Step by Step - a week long tutorial.

Shockingly, I'm doing more trees this week. But I figure, how many times can you watch me throw up a few strips of fabric, throw a tree at it, and call it done?

So this,  week, I thought I'd do something slightly different. Rather than an overview, I'm going to do a full on, step by step.  A week-long tutorial, as it were.

So, ready?

Here goes! SERIOUSLY pic heavy post follows!)

As you may have noticed by the text on the pic above - I will often stitch from the back. Not because it works better, or is easier on my machine - but if I've got some appropriately coloured bobbin thread, I'll use it up that way. The only time I deliberately use bobbin thread for the back is if I'm working with metallic thread. I have yet to find one that doesn't shred or constantly break if I used it normally. (Yes, I've tried different needles, waxing the thread, changing the tension. Whatevs. Moving on!) ;)

But when I was done with the blue bobbin thread, I flipped it over to use a green that would complement all of my "earth" tones on the bottom of the piece.

So, substrate for the piece is done, using 100% painted paper towels.

Note: you may have noticed the particularly brilliant blues I've used for this sky - that are not at all like the more muted, paler blues I usually use. I ordinarily reserve these blues for water/sky pieces *but* you know when the sky also looks so brilliantly blue? On crisp autumn days.

 I had a very specific vision in my mind - fall trees, a church, lots of colourful leaves.  This would entail a layer of both leaves and trees - so the first thing I had to do was audition papers for trees, and tree shapes - keeping in mind what colours and shapes of leaves would go with the trees.

I decided that the more detailed paper would be wasted in the background under a layered build up of leaves, paper and thread branches, building and more trees branches and leaves, so used a dark, fairly plain paper for the background trees.

At this point, I know that these trees may not be used exactly like this, or in this configuration (and that there are going to be more of them); but it gives me the idea of what I need to do.

And knowing that I am going to have a lot of dark, darker and darkest trunks in this piece, I decided I needed to pop those trees a bit...

By adding some birches. See? Looks better already! 

By the way, you may have noticed the white scissors at the bottom of that picture. I have a variety of scissors that I use in these projects - 4 or 5 different kinds and sizes for working with paper, and 4 or 5 different kinds and sizes for working with fabric- in addition to different sizes and kinds of rotary cutters. I differentiate by colour. All of my fabric scissors are either solid blue, or black. Any other colour is a paper scissor. My paper rotary cutters are marked with red nail polish.

Okay - so I'm ready to start my first layer of trees. You'll note that these are much skinnier than the ones I auditioned, and that's because they're in the back - further away from us. They're also not placed randomly - I know what's going on top and approximately where - so these are very carefully placed.

No explanation needed here!

You can see I've brought out the paints now along with some text in the photo explaining why. You can see that originally, I chose a bright yellow, orange and green to work with:

But ultimately decided to swap out the bright yellow for an ochre.

And then I always mop up the extra paint with paper towel or fabric for later use in other projects.

The two in the middle are rinsed, and the two on the outside aren't. Once dried, they'll produce different textures and different results.

And here we have the finished background trees.

See you on Wednesday for the next sets of trees, using different techniques - and our focal point - the building.

'Til then!

Kit 120

Kit Lang


  1. This was fun to read. The use of paper towel is really interesting.

  2. Thank you for posting the process you use. I haven't used any paints on my blocks, but will experiment. Do you use a textile medium added to the paint? Love how your photos are so crisp and your text is perfectly positioned. Have always loved your quilts and have great admiration of your artistic skills.

    1. Hey Celia - did you know you're a no-reply blogger? Probably because you've got your google + profile enacated.

      To answer your question, when I'm painting on paper as I am here, I don't use gel medium. However, I have decided just recently that if I'm going to make long skinny trees, then I will in fact use it as those skinny branches break up when I am stitching them. Ordinarily though, the painted paper towels stand up very well to anything I do with them.

      For fabric, I use a different process - I gesso it first and then paint it with acrylic paint.

      (And thanks!)

  3. This has been a really fascinating read. Thank you for sharing your process.

  4. LOVE! Thank you for the inspiring lesson! Your work is amazing:)

    1. You're very welcome Leanna. And thank you! :) (Stay tuned for the rest of the lesson all this week!)

  5. This is going to be a fun week, Kit. I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of your process in action!

    What kind of paper towels do you use? They do seem to hold up very well!

    1. I answered Monica privately, but for anyone else who is interested: "I use Bounty - or sometimes Kirkland (Costco's in-house brand). They really are the only ones that stand up to the abuse! "

  6. Anonymous21.10.13

    Obrigada e obrigada! Bom material para estudo! Estou adorando!
    Um abraço!

    Thank you and thank you! Good material for study! I'm loving it!

    1. You are very welcome!

      Usted es muy agradable!

  7. This is a "fun with Kit day" kind of thing...


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