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A Tale of Two Threadpaintings, 2015 vs. 2020 'Sisters' Embroidery


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


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