Then & Now - 70 - CopyA stitch in time…well, a stitch in time takes time. And it keeps you from other things like writing a pretty regular weekly post that’s been a fairly consistent routine for the last five years. Oh, and there were the three graduations and a wedding, trips to NY and CA, lots of wedding preparations, lots of people to see though we missed a few, and all that ridiculously arduous air travel that has become the American way of life. Let’s just say I felt a bit unstitched and exhausted after a month on the road.

But there were other stitches needling my creative attention. During our California time I attended a stellar art retreat with cherished friends at the C Gallery in Los Alamos superbly hosted by gallery owner Connie Rohde. Entitled “Transitions, Identity and Threads,” the weekend retreat was facilitated by therapist/poet Roslyn Strohl and artist Peg Grady. Lifelines, birds, embroidery floss, prose writing and haikus were all part of the first evening’s invitation followed by the next morning with a daylong whirlwind of collage on canvas paper incorporating pattern pieces, buttons and threadwork.

We were each encouraged to bring several photos of ourselves for possible inclusion in our artwork. The one I chose to work with is a recent portrait by talented photographer Pam James. Using  a photocopy, the process of transferring the image to the collaged canvas paper was quite simple…using a push pin I punched holes to create an outline of what I wanted stitched. I left the face blank as I’m still discovering my identity in this new place called home in NC.

Since I enjoy handwork, the stitching part of this art project was very satisfying. And one art piece wasn’t quite enough. So I’ve begun a series of thread portraits using photos of myself at various ages in hopes of eventually completing a life span of images. So far I’ve completed three others at ages three, four and eighteen. Each stitched portraits includes pattern pieces, birds (or butterflies), and buttons. The accent collage colors correspond to the clothing I was wearing – a yellow smocked dress, my favorite red and green butterfly print dress, and an orange dress made for a backwards dance also worn for my senior picture.  And consistent with Roslyn’s invitation, each stitched portrait includes a haiku. That takes a bit of doing to encapsulate a snapshot of life in seventeen syllables!  My “Austin Powers” mid-twenties portrait from the psychedelic 60s will be next.

If you were going to create a thread portrait, what photo of yourself would you begin with? What design elements like birds, buttons or accent colors would you include that told part of your story at that moment. What would your 5/7/5 seventeen syllable haiku say about this particular moment in your life? What memories have you awakened or anchored with this creative process?

For all of you who emailed to inquire about my well-being because of my long blogging silence, thanks for missing me!

4 comments to Stitches

  • Judi

    Your summer sounds wonderful…busy, but fun! I love the collage portrait. It took a while before I realized the backgrounds behind you are pattern pieces. Perfect!!!

  • cynthia thomas

    what a clever idea to stitch a portrait to uncover self-identity! i would chose a portrait taken at design outside the lines, 2013. i’m wearing a splendid fascinator made by my friend, geneva. i reflect happiness & confidence in myself. a true gift that i’ve worked for over a lifetime.

  • sharron luft

    I always love making art with you lynne, but then I love traveling, shopping, writing, teaching, learning, talking, crying and praying with you too. This week I am at a monastery in palos verde with my spiritual directors group and next week I will be at the writing and art academy making an altered book. I wish you were going to be with me. Of course I will let you know how it goes.

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