Les Amaryllis by Catherine Laurençon
8th March 2019
We’ve written about Pierre-Joseph Redouté before, HERE and it’s no surprise that talented and medal-winning threadpainting artist Catherine Laurençon also finds inspiration in his superb botanical prints.
Catherine’s latest project, featured in Inspirations Magazine #101, is ‘Les Amaryllis’ in which she uses DMC stranded cotton to interpret Redouté’s stately Amaryllis brasiliensis, which appears in his 8-volume series Les Liliacées. This, Redouté’s largest work, produced while he was under the patronage of Empress Josephine, contains 503 plates printed in colour using stipple engraving and finished by hand in watercolour. Amaryllis brasiliensis is plate 469.
Redouté’s plates, with amazing attention to detail in both line and colour, are a wonderful inspiration and guide for anyone wishing to depict a beautifully shaded botanical subject in threadpainting. There is great clarity for design lines, colour placement and stitch direction, and an expert example of rendering a three-dimensional subject in two dimensions.
So, how do you get from the botanical image to a stitched design? By giving yourself permission to not replicate the existing image exactly.
Catherine has focused on the flowers and buds for Les Amaryllis and has modified the rear-facing flower by working it in a coloured outline only.
This both creates a modern feel to her piece and has also helped to make it a little more student-friendly for classes, such as when she taught it at Beating Around the Bush last year. In class, focus can be given to the fully-opened flower, the buds that are at different stages and the stem, omitting the complexity of the rear-facing flower and the extra thread colours that would be needed. If a student is willing and able, though, Catherine is happy to encourage them to work the second flower with threadpainting.
To determine which colours to use, Catherine recommends printing out the design and using coloured pencils to practice shading. This applies to any design, not only Les Amaryllis. As Catherine says, ‘I do this all the time before I start stitching. Sometimes, I give embroidery classes during which the only thing my students and I do is colouring on paper. It really helps make the stitching easier.’
Another factor for Catherine in choosing colours is if a piece is going to be a class project or is an artwork for her own stitching exploration. For a teaching piece, she reduces the number of colours so that the stitching is more accessible to a wider range of skill levels and more focus can be given to stitching technique without constantly changing threads. However, Catherine always aims to have at least two colours on the go in a row of shading.
Catherine’s colour palette for Les Amaryllis comprises warm shades of coral and burnt orange in combination with cool lavenders, refreshing avocado green and energy-charged touches of chartreuse and lemon.
As always, inside Inspirations issue #101 you will find step-by-step instructions for stitching your own elegant amaryllis, illustrated with photos of Catherine’s own stitching in progress to help show the sequence of working the shading.
You might even like to try Catherine’s tip of colouring the design on paper with pencils first to more fully engage with colour placement and stitch direction. Or if you’re not planning on stitching this one yourself, use the pattern sheet within the magazine as you own special colouring poster – just don’t let any kids see you doing it as they’ll probably want to take over!
Make Your Own Les Amaryllis
Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions
Les Amaryllis by Catherine Laurençon is a beautiful threadpainted study of a stately amaryllis.
Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit
The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for Les Amaryllis includes everything you need to re-create this stunning flower: Fabric (unprinted), embroidery threads and needle.