Never Underestimate the Importance of White

I will be the first to admit this blog has been a little slow at the moment. The truth is I am putting in at least 6 hours of stitching in each day on this piece. Up until this evening I had spent every day stitching only in white. Sounds pretty boring I know, but in fact white was the solution to the piece.

"River" - WIP - May 4, 2014It’s funny, you never really think of white as a color to use creatively. In most cases you start with a white piece of paper or a white canvas and the main goal is to add color.

With this piece I started with un-dyed cottons, wools and silks with the main focus on adding color to the materials through natural dyeing before creating the piece. Hours are spent over the dye pot working to add color that is both light-fast and wash-fast. The whole thought process focuses around adding color. This is fine until the piece starts to be assembled and you realize there is one key component that was forgotten over the marathon dye sessions, and that was contrast. Now if I had paid more attention in the design class I took during first semester of art school years ago I probably wouldn’t have put the concept of contrast on the back-burner, but to be honest slinging paint on a canvas or being up to your elbows in clay was just a lot more fun than studying notes on “Design Principles”.

I needed to somehow add contrast to this piece. The base is cotton and I find it is pretty tricky to get real darks on cotton with natural dyes, especially in this case where the dark tones can’t bleed into the lighter tones as the background fabric is one large continuous piece of fabric with the main areas masked and dyed. The colored threads for stitching mostly fall into the mid-tone range. The answer to the issue of contrast was to start adding white, and a lot of it.

"river" detail

I started with the white tree trunks on the right, plus added in some white bushes in the foreground. Some colored leaf detail still needs to be worked into this area.

"river" detail

The next step was the island. It still needs to be filled out with more stitching, but it is now starting to look like something.

"river" detail

The trees stitched on the river bank not add some perspective. I have also added a double white line to create a better visual “current” in the river.

So “what next?” is probably the question to ask. I need to add some “scrub” along the river bank, and add some colored foliage to the island and the trees on the right hand side. I “think” the sky is done. I still need to decide what to do, if anything, to the top of the hills. Once the stitching is done I then plan to add beads to the river’s current, the vertical areas on the bank, and possibly among the trees and foliage. I also need to decide if I need any rocks along the bank and how to hang the finished piece.

Lots to do, that’s for sure.

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If you are completely bored of looking at this project, I also have two other blogs.  My blog www.islandhomeblog.wordpress.com is about our home and experiences in the Gulf Islands, a great blog to look at if you enjoy ocean scenics. I also have the blog www.debrahunter.wordpress.com that features mostly finished works and projects with a little Alberta shooting thrown in on occasion.

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8 thoughts on “Never Underestimate the Importance of White

  1. How could anyone ever be bored in the face of such skill and creativity! Your additional white had made this piece sing. It’s just wonderful and I can’t wait to see it with the beading in place. Soldier on, Deb! (Says she who would throw a hissy fit if she had to as much as sew on a button) ✂️😉

    • Maybe I’m the one getting a teeny bit bored. I can’t believe how long this piece is taking and how many hours. I’ll be happier once I am on to the beading, that is where the fun will begin.

      Thanks for checking it out!

  2. It is so much fun to watch your progress on this beautiful piece! I love the close up shots that show the meticulous detail. What are the dimensions of the piece?

  3. Deb the white does lift the piece nicely, it’s a lot! of hand stitching, sorry I’m late commenting, I’ve had this post sitting in my inbox waiting for me to find the time to do it justice, I didn’t want to just give a quick scan as can happen when there are lots of blogs to catch up on, now to read the beading post, Frances

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