Karen Payton Art      Ventura County, California

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The Journey From Embroidery to Applique

December 22, 2019


My entry into embroidery began with an assignment at NIU, where I was a textiles major.  I had the honor of taking classes from Renie Breskin Adams.  Her work continues to inspire me and make me smile.  She assigned us to take a famous painting, make it our own and embroider it. 


I was in heaven!  Being totally in love with my college boyfriend (now hubby), I based the assignment on Gustav Klimt, and a photo of us.  


This started the ball rolling for me and I never stopped.  All through college and many years after I kept on stitching. I loved nothing more than listening to books on tape or music in my Walkman while playing with needle and thread.  But there were two big issues, first - people didn't seem interested in buying small pieces and second - my hands were hurting all the time.




A good friend helped me brainstorm how to make my pieces larger.  I studied what other fiber artists were doing and came up with the idea to add fabric.  Bird Lady was the first large piece as a result of this.

This started an entire series of women and my love of birds.  I never quite moved away from this theme.  I sometimes think I can just title all my pieces Bird Lady.  


The applique process has opened me up to a world of fun.  Sometime in 2018 my hands asked me to quit stitching and I had to look for another way.  Underneath the faces of the embroidered images, I would carefully apply color pencil to the canvas.  This was my roadmap to what colors to use when stitching. I decided to work on this technique, and began to use faces without embroidery.



It's a beautiful challenge as an artist to stay open to the process and I look forward to where it will take me.


Peace, love and stitches,




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