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Artistique embroidery courses with Liz Maidment

Liz Maidment is a creative embroidery artist who runs residential workshops from her home in Provence, based on her methods of working which incorporate spray or hand painting, collage of small pieces of fabric, hand and machine embroidery ~ http://www.lizembroidery.com.

The courses I organise here in France are open to all who are interested in embroidery in its artistique form. Since I am mainly a landscape embroiderer that is what I teach with some stll life along the way. I have had people come from far and near and for the most part they have been embroiderers who have not worked in a creative manner before which can make them a little apprehensive about their capabilities at the start of the week.

sketch
Yvette's work from her terrified sketch!

I used to ask everyone to go into the garden and sketch (the source of most of the anxiety) either a view of the garden or the view itself from the garden. I never wanted a grand painting or even a grand sketch, just something, even badly done, to use as a basis for the embroidery. I remember in the early years nearly 10 years ago a very nice French lady who did a very simple almost diagrammatic sketch of the view across the valley - from which she produced a super piece of work - telling me towards the end of the week that she had been terrified to sketch.

I was mortified as she had said nothing at all but bravely battled on. However despite this early experience I continued to ask for sketches and of course everyone obliged in their fashion and I never cease to be amazed at the work produced from these often humble beginnings. And neither do the students!

embroidery from photo
Anne's work from her photo

These three photographs show the progress of Janine's work:

embroidery development

embroidery development

embroidery development

I think people like coming here almost as much for the setting as for the course. We are lucky to live in such a lovely part of France and with the climate being so agreeable nearly all our eating is done outside on the terrace (or under the trees if it's too hot at lunchtime)..........

outdoor lunch

.............or of course we can always have a session in the pool at any time.

swimming pool

Liz and student

What I like about encouraging people to be creative is that they are often so surprised at what they have been able to achieve. The French women who come for a week's workshop are usually either patchworkers or cross stitchers. Embroidery in the artistique sense is not at all current here and the big organisation is France Patchwork with branches in every department. A great number of the textile exhibitions here are run under their auspices and in the last few years they have been encouraging textile art so things are gradually taking on a more creative aspect. I mention all this because students on my workshops talk about the freedom they feel and that they simply hadn't thought to work in such a manner. I'm always pleased to hear from students who have been here that they felt inspired to carry on and try their own pieces or to use some of the techniques in their patchwork and quilting.

Of course there have been students from England who have been equally hidebound and I remember one who had only ever done cross stitch saying at the end of the week that she was never going to do another cross stitch in her life!

The teacher taught!

I think the fact that one of my techniques involves preparing the background with spray painting through a template really helps to get the embroidery going. One is no longer looking at a blank waiting to be filled. Landscape lends itself very well to this system as with sky/hills/fields in place for example the embroidery details can be started where they belong. Other techniques include small scale fabric collage and hand and machine (when needed) embroidery.

Liz and student

This lovely embroidery was created by Ginette on a course in 2008 and it was her second time with me. During her first time here she expressed how difficult she found it to loosen up due she said to her training in maths & accountancy. But obviously she had taken in quite a lot first time round and was working much more freely.

Liz Maidment can be contacted through her web site: www.lizembroidery.com