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Needle Felted Landscape Workshop Feb. 2020 part 2

Needle Felted Landscape Workshop Feb. 2020 part 2

When we were last chatting about the workshop we had got the students to the point where the image had been transferred to the felt and they were beginning to work on it.

As with other painting mediums, I had them work from the background towards the foreground. This is common in pastel, and often seen in Oil or Watercolour painting. You can lay-in the required colour by hand blending your fibre then checking it against your reference photo.  The students discovered that very little fibre could affect a significant colour change in the resulting blended fibre.


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7-10) laying in the background then working forward.

One student using her own picture decided that the figure in the foreground was unnecessary for her landscape and after much debating removed him.


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11-12) Re-editing image and checking with phone

Kim’s lighthouse image was mostly blues and a bit more challenging. It was a photo taken at dusk, so the colours become more subdued.


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13-17) the progression of the light house

One student chose the round hay bales picture I had also done.


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18-22) Winter hay bales progress as more detail is added

Another chose the sheep in a snowstorm shot. It was vary painterly! The sheep are suggestions hidden behind the grasses amongst the snow.


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23-25) sheep in snow behind branches

The alpaca picture was coming along nicely.  When I checked again it had suddenly gone from 5×7 to the full size of the frame without the mat! (That is twice the felting space of the other pictures.) I like the tree details she was developing.

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26-27 Alpaca in progress and finished

The students did very well with their pictures and even had time for a relaxing lunch break! It was fun to see them putting the frames on their pieces, which always makes it more of an artistic statement rather than just bits of fluffs of wool.


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28-34) the students framing their finished paintings!

One student was having so much fun she started her second picture on the remaining half of the wool felt.


35) One student was starting another picture at the end of the workshop

This was a fun workshop to teach and the students seem to have had fun too. I still have 3 workshops full of 3D felted sheep coming up this spring. They will be scheduled when we have a classroom available and I am back to fully healthy again.  (ok March has got to be an improvement on January and February Right?) I hope you avoid the flu, both the imported and domestic varieties and instead have lots of fun felting!

Needle Felted Landscape Workshop Feb. 2020 Part 1

Needle Felted Landscape Workshop Feb. 2020 Part 1

On the last day in February, I ran the Needle Felted landscape workshop for the Ottawa guild. We had six students sign up but one had to stay home to attend a first time mom who was expecting twins. The impending mom, being a sheep, was not as forthcoming in accurately indicating her due date and did not actually go into labour during the workshop but I am sure she would have them if he had joined his wife and left the sheep alone.

I brought a good amount of my fibre stash (I have been collecting fibre focusing on the landscape workshop and the sheep workshop). By the time Glenn got the car loaded, I had a full car of fibre and supplies to the point I could not see out the back window! Ok, it’s a  Kia Soul so not a huge car but that was a lot of wool!


1)    This is the foyer at Hartwood house. The studio is on the other side, through the double doors that Glenn is moving my stuff towards.

I had intended to get a picture of the room once I got it set up but I got distracted by one of the students arriving early and then I forgot. I had set out all the items the students were getting with their workshop.

Which included

  • 23 pages of notes plus an appendix of photo options,
  • the foam kneeling pad that is made of a pool noodle like foam,
  • 4 types of felt, (for a name tag, a large piece of good wool felt half of which was to be used for the project, a cheaper lower percentage wool felt and an acrylic felt to compare to).
  • different Needles, (including a finer spiral)
  • Permanent markers,
  • a test tube with a lid to keep the needles,
  • elastics,
  • pins,
  • hard ruler (not a tape measure),
  • paper to make a template for the mat,
  • 3 sizes of finger protectors (wooden)
  • Wooden frame with mat and glass
  • Fine particulate mask (no one wants to get wool lung!)


I had also brought Sock yarn to make their names and Lots of wool to select colours from!

To borrow I had extra scissors and a 7 needle holders tool with a guard (it’s the fake clover tool from somewhere in China).

I had them start with making a name tag allowing them a chance to try out the needles and work on eye-hand coordination. They wrote their name in yarn on a piece of felt from an accidentally felted duvet. Only one bandaid was needed so the practice was helpful.


2-3) Nametags – note the bags of wool in the background of the second photo

Next, they were on to choosing a picture from the ones I had pulled or three had brought one of their own.  Two of my adventurous students had painted before and the other one had done a number of other types of felting so I felt they might be up to a bit more challenging subjects.


4) Using the phone to see details of the image and checking the pictures as they progress.

I had asked the students to bring a camera, an eye pad or a phone with a good camera function so they could check their work as they progressed. One had her Lama picture on her phone and could zoom in and look at details which was also an excellent use of technology. The phone works similarly to looking at your drawing in a mirror. It allows you to see proportions and negative space more clearly.

Transferring the chosen image to the felt

I discussed the lightbox or window method of tracing. This works well on thin light coloured felt or pre-felt but not as well on thicker or darker felts. If you are using a window, it works best on sunny days (sunny days can be scarce in winter). This transfer method was used in the workshops I have attended.

I also mentioned the grid method to scale a drawing while transferring it to your work surface. It is a lot slower but can produce an extremely good underdrawing. I suggested they check out their notes for other methods like the projector, Lucy and camera obscura.

I wanted to give them another option if they did not like to draw freehand or using a lightbox.  I explained the template method of transferring an image, which requires scaling your image by photocopier or by computer and printer to make your image the size you would like to work with. Make a border on your felt, the outside size of your picture. Then divide your picture into basic tonal areas again working from the background to the foreground. It can be handy to put your image in Microsoft word then adjust the image with “Artistic Effects” look at “cut out” to give tonal blocking. While you are in Microsoft, you can check under “colour saturation” to see what hidden colours are in your image.

This is the point that you move trees or tilt hills to suit your wants. You are God of your landscape! If you want to have a tree lose or gain a bit of weight, you can decree it!



5) Freehand drawing and the use of a paper mat

One student went with the freehand method. She referred to her phone to get the detail in her picture. I had a number of different colours of permanent markers.  We were using permanent markers since I have used quilting makers in a workshop I had taken that did not stay on the felt but appeared as a blue smear on my arm from finger to elbow as I worked on my piece. (The options of various colours of permanent markers are nice since they stay where you put them and they will be hidden under the fibre you are adding.)

I had them make a paper mat the size of their picture, 5×7. This lets them check to see if their picture was getting bigger or smaller as they worked. Checking your image with your paper mat will save you money by ensuring that your image will fit in your mat and frame when it is done.


6) Template method of transfer and using the phone to check the progress

Continued in part 2 scheduled  for March 15th 2020 (lots more pictures to come in part 2!!)

Tutorial on Adding Details to Simple Painted Landscapes

Tutorial on Adding Details to Simple Painted Landscapes

Zed had requested a tutorial on how to paint in the details on the simple painted landscapes that I showed you last month. I found the painting of the basic landscape tutorial/video by Jude Atkin at the Start2 website.

This tutorial is what I do to add some depth and finish the paintings. One thing I would suggest is to take a look at landscape photos or paintings and look carefully at what gives the illusion of depth to the landscape. There are several ways to create more depth. I think one of the most important ways is to realize that things in the far distance are lighter, hazier and more blue-grey than those in the foreground. So the colors in your foreground should be a little brighter than those in the background. Also, there are changes in size as you move from bigger in the foreground to smaller in the background. If you google how to create depth in a landscape, there are numerous tutorials and articles that explain this better than I can.

original web

Here is one of my mini landscapes. I have been doing almost all of these on a 4″ x 6″ pieces of paper that I can then use to make 5″ x 7″ note cards. This is what the landscape looks like after I follow Jude’s instructions on painting simple landscapes. I do some in vertical orientation and some in horizontal orientation. I think one of the more important tips that Jude gives is to use a mix of complementary colors (on the opposite sides of the color wheel) to create your mountains and your foreground. With acrylic paints, the colors separate out during the drying process and give more variation than if you used just one color straight out of the bottle. The foreground here is a mix of purple and yellow ochre. The mountains were a mix of several colors including black and purple that I remember for sure. I tend to mix up some colors and then keep adding extra colors in or mixing two of the mixed colors together. I also like to let the sky get mostly dry before adding the foreground and the mountains. I paint the foreground, quickly add salt and then quickly paint in the mountain color and add the plastic wrap. If you let the foreground paint dry, you end up with a hard straight line across the top of the foreground which is distracting to me. If you paint both the foreground and mountains at nearly the same time, the paint colors mix together in the transition area and I like this effect better.

supplies web

Here are the supplies that I use to add details including colored pencils, Derwent Inktense pencils, Caran D’Ache water soluble crayons and a water brush. I use these because I can travel with them and many times I take these little landscapes along with me when I have to wait somewhere so I can work on them while waiting. You could easily use watercolor paints and a regular small brush. Or you could use watered down acrylic paint. With the watercolors, I don’t wait for the paint to dry completely between layers of paint. With acrylics, it will work better if you let it dry in between or you will lift the paint away from the paper when trying to add another layer.

The first step is to use a colored pencil that matches the color of your mountains hard edges. I used black here. Then I draw in the top edges of the mountains where there are funny jagged edges left from the plastic wrap. The photo on the right shows where the mountain tops have been drawn. Remember to draw unevenly and make the mountain tops different sizes and shapes.

To use the water-color crayons and the water brush, squeeze a little bit of water into the brush and brush some color from the crayon. It doesn’t take much. Start with less, you can always add more. Fill in the spaces created when you drew in your mountain tops. I usually dab the paint on with some areas lighter and some areas darker but not dark black. These are the furthest mountains and therefore will be more gray than the foreground ones. If your mountains are a different color, choose a color that is closest to the main paint color in the mountains.

mountain tops painted black web

Here I have completed painting in the grey on the tops of the mountains.

Now I like to add in further color into the mountains. Depending on the color of your mountains, choose a second color that works with your secondary mountain color. I chose purple and then added dabs of purple paint in different areas of the tops of the mountains. Again, some areas may be lighter or even mid tone but none that are really dark or really bright colors.

mountain tops painted purple web

Here is what mine looked like after adding in some purple to the tops of the mountains. You can also leave some of the areas the original sky color and it ends up looking like there is snow on the tops of the mountains as long as your sky color is light. I hope that you can see the subtle differences in each of these photos as I don’t really add that much paint to these details.

Next I like to take the secondary mountain color and add a bit more into the areas of the mountains that look really pale. These seem to be too light against the dark mountain color here so I added purple to these areas. In the second photo, I took some of the purple down into the transition area and then even into the foreground. If your foreground seems too bright, one way to tone it down is to use its complementary color and paint a wash over top of the entire foreground. I didn’t do that here but have on several that were overpowering and bright. The photo on the right shows the piece after I had painted in all the purple.

The next color that I used is a yellow ochre. This is the main color of the foreground. I like to take some of the foreground color and work it up into the mountains just a little ways. I also add more yellow ochre over the top of the purple that I just painted in the transition area between the mountains the foreground. Again, I just dab on the paint. I may work over the area several different times with the two colors that I am using. Or I may add in a third color if I want to add some more variety.

Then I went back to black paint. I chose an area in the scene where I felt would be a good separation of the background mountains from the ones that were closer. I added black paint all along that line. I just do light grey to start and build up the black to give the illusion of depth along that line. I also work some grey up into the background mountains to create further depth. I usually let that dry and then if more grey is needed, I add another layer.

While I have grey on the brush, I add a bit of grey to the transition area to create a little depth from the foreground. I paint the grey in dabs across the area where the mountains transition into the foreground and may even bring some grey or darker areas into the foreground at this point. The photo on the right shows after I am finished with the grey in this area.

The last details I add are to the foreground. Here I used an Inktense olive-green pencil to draw in a few suggestions of grass or leaves near the “flowers” that are created from the salt. You don’t need very many of these. Just a few clumps that are created with varying lengths of lines.

finished 1 web

And here is the finished landscape. I am usually surprised how much better they look with just this little bit of detail added. Don’t go overboard and try to draw or paint in specific “things”. I find that less is more and you’ll be happier with the results if you don’t over do it.

Now I will show you three more that were done a little differently. I will show you before and after details and give an explanation of what I did on each one.

This one is to show that you don’t need to make hard lines on all the mountain tops. On the left, you can see where I drew in on the left side to fill in the mountain sides. I forgot to take the photo before I drew on it. On the right is the finished piece. I did nothing to the soft edges of the top of the main mountain. It just makes it look misty and snow-covered. I added in grey paint to fill in the areas on the left inside my drawn lines. I added a bit more purple on the bottom but then I decided I needed a bit more color. So I added some orange into the “flowers”. I darkened the base of the mountain just slightly with grey and added in some shadow at the base of the distant mountain to make it appear a bit more distant.

This is one that I was attempting to get a water/sea-shore scene. In the original on the left, I thought the water was too green and I didn’t like that smudgy bit up on the left hand top corner. So I first filled in the center rock with a mixture of purple, orange and black in several layers. Then I added a dark blue over most of the water. Next I added a lighter turquoise blue in places in the water. The lighter water needs to go closer to the rocks and shore. The next step was to add white paint. Notice that I made a big wave to cover the upper left corner that I didn’t like. Not sure it is so believable but it’s OK. The last step was to put in the bright white accents with white gel pen. The white is put in mostly where the waves are crashing against the rocks.

Then there were a few of the landscapes where I put the plastic wrap too far up into the sky. The mountains took over the entire sky as you can see in the photo on the far left. So I flipped it over and made what was initially supposed to be foreground into the sky. The center photo shows where the piece has been flipped over. The far right photo shows the finished piece. All I did was add a purple line for the tops of the mountains and fill in with purple. I added a blue “haze” over the distant mountains to make them drop back further into the background. I added a little more purple into the base of the mountains and a little pink into the sky.

Here are three more that I have decided to turn over and make the original foreground into sky. I haven’t added any details yet. The original is on the left and the turned over version on the right. I could probably leave the top right landscape as it is but I don’t really like that piece that reaches the top on the left side. It will be easier just to turn it over and fill in the blue part to make it into mountain. In the middle landscape, you can see that there is a green blob in the left hand top corner of the original sky. Instead of calling it a total waste, I will add more green into the now foreground and lower mountains. And the last one I think definitely looks better flipped over without even adding any details. So if you are unhappy with the landscape you painted, turn it upside down and see if you like it better that way.

These are the rest of the landscapes that I painted that day. I have been painting a dozen at a time. All of these will be fairly simple fixes, penciling in the mountain top edges where they are needed and adding a few shadows and blue grey for creating distance. The bottom left one is bugging me a bit because it looks so much like a dome. I will probably take the mountain top edge off to the left and draw the edge above the pink sky. That won’t give such a regular shaped appearance to the resulting mountain.

I hope that this tutorial is helpful for adding details to your landscapes. It really doesn’t take a lot of artistic ability, just a bit of knowledge on how to create an illusion of distance and a little practice. So why don’t you give it a try and show us your results over on the forum?

Painting Landscapes

Painting Landscapes

Zed mentioned the Start 2 website quite a while ago but I hadn’t had much time to explore it before. I took a look and found a tutorial on painting simple landscapes. The tutorial was well done and the process was easy. So I decided to try it.

landscape original web

I used acrylic paints and pages from my sketchbooks. This is from a 4″ x 6″ sketchbook. You divide your page into thirds and paint the sky first, then you sprinkle salt over the lower third of the wet paint and put cling wrap over the middle third. Then let it dry. Take a look at the tutorial for further information if you want to try this technique. The landscape above has not had any details added.

landscape 5 webHere’s the same one where I have added a couple of details and cut the edge off. I am going to make greeting cards out of these small ones.

landscape original sea web

Here’s another one without adding anything.

landscape 4 web

And the finished result. I used color pencil to make the water look like it was flowing through the rocks and added the “waves” with white gel pen.

Here are two more finished ones.

landscape original 9x9 web

This is one of the larger ones that I painted. It’s 9″ x 9″ and it was previously painted blue and green. I added the paint on the bottom and in the mountain area. This is what it looked like before adding a few details to the mountain range.

landscape 1 web

And here it is finished.

Here are a couple more of the larger ones that I did. I’m not sure on either of these whether I am finished with the foreground. I also can’t decide if I should stick them back in the sketchbook or mount them somehow.

The small ones I made into cards. I just used fusible web and ironed them to the card. It holds really well and has less of a tendency to curl the paper underneath like wet glue does.

I really enjoyed painting these as it’s easy and you don’t have to worry about how it comes out because the salt and the cling film give you the details and the look of foreground and mountains or rocks. Anyone can paint these landscapes easily even if you don’t have any painting experience. Try it, it’s fun!

Automatic Machine Stitching
Automatic Machine Stitching

I would like to remind everyone that Gail Harker is planning on coming to Montana to teach a Level 1 Experimental Machine Stitch class in May. The deadline for sign up is coming up March 25th. It’s going to be a great class so I hope you’ll spread the word. Right now we don’t have enough students so it looks like the class might have to be cancelled. I would hate to do that though so would you help spread the word? Thanks!