Friday, November 20, 2015

craven lane

My latest home portrait is ready to be shared! I shared it on Monday with my newsletter subscribers and as promised sharing more close ups on the blog today.

As you all know, I love the new challenges that come with each home portrait. The challenge with this one? Card stock was an adventure to stitch through! And this portrait was comprised mostly of wedding cards... I was delighted to stitch through the lace from the wedding dress and enjoyed figuring out the stitch shorthand for the stucco texture of the house.

Here are a few detail shots followed by the full image...
the diamond windowpanes
frosting like edge by the window
stucco stitching
roof shingles and the maid of honors words
wedding day blessings sky
top of the front door
Craven Lane © Natalya Aikens 2015
Hope you have enjoyed following along! Whose home will be the next portrait? Hmmmm....we'll see....
And now back to costumes!

Monday, November 9, 2015

so much to do!

Autumn is such a busy season in so many ways. School activities are in full swing, holiday prep is in full swing. This year I had the opportunity to be in many exhibitions, so that means packing and printing labels and gallery sitting. I've been hard at work on my latest home portrait, it's almost done and I'll be sharing it in my newsletter very soon.

And now another annual tradition has crept up on me... Costumes for my daughters annual Russian School Christmas play! So among the finishing stitches on the home portrait, I have been sketching costumes, making lists of children and dreaming of how to bring my ideas to life. And I do mean dreaming. I been having costume construction dreams quite literally.... now I have to start stitching in real life though.

This years play is "The Little Hump Backed Horse". I gleefully ran to my kids home library and dug up the book from my childhood, I have always loved the illustrations in it. We watched the cartoon version just get up to speed! We have yet to watch the ballet, but that I'd want to see in real life...

So I thought I'd share a few of my sketches here. They are of the more fantastical costumes that will be a challenge to construct...
the Little Humpbacked Horse and the three beautiful horses

the Moon and the Sun and the Firebird

the Fishes

the Tzar and the Tzar Princess
I'll be back with in-progress pictures of this motley crew in a week or so... You can also follow my progress on Instagram.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

a bit more progress..

Hand stitching takes a long time. It can be slow meditative time, engrossed in a conversation time, or listening to music/book time. All of the above were in this stitching time.

I have come to resting point now. Let the piece rest, gaze upon it and decide if it needs more stitching, how much more stitching and what kind of more stitching.

I thought I'd share a few close up of of the current stitching on this home portrait so far.
the tower
a window
texture on texture
roof tiles
front door
I'll get back with more pictures after I mull it over...

Monday, October 5, 2015

a bit of progress

I am slowly plugging away on the latest home portrait. I had a very hard time making the collage decisions on this one, so much precious ephemera, I didn't want to make a wrong choice! But I persevered and have something to show for it.
the sketch overlay is helping me decide on placement
lace from the dress claimed the left bottom corner
the bride wanted to include the maid of honors speech...but what font shall I use?
I settled on two fonts..
I adhered everything and stitched my outlines
diamond windowpanes were the first to be hand stitched
 few more windowpanes
I am looking forward to diving into the hand stitching. There is a lovely roof line to show off, great stucco texture on the walls, and more windowpanes!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

a wedding present

I am starting work on a new home portrait this week. The best part of each and every home portrait to me is just how different each one is from the previous one. Not only are the homes different, the materials different, but even the reasons for the portrait are different. This one happens to be a wedding present. Newly married, newly home owners, embarking on a wonderful new life together... What could be better!

Here is the ephemera that I have been given to work with:
I printed out the scale version of the newlywed's castle
made a sketch. And I'm loving diamond grid window....
the pineapple wrapping paper references the diamond window grid nicely
I have some beautiful cards to work with also
and perhaps even the lace from the wedding gown...hhhmmmm....
Lot's of options. Now how to put them into a cohesive whole? Hopefully I'll have that figured out by the end of the week. Stay tuned!

Saturday, September 5, 2015

saturday snapshot

...or several... This spring I indulged in something slightly different from my usual oeuvre.

In our Russian scouting tradition we have a wonderful little quirk that everyone loves. During the second summer in the older kids camp, they receive their forest name. It could be anything from an animal to a force of nature. Everyone awaits in anticipation and speculates what name they will wind up with. It's a tradition to embroider the name on your neckerchief, or stitch a patch on. I indulged my daughter and her friends and stitched a few names for them.
an arctic fox
a cherry blossom
a lyre bird
a waterfall
a white rose

The hole you see in each one is made with a hot stick from the campfire. It's burned into the neckerchief as they get their name. And looks like I'll have a few more to embroider in the near future...

Saturday, August 29, 2015

saturday snapshot

I created a little artwork for a friends birthday. The detail below is an in progress shot. What I really wanted to do was post a slide show of its evolution that I had shared on Instagram.... but alas for some reason I cannot get it to post here... But you can watch it here!

Thursday, August 20, 2015

a "what I have been up to" blog post...

yes... What have I been up to? Well.... aside from shuttling my kids to and from sleepovers, playdates, pools, beaches and other summer pastimes, I have prepared for and spent the day showing my art at the Chappaqua farmers market Art Under the Bridge with Northern Westchester Artists Guild. That was a fun if hot day, I met tons of new people and even sold some art!

I have been doing a bit of hand stitching on an artwork that has really been lounging around unfinished for way to long. And will probably lounge around a bit longer.

I've been organizing my studio and office. That's hard to really get into as first I need to make a bigger mess and that's a bit of a problem with guests in and out of the house.

And I have been working on a rather large artwork. It's going in fits and starts, but it's going.
I started with a sketch, let's call it Crosswalk for now
I added sky. These are strips of various plastic shopping bags from the blue color family.
Then I started making buildings in pinks and oranges.
And this is where it has been for a week now, waiting me to start on the church and the sign.
Maybe next week I'll have an update where all the blanks will be filled in. A girl can dream...

Saturday, August 1, 2015

daybreak's always so full of activity! And in between all that activity I finally managed to finish a small artwork, and finally post to the old blog...

Daybreak is a small (12"x12") study of the George Washington Bridge in pinks, on a background of greens. The pinks are hand stitches in a variety of cotton embroidery threads. The greens are re-purposed plastic shopping bags layered and machine stitched with a collage of skyscrapers. Daybreak is on stretched canvas with my usual thickly painted edges.

Daybreak. © Natalya Aikens 2015
Happy lazy summer days to all!

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Rhetoric - the art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing, especially the use of figures of speech and other compositional techniques.

Not something I'm usually good at. So I thought I would use words used by others to convey a persuasive message of my own. Or is it my own? Maybe it doesn't belong to me? Here's what I came up with:

Rhetoric. Natalya Aikens © 2015
100% re-purposed plastic shopping bags, rayon thread, matte medium.