When I began this activity of posting my stitching each day on January 1, I didn't realise how consuming it would become. The rationale was to make sure that I revive my hand stitching as I have become a machine embroiderer over the years. I had made a list of rules for myself which have generally been broken. I wanted to try a new stitch each day but rather than the stitch itself the priority, the image became more important.
Other rules included: only using materials in the studio - no new threads ; posting on Instagram each day (@peopsh); (I have upheld these two rules); only the colour range set out on the first day (nope); only DMC stranded cotton (nope) and only one piece of fabric (I foresee this will be broken). One of the questions in my journal is "But content?"
Last year I did an online course with Jane Dunnewold. I was a brilliant way for me to return to my arts practice. One of the things she encourages is to turn up each day in the studio. This stitching project is just like that. I turn up each day on Instagram and have something to show. Also she helped with exercises to develop content as well.
So surprisingly the content has become the self portrait. One aspect that people have often brought up on Instagram and the closed website of #1yearofstitches2017 is that I am not smiling. Self portraiture takes concentration. I have spent a few days this year at the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra looking at artists' self portraits. There are some wonderful intense portraits. I have always loved this intensity of the self portrait. I think we are so used to selfies whereby people are smiling into the camera - taking a momentary shot, rather than drawing the face. Two different time scales in producing an image. Currently at the NPG there is a self portrait by one of my favourite portraiturists, Jude Rae in the 'Pet Show'. She poses herself as the Spanish artist Valesquez as he appears as a self portrait in the painting Las Meninas. I tried this pose in front of the mirror in my studio. I will be looking at how other artists pose for self portraits.
I am not sure if I will continue the self portraits for the whole 365 days, but I will endeavour to continue for some time. One annoying thing is that these images are getting quicker to produce, or perhaps I am devoting far more time than I should be for a daily exercise that is meant to only last for 15-30 minutes.
The other aspect I have become interested in is embroidery and the internet. I will reflect on this in my journal and write this up later.