Featured Artist Lea McComas

Fiber artist Lea McComas creates realistic and expressive images using a longarm sewing machine. View more of her work by visiting her website.

 

“Busy Signal” Fiber, 34” x 36”

“Busy Signal” Fiber, 34” x 36”

 

People fascinate me; everyone has a tale to tell. I love to watch those who cross my path and imagine the nature of their stories. For years, I lived, worked, and traveled abroad, preferring to travel alone or in small groups, as that provided the best opportunity to meet and interact with the population in an authentic way.

 

“Running Commentary” Fiber, 21” x 51”by artist Lea McComas. See her portfolio by visiting www.ArtsyShark.com

“Running Commentary” Fiber, 21” x 51”

 

My art is an extension of that fascination with the human experience. It’s about capturing stories with fabric and thread. Each piece is meant to introduce the viewer to a new character or set of characters by opening a window to their narrative.

 

“Puppy Love” Fiber, 36” x 28” by artist Lea McComas. See her portfolio by visiting www.ArtsyShark.com

“Puppy Love” Fiber, 36” x 28”

 

Inspired by masters of the Northern Renaissance such as Rembrandt, Vermeer, Hals, and the detail they incorporated in their paintings, I work in a style of contemporary realism, but with a medium and process that is quite unique.

 

“Turkish Bread Boys” Fiber, 36” x 58” by artist Lea McComas. See her portfolio by visiting www.ArtsyShark.com

“Turkish Bread Boys” Fiber, 36” x 58”

 

First, I draw a full size line drawing of the composition on paper. This reduces the image to a collection of closed shapes that will be used as pattern pieces. I assign a color and value to each shape, and then cut them apart. Each pattern piece is then cut from a fabric that corresponds to the value and color I assigned earlier.

 

“Turkeman Mother with Children” Fiber, 45” x 39” by artist Lea McComas. See her portfolio by visiting www.ArtsyShark.com

“Turkeman Mother with Children” Fiber, 45” x 39”

 

A heat reactive film is applied to the back of the fabrics so that I can reassemble the shapes–now in fabric, on a thin layer of muslin, and fuse them in place using an iron.

 

“Turkeman Crones” Fiber, 47” x 40” by artist Lea McComas. See her portfolio by visiting www.ArtsyShark.com

“Turkeman Crones” Fiber, 47” x 40”

 

Next, I stitch over the entire top of this fabric layer to blend and cover the hard lines, add shading to create depth, and apply detail that brings figures to life. I do this work using a large industrial longarm sewing machine set on a track system. The fabric layer is attached to parallel rollers on a frame that looks like a giant scroll running through the machine.

 

Artist Lea McComas at the longarm sewing machine. See her portfolio by visiting www.ArtsyShark.com

Artist Lea McComas at the longarm sewing machine

 

As I work, I rotate the rollers to expose different sections of my composition. I control the stitching using handlebars attached to the longarm. Imagine an artist that meticulously fills in a drawing using pencil lines. Replace those pencil marks with lines of stitching, and you have a sense of what I do.

 

“Crossing Over” Fiber, 83” x 62” by artist Lea McComas. See her portfolio by visiting www.ArtsyShark.com

“Crossing Over” Fiber, 83” x 62”

 

Currently, I’m working on four series. The one I’m most excited about right now focuses on contemporary subjects. It incorporates a more vibrant color scheme than my previous work and uses many fabrics that I have dyed or printed myself.

 

“Panning for Gold” Fiber, 31” x 39”by artist Lea McComas. See her portfolio by visiting www.ArtsyShark.com

“Panning for Gold” Fiber, 31” x 39”

 

I continue to work from photos of my time living and teaching in Turkey. It’s a bittersweet series as I know that many of the places I visited have been destroyed, and the lives of the people I met have been devastated.

 

“Bike Boys” Fiber, 83” x 46”by artist Lea McComas. See her portfolio by visiting www.ArtsyShark.com

“Bike Boys” Fiber, 83” x 46”

 

A third series focuses on the American West, where I now live. This is a historical series based on photos from the archives of various history museums.

 

“Vigil” Fiber, 46” x 30”by artist Lea McComas. See her portfolio by visiting www.ArtsyShark.com

“Vigil” Fiber, 46” x 30”

 

Finally, I recently filmed an online class about pet portraits where I showed how to apply my techniques to represent our furry and feathered friends. This sparked a new series about how pets enrich our lives.

 

Artist Lea McComas invites you to follow her on Facebook.

 

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Comments

  1. Saul Torres says:

    Wow. Congratulations. I truly admire your work. I too lived in Turkey and can relate to the people in your art.

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