The Endeavourers’ Reveal Day — Portrait Two-for-one

The quarterly challenge for this online art quilt group was “Portrait.”

As usual, I had lots of ideas, but as the deadline approached, I chose the least complicated of them.

I had taken an online workshop from Melanie Rivers in intuitive portrait making.  In the class Melanie directs you in the placement of ovals and lines to make a proportional face — I have taken the class three times and each time my results looked totally different, and I have liked all of them.  I thought this one would be interesting to translate into fabric:

Watercolor sketch from a workshop.

For the front I used an old linen napkin, and for some of the applique fabric and the backing, I chose Gelato Ombre by Maywood.  That fabric has a beautiful glowing look, and small sketchy lines that add to the texture.  I  planned to turn the backing to the front for binding.

I drew on the napkin with a Frixion pen, and appliqued the large color blocks, and then started the thread sketching.  It was tricky to use stitching to define the details, without mashing those parts of the face that should be projecting out — not something you have to worry about with regular drawing materials.

Pen sketch and applique areas.

Starting the thread sketching.

Somewhere I had seen a tip to do free style applique by just stitching down big pieces of fabric first, and then cutting around whatever stitching you do, so I tried that to make the background for the hair.

Big blobs of silk for the hair.

Then I played with textile paint, acrylic ink, and thread sketching to make the hair strands.  Some of the threads I used were very heavy so I put them in the bobbin and worked upside down, and I started to like the looks of the face that formed on the back as well.  I thought the color gradations and sketchy lines of the fabric made it look more interesting than a quilt back usually does.

The reverse looked interesting to me too.

The hair on the front looks very thick and not wispy and airy like in the watercolor.   As I stitched all the lines of flowing hair, she began to remind me of Botticelli’s Primavera, in spirit if not in style.

Oberhausen - Gasometer - Der schöne Schein - Primavera (Botticelli) 04 ies

Uffizi Gallery, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

I thought about adding in flowers, butterflies, and dragonflies, but in the end I just added in a few leaves.

When it came time to do the binding, I thought the Gelato fabric was too bright and called attention away from the portrait, but fortunately I had a jelly roll of Laura Muir‘s Fresh as a Daisy collection from Moda (if you scroll down on that page, you can click to see a PDF of the whole collection), and those fabrics made the perfect complements for the double portrait.  In fact, it would be fun to do another version, with those fabrics for the hair.

So here is the watercolor again, followed by its translation into fabric:

Watercolor sketch from a workshop.


Summer/Estate (the Italian word for summer — new vocabulary for me)

The damask napkin gives a nice base of texture.

I actually like the watercolor better, because the transparency gives it more vibrancy, I think.  What is a pink forehead in the watercolor version, turns into an Olivia Newton-John sweatband for aerobics class on the quilted version, but it’s not a totally bad look; I think Primavera can carry it off. 🙂  And I loved the process of drawing with the sewing machine.

Are you curious about what everyone else in the group has come up with?  Some hints — a fly fisherman and his catch, an Andy Warhol inspired dog portrait, and a mug shot of a criminal sea gull!  For these and other interesting portraits, please go and visit The Endeavourers!