Design, for me usually means blank white paper, pencil and rubber – end of story.

But I’ve been working in a long – over 2 metre, narrow – around 40cm, format recently, and that’s large by any embroiderer’s standards.

So I decided to work differently this time and as I was painting and cutting yesterday, I couldn’t help but think of those magical black and white images of Monet with a massive pair of shears – I wouldn’t call them scissors, in hand, and copious examples of his fluid, organic style cut-outs simply stuck onto his bedroom walls.

Now that’s where the analogy between Monet and me ends, sadly.  But it’s an interesting way to work – perhaps energised by the speed at which I can paint rather than colour with a marker.

The problem is that as I work I need to not only see the shapes and lines but the scale – and the scale of all those things in relation to each other and size of the work itself.  Big requires big – but too big is just wrong.

The true beauty of this process is that I can play around with the placement of each element – and if something doesn’t work, I can simply remove it.  No rubbing out.

I need room to move and think, and working as Monet did, cutting already coloured paper is an exquisite way to work for any creative.  I still use all the old tricks of mirroring and reflecting to get the most of each shape and have used images taken during walks as inspiration for a design full of meaning.

This design revolves around the ubiquitous Australian flowering gum.  They are magnificent – from buds to blossoms and fruit along with their network of stems and leaves.  Ranging in colours from brilliant reds to pretty pinks and soft oranges – they are stunning when photographed against a sparkling blue sky.

W.Monet.cathyjackcouplandBut Monet’s process works.  It’s fiddly – only because my designs tend to be intensive, but I actually enjoy all that precise cutting too, oddly enough, and it’s energising to work differently – I already have an idea and some drawings ready to go for my next design.

Changing things up a little does that to you – it’s surprisingly refreshing.

Plus I seem to have a need to include pattern in my new designs, either as a border or actually within the design itself – or both – why not?  You know me, more is always better.

So working differently, including gorgeous repetitive, rhythmic pattern, seems to have charged my design batteries.

How are your batteries?

cathy jack coupland