Updated November 3, 2020.
Whistler is often associated with his “nocturnes” atmospheric paintings of water, bridges, streets, all at night or in the evening. His most notorious painting “The Falling Rocket” (pictured below) is a nocturne, as are the other paintings pictured in this post.
Look at how the night colors in the background include, blue-grey, black, deep blue, and grey.
In The Old Battersea Bridge, below, you see many shades of this lovely greenish-blue that make this painting so loved.
My first Whistler stitching attempt was to reproduce this kind of background of shifting colors. I’ve chose a Holy Spirit ornament on white from Whimsy & grace as my canvas. The result is pictured below.
The best way to get changing colors without much work is to use needleblending, i.e. putting different colors in one needle. As you stitch, the strands twist around each other (they do this naturally) and the stitches can be all one color or a combination of two or more colors.
Normally in needleblending you do this to get intermediate colors, shading and smooth transitions. If you replace a solid thread with an overdye, you get even more intermediate stages because of the new thread.
Here I want those changing colors on steroids. If the blend looked different on every single intersection, that would be OK. To achieve this I decided on two things:
- one overdye for each strand (four overdyes here)
- all overdyes similar in color
I will be stitching the background in Continental, the needlepoint equivalent of neutral texture. By picking similar overdyes I am hoping that I will get small flashes of those accent colors.
Although Whistler used this kind of background in many paintings, often they are medium-to-dark tones. I’m less confident of reactions between undertones in those shades, So I will be using four different creams: Olde Willow Stitchery’s Sandy Beach, Crescent Colors Khaki Mocha and Purple Toile, and Cottage Colours (also by Crescent) Antique Lace.
About Janet M Perry
Janet Perry is the Internet's leading authority on needlepoint. She designs, teaches and writes, getting raves from her fans for her innovative techniques, extensive knowledge and generous teaching style. A leading writer of stitch guides, she blogs here and lives on an island in the northeast corner of the SF Bay with her family
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