Le Magnolia by Catherine Laurençon
8th March 2019
Glorious colour! It’s one of the first things that comes to mind when viewing Le Magnolia, a stunning piece in threadpainting by Catherine Laurençon from the Inspirations book A Passion for Needlework | Factoria VII. The beautiful forms of the large tepals and leaves, curving in different directions, are wonderfully rendered, along with areas of light, shade and dimension, with an exquisite use of colour in the form of stranded cotton threads on linen fabric. Catherine is passionate about colour, and this is reflected in her work.
Looking at the embroidered magnolia, both the finished piece and the close-up photos of stitching progress, we can see drama in the creation of light and shade and dashes of unexpected colour. We asked Catherine about her approach to choosing colours:
‘I like eccentricity. When stitching, I always strive to use colours that will help me contrast light and dark – it doesn’t matter if the colours are not the exact same ones as on the photograph or drawing that inspired the design. For example, in Le Magnolia, I used a very deep purple for the shadows and not a deep pink as it was in the pictures. It is also important to carefully place light and dark to create depth.’
‘In addition, I like using different colours for the front and the back of a leaf. You can see in Le Magnolia that I used green for the front of a leaf and a greenish blue for the back. Some people may object that blue leaves do not exist but that is not the point. It is like a painting – as an artist, you are free to interpret colour as you want. To each artist their own interpretation.’
‘Artists working from the same source will always end up with very different results.’
‘This is what I want to stress in my teaching, too – when my students have acquired the technique of threadpainting embroidery, I encourage them to develop their own artistic sense and use of colour.’
It’s not only about creating contrasts and depth. Le Magnolia also has a dynamic quality, with the eye effortlessly moving around the picture. Catherine explains, ‘I pay close attention to creating movement in my embroideries. For Le Magnolia, I added green veins in the tepals which do not exist in real life. Their purpose is to help create more movement so that the embroidery does not look stiff.’
Where does Catherine’s artful approach come from? ‘I have always loved sketching and painting. Over the years, I have attended numerous local art workshops which helped me get better at painting thanks to the advice I received from teachers and friends. My favourite medium is oil painting.”’
If you want to enhance your love of threadpainting by exploring the use of colour in greater depth, Catherine recommends painting classes rather than drawing classes.
Of course, you don’t have to learn to paint to enjoy threadpainting. Passion and courage will take you a long way as Catherine explains:
‘When it comes to using colour in threadpainting, be daring! It is true there are rules for the use of colour (such as complementary colours, warm and cold tones) but they are not absolute. Everyone is free to work with or around them. The important thing to remember is it does not matter what people think! What matters is that you are happy with your embroidery and that you enjoy stitching it.’
Which brings us back to our initial response to Le Magnolia. It is stunningly beautiful. It is masterfully shaded. Best of all, it promises an incredible stitching journey through the world of glorious colour.
Make Your Own Le Magnolia
Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions
Le Magnolia by Catherine Laurençon is a stunning threadpainted magnolia worked in vibrant colours on linen.
Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit
The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for Le Magnolia includes everything you need to re-create this beautiful magnolia: Fabrics (unprinted), embroidery threads and needle.