We had a very entertaining afternoon with Richard Box for our September meeting. Richard has inspired many hundreds of people with his combination of drawing, painting and textile art including hand and machine stitching. Richard was a funny and witty speaker, who held our interest all afternoon. As well as learning some useful tips, we also had a good day out.
Richard told us some amusing anecdotes about his life and his art, and there was lots of laughter during his talk. His first experience of making something in fabric was a Cope for his Church of England father – but he admitted that his father ‘wouldn’t be seen dead in it’. Richard studied painting at art college, but counts himself very lucky to have been taught by Constance Howard, which really awakened his interest in textile art. His painting background can be seen in his work, for example his ability to really observe what is in front of him, and confidence in colour mixing. He spoke about doing art with children with special needs, and the spontaneity that they had to their art, and how he wants to try to help adults to have the same joy in creating things.
Richard is well known for helping people to overcome their inhibitions about drawing and painting, and encouraging embroiderers to use their own observations and art work to make original designs (think ‘Drawing for the Terrified applied to stitch). He talked us through his own artistic process, starting either from real-life observations or from a photograph. He finds that drawing and painting the subject first is essential, as it helps him to ‘understand’ what he is looking at. Having done a painting of his subject, he then simplifies it into basic colour areas, and sketches or draws the main ‘blocks’ of colour which he then applies in pieces of fabric onto a hessian backing. More layers are added, machine stitching is added, and finally hand-stitching and sometimes beading. The photos below show his process, broken down into stages. Thank you Richard for agreeing that we could share these images on our website, and for an interesting and entertaining afternoon, and thank you Gay for organising the afternoon.