Adams Farm Road

It is officially complete and in the hands of the owners, who came by my studio to personally pick up their home portrait. They are delighted with the result and I am pleased as well.

And now for your viewing pleasure, I present Adams Farm Road home portrait!

Adams Farm Road home portrait ©Natalya Khorover Aikens 2019

Personal ephemera used: sheet music for wedding song and lullaby (printed on silk organza by me), baby announcement, moms hospital bracelet, baby's hospital tag, fabric from the hospital baby hat, and fabric from a onesie.

My materials: silk organza, various cotton, silk and rayon threads, interfacing, stretched canvas and acrylic paint.

Techniques: fabric collage and hand embroidery and a bazillion French knots of various, but mostly tiny sizes....

I get so much pleasure from creating these one of a kind treasures, and I love when the owners allow me to share the process. Will you let me do one for you? Email me! (natalya at artbynatalya dot com)

I see it!

I see the finish line.... let me lead you to it with this update.

Here's what happened to the Adams Farm Road home portrait this week, my fingers have been very busy!

the grass started "growing" on the front lawn

it grew quite well on that precious fabric of the newborn's hospital cap

then the trees started filling in (yes the roof is sagging at the moment, but not for long!)

filling in nicely with teeny tiny french knots

I really need a macro lens for these... (Santa?)

The stitching is done! This is my highly advanced weight system to help the piece smoothly adhere to the canvas.
In about 24 hours I'll release the portrait from its weight prison, trim the edges and paint the sides of the canvas. Then it'll have its very own photo session and will be presented to the owners. And then I can share the final product with all of you!

Now is the time to check out the commission page on my website and email me (natalya at artbynatalya dot com) to book your very own portrait.

finish line in sight

It's full steam ahead here in the home portrait studio. It is such a pleasure to switch gears from the high speed sewing machine work on the Iron Spine Aloft installation to the intimacy of this hand stitched small treasure.

One of the things I love so much about my studio practice is the ability to switch back and forth from large, expansive, and speed driven work to a meditative slow practice. Sometimes the two even meld in one piece as well.

Here's the illustrated update on the progress of the latest home portrait:
cobble stones going into the driveway

a different type of roof went on to the house from the original plan, but it feels right

the stone entry wanted to be french knotted (that's only the beginning of all the knots in this piece!)

windows wanted to be filled with glass (or shiny thread)

there's a dark blue trim around the door that looks black in this photo

the start of front yard bushes and walkway

I contemplated leaving the round bushes as negative space

but the french knots wanted to take up residence there in the end
I am thoroughly enjoying the French knotting that decided it needed to be in the home portrait. It's telling me that it will be throughout the piece in varying sizes and threads.

More updates soon!

moving right along

The home portrait I've been working on is moving along nicely. I have finished putting in all the outlines, and now I am considering how to stitch the details.

Outlines in place

considering how to add the hospital tag to the driveway

trees are just bare outlines for now
 I am still considering these trees. Do I want to add finer details with hand stitching or scrap the idea and thread sketch them with the sewing machine?

I wonder if baby toes will make good bushes??
And then I also got an idea about bushes and baby toes. I think I'll give it a try! More pix next week!

deep in art in the depths of winter

Work in progress - Home Portrait © Natalya Khorover Aikens 2019
Home portrait work in progress
February has been a busy month so far and promises to continue to be so. I am simultaneously working on two projects in the studio. They could not be more different from each other.

One project is a home portrait for a sweet family with a brand new daughter. I am loving incorporating her hospital hat, onesie and sheet music of special songs into an image of their home. I am taking time to thoughtfully hand stitch all the pieces in place, making sure all the right details are included.


I am furiously stitching on my Bernina sewing machine for my other project: the installation for the Rye Arts Center exhibit in March. I have pieces of plastic bags and various sheeting all stitched together; I am about half way through stitching the outlines of the fire escape on them. After that, I will piece all the sections together. I'll likely spend a few days cutting out the negative spaces between the outlines. I am still figuring out the logistics of hanging the piece in it's outdoor space, between two trees.


Making sure to keep my inspiration tank full, I was recently on a photo safari in NYC. And while I was quite busy trying to get good shots of buildings, rusty bridge undercarriages, and sidewalk cracks, I could not help but notice plastic litter in leafless trees. I abhor litter of any kind, but it's especially plastic litter that makes me want to weep. For goodness sakes, if you can't recycle it, is it so hard to put it into a garbage container? To carry it just a few more feet to the trashcan on the corner? Ok, rant over.


Here's the interesting thought... as much as I despise seeing plastic trash flapping in the wind on trees, I am also inspired by it. Is that crazy? I don't think so. I think that the installation that I am working on right now is partly inspired by the plastic bags I have seen caught in tree branches along highways. In my case, the plastic that will be waving amongst trees is obviously not trash. It is quite intentional. I can't wait until you see it!
Snowmelt, blue skies, bare trees through the clear plastic lens of Urban Edge/Iron Spine Installation detail © Natalya Khorover Aikens 2019
Snowmelt, blue skies, bare trees through the clear plastic lens of Urban Edge/Iron Spine installation detail

a beginning

I am delighted to be working on another home portrait. And happy that the owners are allowing me share the process.

This sweet family has sent me their baby announcement, first hat, a onesie, and music sheets as part of the ephemera to create the portrait from. As you can see from the pictures below, I am quite enamored of the music sheets. I have printed them on silk organza and so far think that they will be a perfect representation of the siding on their home.

I have drawn on tracing paper the favorite angle of the home and am now placing all the ephemera in various spots to see what will work best where. This can take a few days as I like to fully take in all the materials and sometimes let them rest in a few places before I finalize my decisions.

the house sketch over the music sheets

will I put the hospital tag with the music?

there is a hospital bracelet to consider as well...

and where will I add this sweet face?

maybe I'll combine the words on the onesie with the sheet music?
In a day or two I shall start in with the scissors and there will be stitching! Stay tuned!

going big, bigger and BIG!

portion of Iron Spine/Urban Edge installation is being weather tested!

The first month of the new year is only half way done, but my calendar is already filled with plans for the start of 2019.

First on my agenda is ArtShow:Bedford starting January 25th. It's a wonderful, small show in the picturesque town of Bedford NY, now in its 46th year. All proceeds from the show go to local charities supporting a wide range of services. 

In March I am delighted to be participating in Fiber Now: Artists on the Cutting Edge presented by the Rye Arts Center in Rye, NY. In conjunction with the exhibit I will be teaching a Stitching+Embroidery workshop on March 21st and 28th. As part of the exhibit I've also been invited to create a large installation −more than 15 feet across− on the front lawn of the center. The installation will help raise public awareness of plastic pollution crisis we’re facing, while enabling me to repurpose plastic into my art. I believe this installation for the Rye Arts Center is a perfect fit for my art practice. 

At the moment I am rifling through my stash and pulling out the biggest, sturdiest pieces of plastic that I have to start assembling the substrate. I’m conducting weathering tests for the plastic and my stitching. I took a portion of the Iron Spine/Urban Edge installation and hung it on my deck to see how it holds up to the wind and weather for the next month or two. This experiment will inform some of the design and construction choices I’ll have to make going forward.

pattern for the installation to be is laid out on the floor taking up all the space!

another shot of the weather test from Iron Spine/Urban Edge

architecturally fitting

I am delighted to have another exhibit opportunity this summer with a group show "Diverse" at the law offices of Ashenfelter, Slous, McDonough and Trefenen in Montclair, NJ. It is a wonderful industrial office space that is a perfect fit for the City Lines series from my portfolio.

Here are a few pictures of the exhibit. The opening reception is past, but of you'd like to see the exhibit and you're not a client at ASM&T, contact me and I'll be happy to show you around.

Architectural Fragments and Urban Perspective
Sunrise and Specular Reflection
Specular Reflection and Architectural Fragments
Sunrise
Home Portraits (on loan) and three different fire escapes

Next up - lot's and lot's of hand stitching! Progress report coming up soon!

shameless commerce

This blog post is brought to you by the shameless marketing division of artbynatalya.com... Just in time for the holiday shopper, here, consolidated into one blog post is what I have to offer for your gift giving....
detail of Nikolsky Cathedral
Original art from the St. Petersburg inspired City Love Affair series and Cathedrals series is available on the Artful Home website.
detail of Spring
Original art and prints from NYC inspired City Lines series are available on the Saatchi Art website.
throw pillow with a print of St. Pete Lace 1
Art prints, canvas prints, framed art prints, phone and iPad cases, tote bags, throw pillows, and laptop skins and sleeves are available on the Society6 website.
On Sunday, December 6th from 12 to 4PM I will showing small artworks, postcards and prints at ART for the Holidays with the artists of Northern Westchester Artists Guild at the New Castle Community Center in Chappaqua, NY.
detail of Urban Perspective
And as always my art is available on my website. Just email me at natalya @ artbynatalya.com ! Commissions for Home Portraits and other artwork are also accepted and encouraged!

Thank you so much for supporting my artistic endeavors! Happy shopping!

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!

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...

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!

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!

spruce street

And now for the reveal! Presenting Spruce Street home portrait... A portrait of a home and a memory. This house was a sweet childhood home... and now it's time to move on, while preserving the memory of a joy-filled home and a wonderful place to grow up.
I had great ephemera to work with, from hand dyed vintage linens, to upholstery fabric and birch bark! I agonized about how to include that birch bark without destroying it. I think I have succeeded. A book page with a tree was perfect for representing a magnolia and a multitude of trees surrounding the house. Vintage linen took to hand-stitching beautifully to become the azalea filled front yard. Plastic mesh made the most perfect grass and the final step was the suggestion of the red maple tree ready to bud. A maple tree with a wonderful long history that started with a young girl and a seedling...



A bit of a surprise from me was the inclusion of mom and dad in the portrait...
Spruce Street © Natalya Aikens
I am honored to have been a part of preserving such lovely memory. Thank you.

almost

I have one more major step to go before I finish the Spruce Street home portrait. And since I have not been very good with updates, I thought that I'd share a few close ups now before the final reveal.
so happy to have played with vintage hand dyed linen in the flower garden
tree printed in a book transforms into tree in portrait
I do so love birches!
some stitched rocks on the chimney
more azaleas from vintage hankie
I think I will be ready for the final reveal by the end of this week. If you'd like to be first to see it, sign up for my newsletter as that's where it will be seen first. Thanks for following the home portrait updates!

a tiny update

I have started hand stitching on Spruce street, the latest home portrait. This is going to be a long long process. First because hand stitching just takes a long time, and second because I have chosen to do some very specific stitches to cover the entire surface of a certain area and well..... I never seem to accomplish as many as I thought I would in any given time frame. So just please bear with me....

Here are a few close ups of a few things I have done..
the front door has been marked
see those x's on the roof?
I intend to cover the whole roof with those x's....
So you see what I have gotten myself into?? I'll be back after a few 1000 x's...... ooommmmm........

ch...ch...changes.....

I had a plan for the next few steps of the Spruce street home portrait. And plans usually...well....they sure do love change...

First I tried different fabrics in many different layouts. Here's one that I sort of stuck with.
the only thing definite in this layout was the mustard fabric for the house
tracing paper overlay to see how it would look
Then I decided that I need to thread sketch the house first and then play with the background fabrics.
here's option number one, and I committed to the tree here
tried playing with lace
switched grass and sky again
I think that I am committed to my layout now. Especially since I added the dark green plastic netting to the grass. How could I resist using it???
final layout for now... only the house and the grass are set in stone. or are they?
cool view eh?
If I am brave enough, I will start adding some hand stitching today and decide on the strength of my commitment.

spruce street

A new beginning. For a new home portrait. I am honored to be working on this new commission which will attempt to preserve a memory of a childhood home...
as usual I am in love with the ephemera put into my possession
brocade and burlap make me happy
a page from a book and old photos
hand dyed linens? what a treat!
lovely daisies and sturdy upholstery fabric
and birch bark!! yes birch bark! I'm so excited to stitch it!
shall I use the image with the flagpole just like the old photo?
or the one with the lamp post?
what about the glorious red maple?
or the lovely rock wall in the garden?
I have many many decisions ahead of me. Right now I'm fondling the fabrics, petting the birch bark and staring at photos. Something will start jumping out at me soon. Stay tuned!

done farming

A bit delayed, but now finished! All the holidays have have taken away from my studio time... luckily this client wasn't in a rush.

Here I present The Farm home portrait! Ta da!
a bit of grass grows by the porch...
pine branches hang over the roof...
a photo of the barn graces the sky....
The Farm © Natalya Aikens
Now back to the costumes, and then starting on the next home portrait! Phew....

farming..

I have been hand-stitching every free minute during this busy season. Here is a short update on my farm home portrait. I have chosen to keep my stitches simple and straight...
roof lines
witches window
front window
porch
Wish me speedy fingers to get it done this week!

PS: last days to answer the question posed in my newsletter and put yourself in the running for a gift for you!