I have moved out of my hometown ten years ago, and out of my country four years ago. This means that I see my family two times a year at most. The time in between we fill with chats and messages thrown among our many apps. Sometimes however, we forgo our chat sessions and have a FaceTime call. When these happen, I sneakily take screenshots of our shared digital space.
When I've summed up the courage to take on my longtime dream of cross-stitching on the canvas, I knew I would use my family as motive. Cross stitch is my ancestral pastime, one my mother taught all her kids to cross-stitch and I absolutely must reference that.
As I was choosing the photo, an idea formed: why not use stitches as pixels? It was, after all, cross-stitch that led me to icon design, which led me to interface design, which led me to build the independent IT business now allowing me to pursue art. It's a full circle for me.
I chose a happy screen shot of my niece, one who wants to be an artist herself. Then I took a photo of my hand holding my phone as if in conversation. I then ran that photo through the cross-stitch program on my iPad. I printed the pattern out so I can quickly jot down the rows I went through, as I intended to use a large number of thread colours.
I looked carefully which areas I'd like to stitch, and which I'm going to paint. I wanted the stitches to be most colourful and prominent, so I opted to stitch her face on the screen and my fingertips, tying them together. I wanted our pixellated selves connecting.
The screen around her hair and my hand would be covered in acrylic. I made a simple grid of four quarters, and stitched in the selected shapes from the middle. Then I took gesso and carefully covered a sketched out shape of the remaining hand, phone outline and her hair. The screen itself and her body I left intentionally blank. I figured I could use the holes in the linen for stitching as kind of a further pixellated pattern.
The plan worked and the holes started to show as opposed to ones on gesso. Those that were filled I quickly burst with my needle while it was still wet.
Overall, I feel the effect has worked, and my niece was happy to recognise herself and gave me the biggest approval to use her likeness. The lesson from this one would be to just continue making more of them before I can honestly critique my technique.
Here's a video of the work: