Birds of America

If there is one thing that stirs inspiration in me almost as much as the architectural drawings of Ptolemy Dean, it’s the bird paintings and silk screen prints of Charley Harper. Charley Harper was a Cincinnati Wildlife artist and illustrator best known for his highly stylized paintings of the songbirds of the Eastern United States. He sadly passed away in June 2007 but his work is remembered in Todd Oldham’s book ‘An Illustrated Life’.

The clean lines and vivid colours of his work are a real inspiration for textile artists. I was reliably informed by mosaic artist Martin Cheek that all the birds were drawn using a set of French Curves. Here is my first attempt at a piece inspired by one of the illustrations.

Green Jay eyeing up lunch

Green Jay Head Detail


I also used this image as the inspiration for my workshop sign which I made in one of Martin Cheek’s workshops. I’ve replaced the mantis with a butterfly to make it more regional – we don’t have too many praying mantis’s in Hampshire.

Time4me Workshop Sign

There are a great many images in Todd’s book just waiting to be re-created in stitch and I can’t wait to get started.

Following my last watercolour and stitch piece, I am now working on a fabric version depicting the main street of Rye in Sussex. In this I’m using large bands of hand-dyed fabric rather than watercolour paints to simulate the shadows and colours of the houses and street. Much as I enjoyed the watercolour, I suppose I just naturally gravitate back to fabric, but I will be returning to painterly things in the near future.

Here’s a little sneak preview of the work-in-progress on the machine.

Work in Progress

But tomorrow is another day – as they say – and I’m hoping to get more stitching done after a trip into the workshop to see how things are going.

It’s funny how something like an illness, which stops you from doing your day job, can rekindle that creative spirit which you almost thought you’d lost in the endless rounds of administration and emails!