Tuesday, June 29, 2010

On the Forest Floor - Nellie

On The Forest Floor - 17" x 13"

cotton, synthetic & silk fabric scraps, tulle,
"silk" leaves,
printed image on fabric,
oil stick pastels, paint, permanent marker

machine quilted

Where this beautiful blue butterfly was photographed by Karen was the  first and strongest thought in my mind, for I have walked in the Forest Preserves that thread through the suburb's  of Chicago. That initial thought wouldn't leave my head so I took on the challenge of portraying the forest floor.  The "groundwork" began with the green scraps I set aside while digging through my bags for pieces to make waves on my BIG lake quilt.
I happened to have a bunch of silk grape leaves in my stash.  They were cut into long skinny leaf shapes similar to those in the photo.  Oil stick pastels were used to give them different coloration.
I like to place a piece of scrap fabric under the leaves to catch the excess scribbles.

More leaves were cut from a piece of  crinkled silky synthetic someone had passed onto me.  The pink blossoms in the print of an old silk blouse were cut into little circles for the pink flowerettes.
The foundation was turned upside down so the lighter values were at the top.  A second layer of leaves and flowers were laid on.
I went online and searched the net for "blue butterflies".  These are three of many photos that I considered.
The third one is the one that got printed on fabric. I  used pastels, paint, and a permanent marker ...
...to enhance my butterfly.
A layer of tulle was placed over the added leaves, stems, flowers, and butterfly.  I machine free-motion quilted around the shapes.  I knew I would be cutting the tulle away from the butterfly shape, so it was stitched around the inside edge catching the wing fabric.  The light green tulle that I used muted those bright blue hues.

Many more leaf shapes were cut out, colored, and sewn to the surface through their veins so they stand out in relief on the surface.

Mine is a literal interpretation.  The composition is arranged  like the photo.
However, the built up layers and textures add dimension and life that is only imagined by observing visual clues in a photograph.  I'm feeling quite frustrated because I cannot show that to you.  The above photo is brighter and lighter overall than the real piece, while the photo at the top of this post is darker.  The piece I'm looking at in my studio is between the two, since it features both qualities.


  1. Nellie I love this! You have transformed the photo into a wonderfully dimensional art work. On my monitor it looks very rich! I would love to see this up close and personal as I am sure it is like a tapestry of magic!

  2. I would love to run my finger over this, it may be a literal interpretation but you have enhanced in several times over. Your work just amazes me, every time!

  3. Looks very tactile. As always, a good representation of the photo in just your style:)

  4. It looks more real than the photo does! It is wonderful!

  5. Your usual artistry, Nellie! I particularly like the blue depths you gave the green background.

  6. Having seen your work in person, I know exactly how this must look, rich in texture and light and shadow. Your technique is perfect for giving this
    background of green leaves depth, color, light and shadow. Once again, a winner!

  7. Amazing, Nellie! Your piece just jumps off the page. The background is so visually rich, it is better than the original. I would love to see your work in person.

  8. When I first saw this photo, I thought that it would be a good one to interpret with your technique (by you). You really did a fabulous job, Nellie!

  9. Nellie, it is lovely and is a wonderful interpretation of the photograph. I love the colorful textured layering of your work. The computer image is fine and can provide a sense of the artistry - but it would be nice to actually "breathe in" the emotions of seeing it in person. I guess, like so many others, I'll just have to use my imagination.

  10. Nellie, this is just beautiful! I am wondering if there is an Elvis in there anywhere? I am not seeing one... :)


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