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Head in the clouds

Updated: Jun 7, 2022

"Remich, Luxembourg"

Embroidery and acrylic gouache

5 inches


Living that expat life in Luxembourg has a bunch of advantages. For me, traveling has been the biggest perk, but it is also amazing to live in a country that is literally swirling with different languages and cultures. Its absolutely fascinating! As with anything, there are some downsides as well. The most obvious is the separation from friends and family, which is always more challenging during holidays when I know they are hanging out, eating together and making memories without me. As a distraction from this disheartening inevitability, I went doubly ambitious during Easter 2017 and started two new painted embroideries on the same day. How's that for a productive Easter Sunday?

I have attempted to work on two embroideries at once since this blessed day, and each time one of them wins out and I abandon the second one for later (some are still hanging around unfinished). It's not that I lose interest, I just can't keep two separate color palettes of delicate strings organized. Then add paint into the mix, its just too much!

As expected, the larger, more intimidating mountain-scape on the right was quickly pushed to the side in favor of a smaller, more approachable Luxembourgish river scene. It goes without saying that I could do with a bit more organization with my thread! Each new piece starts out with the best intentions and then quickly unravels...he he he.

So lets dive into this triumphant Easter embroidery. It depicts the town of Remich, Luxembourg as seen from across the Mosel River along a bike path in Germany. Remich lies right on the Germany/Luxembourg border and is practically overflowing with vineyards!

Sometimes I take my prowess with paint for granted and am humbled when my skills betray me. The intention with this piece was to use the triple threat of embroidery thread, acrylic gouache AND watercolor. The first two materials worked out swimmingly and when it came time to whip out a few clouds with watercolor and finish her off the whole piece came screeching to a halt. While I love it as a material, watercolor came be tedious to work with since I don't get many chances before my fresh and exciting brushstrokes appear heavy and overworked. Mix in the challenge of painting onto absorbent ground instead of actual paper and the problematic potential is compounded.

While all of these challenges are quite clear in hindsight, I was caught off guard by the fight this third material put up resulting in a singular snake-y cloud across the sky across a smear of blues and purples. Another advantage of working with embroidery is that the countless hours of painstakingly sewing each stitch has made me really attached to each piece and I am more likely to commit to working through struggles than tossing it aside. So I persevered, and painted over the pitiful snake-cloud with fluffy, livelier versions in acrylic gouache. Crisis (eventually) solved!

Luxembourg is definitely an off the radar country in Europe. Which has its advantages for those of us living here as its definitely not over run with tourists at any time of year. It's routine calm walks the line between peaceful and boring, especially in the winter. But now that spring is in sight I'm excited continue exploring my adopted little country!

Don't forget to follow me on Instragram to see what I'm currently stitching! @libbywilliams


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