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Kate Hughes Art Blog

Transcription of Threadpainting Behind the Scenes Episode:

Hello and welcome to Threadpainting Behind the Scenes. I’m Kate, and in today’s episode, I’m sharing the behind the scenes stitching process of creating my “RuPaul at the Roast” threadpainting. Let’s go behind the scenes!

If you’re a super-fan of RuPaul’s Drag Race like me, you will probably instantly recognize the reference photo I used to create this embroidery. But in case you’re a casual fan or unfamiliar, this is a screenshot taken during the Season 13 Episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race ‘Nice Girls Roast’ where one of the Queens makes a joke at RuPaul’s expense. This pose is her perfect reaction. The moment was so iconic and unexpected from Ru, I knew immediately I had to capture this moment in thread for my ongoing Pop Culture Portraits series.

I started the process of creating this threadpainting by tracing the reference photo on my iPad in Procreate. Then I moved the file into Photoshop and adjusted the size for my pattern. Then I used a technique I learned from Stitching Sabbatical on YouTube where you stick your fabric to the adhesive part of a full page label and print the pattern directly on your fabric. Here is a link to that tutorial: Once I printed out my pattern, I removed the fabric from the label paper, hooped it and began stitching Ru’s face.

I always start my threadpainted portraits with the eyes, for a few reasons. First, stitching the eyes gives me an opportunity to solidify the spacing of facial features in the portrait. Secondly, they always use what I consider to be the two most important thread colors in any embroidery I create- black and white. Embroidering faces is just like contouring the face, you place the shadows and highlights with the darkest and lightest colors you’ll be using first before moving onto blending everything together. In my case, to create the most realism I use black and white to start this process. After the eyes I continue working on the other major features of the face that will have white or highlights, like the teeth, and bridge of the nose.

I then choose about 3-4 thread colors to blend these highlights and shadows together on the face making sure to have light, medium and dark colors that I can use to create depth and dimension in different areas. Throughout the blending process I will jump around the face, using black thread to define features. Once I feel the features are solidly in place and I’ve achieved the realism and depth that I’m looking for, I move onto another section of the portrait. I like to give myself some time away from working on the face once I think it’s “done” so that I can come back in later and tweak things as needed. This happens in every portrait I create to some extent, so I don’t stress about it and get excited about the next section.

When working on RuPaul’s fabulous wig, I chose a medium orange color to lay as one of the darker shadow colors, following with a super pale yellow color all over as the main highlight and then shading again with a medium golden color. Since Drag Queens are larger than life and everything they do has a little extra shine, I used satin white thread to act as an additional highlight which looks AMAZING! I even used a little bit on the top of the cheek as the makeup highlight. I then blended everything together with a bright yellow color, before moving on to the next section.

The hands are arguably what makes this portrait so iconic in the first place - very rare to see Ru flipping off one of her Queens! I love stitching them and so it was a big part of why I chose this photo to recreate in thread. I followed a similar process as I did with the face, laying a base foundation of a lighter color and then coming in with lighter and darker tones to define the fingers and arms. At this stage of the portrait I really get into a flow since I already have my colors chosen and I’m just enjoying the process. Everything starts coming together in my mind and all of a sudden I’m done stitching the neck, ears, and already moving on to the second hand. By this point I know exactly what I’m doing and it’s just a race to finish so I can move on to finishing touches! I go back through Ru’s hair and add in some definition with a dark brown color.

I didn’t film the process of stitching Ru’s outfit or earrings, but once everything was complete I knew the portrait needed some color to make it pop. I decided to finish the embroidery with a satin stitch around the portrait in a hot pink color corresponding with the reference photo.

I then went searching through my stash of art supplies and found a 5 x 5 inch canvas, along with the perfect scrap of black and silver patterned faux leather to cover the canvas with and serve as a dynamic backdrop. I added some fray check around the satin stitches edges of the portrait to give it some stability so I could trim very closely around the portrait. Finally, I used HeatnBond iron on adhesive to mount the finished portrait onto the fabric covered canvas.

The entire process took about 40 hours, and I’m so so happy with how the finished portrait turned out. I think I captured the essence of this moment in Drag Race HER-story and it’s one of my favorite portraits I’ve ever created. The serendipity of having the perfect fabric scrap from years ago in my stash to complete the look is what really makes it for me. I’ve created over 20 Pop Culture Portraits on my embroidery journey so far, but this is the first time I’ve documented the process in this way. I wonder who I’ll stitch next? Feel free to leave suggestions for future threadpainted portraits in the comments, or any questions you may have.

Thank you for spending time with me and learning about the behind the scenes process of creating my RuPaul at the Roast threadpainting, I hope you’ve enjoyed! I’ll see you next time. - Kate Hughes, 2022


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Updated: May 26, 2022


Transcription of Threadpainting Behind the Scenes Episode:

Hello and welcome to Threadpainting Behind the Scenes. I'm Kate, In today’s episode, I’m sharing a recap of the behind the scenes process of creating and re-creating my ‘Sisters’ threadpainting. Let’s go behind the scenes!

The original Sisters threadpainting was hand stitched by me in 2015 at the very beginning of my embroidery journey. My brother took the photo this embroidery is based on, it’s of my sister and I sitting on the beach in Vancouver. We had the best time together that day skipping around the beach, laughing together, being silly, and I love making keepsake pieces of art that showcase special memories in my life, so I knew I had to capture this special memory in thread.

I took up embroidery as a way to keep my hands busy in between calls at my corporate job at the time. I fell in love with the process of stitching and knew right away there would be so much to learn along the way. Since I was just getting started with embroidery I only had a handful of colors on hand to create this piece, and because I wasn’t yet creating content for Kate Hughes Art on social media yet, I only took a few progress photos along the way. This artwork was stitched under fluorescent light, mostly in a setting where I was not very relaxed or focused.

Most of the stitching here was done using two strands of thread through the needle at a time, resulting in a bulkier, less blended final result. You can see that I didn’t stitch cleanly all the way to the edges, and there are some gaps between stitches where you can see the fabric underneath. Speaking of, the fabric I stitched on was a thick cross-stitch fabric with relatively large holes, which I just happened to have on hand at the time. Now I prefer to stitch on linen or plain cotton fabric. I talk more about the differences between the stitching techniques and style of the 2015 “Sisters” threadpainting compared to the 2020 re-stitched artwork in the video SISTERS EMBROIDERY RE-STITCH - DIFFERENCES SO FAR. Check out that video if you are interested!

In the spring of 2020, after five years of business and creating over 100 threadpainting commissions, I was inspired to re-stitch “Sisters.” I had decided to take a break from commissioned work during this stage of the pandemic and was at home, missing my family a lot. This artwork being such a special memory to me, as well as a foundational artwork in the history of my business, made it a perfect piece to bring to life at this time.This time around, I recorded almost the entire process of creating this threadpainting, and split it into a few sections.

The first focuses on the stitching process of my stitching my sister's flowy, multidimensional hair.

The second section focuses on the process of creating the mountains in the background.

The third section and My favorite part of this threadpainting to restitch by far was the water. I used shades of DMC metallic thread in addition to cotton to create depth and sparkle in the water, really evoking the memory of the sun shining on the water that day with my siblings, which you can watch in the video WATER TIMELAPSE. All of these videos will be linked in the description.

In my artist statement, I talk about how I treat the slow process of embroidery as a mindfulness meditation, while processing the chaos of daily life. That was certainly the case with both the original “Sisters” and the re-stitched artwork. The first time around I was trying to find calm and a peaceful, fun outlet to occupy my anxious mind in a stressful call-center job. This time, I was able to find a semblance of calm and peace during a scary and stressful global pandemic.

Enjoy a little bit of slow stitching here. I add the sails to the sailboats with a few stitches.

Another fun thing I started doing over the years is stitching my initials into my finished works. I try to use an existing thread color in the design and make them blend in, so that you can only spot them if you’re looking for them. Knowing they’re there always puts a smile on my face.

At the end of my projects, I like to have a little fun recording time lapses of all the thread bits being put away. I also love documenting the finished artwork alongside the thread colors it took to create it.

My goal is to use the lengthy hand stitching process to connect to the work in an emotional way, so that I can bring out the truest representation of the subject. Making this sisters embroidery was such a special process for me that I wanted to do it twice. I hope while you’ve been watching this process of making my Sisters threadpainting, you were able to connect to the artwork in an emotional way as well.

Thank you for watching, I’ll see you next time. - Kate Hughes, 2022


Support Kate + Threadpainting Behind the Scenes:

❤ Buy Me a Coffee

❤ Venmo @katehughesart 

❤ Cashapp $katiebug23

❤ Paypal PayPal.Me/katehughesart



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