Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Inspiration - Monica Kinner Whalen's Prairies

Barley Field
While looking for thread sketching inspiration, I came across the work of Saskatchewan artist Monika Kinner Whalen.  Monika works with fabric and thread to create gorgeous fabric art of the northern prairies.

My husband grew up on a northern Montana wheat farm and even though he left after college, we returned often while his parents were both with us.  If you just see photographs of northern prairies, you might think they're pretty plain looking - grain fields, dirt, sage brush, and mountains in the distance.  They're actually quite packed with plant life, it's just most of it is fairly small and delicate.  I think that's one of the things that works bests in Monika's thread sketched prairie art.  It has a real feel of prairies, with the single thread she uses.

Autumn Prairie Fire
 I love the way she uses so many hues of colors - the barley field is not just tan, but at least four or five different colors, by my count.  When viewed on the smaller reproductions here, that gives the feel of a real grain field.  Click on the photo for an enlargement on her website and you'll see just how many different colors there are - just like with the a field.

Much of her work is small - post card sized, which makes it all the more amazing that she is able to get so much detail in.  Notice that she doesn't just use a straight stitch for sketching.  I'm going to have to try adding a small zigzag to my practice pieces!

Homestead on Highway 7

Monika's website has a gallery of her work, a link to her Flickr photostream with more work, and also a blog, where she sometimes shows her work in progress - a great way to pick up new techniques.  Be sure to take a look at it!

Happy Creating!  Deborah


  1. Oh well! Fancy finding me here! I didn't know you had posted photos of my work here.

    Very lovely what you wrote, thank you! You did look close at my thread didn't you!? ; ) The funny thing is that I discovered it was an oat field. : )

    ~Monika K.

    1. How funny! My husband is from Northern Montana where they grow a lot of grain and I can't tell barley from the others. Your work is beautiful, whatever grain it is!