I've been so excited about this project. Ryan Humphrey from withapencilinhand, found here and here, is an illustrator I've admired for some time. Ryan has an incredible skill for mark making with an expert eye for adding unexpected colour to confident lines that pull the whole piece together. Playing with scale and popular culture, you're drawn in to a certain familiarity then thrown off course with determined textures in structured and assured marks. Seeing work in progress shots on instagram offer an insight to the first delicate anchoring marks, then before you know it, bold pen and pencil transforms the piece but keeps every single connection of pen to paper visible, making these illustrations intensely fascinating. Can you tell I'm a fan? It's not often I get overly excited by an artist or so much so that I'm inspired to make work myself. After Christmas being so packed with pet portraits, I wanted to start a project for myself, to make time to make something totally different where I could explore technique. I will often look at art, photos, details etc in terms of stitching. This is probably odd, I know, but illustrators/painters/whoever must think 'oh yeah, I want to draw/paint/photograph that', so I naturally look at things in terms of texture and lines. Ryan's work shouts at me in these ideas - the layers of lines that create a texture I'm desperate to explore in thread. So, I contacted him (it's just polite, right?), got the go ahead and ordered a couple of prints from Society6. I rarely get to work in bold colours and haven't made a human portrait in a long time so opted for this babe. I've been working on the embroidery (which is a bit larger than A4) in between commissions so it's been a slow process. However, the couple of hours here and there when I get to work on this have been so enjoyable. I love making pet portraits, but this is totally different. It's making me excited about ideas for future work, for possible exhibitions and exploring embroidery further. If the hand embroidered pet portraits are my bread and butter, I want contemporary illustration based embroidery to be the 3 course meal with whiskey cocktails. You know what I mean?
I'm on the home run for this piece, so watch this space for the final outcome. It's also worth noting I'm not making this for myself, I'll send it out to Ryan after. That's just good manners too, right?