Snow Blossom by Catherine Laurençon
22nd November 2019
Sometime in the late 1660s in The Hague, Netherlands, a little girl took up a paint brush and crept into her father’s workroom. Unlike many children her age she was not intent on mischief, rather she was so fascinated with her scientist father’s collection of mineral and botany samples that she simply had to paint them. This little girl was Rachel Ruysch, and she was to become one of the most talented still-life painters of flowers ever to put brush to canvas.
Portrait of Rachel Ruych and one of paintings (source)
Rachel was remarkable for many reasons. Most importantly, her ability to capture the minutest detail of her subjects with almost photographic perfection was like no other. While she at first studied with a number of highly skilled masters, she quickly developed her own unique style. Another aspect that made her so remarkable was that, unlike many artists of the day, her works commanded high prices while she was still alive.
Perhaps even more remarkable was the fact Rachel became highly successful during a time when women weren’t encouraged to have careers and yet somehow still found time to give birth to ten children. Her prolific artistic output allowed the family to hire help with the children and brought in an excellent income.
When Rachel died at the age of 86, there was evidence she was still painting right up till her final days. Today, her floral still-lifes appear in galleries all over the world and are still admired for their perfection.
Although not the first artist to seek out the fine art of recreating the beauty and perfection of flowers, Rachel Ruysch stands as one of the inspirations for floral artists today such as Catherine Laurençon, who has created the exquisite piece ‘Snow Blossom’ from Inspiration issue #104.
While Catherine uses needle and thread instead of paint, the verisimilitude of this little edelweiss echoes Rachel Ruysch’s work perfectly. Like Rachel, Catherine has picked out every detail of her subject, rendering it on to the fabric with carefully blended threads.
The centres of the dainty flower have been accurately re-created using closely trimmed Ghiordes knot to represent the gentle fluffiness perfectly.
Catherine has also picked out the fall of light and shade, boldly including touches of blue and pink in a manner so similar to her artistic predecessor, one wonders if the spirit of Rachel Ruysch isn’t guiding Catherine’s hand just a little.
Threadpainting, perhaps more than any other style of embroidery, requires you to let go of strict structure and work with the flow of your subject. Perhaps this is why this technique seems so daunting to many of us. Structure is safe. But the play of light on a flower is constantly changing and catching the exact moment feels impossible.
However, rather than seeing it as impossible, the fact you have an infinite number of moments to capture is actually liberating. Your still-life will not be exactly the same as anyone else’s, but by observing the details you will be guaranteed to produce a work that appears as if it could be plucked off the fabric at any moment.
This may be the first time you have heard of Rachel Ruysch, but as you work Catherine’s project, think on the challenges and successes of all of the women artists who came before and who are still working now to capture their individual love of nature and immortalise it.
Every stitch you lay mirrors each of Catherine’s stitches, Rachel’s brushstrokes, and the loving rendition of flowers practiced by artistic women through time.
Make Your Own Snow Blossom
Step 1 – Purchase Project Instructions
Snow Blossom by Catherine Laurençon depicts dainty, white edelweiss in gently-shaded threadpainting.
Inspirations Issue 104
Snow Blossom – i104 Digital
Step 2 – Purchase Ready-To-Stitch Kit
The Inspirations Ready-To-Stitch kit for Snow Blossom includes everything you need to re-create this beloved mountain flower: Fabrics (unprinted), embroidery threads and needle.
Please Note: To cater for flexibility of purchase, instructions are not included with our kits. For step-by-step directions on how to create this project, please refer to our magazine or printed/digital patterns.