Before I answer that question, I would like to categorize the type of stitch choices that can be made when stitching a painted canvas. As with anything else, you can categorize the same thing in many ways, so for instance let's take dresses as an example... I can categorize dresses using lengths as my category scale, (mini, knee length, maxi etc.), or I can use season as the category, (summer dresses, winter dresses, transition dresses), or maybe even colors, (bright colors, white dresses etc.). Each of these categories make sense and are good indicators, it's just a matter of what I'm attempting to differentiate.
I am going to use this following indicators for categorizing stitches to use on painted canvas:
Realistic stitching - stitches I choose to use in order to achieve a painted canvas which looks as realistic as possible.
Technique stitching - I will use as many types of stitches as I can and in this way turn my canvas into a teaching piece of sorts.
Simple stitching - or what I like to call TV stitching. This would be mostly basketweave that uses the painted image as an exact guideline to produce the image as close to the painted version as possible. I can stitch this type of piece while watching TV, hence the name. Here I don't want to be distracted by complex stitching, I just want to have a stitched piece that is an exact copy of the painted piece.
Artistic stitching - This style is meant to create a finished piece that is most appealing as a piece of art when completed. My aim is not to show how advanced I am in stitching techniques, not to replicate the painting as accurately as possible, and not to make the piece into a snapshot of a very realistic scene. Here I am aiming to bring a total result that is my artistic interpretation of the canvas.
The various categories are not being judged here in any way! This is a personal choice, each stitch guide produced is how this person approaches the particular canvas. I definitely am drawn to one approach, the Artistic stitching choice, but that's me, and it is in no way better than any other choice. The category I am drawn to guides how I make my stitch choices.
Here, in my painted canvas of the Pheasant, I want the bird to clearly look like a pheasant, but not realistically so. I am interested in the overall beauty of the textures, of the way the fibers speak, of the interesting use of materials and at the end of how pleasing the result is to the onlooker. I didn't use complicated stitches, I used interpretive stitches which allowed me to achieve an end result that strongly implied a Pheasant, but stayed true to the overall artistic approach.
Do you have a favorite category? Is the category you like stitching the same as the category you like gazing at? I'd love to hear from you!