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an afternoon in Rhine country

Updated: Jun 7, 2022

"Bacharach, Germany"

Embroidery thread

6 inches


Painting with thread

One thing I've always loved about oil painting is how you have endless possibilities to make changes. With embroidery, however, changes don't come so easily. The pre-planning involved with my landscape embroideries has definitely taken some getting used to. Even though the mediums are super different, I still try work like I'm painting as much as possible.

Which is why this embroidery, inspired by Bacharach, Germany, is still one of my favorites. I think it feels the most like an oil painting. Like in most my of my landscapes, I love compositions that have a deep sense of space. To help emphasize the amount of space inside a little hoop, I tend to fall back on a few favorite tricks: a dramatic change in scale and atmospheric perspective. For this piece, I sketched the scene directly on the fabric, making sure to include the tiniest buildings across the river as they would be a great contrast to the larger buildings in the foreground.

But at the end of the day, thread is not paint and so I've had to approach a few things very differently. Instead of working on the whole picture during each working session like I would with paint, I chose instead to work on each element to completion before moving on to the next part. So why not start with the most exciting part? I love the high contrast between colors in German architecture. This red and white church is so striking against the greens of the trees. Complementary colors anyone?

All the Greens

Another challenge about switching from paint to embroidery is that I am limited to preexisting colors. This isn't really a huge problem since DMC makes just about every color imaginable, but it's weird to have to look for the right color instead of just mixing it myself. So in addition to sneaking in some tiny buildings across the river to show how deep the space was, I also made sure the greens in the distance were nice and light compared to the darker greens in the foreground. Which is landscape painting in a nutshell!

More than Beer

I'll admit that before moving to Luxembourg, I knew very little about Germany. Aside from offering me a "cultural" excuse to drink my weight in beer every October and some extremely dark times during the first half of the 20th century, I really didn't know much about the country. Now, after two years, and countless weekend road trips to my adoptive neighbor, I can report that Germany is A LOT more than massive mugs of beer and amazing recycling programs.

In the US, we tend to associate wine with France and beer with Germany, completely overlooking the fact that Germany is chock full of vineyards along the Rhine River! Bacharach was the first Rhine town I visited, and it will most likely remain the standard by which I compare all other adorable German villages.

We visited Bacharach in July so the grapes were still tiny. I climbed through the vineyards just a little bit to sing them a few songs and give them a pep talk. In the fall, when the grapes are bigger and ready to be picked, the hills along the Rhine River turn bright yellow!

Since these grapes weren't ready for drinking we had to settle for a small wine flight at a restaurant in town.

I mean, you've gotta try them all, right?

You can also follow along my travels and see works in progress on my Instagram! @libbywilliams


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