Hook a Portrait: Marilyn Monroe

Line drawing onto hessian.

Line drawing onto hessian.

This weekend I am teaching a workshop on Saturday about using the traditional technique of ‘Hooky’ matting or Rag Rug to make portraits, at the Biscuit Factory in Newcastle. I have used this technique before to create the portrait of my Mum, Nan and Great Aunty in my ‘Matriarchal Trefoil’. So I decided to have another play with a new portrait, using much bolder colours and blocking of fabric – like a Pop Art screen print.

I decided to make a portrait of Marilyn Monroe, as it fits into the style I was wanting to play with: Pop Art and it’s the 90th Anniversary of her birth next year – so why not!

Rather than to sew the hessian onto a mat frame – as this would be quite restrictive for a one day course – I decided I would recycle an old wooden frame and staple the hessian straight to the back. I then free hand drew the portrait on to the hessian – though for the workshop I will show fellow makers how to use a cheating method of using net and printed portraits.

'Line drawing' with hooky.

‘Line drawing’ with hooky.

Hooky mat technique can be a little like creating stained glass windows and that was how I approached this portrait. I ‘drew’ a line with the hooked black strips of wool – I will create a video/photographic ‘How To:’ sometime soon…

Filling in the colours.

Filling in the colours.

The next stage is to start filling in the colours. I wanted to keep it very much in the genre of the pop art screen print, so used blocks of colour rather than attempting shading. I have used recycled blankets, velvet children’s clothes and old dresses.

Completed background.

Completed background.

The fun part was choosing which colours and fabrics I wanted to use, with what I had at hand and I wanted to keep the colour palette small.

Painting the frame.

Painting the frame.

Now, this may seem like I was painting the frame at the wrong point in making the portrait but, in my defence, I was hooking straight onto the frame and was worried I would damage the newly painted wood with the hook; plus, until the picture was finished, I really didn’t know what colour the frame needed to be to enhance the picture.

Finished Marilyn Monroe 'hooky' mat portrait.

Finished Marilyn Monroe ‘hooky’ mat portrait.

A couple of coats of paint are needed to completely finish the picture so that I’m happy with it. but this has been such a brilliant, fun project to do. The finished picture is about 70cm square, framed. I am so looking forward to seeing what the the workshop participants create!


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