Brown Paper Stitch

How Do I Draw? The Better Question is How Do I Think [Brown Paper Stitch Dispatch]


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Sara Barnes (@brwnpaperbag_stitch)

I don’t have a lot to show—stitching wise—from this past week (with the excep­tion of 1 Year of Stitch­es). But I have been sketch­ing and wait­ing for approvals from my clients to move for­ward with embroi­der­ing their pets. The sketch­ing process is two-fold; first, I cre­ate a col­or sketch of what the embroi­dery will look like. Once giv­en the go-ahead, I then turn the draw­ing into lines that become the pat­tern of what I’ll stitch.

To share a lit­tle bit about this process, I post­ed an Insta­gram reel that showed me fin­ish­ing trac­ing and then reveal­ing what it looks like when a design becomes out­lines. Soon after post­ing, I received ques­tions about it. Queries basi­cal­ly fell into two camps; the first was if I first vec­tor­ized a pho­to to aid me in draw­ing, or if I did it all free­hand. The sec­ond ques­tion want­ed to know how I decide on what shapes to make.

Those ques­tions were inter­est­ing to me, as they are a bit like ask­ing some­one how they think. To begin, I don’t vec­tor­ize a pho­to or con­vert it to shapes in any way on the computer—everything I do is free­hand. I grew up with­out Pho­to­shop and Illus­tra­tor and did­n’t use them until my fresh­man year of col­lege (2004), so think­ing about using a fil­ter over a pho­to was­n’t some­thing that entered my con­scious­ness. Rather, I’ve cul­ti­vat­ed this style since my fresh­man year ever since a pro­fes­sor told me I wasn’t good at real­is­tic draw­ing. (Talk about a shot to the heart! That’s all I tried to do grow­ing up!)

After the real­iza­tion that real­is­tic draw­ing was­n’t my forte, I had a cre­ative crisis—experimentations that ulti­mate­ly went nowhere—until my junior year of col­lege when a vis­it­ing pro­fes­sor told me to try work­ing in col­lage. It made sense; we don’t have the same expec­ta­tions of real­i­ty when look­ing at col­lage, so it lends itself well to styl­ized art­work. The same goes for embroidery.

Learn­ing to trans­late the world into sim­ple shapes is inte­gral to how I work—it’s some­thing I’ve been prac­tic­ing for near­ly 15 years, first through col­lage and now through embroi­dery. I focus on abstract­ing planes (of an ani­mal’s face, for instance) and draw the shapes I see in Pro­cre­ate. In my head, I’m con­vert­ing them into tones and col­ors in order to build some sem­blance of three-dimen­sion­al form.

If you’re inter­est­ed in try­ing this too, check out one of the artists most influ­en­tial to how I think about col­lage and abstrac­tion, Hen­ri Matisse. He’s known for his paint­ings, but lat­er in life could­n’t paint any­more so he start­ed “draw­ing with scis­sors” and cre­at­ed col­lages that cel­e­brate shape and dec­o­ra­tive forms.

Brown Paper Stitch Instagram Reel