Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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The Artist’s Touch: Long and Short Stitch Shading


Amazon Books

If you’re like me, when you look at a piece of thread painting (also called needle painting, long and short stitch shading, etc.) that’s really well done, you can find yourself lost in the details, color contrasts, individual stitch placement, and all the elements that work together to make the piece a work of art. Thread painting, when done by a true artist, is a source of delight and awe for me. This is certainly the case with this very special gift I received in the mail this week.

Much to my delight and suprise, a package arrived for me halfway through the week. Can you imagine how excited I was to see an envelope arriving from Trish Burr in South Africa? She sent me one of her own works of art!

I want to show it to you up close.

Embroidery by Trish Burr

This is the piece. You can be that I’m going to frame it and hang it in a prominent place of honor!

What particularly amazes me about the finished piece is how the contrasting colors work together to make the whole piece come alive. The colors in the piece, on each element – whether flower petal, leaf, or bud – are really amazing.

Embroidery by Trish Burr

The flower moves from a bright white on the tips to a deep purple in the center, but that depth of color is achieved not just with the plum colors. Looking closely, you can see browns interspersed that give shadow and dimension to the petals.

Embroidery by Trish Burr

If you look in the lower right corner of the above photo, you can see the brownish greys in there, shadowing the petal above.

Embroidery by Trish Burr

In the leaves, you can see the same – the turnings on the leaf are made real by the masterstroke of the artist’s ‘brush’ (a needle and thread, in this case), placing just the right color at just the right spot.

Embroidery by Trish Burr

Look at the perfect stitch direction in every element!

Embroidery by Trish Burr

Each row of stitches works perfectly into the next, blending the colors together.

Embroidery by Trish Burr

All the details – the little white flower accents, the sprays of tiny leaves and bullion knots, the round buds – are fascinating.

Embroidery by Trish Burr

These tiny buds have no less than four colors in that small space! The edge of the embroidery is smooth and slightly raised.

Embroidery by Trish Burr

The white flowers with their little golden centers seem to pop up from the picture.

Embroidery by Trish Burr

Step back and look at the whole piece – the artist’s touch brings the embroidery to life!

Oh boy. I don’t grow tired of looking at pieces like this, do you? I look in wonder, and then I remind myself that I have a heck of a lot to learn!

Thank you, Trish, for your gift! It’s a treasure!

If you’re interested in learning long and short stitch shading from a master, do check out Trish Burr’s books on the topic. She has three of them: Long and Short Stitch: A Collection of Flowers; Redoute’s Finest Flowers in Embroidery; and her latest, Crewel and Surface Embroidery: Inspirational Floral Designs (in which you will find the project for the piece I’ve shown you above).


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(20) Comments

  1. That is amazing. I have been over to Trish Burr’s website and drooled heavily. One day I may get brave enought to give it a try.


  2. This is totally stunning! Trish’s work is simply breathtaking. And I agree with Joey, you deserve this gift, Mary:))

  3. What a lovely gift! Truly gorgeous.

    To all who are hesitant to try shading: TRY IT! You have nothing to lose and you will only get better with practise. Start with something simple so you don’t get overwhelmed and move on to more complicated pieces as you gain confidence. It really isn’t very difficult. If you know someone who is good at shading ask them to help if you are having problems.

  4. Hi Mary
    From Trish Burr!… WOWWW!
    Is a beautiful piece of art that has come to you Mary, I think If I’ll receive something like this, fainted me !!!!!
    Really an amazing piece, like the paint, I see reflected the color of the flowers in the leaves, I like very much her work.
    Congratulations Mary by receive something so beautiful, you deserve it!!
    Maria del Valle

  5. Hi Mary

    Thank you again for my gift of Trish,s newest book.It arrived this week but I have been sick with a bad sinus infection and headache but am on meds now and hopefully on the mend.

    I leafed thru it but when feeling better will sit down and spend a few hours looking at it.

    How beautiful Trish’s gift to you is and you certainly deserve it for all you do to promote needlework and give help to so many of us.

    Thanks again



  6. Wow, the skill as well as the attention to detail is exquisite. Thanks for the book suggestions, I’d love to read more about that.


  7. Hey Mary, This is so very beautiful. Am sure after seeing all yours and Trish’s work i just can’t show work done by me.. i need to hide it all… 🙁

  8. Mary, thank you for the information. I did copy about 5 Lessons yesterday by Pdf + the additional. I still cannot believe the work by Trish from SA – Artist Touch Long & Short Shading. What an amazing, gifted person she is and her use of color is an eye-opener. It is the most beautiful piece of work I have seen & in my favorite colors too. Thank you for being there for all of us.

  9. Maravilloso!!! muy lindo el trabajo. Se agradece las fotos tan cerca de los puntos, para poder realizarlos.


  10. Her work is gorgeous! Thank you for sharing the close-up photos. I am a quilter whi is gathering materials and supplies to start my first attempt at long and short stitch embroidery, and it is so helpful to see up close how those stitches are laid to get the finished effect.

  11. I spent TWO glorious days with TRISH BURR at BRTB just recently. Enjoyed every second of her sharing of teaching skills and her magnificent work. My little bird and flowers are slowly taking shape and her DVDs have been viewed a few times which have been a great help. Latest book also on order through Book Depository… just waiting for delivery in the New Year. I have waited for three BRTB weeks and finally was able to get into Trish’s class.

  12. I have been looking for a new kind of embroidery. I like cross stitch but have found it cumbersome because of the pattern etc. The needle painting looks great and I will give it a try thanks to your website!

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