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Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Endless Admin


Someone said, 'To find a handsome prince, you have to kiss an awful lot of frogs'. The same could be said about showing work, or doing workshops, and the endless admin that is associated with it. Part of today was spent on the phone, making the final arrangements for the Creating Community workshop, which now has a grand total of twenty participants. And part of it was spent in a stationer's shop, buying card and pens and the like, for the participants to use, and some sweeties for them to suck at odd moments of stress, or thirst...or just for the fun of it! And part of it was spent completing and sending the forms for entering the Festival of Quilts. I'm entering Quilts 06, and also have a collaborative piece in the two person category (with Thelma Smith , who is currently recovering from a bout of ill health, get well soon, Thelma!). And I've still got to fold some paper (twenty large sheets of Khadi paper), as we're making a book as part of the process, but don't have time to wait for twenty people to fold paper up...perhaps Robin will lend a hand this evening.

I have to admit that I'd far rather have been painting, today. But the admin is necessary for the smooth running of the workshop, and for the quilts to be seen in Birmingham, and I'm sure it's good for the soul! The painting today is a detail shot of a small piece called 'Half Remembered'.
Now...wonder if I can fit in a quick bit of quilting before tea...

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Celebrating Success


I'm sitting here basking in the warm glow that is a painting going well (not as expected, but well ). And along came artbizblog, with a list of things that artists should remember. I particularly liked the one that said : (Remember) That you are a work in progress. It will take many baby steps to reach your goals. Celebrate your victories along the way.

Celebrating success or victories is A Good Thing. We spend so much time criticising ourselves and our work, we forget, sometimes, to enjoy it when things go right. Even the small things. Especially the small things. Baby steps mean baby victories...enjoy them when they come, and remember them when they go.

I seem to have confused a couple of people with my photo on yesterday's blog. Sadly, Omega was right when she said that she thought that the photo was of a flint wall. It was, of course, perfectly reasonable to think that a textile artist and painter would work with what's around her...but in this case, the real thing is the real thing...as is today's picture of a gravestone. I'm fascinated by stone, and by the way that marks wear down over time. That thought has influenced a lot of my work, and will doubtless continue to do so.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Keeping On


Today, I went to pick up my paintings from the exhibition; no sales, but some positive feedback and a compliment or two. As always, someone said how interesting it was to look at the paintings, that there was always something new to look at, no matter how often they looked at a single piece. That is one of the things I hope will happen when I make a painting, so I was pleased by the remark.

I also met a couple of textile artists, one who lives in a village not far from here. I'm quietly gathering names for a group, and I think I now have enough to begin with, which is exciting. However, it'll have to wait a little, until I've got the group for artists with mental health issues together; the introductory workshop for that is on Friday. Seventeen people have signed up so far, which is wonderful. I thought we'd be lucky to get into double figures! And, of course, we're taking registrations up until the last moment, so if you want to come and join us, drop me an email.

It has been interesting to paint in a completed sketch book. It is nearly two years old, now, that sketchbook, and I find myself remembering things about our search for a house, for instance, prompted by the scribbled notes in the book about this and that. I was also reminded how struck I was by the Norfolk way of housebuilding, using flints, decoratively. I still want to explore that in art... however, one thing at a time...well, all right, usually four things at a time, but this one will keep, I'm sure, developing slowly in the back of my mind until the time is right to work with it. Let's hope that will be soon. I've now got two tidy studios, and the room in which I dye in is reasonably tidy, too. Now, what will I mess up first...

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Sitting Still

I thought that today would be a good time to clear out the paint studio. It's always nice to move around in a space without feeling you're going to break something, or fall over... besides, I bought a new plastic unit with four drawers, to keep my oil paints in, and it needed filling. So, I've moved things around, tidied up, thrown things out and generally been A Good Person.

Some of the time, I spent sitting still. I have 'Blue Goddess' up on the wall, and I'm not happy with it, at all. I've never been happy with things that I think are overly blatant, and I feel some of the marks that delineate the figure are just that. So, I sat with the painting, to see what it would tell me. It told me that there are some good parts of the painting, and they are not really anything to do with the title or 'subject' of the painting at all. And that perhaps pursuing those interesting parts, working from them out into the rest of the painting, would be A Good Thing. So, my studio is prepped for action, and it'll be interesting to see what comes out of these thoughts.

Painting, for me, is always a quick process. But there is much time spent sitting still, looking at the painting as it is, and wondering how to take it forward. I like this way of working. No deadlines, no stress, just a relationship with a painting, and a state of change.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Bank Holiday Weekend


Monday is a public holiday in England (Scotland does its own thing...Edinburgh had a holiday last week, Stirling and district will have one this week, makes no sense at all...). Bank Holiday weekends, as these holidays are known, are notorious for queues of traffic all over the country, as people try to make the most of the time off by going to places that everybody else wants to go to... and also, for rain. And the rain did not disappoint. It rained and rained this afternoon. Which was a pity for the Summer Fair on the village green at Gressenhall, the next village along from ours. But it didn't stop us going there, anyway, and meeting all kinds of people...and, of course, shopping. One of the farms nearby produces woad, and dyes cloth and fibres, as well as making all kinds of interesting clothing and home products under the name woad-inc (the inc stands for 'Ian's Natural Colour, of course!). I went on a workshop there last year, and it was a delight to see how well they have expanded their product range. The process of dyeing with woad (or indigo) is quite unlike dyeing with man made dyes, and the beautiful blues produced are legendary. I bought some yarn from them today, as you can see, and look forward to couching it on postcards and other small works.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Quiet Time


A big thank you to everyone who sent birthday wishes yesterday, it was much appreciated. I delivered the paintings to the exhibition venue today, and left them shining enthusiastically (at least, I hope that's what they were doing!). I've never shown the paintings in public before, so it'll be interesting to see what happens. It's a local exhibition, with cream teas, so I'll be able to go and mingle from time to time, and have a cream scone or two... so much for thinking about slimming down a bit...

My table is piled high with work, but my time is spent doing other things. People are still calling about the 'Creating Community' workshop on 2 June in Norwich, which will, I hope, create a self-sustaining group of artists with mental health issues. Fifteen people have signed up so far, it promises to be a good day. And there's a mountain of ironing and other housework to be done, at some point. But this afternoon, the youngest cat, Merlin, and I dozed through the afternoon in the warmth of the conservatory. All work and no play (or naps, for that matter) is not good for either Jack or Jill. That said, this particular Jill had better go look and see what we can have for tea. Eating is important enough for me to exert myself!

Frequent visitors will recognise 'Eight Blue Dots and a Circle', this time presented on turquoise handdyed cloth stretched over canvas. I've decided not to make the piece interactive; the individual pieces aren't stiff enough to cope with being moved regularly. But the canvas is square, so I dare say that, if you wanted a change, you could simply turn it upside down...

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Happy Birthday To Me...


and it has, indeed, been a happy day. I haven't done much of anything. Opened a couple of presents, drunk lots of coffee, chatted on the phone to friends and family, read a truly frivolous book, nibbled some very nice bitter chocolate; what more could a girl want?

The other thing I did today was to put stuff in envelopes to send to friends. I own Dijanne some black lutradur, which I've had for ages, and not got round to sending. And there's some promised fabric for friends, and the collaborative book going to Arashi... And then, there's the cloth in the picture, which is my starter piece for a surface design round robin that I'm taking part in on one of the lists I belong to. I think it'll be an interesting piece to work on...there's lots of empty space, just asking to be filled up with colour, texture and anything else anyone can think of! It is a cotton poplin, which takes dye like a dream. We're sending journals with the pieces, and I think it will be interesting to follow the development of the cloth as it goes round the group of five people.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


Drift II ; a different take on the same size of canvas.

Drift 1. Amazing how a lick of paint can change things...

And So It Came To Pass...


that Verily, I became Norfolk's Most Unpopular Artist for last night. For lo, Robin did point out that he has to go out on Tuesday evening, also, so if there was to be any suspending of paintings , it would have to be then and there, or not at all. So, being me, I went for then and there, and had an evening punctuated by muttered curses, imprecations and other unpleasantnesses... but it was worth it! I now have ten pieces, strung and ready to hang. The photos prove it, lots of paintings, and a couple of textile pieces, one of which may seem familiar. Yes, I went with the four squares...but I do have another canvas, and another, single square to put on it. But I tried painting the background, and that seemed to work, so I cut some more squares, and came up with a second version. Not sure if I can legitimately call this a series, but hey...

So, just some admin to do, and I can deliver them happily to their destination, a little village called Bintree. I can say that with some certainty. This time yesterday, though, I was desperately hunting for the piece of paper that had the details on it, having spent a couple of weeks thinking, really must put that info in my diary... and of course, when I went to do so, I couldn't find it. There was a weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth....well, the tooth thing, anyway. There was an emptying of boxes and a clearing of tables. There was a phoning of friends, for commiserations and support...Sally even turned detective, and found an exhibit going on in the right area, with the right woman's name as curator....but the wrong church, as I discovered when I had a terribly civilised conversation with her. And she invited me to their private view, which can't be bad...

Finally, when Robin came back from Amsterdam, and before he started adding screws and D rings and who knows what to the paintings, he went methodically through my paperwork, and lo and behold, he did find the piece of paper I was looking for... Really must put that info in my diary now....

Monday, May 22, 2006

Deeply Unpopular


That'll be me, when Robin gets back from Amsterdam this evening. I knew there was something that we were supposed to do at the weekend, other than wander round other studios, and chatting to artists... And that was.... welllll...... getting the work ready to hang at the show I'm in next weekend. The paintings, and a couple of textile pieces, are to be delivered early on Thursday morning. Wednesday is my birthday, and we're going out for a meal. That leaves this evening, and Tuesday evening to put the hanging accoutrements on ten pieces. Yes, I could do it by myself...but I'm not exactly known for my grasp of the concept of 'straight'. As in 'hanging straight'. Or 'straight line'. Or even, 'equidistant'. So this task will fall to Robin. And he was up at 4am to be in good time for the early flight to Amsterdam for a business meeting (don't be jealous, the offices are right next to the terminal building). I think I'll tell him when he phones from Amsterdam, as he usually does before the flight. That way, at least he'll have the flight time to cool down!!

Now, where was that screwdriver...

Sunday, May 21, 2006


And finally, the journal page. As you can see, I had a bit of a thing about calligraphy at that point...

One of the spreads from the collaborative book

A spread from the altered book that started all this off!

Logical Progression

It's fascinating to catch oneself building on previous learning. Some time ago, I got interested in altered books. An altered book, for those of you who haven't met that particular animal before (most people say, what, an altar book?), is a book, usually an old, unwanted, but well bound book, which has been altered by an artist. It might contain collage, more writing, painting...a whole range of techniques. Mine are usually very simple. I make paintings in them. Paintings are things that are usually hung on the wall, inviolate. No matter how textured, people don't touch them. A painting in a book, though, is meant to be touched, and a whole different relationship is created between the viewer and the image.

A couple of days ago, I decided to work on the collaborative project that I'm making with Arashi . It sprang out of a little book of paintings that he has been making, and featuring on his blog. We thought it would be fun to make collaborative works, where we respond to each other's paintings. Not being one to waste time, or do one thing when I can do two, I also began to varnish an altered book that I'd made some time before. I don't know about you, but when I'm working small, I always mix too much paint (and the reverse applies, big paintings never have enough...). What, I wondered, was I going to do with the excess? I don't throw out paint, I use it...but on what? So I made a collage, and that was fine...and still had more... And then I picked up a journal, an old, filled up journal, full of drawings and notes. Journals like this have always annoyed me, somehow. The text is interesting, the drawings will doubtless relate to some painting or other, but the whole, as an entity, I always feel is somewhat unsatisfying. But they lie around in the studio, and I leaf through them occasionally, and so I did that day. And a light came on in my head...

I used the last of the paint on a page of the journal...and was hooked, instantly. This was clearly the missing element of the journalling. People making artist's journals usually do this kind of colouring before the text is added, but I feel that that is somehow inappropriate for me. But working in reverse, after the fact, rather like the work in the altered book that I was varnishing, now that made sense to me. So, to show the progression, I'll upload a picture of each; a spread in the altered book, the collaborative book and the journal. See what you think.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Production Has Halted...


on these dolls, one of which went to Helen Simpson to wish her luck on her opening on Monday. Truth is, I've run out of bases for the twigs, and it's a lot easier to work on them when they are standing upright. When you work with them otherwise, you really need an extra hand, one to hold the twig, and the others to tie, bind, paint or whatever... The one pictured is Lady Lichen, who will appear in the exhibit we're running in September, Elemental.

I went to the framer, today, to collect three paintings that he'd framed for me. I don't usually care for frames, but two of these pieces look wonderful, framed, and the third will be fine once I've painted the frame...it doesn't suit the piece in natural pine, but will look good once it has changed to turquoise! Photos tomorrow, perhaps. I'm astonished how different the pieces look, now. More intense, somehow. It's intruiguing...something to ponder. Along with the thought of today, or rather, yesterday, do you really have to work this big? To which the answer is, yes, sometimes. And never, in textile. Guid gear, sma' buk, is the Scottish saying that covers it...good things come in little packages... That's my excuse, and I'm sticking to it!

Thursday, May 18, 2006

This Morning's Surprise...


was in my inbox when I came back from the post office, an email from my friend Sheila Browning, trainer and facilitator extraordinaire, and occasional artist, who uses her creativity to make magic in business, and occasionally in watercolour, too. I made Sheila and her lovely husband Archie a quilt to mark a significant anniversary, and they have it hanging in their hallway, as you can see from the photograph she kindly sent. It was made on the theme of gardens, as Archie is a gardener par excellence, and shakes his head over my weeds whenever he visits. It is quilted with a floral motif, as you may be able to see if you click the image to enlarge it.

People do ask occasionally if I make 'normal' quilts. By this, I think they mean functional (it's that, or the opposite must be abnormal, and we just won't go there...). Well, this is as close as it gets, these days. I have a log cabin quilt for my own bed, which must be about 20 years old now, doesn't time fly when you're making art... Robin's mother has a crazy quilt for her bed, which I made, also for a significant anniversary, and I seem to recall that Sheila and Archie's quilt was intended as a lap quilt...but clearly, it got diverted to a wall. Andrew also has a single bed quilt, which still seems to be living here with me...and I'm wondering if he wants one to mark his wedding. Sarah, any thoughts? Instructions? Whatever?

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Sun Circle


I'm slowly getting back to some semblance of normality, and decided to clear out the paint studio, as there was altogether too much in it for me to contemplate actually working up there. So, I discovered several paintings that I'd forgotten I'd made, including one Very Big one, quite how I forgot that one, I'm not entirely sure... and, once that was done, and I'd cleared space on my table, I was able to work on a little quilt that my friend Sally Bramald sent me to paint. As always, the quilting on it was exquisite...it's just that, while brushing blue onto the centre circle, she managed to spill the paint...only to discover, as most of us have at some point, that (a) spilled paint goes everywhere and (b) once it's on, it's on... However, her loss was my gain, and I had a pleasant time adding more paint; I only hope she likes the end result. I think I may foil it...give it a glisten or two. Sun Circle it is, and it deserves to shine. And I have to say, it looks better in real time than it does in this photo...sorry, Sally!

Monday, May 15, 2006


Silk paper...for a water inspired totem doll.

Silk...

in this case, silk paper, part of the fruits of yesterday's work. I'm very pleased with it, it will look good on my totem dolls. I like, when I make these dolls, to use natural things, and silk certainly fits the bill. Just as well I don't have to worry about a winter wardrobe for them, though!

If it's May, and Norfolk, it has to be Festival time, and also time for Open Studios. I'm hoping to get round various studios this week, but this evening, I'm off to an opening, Helen Simpson, my partner in crime for the 'Creating Community' workshop, is showing at Open Studios (in St Margaret's Church in Norwich, for any locals reading...), so I'm going to go and enjoy looking at more of her work 'in the flesh', as it were.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Forgotten Pleasures


I had forgotten just how much I enjoy working with silk fibres. I decided to make some silk paper to adorn my totem dolls, and found some fibres from the fibre factory, which I bought the last time I was at an exhibition. Gently coloured, extremely soft, it has been therapeutic working with them. I rarely make silk paper, it was hugely fashionable for a time, and, being contrary, I stopped making it. But the fad or fashion or whatever it was seems to be over, and I had a happy time this morning making three sheets, two of beautiful blues, one of muted pinks and ecrus, leaving the lovely packet in the photograph to play with, next time.

I've been thinking about the turtle quilt, and have decided how to quilt it, very simply, but quite heavily. I enjoy painting quilts...the trick here will be to quilt so that the eye can interpret little bits of turtle amongst the paint, but not to recognise that the borders are different... so, a cup of coffee, some chocolate, a rest...and back to work. It doesn't keep the demons at bay, just mutes them, so I can get on with things...

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Design Matters



Vernon asks good questions. Yesterday, he asked about the small embroidery piece I showed yesterday, 'I'm wondering why it became necessary to reduce it down to the bare minimum when repetition is one of the most effective design tools?' He's right, of course; repetition is effective, and it's one of the cornerstones of textile art, especially piecing and quilting. So I thought I'd try to answer his question, and I've put both pictures up side by side today, to let you compare.

When I started writing this, I thought the answer was simple. It was, I thought, a question of space. The canvasses are small, 8" square, the embroideries, 2.5" square. Putting four small squares on a small canvas felt somewhat squashed up, to me. A single square works better.
Or perhaps, a bigger canvas would look better.

And then I realised that that wasn't the whole truth. It is also a matter of where the viewer focusses the attention. In the four square piece, what pulls the eye, I think, is the flow of colour over the four squares, the way some colours and stitch move one way, and others, another. We look at the four, as if they were one. In the single piece, the eye has nowhere to go but the interior of that one embroidery. It is still; there is no movement outwith the edges of the piece. It is quiet, contemplative. I prefer it, though I still like the other piece...and will go buy a larger square canvas, next week, to see if that works better. It may not.

I think this is a wonderful example of working in reverse. I'd love to say that I consciously worked all this out, but it's quite obvious that I didn't. My unconscious was busy, designing, whilst the rest of me thought I was playing with some offcuts. At the end of the day, who cares...the end result is there, to be enjoyed. Which one do you prefer?

Friday, May 12, 2006


Outburst. Made from my own handdyes. The lower piece has been discharged and painted, too.

Turning Turtle, ready to quilt and paint

Sometimes...


we make things over complicated. Why have four embroidered squares on a piece, when one looks better? And why think about why you're depressed, when you can think about what to do to get yourself out of it? The why, I've discovered, doesn't help any, other than superficially. The what to do, is much more fun...even when you don't feel like doing anything other than pulling the covers over your head and having a damn good cry.

So...today, I pieced. Piecing, for me, is like knitting. If I'm doing it, it's a Bad Sign. But I talked to my new framer about stretching a painted quilt, he said, bring one in...but I don't have one to take in with me. I do, now. Turning Turtle, made from bits that someone gave me...eco, I think...aka Elizabeth Cherry Owen. And, while I was at it, I made 'outburst', too. Two bits of unrelated fabric put together...that look like an explosion...or the kind of thing that you say when you just can't bite your tongue any more... Turtle, will be painted, which is why it really doesn't matter that I couldn't find the fourth matching bit of border, most of which will disappear behind the work anyway... (note to self, tidy up that damn workroom, when you lose a piece of cloth you cut seconds before, it's time and then some...). Outburst, though, I suspect with be a quilt. No lutradur, no paint. Just quilt. Now, there's a novelty, for me at least.

Then, just to cement the improvement in mood, I went shopping. Food shopping. Robin is off to spend the weekend in Edinburgh, so I bought things that I like. Melon and strawberries for breakfast tomorrow, the ultimate self indulgence... and some fresh raspberries...and did I mention the Haagen Das Cookies and Cream icecream...? Oh, I did get chicken, and salad, and the like...but pudding always makes me feel indulged...

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Scrap It


I'm in the kind of mood where I look at the work I've done, and think. Scrap it. This is rather an unfortunate frame of mind to be in when trying to select what to submit to an exhibition taking place later this month. Paintings, mainly. The textiles always manage to escape this kind of mood, perhaps because I'm infinitely more confident about them, than I am about the painting. Still, I took three pieces to the framer today, it'll be interesting to see how they look with frames on. I hate frames...rarely use them. Still, they have their uses. And the frames will be plain as plain, though I may paint them if I don't feel comfortable with the bare wood look...

This kind of mood is difficult to throw off, I find. It usually leads to a downward spiral, where not only the paintings are no good, but I am no good, either. And that's just no place for a depressive to go. Sometimes I know why the mood is around...extra stress, or an argument...other times, I am less sure. But for the meantime, I'll hold off on any big decisions until the mood has passed (they do, even when they are black and gloomy), and probably go for a nap.

Scrapping it, though, could also be the title of the piece I've photographed. Four small squares of lutradur over velvet, the trimmings from an earlier piece (the three red dots piece), arranged on a small, white canvas. Whether the canvas will remain white, or not, I'm not sure. I may cover it with something, or I may paint it. Either way, though, it seems to have an integrity of its own. Or it will have, when I get those damn squares to line up straight!! So it's not all gloom and doom today...perhaps tomorrow will be better.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Musing on Tuesday


Well, I'm still not entirely sure what I'm going to do this week. But I did make a start, clipping all the twigs to size for dolls, and beginning to make a tree totem doll, swathed in green silk fibres, with silk fibre hair and a feather in it. She needs sleeves...perhaps cascading leaves... sequins or beads, maybe... or lutradur leaves, such as Dijanne has in her gum tree pieces.

I'm tired, today, not entirely sure why. Robin had a tooth extracted yesterday, and has combined it with a viral infection (not, hopefully, in his mouth...), but has gone in to work determined to Soldier On... I woke in the night and couldn't hear him breathing, and had one of those moments where you think...is he? But we both woke at the alarm...so that was fine. And yes, I did check!

Another small piece, Flying A Kite, just a bit bigger than journal sized. It was quite comforting to be reminded by my friend Lynn that I do, in fact, make larger pieces from time to time. She tells me she might have room in the new extension they're building on their house, to hang a quilt I made them as a 'welcome to Scotland' housewarming present. It was, she reminds me, quite large, but I forget the dimensions.

Must Go Do Something...that was the last of the photos I've taken recently... or perhaps a nap?

Monday, May 08, 2006

A New Week.


Wonder what will turn up this week.... there's nothing in my diary, but that doesn't necessarily mean that nothing will happen. And there are plenty of things to be getting on with. I've begun another chapter of the lutradur book, and there are a couple of pieces in progress to illustrate one section of it, so they need to be worked on. Our next door neighbours (the ones in the converted chapel) cut down an ash tree, and gave me lots of twigs suitable for totem dolls, and I'd like to make some of those for the exhibit in September...dolls that represent the elements... so that's on the cards, too. Screenprinting with the big screens will have to wait...it's too windy today, and the weather too unsettled.

One of my goals for the year was to focus my work into one major theme, Before The Angels. That isn't happening, mainly, I think, because I have a tendency to work on whatever comes to mind, and then remember about the angels and think, oops...oh well! There's a bit of me that thinks that discipline would be A Good Thing. But the rest of me thinks that there's enough discipline in just turning up to Do The Work... Ah well, I never was a structured person. Queen of Chaos, that's me!

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Postcards....


Just to prove I haven't forgotten my friends, I've been making more postcards...partly at a play day at Helen Howes' studio, with an interesting mix of people. Helen started us off, asking us to make a postcard with a line and a dot, using anything we could find in the studio...so I made the green piece to the left of the picture. The piece next to it, is the same green handdyed cloth, but with a scrap of some lovely fabric that Heather was working with. She kindly let me have some bits and pieces of fabric to take home, so doubtless it will feature in future cards!

Mostly, though, I played with stitch, and the other picture shows another set of cards, all made from the same fabric, a handdyed polycotton. No matter how often I do this kind of thing, like making small pieces, there's always something new to learn. Thank goodness! How boring life would be if we knew it all!! I think what I discovered yesterday, was that there is a use for small scale commercial prints, other than traditional blocks...they work really well in postcard sized pieces. I don't possess very much of that kind of thing (if any...), so perhaps a bit of swapping is in order, some handdyes for some small prints...hmmm...

Saturday, May 06, 2006

More of The Same, Part II



It never ceases to amaze me just how differently these pieces end up. Some are more successful than others, but they are clearly from the same starting point... isn't that the joy of creativity, I suppose?

The next step in this process, methinks, will be to increase the size...so I get to do some more dye painting, and have some fun with it on a BIG scale (Helen, be warned, your tables are bigger than mine...), before cutting it up and stitching. Or maybe even cutting it up, stitching it back together and stitching.

I was talking to someone yesterday about how to develop work from a piece that you're happy with. I talked about finding the things you really like about a finished piece, and working out why that is, then finding options that would give you a similar result, but using different materials, and with a different effect. So, we talked about replacing couched fuzzy yarn, which she had used to great effect, with some beads. Similar textural feel to it, and similar movement in the piece, but the strength of the line itself would be diffused, slightly, depending on how the beads were positioned.

Quilters are known for collecting techniques, that they never use again...this is a good way of introducing them into your daily work, without pain! But remember: you have to focus on the good stuff in your work. Too often, we are busy looking at the line that could be straighter, or the colour that might not just have been what we wanted, after all...we criticise the piece into oblivion. Sometimes, those 'faults' just can't be seen by anyone else...and we have destroyed a perfectly good piece of work by nitpicking it to death. Look for the good bits, and build on them. You know it makes sense!

Thursday, May 04, 2006

More Of The Same...



I was talking about cutting up pieces of hand painted fabric and working with them at a small size, last month, sometime. I thought I'd show you two more pieces, both from the same piece of fabric. It never ceases to amaze me how different pieces can turn out, even though the same original starting colours and textures are the same. The top piece is foiled, as well as stitched, the bottom just stitched. I dyed some turquoise fabric yesterday to use to back these pieces, as most of them seem to have some turquoise stitching in them. The addition of the fabric makes them sing.

Below, there is a larger piece, which is made with lutradur, but which carries the ideas on from some of the smaller pieces. Three Red Dots is related to Those Postcards. Its colours are a bit more definite in real life, the photograph was taken in bright sunlight...which is all we have here, today, sunshine and heat. Suddenly, it's spring going on summer, and I'm not complaining.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Down, Down, Down...



sixty feet, to be exact. Grimes Graves is the site of a Neolithic flint mine, a huge expanse of flat land with sudden craters, as if a space ship had been using it for target practice. One of the craters has a hut structure above it, and has been excavated out, so you can go down a steep metal ladder to see what is there. I don't like confined spaces, usually, and have been known to exit, stage right, when visiting mining museums that have shafts that can be visited. This, however, was fine, a vertical shaft which was well lit, and which proved fascinating. This photo doesn't do it justice (must fiddle around with PSP...or go back and take some more ). The textures on the rocks are incredible, even withstanding the modern penchant for adding initials to anything historic.

You will remember the newspaper article about a possible artist's community in Norfolk for artists with mental health issues. The response has been slow, but steady, and included an invitation to show some work in an exhibit at the end of the month, which I'm delighted about. Somehow, though, we got talking about depression and art on alternativequiltlist, the list I run on yahoogroups for textile artists. To cut a long story short, there was enough interest for me to decide to start a new yahoo group, artfelt , intended to support artists who deal with mental illness issues as well as creating art. As someone said to me recently, neither is easy to deal with, sometimes. I can't tell you more about the group; we will decide soon how we want to operate, and what our purpose is. If you're interested in joining, click on the link above, or email me direct.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Les Fleurs Du Mal


seems to be the title of this new painting. Not sure, entirely, where it came from (the painting, that is...the title is courtesy of Baudelaire, a 19th century French poet). Don't really care, to be honest. Just that a lot of my paintings just now seem to be garden or flower related. Me, who has brown thumbs, and regularly forgets about her garden...

Finally, I can get back to normal, Robin back to work, me with nothing structured to do. Feels goooood! Back to bed with a cup of coffee and my goals notebook, see where I've got to, and what needs doing this month...a chapter of the lutradur book, for sure. A play day at Helen's on Friday this week. And I need to find a temporary home for a painting that currently hangs in the studio. It is large, too large to hang in this house...but it has to move...I knocked my (rather unstable) palette over a couple of days ago, and left it bedaubed with inappropriate colour, which had to Come Off. Ah, the joys of creativity!

Monday, May 01, 2006


One of the pieces that June collaborated with. I think she has taken it a step further...June?

Norfolk Garden. Look carefully, and there is a figure in the garden...it's the closest to a self portrait I've made

Who Knows Where The Time Goes?


I was downloading some pictures from my camera to share with you today, when I noticed a folder that dated from almost exactly one year ago. So I added those pictures to my disc, and find myself wanting to talk about them.

I can see from the earier file, that I was collaborating with June Underwood; we were early on in the collaborations, I think this was one of the first. I was painting, working with the idea that 'joy is a quality of light', which produced 'Norfolk Garden'. And I was working on the beginnings of an idea for a new approach to art quilt making (at least for me), that I thought perhaps had a book in it, perhaps not...

What I find interesting, is that a full year on, I am still working on these things. The collaborative works have quietened down; June is working on her own stuff, and hugely successfully; her 'Mind Has Mountains' is currently on her blog; for me, it is the best thing she has done so far. I am still exploring that idea of new approaches to quiltmaking, and it is producing quilts that are paintings...or should that be paintings that are quilts? either way, I think the identity crisis is all mine, the works don't care what they are called!

As for the painting, the new piece is 'Chimera:Blue Goddess'. Like the piece I painted a year ago, 'Norfolk Garden', it plays with the idea that we are immersed, intimately linked, with each other and our surroundings. I don't do the science, but they tell me that our molecules are constantly reshifting and regrouping, leaving and, perhaps, returning... and if that's not right, I don't want to know about it, because I find it hugely comforting, somehow.

The new thing, I suppose, is the lutradur, that Dijanne introduced me to a while ago. The downside, if it can be considered such, of such an active, artful life, is that I find it difficult to apportion my time between all these diverse activities. I've been working hard with lutradur, so the painting has been left quietly sitting in the studio. I've been drawing with stitch, recently, as in the little postcard sized pieces I showed recently, so the drawing with pencils and pens has taken a back seat.

But that is only a problem if I forget that all these activities are really one and the same. They are the making of art... of expression. And that, for me at least, is all there is. Excuse me, I'm off to Get On With It!