There's more than one way to paint. Self-taught embroidery artist Laura McGarrity uses a needle, some colorful thread, and numerous stitches to create compositions that look like Impressionist works of art. Her menagerie of subjects—from tigers to anteaters to squids—feature layers of different colors, making them appear vibrant and full of dimension.
Based in Bothell, Washington, McGarrity dabbled in various forms of fiber art before focusing on embroidery three years ago. Although at first, she found it difficult, through practice she discovered the copious creative possibilities in this age-old art form. In particular, she enjoys merging her love of color with animal portraiture. “Animals are a very traditional subject, so I like adding my own ‘flavor' to a piece by reinterpreting them with different palettes,” she explains to My Modern Met. “I still feel like I'm learning the craft, so I like creating things using a variety of stitches and techniques.”
From far away, McGarrity's art resembles painting rather than embroidery—an effect, she says, is completely intentional. “I think there’s a very natural connection between embroidering and painting,” McGarrity says. “Just as you create an image with paint—stroke by stroke, with one color at a time—you embroider the same way, slowly building up an image stitch by stitch with one color of thread at a time.”
Depending on the complexity of the subject, she sometimes spends multiple days adding stitches to the cloth. “I usually start with the shadows or lowlights and then stitch the medium and lighter colors over those,” she adds. “But often, it takes multiple passes of that layering technique.” When she is done, however, the expressive color palette makes her subjects all the more dazzling.
Follow McGarrity on Instagram to keep up to date with her latest stitched projects.
Washington-based artist Laura McGarrity creates exquisite embroidery art of animals that look like Impressionist paintings.
Laura McGarrity: Instagram