Tuesday, 31 July 2007

No time for art work today. The fine morning drew me outside to get on with some gardening which was desperately needed and this afternoon I had a great time round at a friend's getting the low-down on the Janome Embellisher. I think I'm in love! :)) I wasn't able to use the machine (probably I should have asked but the group was large so it was more of a demo) but I am hoping to test one at the Festival of Quilts in 2 weeks time. The possibilities seem endless with this machine, especially when the resulting fibre/fabric can in turn be painted, embossed, embellished and beaded.
While it's in my mind I'll mention a technique Gill described. She buys copper plant labels from the garden centre and then layers them into a bowl with crushed salt and vinegar crisps - no, I don't think she was joking. Once the labels are thoroughly covered with the crisps she sprays them with water, covers the container with cling film and after a couple of days removes the tags and rinses them thoroughly. This is not the time to sample the crisps, they should be thrown away. The copper tags should emerge with a nice verdigris effect and can be further coloured by holding in a naked flame. Guess where I'm going tomorrow? The supermarket and the garden centre!! If anyone knows any other way of doing this and controlling the amount of salt to vinegar I'd loved to know about it. (Crisps are way too tempting for DH).

On the subject applying texture to canvas the pic below is a canvas I started last year, I think. I chose all the fabrics for their textural qualities and then coated them in gesso to get a uniform colour. At that point it told me it wanted to be blue but now I feel it needs something else. I think I may well change some areas with brighter colours or an irridescent glaze. I am not even sure at this stage which way up it should be. I favour the view on the right but I keep seeing a face in it in its present form. I think it has sat on my easel for long enough so I shall have to bring it to the top of my to do list.

Monday, 30 July 2007

Maggie was talking about reflex drawing on her blog and it reminded me that I had done some a while ago. Although it seems very strange when you first attempt it (because you look at the object you are drawing and not at what your pen/cil is doing) it is a great way to find out about the thing you are drawing and also to loosen up at the start of a work session. The idea is to move your eye very slowly over the object and move your pen at the same speed without lifting the pen from the paper. The initial drawing may look nothing like the object in front of you but that is not important. The idea is to look and keep looking. My mantra for this is "I am not trying to make a pretty picture!" As you can tell from the photo below I do tend to look occasionally and reposition my pen if I think I am going way off course - cheating a bit I suppose.

You may be able to see my mantra in the top corner of the pic below. In the two drawings below I didn't reposition my pen in the drawing on the left but I did in the second drawing on the right.

I used this technique to explore the shapes of a still life I was working on some time ago.

I sometimes use this system when I go out sketching with friends from my art club and give the resulting sketch a watercolour wash. The sketch below was done in this way. I tried not to look too much at what my pen was doing and concentrated on describing the layers in the trees etc

I said yesterday I would post my efforts inspired by Lynda so here they are. The canvas on the left has had a layer of scrim pasted on with gesso and I have then used various texture mediums and some crackle paste. I plan to stitch into this and then paint. I had the idea of a rockface in mind as I worked. On the right I have gessoed two layers of net curtain to a block canvas and plan to apply texture mediums to break up the pattern of the curtain. I have to give Maggie Grey credit for sparking off this idea although I seem to have only latched onto the netting so far. As usual I have only retained part of an idea and run off in my own, slightly lost, direction.

Sunday, 29 July 2007

I have been having a go with washers over the last couple of days. The method came from an article in Cloth Paper Scissors (May/June 2007) but I think I need a bit more practice! I was a bit heavy handed with the embossing powder so that not much of the painted surface shows so I will change that another time. I did find too that where I had painted both sides of the washer the underside softened and smudged as a result of being heated. I will probably keep these in my stash and attach them flat on a surface but one or two of them are ok enough maybe to hang in the right situation.

I quite like the blue washer that I managed to coat only partially with embossing enamel.

I had a great time this afternoon taking a leaf out of Lynda's book and have covered a block canvas with scrim and gesso (picture tomorrow). Hopefully tomorrow I will find some time to stitch into it and then decide what else it needs. Thank you Lynda for sharing the idea.

We went out to a village in the Vale of Belvoir yesterday to check out the church for a fete where DH will be selling his cards in September and I found some lovely rust to photograph for later inspiration. The rust on the left was at an old engineering works in the village of Stathern and on the right is a lovely rusty barbecue in a pub garden. Unfortunately some of my pix were blurred so we will have to go back to the pub again! Oh dear! What a hardship! Hope they won't throw out the BBQ.

Friday, 27 July 2007

Nearly forgot! How could I ?

I just realised I didn't show you these two beautiful plants my friend June bought me for my b'day. The phlox (the pink one) smells gorgeous and I have been wanting to get a verbascum for ages and always forget. Our garden is due for a change round so I may have to put them in big pots till it's all sorted.

"Happy Birthday to you (me)
Squished bananas (squashed tomatoes) and stew
Bread and butter in the gutter
Happy birthday to you (me)"

My daughter's version of the children's birthday rhyme texted to me this morning!
I am mid way between two big birthdays today - all the fives, as they say in bingo. I had a very happy but chaotic half hour opening all my lovely presents this morning - excuse the crumpled bed! I have been very lucky and had some beautiful pressies including necklaces from my closest friends, daughter and Mum who were all in the same mind...funny how that happens isn't it? All the jewellery is different tho and I shall enjoy wearing each piece.

My DH has given me money to splurge at the Festival of Quilts in August - yummy - and he also had a beautiful bouquet of flowers delivered after I got back from my art club.
I don't think there are any more surprises planned so we will just go out for a meal at a local hotel tonight and then round to Lynne and Richard's tomorrow (when I will wear Lynne's necklace!).

I have broken the back of sorting my shed out and have been painting washers ready for embossing - pic tomorrow probably. I have found out why you need to paint them hanging from a string and not flat - they stick to the paper as they dry and are prone to air bubbles. I'm not too bothered tho as I plan to emboss them so the imperfections will be covered up.

I was strolling through my various favourite blogs last night when I should have been at least sewing and found this instruction for making a simple book. (Hope I haven't upset Simmy by making the link (sorry) her blog is fascinating!) and am going to have a go as there are so many beautiful handmade books around. In the meantime the pic below is of my (poor) effort which merely decorated the cover of the journal I took on a recent holiday of St Ives. I do love the colours and the textures tho, I was thinking of the sea and the rocks as I did it.

Talking of St Ives I thought you might like a piccy of that too - well I do and it IS my birthday lol

(sorry blogger won't enlarge some of these pix)

On the subject of texting, which I was earlier, try as I might this morning I could not get my phone to part with a photo text I was trying to send to DD! I went thro endless hoops to send it and all it would do was keep dumping it in the outbox. I give up! I did eventually get 2 messages saying the send had failed - duh, I knew that already....... Anyway, the said pic of birthday chaos is above.

Oh, and DH is silent, peace reigns in the house! He cannot put Harry Potter down! My turn next. (Sorry I'll stop rambling now)!

Tuesday, 24 July 2007


I've been making a bit of progress in sorting out my workspace but haven't had chance to get out there today as the dentist called! Not my most favourite place in the world (no offence to my dentist who I do like) but it all went off well so I'm happy.
I had a play with painting washers yesterday to use as an embellishment (I saw the idea in Cloth Paper Scissors) and I'll post a pic when I've embossed them.
The painting below was an experiment in weaving materials thro the canvas - the colours not quite right but it's about the closest I can get. I pasted on some heavily textured paper with a vague thought of landscape but I didn't want it to be too figurative. The all over web-like texture was achieved by stretching cobweb (the sort you drape for halloween) across the canvas, spraying it with water and then dropping and spraying acrylic ink and spraying water where necessary until I was happy with the balance of colour. Some of the ink sits more heavily in some areas and in others I sprayed it out to make it paler. I left the canvas to dry overnight - as tempting as it is to peek! The surprise is when you peel the web away next day and see what you've got! I feel quite happy with the result and have left it well alone to consider whether it needs anything else but it's not telling me anything.
I finally got back to my July Journal page today and my progress is below. I think it may be getting a bit fussy but, having seen it on the screen, I wonder if it needs some seeded or running stitches on. Any thoughts?

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Sunny Sunday

Don't look now but something approaching space is slowly appearing in my shed -sorry- studio! I've had another blitz today and thrown out, or should I say, recycled, loads of old paper and magazines. Thank God for Freecycle too! My old pochade box has found an appreciative new home and someone is coming to collect several years of Artist and Illustrator magazines tomorrow. I may actually be able to get down to some serious play soon! Until I have some new art to show here's some more images taken at St Ives.

We have been lucky enough to have some sunshine here today but my thoughts are with all those poor people who have been flooded out of their homes across parts of England in the last few days. I have certainly not seen such extremes of weather in this country in my lifetime. A taste of things to come we are told.

Saturday, 21 July 2007

I had great plans for today but I'm feeling frustrated with myself as, in my usual butterfly minded way, I have repeatedly been side tracked and then got tired, resorted to an afternoon sleep and have not achieved everything I wanted to. I have managed to create a little more space outside so I will hopefully keep the momentum going out there and re-organise my mixed media materials so that I can get some work done. I have been looking at Elis's blog at intothe blystics again and she has fired me up with lots of ideas so I need to get going. I have to say that Elis is very generous with her ideas and instructions. Thanks Elis.

As I don't have any work to show for today I thought I would show you a few photos I have taken of surfaces and textures. I hope blogger will let you enlarge them as he seems to be a bit choosy about which ones he'll "grow". Here's another rusty buoy and a second with lovely rust and turquoise colours.

The surface below is the underside of a boat in the harbour at St Ives which I took in April this year during our annual pilgrimage. My mum's mum came from Cambourne in Cornwall and, whether because of this link or not, I love this area and can't wait to go back. We have spent the last 3 annual holidays in St Ives and it feels like going home every time. And so to bed and dreams of St Ives..........

Before I forget I thought I would just post a pic of the second of the postage stamp ATCs I made for the July Lottery at Mixed Media ATCs. I didn't win this time, Amanda is going to be receiving the ATCs. Well done Amanda. (Thinks 'must get mine in the post before I forget'.)

I have a great day of sorting out my art stuff so no more time for blogging!

Friday, 20 July 2007

Art in Action

Doesn't DH look the part - the keen photographer on the prowl for a scoop!

The little girl below was enjoying herself swinging to the music yesterday at Art in Action.

We were lucky yesterday, the sun shone nearly all day and we stayed dry! I dread to think what's happened today with all the rain coming up the country. I am sure it must all have been turned to a quagmire.

The painter in action below is David Curtis who is famed for his oils and also watercolours which capture the qualities of light. I bought one of his books a long time ago and I like his style of painting.

In contrast to David Curtis's style I came over all excited by Francis Bowyers work which celebrates the qualities of the oil paint. The surface of his painting reminded me of a photo I took recently of a rusty buoy at Kings Lynn. I must get round to exploring this and interpreting it myself.

I don't know a lot about sculpture but these 2 figures below by the same artist both speak volumes. The little boy is titled "Look" and epitomises to me the posture of a small boy looking down into a pool of water or watching an insect crawl across the floor. They are by Anna Gillespie. I have had a quick look at her website and I can see some similarities with Antony Gormley - probably because of the human forms. I saw a tv profile of Gormley a few weeks ago and was amazed at the extremes he went to to portray the human form, including wrapping, or having his body wrapped, in cling film and plaster impressions taken.

The 2 pieces below are by Carol S Farrow and the colours are beautiful as are the surfaces. She has combined paper and cotton fibres and applied wax to the surface. Her pieces remind me of the surface of old walls.

I have included these photos as I took them myself yesterday but I hope they do not infringe anyone's copyright. I would ask anyone seeing them on this blog not to use them in any way which could adversely affect the originating artist.
Art in Action was a lovely day out. It was certainly an overwhelming experience at my first visit. There are so many types of art being offered that it is not easy to get round everything and take it all in. Having said that it was a very "cultural" and "cultured" day out with the opportunity to experience the art of many countries. The art was not just about painting and sculpture either - throughout the day there were performances of music and dance from India and Korea as well as Traditional Old English music. For a break from the hustle and bustle of the event the gardens at Waterperry are a beautiful, relaxing oasis.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Art in Action

This is a quick note for Lynda aka Purplemissus as I have just got back from Art in Action and I'm too tired to blog the whole thing tonight. We took about 2 hours to get there from Lincolnshire and had no problems till we were about 3 miles away and then got stuck in a very slow queue. Half an hour later we managed to get in but it was worth the wait. I've not been to A in A before but I did enjoy the day (more tomorrow with pix). I don't know what it's been like previously but it was very busy. There was some textile and mixed media work that was stunning - I particularly liked Rosi Robinson,Isabel Dibden Wright, Kate Wells, Susan Macarthur, Carol Farrow who works with mould made paper with cotton fibres, moulded while wet and stitched and coloured - beautiful colours. Also Iona Mackenzie Laycock working with wool fibres and pearlescent paint. When I look at the programme now I think we only scratched the surface of what was there. There were quite a lot of people selling in the market tent that were not exhibiting in the marquees. Rainbow Silks were there with a small stall - very busy - as was Oliver Twists. I think I was inhibited by my husband being there - I only bought 2 magazines and no goodies!! Lol. I'm holding myself back for the Festival of Quilts in August! :))

My brain is certainly overloaded with everything I saw and there was plenty to inspire. I would go again but I will probably leave it a year or two as it's a long way and a long day. Thank God I wasn't driving!

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

I havn't got a photo to show but I did make a start on sorting out my studio yesterday and managed to create 3 empty drawers in the storage unit. The next job is to clear some shelves and rearrange my collection of stones, pots etc so that I can make use of the space on top of the unit for some equipment. I was supposed to be keeping that area clear to set up still-lifes but I don' t seem to be doing much of that type of painting lately so I could probably afford to take some of that area for painting materials so that they are readily to hand. Mind you, by the time I get it all sorted out it will probably be wintertime and too cold to work out there! A friend of mine once suggested that I just roof over the garden and have the whole thing as a playroom, sorry,studio. She probably had the right idea. However much space I have I will always spread out into the kitchen, bedroom, spare room, lounge..... I think it has something to do with the artist's mind....that's my excuse anyway :))

We had a busy day yesterday. As the pic shows our fence was looking the worse for wear and wobbled alarmingly in a high wind so we have had it replaced (no photo of the new one as the gardens a tip! especially after it rained and the fence man tramped a load of mud across the grass, bless him). We treated ourselves to this piece of driftwood a couple of years ago as I have a thing about driftwood and am always on the lookout for it when we go away. Not that I have ever found anything like this on a beach here.

The beautiful irises are in our pond in the garden and the wilderness on the right is our garden last year when we tried to turn the small area of lawn into a meadow. It didn't work out too well, altho it was lovely till the grasses took over, so our plan for later this year is to make it more of a mediterranean garden with gravel and pots.

I havn't had any time for painting so far today so I thought I would post a couple of pix of "one I made earlier". Apologies if I have posted either before - I've got a poor memory! lol The square piece was inspired by an article in Stitch magazine and was my first attempt at stitching
and beading. I really enjoyed doing it as I love shells and shiny things so I was in my element. When I did the other piece I had a rock pool in mind. I painted a piece of calico with inks and then laid on various threads and fibres and used bondaweb or wonderunder and net to hold them in place and then stitched and beaded on top. I really enjoyed doing this - it was inspired by the Bead Journal Project 2007 altho I will have to wait and see whether they repeat it next year to take part in it officially.

I won't be posting tomorrow as I am going to Art in Action near Oxford. Fortunately I am not driving, my friend and mixed media teacher Hazel is taking us in her car. There will be 40 marquees there of artists and craftspeople so it should be a bumper day out with plenty of opportunities for photos and maybe just a little shopping (sshh don't say it too loud, my DH isn't far away!), as if I havn't got enough art stuff! Let's face it, you can never have enough really can you? I blame it on my artistic temperament.....no will power lol :))

Monday, 16 July 2007

I thought I would try and shame myself into sorting out my shed/studio. This is the current state of chaos out there. I keep just looking at it and walking out again but I must get to grips with it as my painting is getting mixed up with my fibre work and I can't find a thing. The wooden drawer unit in the first photo has open shelving and is too deep to be effective. I am thinking of getting rid of it thro Freecycle and then getting some open shelving. Course then I will have the problem of where to put the planchest.

I can't wait until I have completely finished the postcards so I am putting them up now:

I think 2 of them are finished but I will probably have a bit more of a play with the one on the right. I am thinking of shaving off some of the blue nappy liner where it is ridged up and applying some inks .....or ...maybe not! I have had a look at it the other way up and it looks ok.

I've also completed one postage stamp themed ATC for the competition at Mixed Media ATCs

I need to try and complete the other one before Friday.