How I created my sewn trees

Copyright: Anne Lawson 2018

I have loved trees all my life, and over the last few years they have become my creative obsession passion.

The latest series are these three trees. (You can see more here.) Let me take you through how I created them.

The first step was to create the watercolour canopies. These were simple, organic shapes. I limited my palette to a few colours, applied to a wet wash. I love the way the colours merge and play with each other. It’s those effects that I am looking for.

The next step was to think about the trunk and branches, especially considering where they join and which goes in front and behind. It’s necessary to get this right because the branches at the back need to be done first. My answer ~ drawing them with pencil.

Copyright: Anne Lawson 2018

Then to the sewing machine.

Yes, I sew onto the watercolour paper with my simple Janome sewing machine!

Copyright: Anne Lawson 2018

I usually start with a mid-tone thread, making sure I start with the branches at the back. These need to be finished first, as I have to sew over them to create the front branches.

Copyright: Anne Lawson 2018

Once they are done I can be looser and take more risks, giving me the marks that I love. And I can experiment more with the thread colours ~ darker purples, sparking lavenders and terracotta. All building up the textures of the bark.

Copyright: Anne Lawson 2018




















I am intrigued by the contrast of watercolour and sewing, the smoothness of the former, and the texture of the latter. However, for me, my oil pastel trees are more satisfying. I love the sense of movement I can achieve with this medium, like the wind rustling through the trees.

Which do you prefer?

Copyright: Anne Lawson 2018




















Both works are for sale.

Contact me to find out more details for the watercolour tree.

Click here to purchase the oil pastel tree.


6 Replies to “How I created my sewn trees”

  1. I’m always so intrigued by how you can so successfully combine painting and the sewing machine! What an incredible texture it gives to the bark on the trees.

    1. Thanks Catherine. I am still surprised by what I can do too! Thought the paper would tear, but it turns out to be very strong. Watercolour paper takes more sewing than the thinner Khadi paper.

  2. Love these, I was interested to see you use a standard foot and not a darning foot, do you need to drop the feed dogs? You’ve also given me ideas on what I could do with some of my mum’s sketchbook watercolours!

    1. Margaret, I simply sew! I am a very plain sewer, with little experience with anything beyond the basics. So, I use the same foot I use to sew on material, and keep the feed dogs up. (I think I know what that means!)

      I am so pleased to have given you some ideas. Do you get your creativity from your Mum?

    1. Thank you Tierney! I thought “if it works with ink on the trunks and branches, why not sew them?” I am still surprised at how much I can sew on paper.

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