Felt Painting – Glorious Devon by Ann B.

Felt Painting – Glorious Devon by Ann B.

This is a guest post by Ann B, one of our fabulous readers and forum members. She is planning on updating us as she makes progress on her project.


Having decided that I needed (and I do mean needed) to make another picture, I hunted through my design source photographs and fell in love (again) with the picture I took of a horse grazing on a hill in Devon. This was typical Devon, lots of hills and trees and (best of all in my mind) no people or buildings in sight. This is the original picture above. What appears to be sky at the top is in fact distant hills. There is no sky at all in the photograph. I was a little disappointed as I love using silk fibres and neps to produce a realistic sky, but the distant hills would be a good challenge in colour blending and matching. I also felt that the photo was a little dull, there having been plenty of clouds about on the day that I took the picture, so I decided to “photoshop” it a bit to brighten it up.

This is the result. There isn’t a whole lot of difference – I still wanted it to look natural – but you can now
see the fields on the hill right at the back, and in fact I think that there is a building on
the hill on the right. Next I decided that I needed to work on the composition a little. The horse isn’t quite in the best position for either a “Golden Ratio” or a Fibonacci spiral composition. So I took the dimensions of the picture – I would do an approximate A4 size – and I worked out the Golden Ratio figures. I had (I can’t find it now) a book on art which showed how to do this and I made myself an
Excel Spreadsheet with the formulae and formatting which would work out the proportions for me once I had input the height and width measurements.

That would be measurements A-B and A-D on the diagram above. This diagram is not to scale, it merely serves to show where the measurements that the spreadsheet throws up will be. Below is the Fibonacci spiral which largely reproduces the Golden Ratio on one side of the page only. A second, flipped, image imposed on it would produce the Golden Ratio. The Golden Ratio calculations make it easier to get
the right proportions for a non standard shaped “canvas”.

The measurements of my picture are approx. A-B 26.5 cm A-D 20cm so not far off a square. The Golden Ratio figures would then be: A-G 9.9cm; G3-G4 6.1cm; G4-B 10.5cm, across the top and A-G1 6.9cm; G1-G2 5.5cm; G2-D 7.6cm down the side (I usually work in “old money” but it is easier for this purpose to use metric).

In fact I sub-divided the left hand and right hand sections again, drew out the lines on a piece of A4 paper and then sketched in how I wanted to lay out the various parts of the picture. I moved the horse further to the right; I placed the stream on one of the vertical lines; I placed the trunks of the trees on the left onto two of the vertical lines and various other changes of level and subject on or near to intersections of the lines. (This is the composition technique used by Constable in his paintings.) Here is the sketch.

Just to see what would happen I put a tracing of a single Fibonacci spiral on top of the sketch and found that it worked too. The horse was right where the centre of interest should be. The sheets moved a bit when I tried to scan them together but I think you can see what I mean from this:

So now I will sort out my backing felt and start to lay out the picture on it. I had tried to lay out the background colours on some white commercial prefelt and wet felt it but I had overlooked the fact that the prefelt would not shrink as much as fibres from tops, so that was a failure because the size was not right for my measurements. I have therefore cut out a correctly sized backing felt, again made from white prefelt, but of a much larger size so that I’ve got some left over for the next picture(s). I have made a tracing of the sketch and will use that as a template to mark out the placement of the main features by stitching through the tracing. Then I will need to blend some colours and start “painting”. (Click on any of the photos to enlarge.)

19 thoughts on “Felt Painting – Glorious Devon by Ann B.

    1. Goodness, that is a very exacting way to plan a picture! Love the scene – my mother used to rescue Dartmoors and this is such a typical scene in her village!

    2. Thanks. It will take some time, especially as I have put it aside for the moment to concentrate on a present for a friend. I’ll get back to it as soon as possible and hope to give updates as I go along.

  1. Thanks for the post Ann! I use the idea of the golden ratio with my scenes and pictures but I don’t usually make it this precise. It’s good to see the calculations in your process. I look forward to seeing and hearing more about the end product.

    1. Thanks Ruth, the next instalment will not be available until after your upcoming class!

  2. Wow Ann, I reckon you’ve got us all hooked on this piece of work! It was interesting to see how you developed the sketch and I’m looking forward to following your progress with it.

    1. Thanks Karen. I’ve a class with Ruth coming up, but will get on with the picture once I’ve recovered!

    1. No I won’t forget the sheep, I usually manage to get some in somewhere in my pictures – birds too. I’m hoping to get in the two pied wagtails that are near the horse’s feet too. I’ll probably try to get some rooks in somewhere too, they are sort of becoming a trademark!

  3. This is so amazing that you have taken the trouble to work out your composition like this. I guess, as artists, we really should be thinking along these lines. The original photo was beautiful but I think this work will look even better with all the proportions sorted. Can’t wait to see the finished picture.

    1. Thank you Linda. I have used this method to get the best composition I can for my last 4 or 5 pictures and it has made a difference, when I compare it to pictures I have done before. I have yet to try it with abstract pictures, but I’m told it helps with them too. I’m not really an abstract artist but I do want to have a go sometime.

  4. I’m joining the conversation quite late (I missed your post in my emails)….
    I’ve enjoyed seeing how you used the golden ratio to develop your sketched ideas & looking forward to seeing how you progress it to the fibre to create your picture.

    1. Thanks Antje. I have done a bit more but have put it on hold while I’m taking one of Ruth’s classes. Hope to send her the next post to go on probably end of this month.
      Watch this space!

    1. thank you Marilyn. Once I have finished Ruth’s paper fabric lamination classes I’ll get back to it.

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