wound on the spool next to him.

The challenges of this embroidery were 1. making a mouse look cute (not creepy) and 2. the use of metallic thread in the represented sewing needle. If you’ve never used metallic embroidery thread before, I highly recommend that you proceed with patience and wine! It’s constantly fraying ends are enough to drive a novice embroiderer positively mad.

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But perhaps the biggest challenge was giving the piece a strong sense of story. I wanted viewers to wonder who this mouse was and what exactly he was up to with that needle and thread. Similar to my other fiber pieces, I wanted to instill the theme of everyday magic.

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I love that I feel a sense of accomplishment when I look at this piece and I love that it reminds me of one of my favorite stories. Perhaps most of all, I love that it reminds me of my own upcoming wedding and fairytale soon to come.

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A Drawing Inspired by the Late Alexander McQueen

Art

It’s finally April and although it doesn’t feel like it in New York, I am so incredibly ready for spring. Unsurprisingly, this yearning is finding its way into my work.

Today I’m sharing a recent drawing of mine that plays homage to the transition period between winter and spring – although the weather may start to warm, we must always endure the inevitable period of rain and mud before the flowers begin to bloom .

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This drawing which hints to the described seasonal transition was also directly inspired by the late Alexander McQueen – a fashion designer who was more artist than designer. See the original here:

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I was so taken with this piece when I first saw it. The dress felt like the perfect mix between high fashion and a fairy’s ensemble, and you can’t help but be drawn in by the contrast between structural and organic elements.

It reminds me of something a character might wear in a modern “Alice in Wonderland.”

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Like many of my recent drawings, the piece was created using Prismacolor Premier colored pencils. I’ve really taken to drawing watercolor-styled flowers with this media and enjoyed switching back and forth from blending smooth, organic shapes to going back in with sharpened tips to restructure and add detail.

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If you’re unfamiliar with the work of Alexander McQueen, I highly recommend you check out the book Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty. This compilation of his pieces was first introduced to me during my undergraduate studies by my Fiber Arts Professor and is brimming with inspiration.

You can’t be a modern artist without appreciating McQueen; it just isn’t possible!

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Fingers crossed that spring is on the horizon!

Wedding-Inspired Artwork

Art

Lately I’ve been so incredibly immersed in wedding planning! While at first I found the whole process to be entirely overwhelming, time has given me the chance to willingly tackle the challenge and over the past couple of months I have really, truly been enjoying this once-in-a-lifetime planning experience.

Food, music, flowers and pretty dresses… seriously, so much fun!

With the majority of my brain focused on planning the perfectly romantic, elegant day, it’s not surprising that the wedding genre has found its way into my artwork.

Keep scrolling to check out my most recent wedding-inspired sketches:

A SKETCH A DAY

Art

As mentioned in my last post, this year I’m committed to sketching more. This means sketching as a means of learning and inspiration, not as a practice for finished pieces.

To help myself commit to this resolution, I’ve been challenging myself to complete a sketch a day. Whether it’s a 5-minute study or a more complete work, I’m determined to pick up a pencil (or pen, or brush) once a day and visually jot down my thoughts.

If you follow my Instagram account, you’ll see that I’m doing alright in my self-inflicted challenge.

Drawing quick studies of my dog…

…drawing inspiration from what’s on TV…

…and replicating what can be found in the books in my library.

I’m even throwing in some of my favorite characters!

And while I may not be sketching every single day, I’m certainly doing more than I was. And that’s what it’s all about, right?

I challenge you to challenge yourself!

Whether it’s drawing, writing, or crafting, I challenge you to make more time for yourself and the things that you love.

A Beastly Sketch

Art

I’m always promoting the act of sketching. Not every drawing should be a finished piece and we should all learn to sketch out of habit as a way of learning, as a way of reflecting and as a way of observing the world around us.

The more we draw, the better we get at 99% of art forms. Period. Sketch for sketching sake.

That being said, I’m not always great at following my own advice. Do as I say, not as I do – yada, yada, yada.

I get it. If you’re like me, you want every sketch to lead to something grand. Something more than a fleeting thought. Ultimately, something more than a sketch!

But sketches are meant to be unfinished – that’s what makes them magical! Because documenting fleeting, unfinished thoughts on paper help us learn which direction we want to go in and can sometimes lead to the grandest ideas of all.

One of my resolutions for 2018 is to sketch more. Fearless sketching, totally unafraid of the prospect that some sketches will end up being nothing more than a few hasty scribbles on a piece of paper.

This weekend I held true to my resolution and flipped through my sketchbook pages rapidly, producing a number of very quick, very rough drawings. I drew ideas as fast as they came to me. And through this process, found some inspiration.

Portraiture. Faces. Taking a break from inanimate objects (which I do so love) and focusing back on the living and breathing.

Feeling inspired, I kept sketching. And actually did create a sketch I deemed worth sharing:

I love “Beauty and the Beast” and was drawn to capturing Beast’s half-human nature. (Admittedly, humanoid creatures have always been a fascination of mine.)

Because of this care-free sketch-session I’m feeling more inspired than I have weeks. Thank goodness I received a pile of sketchbooks for Christmas!

Stitching Mythology: the White Stag

Art

I’m sure everyone can relate when I say that it’s always difficult to get back into the every-day routine post-holidays. With the close of the hustle and bustle also comes the inevitable energy crash.

It has definitely taken me some recovery time this year to get back to my normal routine, but I am happy to share that with this frigid don’t-leave-the-house-because-it’s-way-too-cold-outside weekend also came the time and energy to re-focus on my work.

My un-finished nutcracker embroidery is way too seasonal to work on in January, so I decided to put him away for the year, to be finished next December.

Looking to start something new, I drew inspiration from the -30 degree Fahrenheit weather outside and sketched the outline for a new fiber piece:

Now, before you start thinking that I’ve turned into a hunting-crazed Central New-Yorker, I’d like to clarify that what I have in mind for this piece is much more magical than a taxidermy deer head.

In fact, the white stag has a firm footing in mythology found in several cultures. It is often a symbol for purity and good fortune, and in Celtic myth is said to be a sign that the otherworld is near. The white hart is also a staple element in Arthurian legend.

I love the stories that accompany this seemingly ordinary animal and am looking forward to making this piece magical in subtle ways. There’s certainly more of a challenge in making a stag appear magical than there is in doing the same with a dragon.

Here’s to many cold New York nights ahead that will be spent working on this piece!

FOR THE LOVE OF SNOW

Art

Words cannot explain how excited I was to have a white Christmas this year! With all the Christmases of my childhood having been buried under several feet of snow, the green holidays we have experienced lately have left me feeling – ironically – a tad blue.

This year in New York, much to my excitement, we were surprised with a dusting Christmas Eve which continued through Christmas morning.

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Those of us who had the pleasure of growing up in chillier climates know that to a child, snow is just about one of the most wonderful things there is, especially around the holidays. Snow days, sledding, building snow people… the possibilities are truly endless!

Combining the everyday magic of the element with my excitement for this year’s beautifully white Christmas, I was inspired to create my most recent colored pencil drawing:

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Living in a seriously snowy region, a favorite pastime of the adults in my community is complaining about the winter weather. “It’s difficult to drive in,” “I hate shoveling,” “I’m freezing,” etc., etc. Another beautiful thing dissected and tarnished by the pessimistic eye of adulthood.

In this drawing, I was aiming to capture the love of snow that some of us (myself included) have managed to hold onto into adulthood and perhaps remind others that even as adults, we can still find magic in our everyday lives.

 

Tidings of Joy

Art

Combining my love of nutcrackers and their representation of good luck, I thought it only fitting that my last embroidery of 2017 be a nutcracker.

I’ll admit – I’m a little disappointed that I wasn’t able to get this guy done in time for Christmas day! BUT that being said, I love how he’s looking thus far.

Just a little over a month ago he was nothing but a sketch…

Nutcrackers are also said to be messengers of good luck and good will, so from my family to yours, I’m sharing this nutcracker to wish you the merriest of holidays. May your heart and home be full of peace and love this Christmas day!

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P.S. Only 2 days until Christmas!

HOLIDAY NUTTINESS

Art

It’s the most amazing (and simultaneously most frantic) time of the year! With Thanksgiving tomorrow and Christmas on the horizon, words can’t express my excitement for this season. Food, drink, family and tradition, the holidays possess their own special form of magic.

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With so many recipe and craft posts ahead, I’m ringing in Thanksgiving 2017 with a whimsical colored pencil sketch of an acorn.

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Truthfully, I’ve always found acorns to be 1. adorable and 2. quite whimsical. I tend to imagine them as nature’s lockets, with secrets hidden underneath their quilt-patterned caps.

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As a matter of fact, this drawing isn’t the first time an acorn has appeared in my work. You can spy an unfinished embroidery piece in the photo below:

Part of the appeal of drawing this ‘corn was the color challenge. As I mentioned in my last art-post, featuring a fanciful cuppa coffee, I love finding all of the variations of brown in subject matter that most tend to view as monochromatic. Because when you learn to really look,  you find so many more colors than just brown in the shell of an acorn or within the depths of your whipped cream topping.

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I’ve also been spending time reading Gregory Maguire’s latest novel, “Hiddensee: A Tale of the Once and Future Nutcracker” and believe that the book’s story subconsciously influenced my decision to spend time drawing a nut. (Or at least, that’s the rationale I’m going with.)

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Either way, this little acorn is a symbol of whimsy and a perfect mental transition for me between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Here’s to wishing everyone a simply splendid Thanksgiving! I can’t wait to celebrate this magical season ahead.

 

Capturing Cozy

Art

If you’ve been following my recent posts, you’ll know that the insanity of wedding planning combined with home renovations and our attempts to sell our house has driven me to the Nordic concept of hygge, which is (simply put) the belief in coziness and simple pleasures. Let’s just say I’m trying to keep myself as calm as possible during what has been both the most exciting and most stressful time of my life.

While this has translated to the design of our newly-renovated house, I’m also seeing this hyggelig inspiration crop up in my artwork. Most recently, in this colored pencil drawing of a hot latte:

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While I’m not one to turn down an alcoholic beverage (trust me, I like my craft beer), there is undoubtedly something special about a hot cup of coffee. Ironically, coffee consumption has sky-rocketed in our household during the last few months as a means of keeping ourselves calm. Relevant side note: most of the coffee being consumed is now decaffeinated.

So for this piece’s inspiration I’m writing down 1. hygge 2. coffee (obviously) and 3. the fact that I’m one of those annoying people that’s already excited for the holiday season (I know, I know – but I can’t help it!). I’m already dreaming about sipping hot beverages in front of the fire while simultaneously gazing fondly at the adorned Christmas tree.

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This piece was also a fun challenge, forcing me to pick out the different tones of cream and brown found in a frothy latte – considerably more fun when you have a widely-varied colored pencil set to get the job done!

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Between the combination of the impending winter months and my obsession with cozy I predict there may be a new series coming on!