I learned this technique years ago at college but have not used it since. It is all about negative and positive space. Here are a few examples of others work in this:
Traditionally it is worked in cross stitch. However you can take the negative/positive concept into many forms of artwork and textile work.
I researched a little on contemporary versions, however found only Richard as seen below….
His work ties in well with the area of Assisi. His use of black and white and their contrasts, in a non-structured way, evokes the sense of a more modern Assisi:
His artist statement tells us this:
‘Richard McVetis is a British artist-maker, known for his meticulously embroidered drawings and objects. His artistic practice centres on his training as an embroiderer through the use of traditional hand stitch techniques and mark making. Using laboured and meticulously worked wools and multiples of embroidered dots and crosses, he explores the similarities between pen on paper and thread on fabric, using a limited vocabulary of mark making and deliberately subdued colour to create a binary simplicity.His work reflects a preoccupation with the repetitive nature of process, exploring the subtle differences that emerge through ritualistic and habitual making. In addition, the mapping of space and marking time and form are central themes. His most recent series of work ‘In pursuit of time’ is an enquiry into the way time and place are felt, experienced and constructed. Ideas are often developed in response to, or created specifically to a moment; visualising and making time a tactile and tangible object. The pieces created explore how objects, materials and places, through the action of hands, bear witness to the passing of time.’
An example of his work, which focuses on negative / positive space.
Above is an article I found in the Oct/Nov 2016 issue of Embroidery magazine. Notice the title of the exhibition he is a part of “Making Space”. The title well alludes to his work but as you can read, has more meaning too.
He was also in the same month in Inspirations magazine. One thing that really comes across within his work, is his eye for precise detail. Having had training with the RSN, he has learned the techniques from the proper sources and then gone into his own practice. This core starting point is a vital part of his practice, it has given him a foundation to bounce from.
His training has lead him to be able to create very neat negative/positives. Thus pictures, body forms etc are easily observed. What he has left, the “space” becomes almost more important than the stitch itself.
Above you see a screen shot of a video. On this film he explains in detail about areas of his practice. This can be more informative than a paper based interview, as you get an all-round visual effect. When I say that he explains, it is a silent video, yet we seem him at work. His hands creating the stitches, the wall art that inspires him….all of this helps us put together a picture.
Look at his wall in the background. Filled with drawings, objects etc. All to evoke an understanding here. I love to look at artists places where they work and create. It is like walking into someone’s home. Much can be learned about them from their surroundings.
appreciate his use of social media. He also keeps a well-run blog (journal) which keeps us up to date. When researching an artist, I find this sort of information very helpful.
What can I glean from this artist?
Learn your practise properly, then create your own style.
Have resources around you to help build imagery in your mind.
Think out of the box – he has been lucky to have many interviews in a variety of magazines, even in France.
Films are at times very informative, both for the viewer and you as the artist to look back on.
For my own conclusion to this technique, I chose to use some of my isolated pieces to inspire me:
I wanted to try unusual materials. Thus tried to stitch leather on my machine. Here is an outline piece above. Instead of traditional cross stitch, I used a squiggle and cross like stitch free hand on my machine to fill in parts. This one has just been started, not finished, just to show what it would look like:
This could be worked further to cover all not outlined areas and create strong blocks of shading.
At this stage I want to jus trial this and as the leather is hard to sew, I will leave this for now.
What do I think of this technique?
I like the idea of creative a negative and positive. It means that the shapes I create that I leave without stitch, will stand out. However I don’t want to take It further at this stage. I feel I have stronger ideas to develop already, such as the bonded surfaces and applique.