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Back in June last year, at the end of my 2nd post on this felt painting, having remixed the fibres for my palette and removed the fibres I had already needled into the far background of the picture, I redid that bit of work and left you with this picture of where I had got to then:

Starting work

I am pleased to say that I have made considerable progress since then and here I’ll take you along for the ride!

On my next visit to the Hideaway Workshop – my friend’s place where I tend to do most of my work on my pictures – I set to to blend fibres for the palette for the main part of the picture.

Blending Fibres for Palette

I worked on the picture for about 4 – 5 hours once a month, until I was able to take this photo of the results on 26th February 2022.

This was still work in progress and I carried on and in May I was able to take further pictures of details – Red Devon cattle in one of the far off fields; sheep moving on the hill in the middle distance; the beginnings of trees and shrubs in the near distance; and the river in the foot of the valley with woods behind.

Red Devon cattle in one of the far off fields
sheep moving on the hill in the middle distance
the beginnings of trees and shrubs in the near distance
the river in the foot of the valley with woods behind

By then I had done pretty much all I was going to do for the landscape until the final details just at the end, and I needed to get on with the horse.

Now, I was toying with a new idea about how to do this. For some time I have been considering experimenting with the type of scenery often seen in simple stage sets like our typical panto village scene with shops and other buildings. Almost all of which were flat with one side showing a village shop and the other some other building for a different scene. These would be set about the stage facing square on to the audience so that they could see only the side applicable to the current scene, with further buildings painted on the backdrop. Cast members would appear from behind these and various other scenery flats like rocks, or bushes. I don’t have any suitable photos that would illustrate this, but I do have a couple of photos of children’s toy paper theatres which also demonstrate what I mean.

Toy Paper Theatres

I thought I might be able to do something along these lines for the horse in my picture.  By affixing a fairly stiff piece of felt in the shape of the horse to the picture but leaving it’s head and the top of the body unattached and slightly proud.  I was hoping that this would give even more depth to the whole.

Knowing that if I was to needle felt a “flat-ish” horse to the required size, I would actually have to start off with a slightly bigger image – as the more it was needled, the more it would shrink and become out of scale.  So using my copier I enlarged the image of the horse by 10% and then made a tracing of the image.  As I did with the actual landscape picture, I then stitched the outlines of the horse through the tracing onto a piece of thick white felt.  This was a piece of the felt that I used for the background of the landscape, but folded into three.  I needled it and then wet felted it so that it was a solid piece of felt which would if necessary stand up on its own.

starting to stitch over the tracing
ready to colour in

I blended some fibres to make the palette I would use, having decided that the picture I had taken would be a guide to shape only and I’d have a slightly different coloured horse in my picture.

Horse palette

I had by this time removed all the guide stitches from the landscape picture, except the lower part of the Golden Mean lines to guide me where to place the horse when completed.

Here is the horse, substantially finished, about to be cut out of his background.

And here he is having been cut out. 

I have left the top part of the body with the original depth of the backing felt and have shaved down the backs of the legs, the belly and nose so that they will be more part of the picture as opposed to appearing to stand proud of it.  I have also added coloured fibres to the sides and the rear edges for the whole horse so that no white background will be visible when the horse is attached to the landscape.  The final shape of the legs and neck will be refined at that stage, and more grass added around the muzzle and hooves.  I have left the tail and the forelock un-needled to emulate a slight breeze blowing some hairs around. I have also attached some linen threads to the back which I will use to secure the body to the picture. If I don’t do this it is possible that the horse might fall off the picture if he’s only attached by his hooves and his muzzle.

back view

And this is where I have come to a (“shuddering”) halt.

I was hoping that this would be the last post in this series; that I would have finished my picture of the horse on the Devon hillside. However the recent very hot (to us) weather we have been experiencing here in the UK has meant that I’ve had to stop work. So I was getting very behind. In addition, I seem to have acquired an RSI (repetitive strain injury) to the shoulder of my dominant right arm – to be exact “rotator cuff related shoulder pain”. Although I don’t think it was as a result solely of needle felting, I suspect that the action of frequently stabbing fibres for several hours at a time may have contributed to it. It certainly hasn’t helped it. Whatever, it has resulted in my having to put aside my needle felting for the moment. I will post again as soon as I can get back to work and finish this, which has fast become a labour of love. In the meantime this where I have got to.

Back into the Project bag
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.)

Finished Felt Inspired By Paintings

Finished Felt Inspired By Paintings

As promised last time, here’s a photo of the finished piece I showed being laid out:

I did make a few small changes to it, just moving one piece of prefelt and a few fibres. This is the painting I was working from:

It’s quite texturey, which you can see better from this angle:

Using just a few colours, gives quite a lot of shades when they overlap or blend:

I thought the migration from the prefelt through to the back was interesting:

After I’d laid that piece out I had a flick through my notebook and found another piece for inspiration. It’s a really simple piece, but I’d used some colours I’d blended:

What was different/nice with this one was the sheen, you can see from this angle:

I wasn’t aiming to replicate this one at all, just use as inspiration. I even found a mastching weird pinky red Merino – ‘Damask’ for the base:

I used Rose and Viscose fibres for the shiny parts, and a small amount of Nylon for the matte:

I really like how it turned out, having some matte areas seemed to make the shiny fibres shinier:

I did add some shiny fibres to match the ‘Damask’ background, but not much:

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