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The photograph does not show the detail of the stitches very well, however the impression is given!  I had a struggle with this stage. I first found it difficult to fix on a fabric as I wanted something with a regular weave so that I could do some of the stitches accurately. I wanted to be in control!!!!! However, it didn’t work on linen or hessian,( I took out my first attempts and am not adding photos here)  and I fixed on the plain, fine cotton. Consequently my first stitches (top left) were excruciating.  and I was very uncomfortable. I decided to let go and be random, hence the stitches at the centre and centre top. These were interesting textural effects and I liked the use of different tones of yarn.  The two pieces of solid but large satin-stitch bases worked well and I can see how they would add a impression of solidity, in comparison with the spiky stitches which I love, especially with the two-tones.

The block stitches in the middle are going to be very useful where a sense of perspective is needed, and I can see how that could be shaped to heighten perspective. even with the two tone solid section.  Likewise the bottom centre piece.  Very similar to some of my earlier markmaking exercises.I experimented with wool and metallic threads to see their impact, and I was struck with how the metallic thread added depth and thickness to the other yarns, as they reflected light.

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study of a feather on the beach

I decided to do a short study on a photo from the local beach, which is very coarse sand and in fact has many crushed shells integrated into the finer sands. I felt this photo all through this section on textures, and I know it is one I will return to again (and re-photo!). I sketched with pencil and then a quick watercolour study to just define some of the marks and texture differences, and then just played with stitches. I did a solid 3 lines of running stitch in a stronger embroidery yarn. I did two lines of finer running stitch on either side at a slight distance to give depth to the colours. The strands of the feathers are three different colours and different lengths , two are single strips and one is a backstitch.  I think my result is interesting as I can see depth in it and I love the sheen from the pearlised cotton reflecting over the whole stitchsketch. I wish I had put more colour underneath the feather, but for this study purpose it is ok, as I can see my stitch patterns more clearly. For the sandy area I found I wanted to give a lacy effect, by playing with blanket stitch in a loose fashion. I went over the area with two different tones to give depth, but of course it does not hide the white. I used french knots in a dark colour to give some of the stoney depth. I like the impact of this and find it attractive.  I didn’t want to hide the base fabric, as I would choose a different colour, texture of fabric if this was for an end product. I used the white so I could see the impact of my stitches.   For the shell I used satin stitch and a highlighting pink backstitch to add more depth. I think it would be good to try and stitch a larger shell to really explore the shine and curve, but the small one here is my first small attempt. As I found I struggles with satin stitch, maybe I should make myself look at a big shell study, work it out!

Overall I can see the impact of the focus on textures is helping me clarify shape and shadow. I didn’t enjoy doing the beginning exercises for some reason, but applying them to a study was very helpful, and I can see the use of some others when looking at other drawings.  Learning Point: I realise I curl up inside when I am doing something restrictive , such as trying to get an even, accurate satin stitch. A bit like my reaction to cross-stitch work!  As I work through this wonderful course, I can see I want to experiment and to explore, to break down shapes and patterns and to re-form them into something which is interpretative rather than photographic.  However accuracy is important too, so I need to not throw the baby out with the bath water…..