Project 3 – Stage 6 Combining textures and colour effects – research


I came across this artist’s work via Mr X-Stitch on Facebook recently and I think it illustrates well the object of this stage.

Cayce Zavaglia is a painter using crewel embroidery wool  on linen to produce these wonderful portraits.  She normally works in oils and often refers to her textile pieces as paintings.  She has used the mixture of coloured stitches, which are layered in different directions to give depth and form, to produce the required tones and colours.  The work is incredibly detailed, see the close-up below.

She has worked in a way, as you would in oil, so that the whole of the background fabric is obscured with the stitches.  From a distance you would assume this was a conventional oil or acrylic painting since the eye mixes the colours in the same way as in impressionist paintings.  It is a good example of how many different colours go into producing a particular tone.  Amazing work!

Impressionist Painting and Pointillism

Pointillism is a technique of painting small dots of colour in a pattern that the eye blends into a new colour.  It is a similar technique to that used by modern colour printers mixing minute dots of magenta, cyan and yellow with black on a white background to produce an infinite array of colours on the page.  Impressionist painters such as Vincent Van Gough, Camille Pissaro and Georges Seurat were proponents of this technique

Seurat’s Grande Jatte (Un dimanche après-midi à l’Ile de la Grande Jatte, Georges Seurat, 1884-1886) is a lovely example of this technique.  The painting is a view of the river bank on a Sunday filled with people enjoying the sunshine, picnicking, sailing or just promenading.  (Images from

I managed to find some close-up images of this painting which perfectly shows the dots of colour painted in patterns to give the effect of other colours.

This detail from the shadow area above the dog,s back is painted with dots and dashes of blue, red and orange, greens and mauves, and the grassy bank is painted in complementary cream, yellow, orange again, browns, greens and greys.  Looking at this detailed area you do not get the same optical effect that is produced when you view the whole painting from a distance.  When you look back at the original your eye makes the grassy area more green because it is taking in the areas of colour surrounding it.  The shadowed area adjacent also looks more green from a distance.  It is difficult to use images produced by photography and computers to make a real study of this sort of work as the reproduction is not always completely accurate but it is wonderful to be able to see the sort of detail in close-up that you wouldn’t be able to see viewing the work in a gallery.

In this magnified detail of the dots of paint you can even see the texture of the paint.  This texture forms part of the final image, as the subtle hollows and bumps make tiny shadows and brighter areas which all adds to the eye’s perception of the final image.


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