Category: portrait

our embroidered portraits, made by my 7 year old niece

Embroidered portraits on cushion covers

our embroidered portraits, made by my 7 year old niece

Hi everyone!

Today I want to show you one of the projects I finished during my week off. A year and half ago, during a summer vacation here in Portugal, my then seven-year old niece drew portraits of both of us, aunt and uncle. Living far away, and still not knowing we would soon be relocating back to Lisbon, I treasured those portraits and decided to transfer them to cushion covers, through embroidery.

We headed to ikea and bought a few pairs of unpatterned covers, and soon I started working on his portrait. I finished it in a matter of weeks, between other projects, and started working on her portrait of me.

Then something happened – not sure exactly what, maybe life? – and the second cushion cover became one of those lingering works in process I sigh when I look at. We relocated from Panama to Portugal, we had our stuff carried by surface, then had to adapt and install and open boxes and… months passed by and the second portrait wasn’t any closer to being finished.

So I took this week off to tick off items of my to-do list, specially those that were already making me sigh. I didn’t knit on my Laminaria shawl as much as I wanted, but I did, indeed, finish my portrait.

It’s now put to good use on the sofa, and I love them to bits. And, just like I said when I first blogged about this project: my nieces are the cutest, smartest, most artistically inclined and special children (obviously an unbiased assessment from a very proud auntie).

What about you? Have you ever embroidered art made by the kids who surround you? Where?

(A heads up before I log off for the weekend: issue 39 of “airing from Lisbon” is now up! If you haven’t already, sign up for the email news, get a free illustration plus access to all the freebies, “airing from Lisbon” included.)

Have a great weekend, everyone!


embroidered portrait of me, by my 7 year old niece

embroidered portrait of her uncle, by my 7 year old niece

Olá a todos!

Hoje quero mostrar-vos um dos projectos que tinha por terminar – e que acabei durante a semana que tirei de férias. Há um ano e meio atrás, de férias de Verão cá em Portugal, a minha sobrinha mais velha, na altura com sete anos, fez retratos dos tios. Para a tia emigrante, aqueles retratos tornaram-se tesouros preciosos, e foi aí que pensei em bordá-los em fronhas de almofadas para pôr no sofá.

Aproveitámos a estadia em Portugal para ir ao ikea comprar as capas para as almofadas que temos e assim que regressámos à rotina panamenha transferi ambos os desenhos para duas fronhas diferentes. Comecei pelo retrato do tio, que rapidamente terminei. Passei depois para o meu retrato, mas entretanto a vida aconteceu, entrámos em modo mudanças, empacotámos a nossa vida, e passaram vários meses até a desempacotar, já na casa nova, no continente novo. Até nos sentirmos instalados e adaptados, acabei por não pegar neste projecto.

E foi por isso que durante esta semana decidi ir terminar projectos que estavam no cesto dos suspiros, aquele cesto que alberga os projectos que não estão abandonados, mas que também não estão a progredir. Felizmente, não estão lá muitos – dão-me nervos! – mas depois desta semana, ficou menos um.

Ambos os retratos estão já no sofá, e as almofadas dão motivo de conversa a gente de todas as idades. Como disse na altura em que escrevi pela primeira vez sobre este projecto, as minhas sobrinhas são as crianças mais lindas, inteligentes e engraçadas que conheço – eis um juízo completamente idóneo desta tia ultra babada!

E vocês? Já bordaram ilustrações das crianças que vos rodeiam? Onde?

(Antes de vos desejar um bom fim-de-semana, relembro que já saiu o número 39 da zine “airing from Lisbon”, gratuita para os assinantes da newsletter. Assinem aqui e acedam à zine, à vossa ilustração gratuita e a todos os bónus exclusivos para subscritores. Obrigada pelo vosso apoio!)

Desejo-vos um óptimo fim-de-semana, bom descanso!

This is my happy face.

Brush on paper and digital self-portrait (

This is my happy face. I’m going on vacation.

This is funny: when I lived in Panama, where there are only two seasons, wet and dry, I never minded working through school vacation time. Schools had longer holidays during the months of January and February, and a shorter break in July.

Working through those slower months was actually a pleasure: there was something in the air that said those were different days.

Fast forward to the last three months, high summer here in Lisbon. Working during these three months? Not easy.

I’m not completely sure what it is, but it may be the feeling that the longer, warmer days are finite and last about a minute; winter, on the other hand, lasts for what seems like years. (And we can hardly complain. Winter is not incredibly cold here, although it certainly feels that way.)

Anyway, I’m excited to announce that we are, indeed, going to be taking a break next week, and therefore we will be actually be taking a mini summer vacation.

I’ll be bringing my embroidery along (October’s Embroidery Club template being stitched right now) and as many books as my hand luggage will allow. Here we go!

That’s why you see my happy face above! (Check out this week’s first portrait, too. It’s’s Raquel and it will soon be over there too.)

Have a great week and see you soon!


Esta é a minha cara de felicidade. E porquê? Porque vou de férias!

Depois de um Verão de trabalho, na próxima semana vou estar a descansar, a bordar, ler e passear.

É estranho pensar que quando vivia no Panamá não me fazia confusão trabalhar durante as férias escolares. Mas aqui? Ui. O Verão de trabalho foi duro, talvez pela sensação de que os gloriosos dias luminosos são finitos e duram um minuto, mais coisa, menos coisa; já o Inverno dura anos inteiros, ou pelo menos assim o parece.

Daí vem a minha excitação: na semana que vem estarei a ler, bordar (o projecto de Outubro do Clube de Bordado), passear, a dar mergulhos e a gozar o fim do Verão. E isso é bom!

Para além da minha cara contente, esta semana fiz também o retrato da minha amiga Raquel, que muito brevemente estará no

Tem uma excelente semana e até breve!

Portrait finished

Portrait finished!

This is the last portrait, just finished today. It´s acrylic on canvas, as usual. Work in progress shots are here.

Today I started a new painting; this time, it won´t be a portrait, as I became a bit tired of working with faces and expressions. Like in knitting, I work on a project at a time, which tends to contribute to a bit of exhaustion after a while. We´ll see where this new path takes me.

Challenges and struggles

Best start to my day #painting #acryliconcanvas

Best start to my day II #painting #acryliconcanvas

I´ve mentioned here (too many times?) that my main challenge for 2012 is to paint everyday. I´ve been painting portraits, so far (I, II, III, IV), and I´ve felt different and mixed feelings about the process. Because of their nature – being a portrait, the portrayed should be recognizable – there´s an inherent lack of spontaneity in the initial steps, when faces and features are laid on the canvas. This has made me feel – more than once, I´m afraid – that I don´t want to “mess it up” in later stages… and there goes spontaneity again.

This has been a latent struggle in the work, so today I decided to tackle it by using larger brushes instead of fine ones and by putting more colours at once. It was a small step, I think, but a good one. The joy of painting is here again.

Eyes, portraits and vulnerability

Today is all about eyes. #painting #acryliconcanvas

Today is all about eyes. Every new portrait starts with an outline of shapes and then slowly proceeds to the details. In portraits, little differences have an enormous effect on the outcome of expressions or even on the actual recognition of the depicted. That´s why mouths, noses but very specially eyes are what consumes the biggest portion of the time spent on the work. Today I worked and reworked eyes and found that, contrary to my belief, the thinnest brush isn´t my best friend. A small, but not ultra thin, works best.

Also, and not totally unrelated, watched today the second Ted Talk by Brené Brown (both very interesting). What I took out of it: “vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation and creativity”, as is so eloquently put.

The painting every day challenge is having an interesting effect: I start to feel that I´m doing the same thing over and over and keeping myself safe in my comfort zone. I´m feeling the need to risk more and feel vulnerable and unsure (as right now, writing this); I can honestly say this talk appeared in my life at just the right time (as it usually happens).

I´ll go back to drawing no. March´s issue of “We´re in Panama!” is coming together.


Maias, finished

It´s finished! This is the portrait I mentioned previously as being challenging: it had noses (ahem, they´re tricky) and many faces. Still, it was a pleasure to work on it and see my two beautiful, sweet nieces come to “life”.

It´s acrylic on canvas, 90cm x 70cm (about 35.4in x 27.5in).

You can see process pictures here.