The David Hockney Challenge was just the beginning…..

Hockney Portrait Quilt…..

…….by Karen Lane.

We are hoping that as and when Linqs members start making their David Hockney inspired quilts, they will photograph the various stages of construction and share them with others via this blog.  They don’t have to be finished to appear on here, they can be at any stage, or better still shown at various stages.

To start us off, in this post I am showing how one of my mini quilts is developing.

An early self portrait by David Hockney showing him as a very young man with a mop of black hair and dark rimmed spectacles.

1954 Hockney self portrait collage.


1960's black and white photograph of David Hockney

I based the face and hair on this 1960’s photo of David Hockney.

My inspiration was the 1954 mixed media self-portrait showing Hockney as a young man.  I liked the composition and colours and felt that the collage style would lend itself to an appliqué quilt.  I immediately knew that this was something I would like to base one of my quilts on.  I also knew that for me to be happy with the finished work I would need to bring him forward to the 1960’s in order to create the more iconic Hockney image with blond hair and more rounded specs.

Hockney face

Having found a suitable image of his face to copy I began by sketching it out and when I was happy with it I transferred it onto cream cotton fabric using a black Inktense pencil.

Hockney's face under construction

The face taking shape.

The next stage was to build up shadows using organza and I lightly bonded this in place with my soldering iron.  For the blond hair I traced the outline of his hair onto water-soluble stabiliser and put this into an embroidery hoop.  Using a free machine embroidery foot I worked the thread back and forth on the stabiliser in the direction the hair would normally lay in.  Once I was happy with the shape I rinsed the stabiliser away with tepid water leaving just the “hair”.

Machine embroidery used to make David Hockney's mop of blond hair.

Making the hair

For several weeks I had searched fabric shops and the internet for “newsprint” fabric for the background of my piece.  Hockney had used a page from the Times and I was originally intending to do the same.  Problem was I struggled to find a page without a colourful ad or something else I really didn’t want on it.  It was while shopping in B&Q I saw the “newsprint” wallpaper which was ideal as it suggested newsprint without having any distracting text or images on it.

The final two photos show the body taking shape.  I cut out the basic shape on lightweight vilene and appliquéd the shirt and jacket to it and attached the tie at the knot.  I gave him a flowery shirt as this is the 1960’s!  The scarf has been wet felted using Merino wool and is yet to be sewn on.  I am now at the stage where I need to start quilting.  My middle layer will be thin, probably 80/20 wadding as I have quite a bit of this, but with lots of other projects on the go it may be put off for a few more weeks!

My David Hockney portrait now has a shirt and tie and the jacket is starting to shape up.

David is given a shirt and tie.

My David Hockney portrait quilt now has a red scarf.

Hockney gets a scarf.


Comments on: "Hockney Portrait Quilt….." (8)

  1. I really like this. A Quilt portrait which is so alive. Just goes to show what some Lincolnshire talent can do with a bit of David Hockney (DH) inspiration achieves.


    • If it wasn’t for you telling me about this challenge in the first place this piece would never have seen the light of day! Thanks again for your support Mary


  2. It’s interesting to read about your process throughout this portrait work and I like the way it’s going. You’ve reminded me of a funky self portrait that I did a couple of years ago and I wonder whether that might be a way for me to work too, although I would work with either myself or someone else as the subject. (I have other ideas buzzing round too).

    It may be that I have missed it but could you identify yourself please? Are we all able to post to this wordpress blog or do we need authorisation?


    • Hi Julie. Many thanks for taking the time to comment. Glad you found it interesting and good point…..who’s is it?! It’s Karen Lane and I should have mentioned it was my work. I will put this right and add my name to it.
      With regard to becoming a linqsblog “user” are you familiar with WordPress? If so I will speak to the other ladies regarding inviting further “users” to the blog as it would be a great way to bring the blog to life.


  3. fantastic piece of work, your inspired Karen
    ,shall we just email photos to you and you can add them on


    • Thanks, I just love playing. Re photos, yes please! Even better, if you would like to add some wording to explain your thought process and how/what you are doing, that would be great. It can be a few sentences or an in-depth report…..anything goes!


  4. Olga Short said:

    Well done Karen, your portrait quilt of D.H. Is really lively and fun. Thanks for sharing the process. I’ve never done anything like that and found it really interesting. You are doing a great job with this blog, which is something else which is new to me


    • Thanks Olga. I love trying out different methods such as the fabric fusing and making the hair from thread and soluable stabiliser. This challenge has given me a focus and allows me to put to use some of the new techniques I’m discovering. Its also introduced me to so many like minded people in this area who I probably wouldnt otherwise have got to know, which is great. I just hope more of the LINQS ladies will start to use this blog as its a good way for us all to keep in touch share our ideas and tips, etc. It would be good to have a section on “How to……” even the most basic tips can be useful to those of us who are new to quilting/textile art.


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