Colour, line and texture
What ever subject you choose to observe, examine all the subtleties of its colours and textures, its structure and the lines that give its definition. The understanding of these core elements will help you build the confidence needed to develop your embroidery design ideas.
The same colour can appear in many guises – it might be dark or light, or in a myriad of subtle shades. We all experience colour in different ways and it can evoke particular feelings and emotions. For instance, ice blue might suggest cold and red, passion.
The main lines and shape outline of a composition will contribute to its success or failure. They can give a sense of movement, balance and stability. In your own designs, try to avoid lines that confuse or lead the eye away from the composition.
Embroidery is a great chance to experiment with texture. Contrast different textures, from smooth to knobbly, in order to make them work to the best effect.
Organising your ideas
This is a crucial part of the process that should not be overlooked. You need a method of keeping a record of visual ideas and notes to yourself, as well as somewhere to keep printed materials and other sources of inspiration you have found. Keeping everything well organised will help you to develop your observational skills, find your ideas easily later and provide the best record from which to start work on designing.
A simple notebook or sketch book is ideal for keeping everything together, but you could use plastic files of cuttings or put together an artistically arranged portfolio. Choose the system that suits you and the nature of your source material best, so that everything is meaningful as well as accessible.
You may want to sketch straight from your source of inspiration, but do not feel that you have to or that it needs to be a very accomplished attempt. There are other ways to gather ideas together. The notebook is very personal so there is no need to feel embarrassed by its contents. As it progresses, it will become a colourful diary full of ideas and samples to give you some source material.
You may want to include postcards, either inspirational or factual, in your book – for example, of favourite paintings or sculptures. Pages torn from magazines can also be an inspiration, particularly as a reference for the way colours are used together. Scraps of paper of different types of tissue, gift wrap or handmade, will suggest colours and textures. Paste layers of tissue paper onto your book to build up the intensity of tones and colours. Try pressing flowers and leaves. Your own photographs are also an excellent means of recording your impressions.