Friday, May 2, 2014

Another Thread Painting Finished

12 X 12  
Before I go into my thoughts on working on this piece, I'm in a bind on what to name it. One of the things that attracted me to this gentleman, enough to ask his permission to take his photo, was his smile and the twinkle in his eyes.

That lead me to think of titles like, Sparkling, Twinkle, etc. I'm at a standstill, anyone have a good suggestion?

Sometimes, make that often, when I am working on a piece it takes me a while to get it finished. That doesn't mean I'm physically working on that piece the whole time.  I often will put a piece on my design wall that I am having trouble with.  That keeps it in view, which keeps it fresh in my mind.  I can then mull it over until I'm ready tackle the problem.

This doesn't happen with every piece I work but generally it does with more detailed work. I began working on this gentleman months ago and finally decided last week that I WAS GOING TO FINISH HIM this week.  So here he is.
 The biggest problem I had when starting out on this piece was finding the colors of thread that I felt represented the beautiful copper colors of his skin tone. I began a piece and discarded it because of this reason. Every where I went I shopped for brown tone threads. I finally found enough that worked to my satisfaction.

I usually begin a portrait with the eyes and then work out from there. In the piece I discarded, the color of thread wasn't the only problem I encountered. I was very unhappy with the eyes.

( Bad photo lighting shows his skin darker here.)

My second start worked for me, and as I began to work on the piece I could see where changes, or details, needed to be added
I wait until I have the piece all but finished to go back and create the details.

As I move forward I realize that the background is not working. In order to thread paint the hair you must finish the background first. This allows you to create the hair in the foreground. At this point I had to make a major decision. I had to fix this background, and I didn't have a clue as to how, or I had to cut his head out and attach him to another background. I had never done this and it was one of those heart stopping moments.

 After I cut his head out of the original background I auditioned different fabrics until I found one that I felt worked. Once I decided on the fabric I zigzagged the head to the background using a thread color that I would be using in his hair and beard.

I forgot to mention that I quilted the background before I added the head. I then finished his hair.

Notice his eyes, nose, teeth,  mouth and beard  here.

After carefully studying his eyes, nose, mouth and teeth, I added details that made those features look more like him.

One of the things that I feel is really important when you are working on a portrait is the high-lights and, of course, shadows that show on the face. This really shows off the nostrils, creases, and curves of the body. Last but far from least is the catch light in the eyes.
Without that the person, animal or insect will show no life.

I will be teaching Fabricating Faces with Thread  at the NCQS  in Wilmington, NC the weekend of May 29-June 1.

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  1. it's a beautiful portrait!

    1. Thanks, I'm really enjoying creating these.

  2. I absolutely love this one! He looks like he would have a great laugh - did you get his name? Maybe just call it whatever his first name is? You really captured his soul

    1. Thanks, I did get his name but I really don't want to use his name. You're comment about capturing his soul means a lot to me. About the best think you could say. Thanks.

  3. This is a person that I would love to meet. You have made a portrait with a great personality shining through. The name will come to you...

  4. I love it, Marilyn. And, your description of your process. he looks grounded, sure of himself, and able to appreciate what he sees because it is not threatening to who he is. How is that for an analysis of what the piece says to me! Congrats! And, so glad you changed the background.

  5. A wonderful piece....I've only known a few people who have "smiling eyes" ....he is one of them and you truly captured it....Good job!

  6. NIce piece, Marilyn. I think he just glows. How about "Glow" as a name for it.

    1. Thanks for suggestions on this guys name. I decided to use "Grounded"