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Friday, August 31, 2007

As I Write...


I watch the numbers scrolling round on my new counter...I find it amazing that in less than 24 hours, lots of people from all over the world have visited, read and disappeared again... you are very welcome, visitors... Isn't the internet wonderful?

A quick glimpse of the first of the linoprints. It takes a while to get used to a new press, so I'm still learning, and given that I'm expecting visitors next week, I don't really have the time to spend with it. And it doesn't help that I chose to start with a piece of the ultrasuede I was talking about...not the easiest of cloths to work with (what was I thinking...). I am, however, looking forward to the visit, the closest we'll get to a holiday this year, friends from Inverness whom we miss greatly.

So, doubtless I'll spend a fair amount of time tidying up, a bit of cooking in advance, perhaps, and not a lot of time to make art. I think that's fair enough, though... I dreamed last night that I hadn't cleaned up since last Christmas, and that the night was Christmas Eve...but it's not that bad, honest! In fact, it's good enough for me to think that perhaps I could pull more screen prints; the first are batching, but we ran out of time... these are big screens, and I really need help to pull them effectively. The resulting cloth looks interesting though...stay tuned...

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Happy, Happy Dancing.


Thanks to a very generous and talented friend, I have a new toy. This lovely thing is a press, and it works like a charm. I've already taken some prints off it using lino blocks, and the next thing to try will be some etchings that I made in Inverness. Just in case you're reading this, thank you, thank you, thank you!! I could tell you who made it, but then I'd have to kill you...this was a limited edition of two, I'm told, so Anonymous will have to remain so.

A good time was had by all concerned in Edinburgh and Livingston, I feel refreshed by the short break, though the three mile walk nearly killed me...who put that mountain there...sigh... I slept most of yesterday, but this afternoon, I am hoping to print the screens that have been sitting there for a couple of weeks. Always allowing that it doesn't rain, of course.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Gone Visitin'...

There's a sign upon the door,
Gone Visitin',
I ain't workin' any more...

well, not this weekend, anyway. Going to visit son and soontobedaughterinlaw in their new house, as well as Carol who happens to live in the same town. Be good while I'm away, won't you. Better still, be creative!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Continuing...


the ultrasuede experiment, having added some stitch and a few beads... I still don't think it's finished, but it's a bit more interesting than it was. And completely meaningless...

Sometimes I wonder if the blog is a good thing. I find that I publish images of work that I wouldn't usually show anyone, things that I've learned from, but aren't all that good...things that were experiments, or studies, or whatever. Perhaps that's a good thing; I'm not making magic, here, I'm working. Sometimes things come out well, sometimes they don't. Showing only the good stuff would suggest that I'm far better than I actually am, that I only produce the good stuff...nothing could be further from the truth. Not that I need to be reminded of that; I only need to look at the canvasses that I've decided can be repainted, to know that! Still, it's only human nature to want to impress, to want to have good feedback, to show your best side always... perhaps I should go back to hiding the poor stuff, and start taking photos of the cats, or the wildlife, or even the house...

I've been working on the book, today, and an information sheet on Evolon, my favourite fabric, well, okay, first equal with lutradur! It did me good to stop procrastinating and get working, though reading this post, I think maybe an extra happy pill might be in order...and I think Blogger could use one too, it's running very slow today...lets hope I can get this post and its picture onto the site... maybe not...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Ultrasuede Experiment

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Play Day Today...

there's only so much deep and meaningful a girl can produce... and I'm bidding on watch parts on Ebay. I've been outbid several times on these, possibly even by the lovely Helen Suzanne
She, too, has been bidding, only difference is that she has been successful, and has a lovely piece to show for it, go look! Today, though, I finally managed to win a couple of lots, so I'm a bit more sanguine about the whole thing... Given, though, that I've been up and down between the computer and the upstairs studio, which has to be good for me, but is a bit wearing, I decided to play with the embellisher.

I haven't touched this lovely machine for a while, too busy with various other projects, but this morning, I've begun a journal cover for a challenge on a list I joined recently, which will need some stitch. I then went on to play with some ultrasuede, as you can see from the picture (or you will when Blogger lets me upload it...meanwhile, you'll just have to imagine!). The ultrasuede is upholstery weight, and the needles were noisy as they felted, but it has proved to be an interesting exercise. I added a piece of wool cloth from a package of offcuts I bought in France, some yarn and a three dimensional element, a little nest I'd made earlier (in true Blue Peter fashion!) which happened to be lying on the table. This could also use some stitch, methinks, but I think I'll have some lunch before I go up those stairs yet again!

I talk about playing all the time. Today, though, I've realised that there is a difference between the work I do and the play. Play is for no particular purpose, has no particular meaning, is purely decorative. It might be interesting, it might spark off some work, but it isn't particularly important. Work, though, is serious stuff. It has layers of meaning, some of which I only find much later, some of which are found for me by interested observers. It has a purpose. Play is for fun, but work is for joy.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Where Do Titles Come From?


...asked Maggie Good question. My titles come from the process, usually, from what's happening on the canvas or cloth or whatever I happen to be working with at the time. Corruption, in the post below, gets its name from the idea of the background dark colours soaking into the edges of the lighter collaged sections, and the splashes of the darker colours that can be seen there, too. At a deeper level, it represents the way the darkness of my past seems to seep upwards into the present, no matter how good things are. And it is that extra level of meaning that includes the work in the 'Inner Landscapes' series. Though I have to admit to stealing, or at least borrowing, the phrase 'inner landscapes'; I read it in a book about eating disorders, and it struck a chord. My inner landscapes are probably more important to me than the ones I see around me; painting them helps me to understand myself.

Today's painting is 'Falling', a cousin of Flying/Falling, and a study for a larger painting on this theme.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

I Don't Seem...


to be going anywhere this weekend, just moving things around, making space, cleaning and tidying... though I have persuaded Robin to make me a stand for photographing quilts; he's off to Homebase to buy wood even as we speak. He offered to take me with him, but frankly, I'm not dressed for it. Paint spattered trousers and tshirt are not Going Out Clothes, especially not in the rain. Even the cats don't fancy going out, much.

Another new piece, Corruption, more mixed media, not that I'm obsessed, or anything. Not sure about the title, but the piece itself is fine. Really must stop photographing things in the studio, though. The light comes from three different directions, and it seems to confuse the camera. It's good for painting, though.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Ouch!


I've pulled a muscle in my shoulder, I think, probably while turning over in bed... it might stop me sewing, but not painting, I think. Since I've been showing you a lot of paintings, I thought I'd show a textile, just to prove that I do sew occasionally! This is stage four of the red piece of lutradur I started in Lyon, now titled 'Red Flight'. I say stage four advisedly, because I'm not convinced that it's finished. Somehow, it isn't what I intended at all...I got sidetracked into my 'usual' way of working, and an earlier theme, instead of experimenting with the new things that I've been thinking about recently. It's easily enough done...a rut is a rut is a rut, and is always easier than breaking new ground (even if that ground is only new to me). I think some paint is required on this one, or maybe some gutta.

And yes, you're right, I could unpick...only I won't. Partly because I rarely ever do, but mostly because the holes would show on the lutradur, one of the rare downsides of using this lovely cloth. Still, I have another, larger piece to work with, and this time, I won't allow myself to be sidetracked! Though, I admit, it's still possible... I'm finding it difficult to focus on two distinct and different themes, one for painting, one for cloth, but I'm don't really want to give either up; they both seem to be important. Perhaps the trick would be to work on one at a time in both textile and paint, and leave the other one for later... something to think about.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Another Day...


with no painting, but much reflection. A visit to the therapist, along with Flying/Falling, and a conversation about what it means. She didn't want it to leave, but I didn't want to leave it, so I won, and it's propped in the hall. Robin saw it; 'is this the painting in your blog?' he asked (living with me doesn't mean that he actually looks at the work...). Yes, I said. Looks much better in the flesh, he said. Not sure whether to be pleased that he likes it, or annoyed that my photography isn't up to scratch...but then paintings never photograph well, do they?

A visit to my favourite restaurant, Le Cafe Parisien, where M. le Patron knows his wine, and his chocolate, to drop off a babyquilt, and eat, of course. The baby, a beautiful little girl, also dropped in to see us, but had dropped off before she arrived, so didn't hear the compliments. A call from Sally, prizes, surprises and quilts galore, none of them mine (she's at Festival of Quilts). And a visit to a bookshop for the two books that complete the series I'm reading. No work done, but a happy time had.

The image is another Inner Lanscape, Tranquil. Click on it, as always, for a larger version, where you might be able to pick up the texture (another mixed media with hand made paper).

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

More Mixed Media...


and a quandry. What to do today? I ought to go out and do some shopping, basics, like milk and bread. But there's cloth to rinse and wash, a lutradur piece to stitch, more paint to play with. Ah, decisions, decisions.

The image is another 'Inner Landscape', 'Pain Dance'. If you click on the image, it should enlarge. I seem to be running out of handmade paper, perhaps I should schedule in a paper making session at some point...and there's Rob's work to use, and I want to do some dye painting with soya wax resist... Sometimes too much is just as bad as too little. I think I'll go sew, for now.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Exploring


I had an hour to kill at the garage as I waited for my brake nipples to be changed (don't ask me...it sounds like some weird ritual...), so I took a book and a sketchbook. I didn't really feel like drawing, but an hour later, I'd made all sorts of interesting things...including this drawing, here. I worked into an existing drawing, which had been made with a black brush pen, using a fine tip black pen and a double ended brown calligraphy pen. As I worked, I realised that I was exploring, looking to see what new things I could find...just like the old explorers looked for treasure, here was I, making my own treasure...art and new thoughts.

In fact, I like the idea so much, I'm going to explore some more, and perhaps offer a workshop on the subject. While I was in Lyon, I was approached by Studio Patchwork Art Textile about the possibility of teaching for them (they're based in France, near Toulouse). They offer week long residential courses for up to eight people, it sounds idyllic, particularly as the local architecture is said to be stunning, as is the food...sigh... I hope this comes to pass, I can't imagine a better place to teach a workshop on exploring...unless you know better, of course!

I enjoy teaching workshops; in its way, it too is a form of exploring. The students explore and learn, and usually so do I. There is always something new to learn, it's what makes artmaking so special.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Missed...





the shooting stars, but found the camera. I remembered this morning why it was in the bedroom; I'd gone up to photograph a particularly interesting bruise on my leg...yes, there is a good reason, no, I'm not suing.

So, now I have the photos of the work I did on Saturday. The first one shows the screen itself, and part of the resultant print; the second shows a print in its entirety, plus glimpses of another two. I'm having fun with this. I learned to screenprint many years ago, but it's only now that I begin to feel really confident about it. Who knows what will turn up next...I might even make some prints on paper!

What I did discover about this particular technique is that you get a lot of mileage from the thickened dye dried onto the screen. So much so, that I've made another small set of prints, this time using yellow dye, but without cleaning the screen, so that in fact, I have an interesting mottled effect of yellows, greens, browns and reds. That's batching at the moment, outside in the sunshine. I'm going to have an early lunch, get rid of the backache that is the result of printing on a low table (it's a pasting table, not very stable, so I can't raise it on anything), and then either paint or sew...the small red lutradur piece is ready for stitch; indeed, it's under the needle as we speak. It's just that I'm not up there to actually do the stitching. But lunch first, for sure.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Shooting Stars...


can be seen this evening, but I'm not sure that I'll stay awake long enough to see them. They'll be at their best at 3am, apparently. It's a long time since I stayed up til three in the morning, and I don't think a meteor shower is going to encourage me. Not sure what would, to tell you the truth.

This is Haunted, another one of the Inner Landscapes. I'd show you the screen printing I did yesterday, but I can't find my camera...now where have I heard that before...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

New Work...


is making itself at the moment, though the gardening thing interferes from time to time. This is Flying/Falling?, one of the new Inner Landscapes series, more mixed media. Suddenly I find there's a new freedom in my work, that I can do anything I want to without the inner critic kicking up hell and saying, you can't, you can't... There's something to be said for thinking less, and painting more... note to self; next time you take photos near the window, remove the dangling cord...the curse of the Velux cord has hit this photo...duh....

Friday, August 10, 2007

Experimenting...


with mixed media. I've never really used collage as a means of expression; I couldn't get my mind round the idea of using images within images. As you can see, this doesn't do that; rather, it uses handmade paper on board to give a sense of texture and dimension to the work. I enjoyed making it, and have made several more.

I'm hoping for a quiet weekend, where I can get the rest of the garden cleared, ready for The Shudio, and perhaps do some work in cloth. Or maybe, if the weather is like today, we'll go out and do a bit of basking...

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Gardening...


and marion don't usually meet in the same sentence. Today, though, they do, for two reasons. Firstly, I'm taking down some largeish conifers today, to allow room for my shudio, all 20ft by 10ft of it. Yesterday, it was two large shrubs, which went next door, and a bay tree, which was Freecycled I'm hoping that the three 6ft specimen conifers I'm uprooting today also go to a Freecycle home...and that they survive, of course, after all the effort of keeping a reasonable sized root ball. I also bought planters to put some of the herbs and heathers into; I'm losing several beds, to my intense relief (and secret shame...). That said, most, if not all, of the plants are being given away to others who will, I hope, cherish them in a much more wholehearted way than I ever did.

That said, you'll be wondering why Dijanne tagged me for the gardening meme. Well, that makes lots of us...but here goes.

1. I do like the concept and principle of gardening. It's just the reality I can't be doing with. It's like outdoor housework. It's never finished. I do like it while I'm doing it, but to be honest, I'd rather be painting...
2. Every spring, I drool over the frilly pink tulips I planted when we came here at first. They're so girly, but elegant with it!
3. The front door of my grandmother's house was smothered in pink roses, with a tiny corner full of lily of the valley. For a brief moment in early summer, the scent was incredible.
4. I don't do grasscutting; I'm allergic. No, really, I am, it makes me sneeze.
5. I used to work in a flower shop during the summer vacations. That entailed buying myself exotic house plants every year, only to watch them die in the cold, damp house we lived in...
6. I once grew courgettes (zuccini) too successfully; Robin said he'd die if he ever ate another courgette. That was twenty years ago, and he still won't eat them.
7. Green tomato chutney is The Best.
8. I'm cowriting a book on Garden Inspirations. Okay, that probably doesn't count as Real Gardening, but hey, I broke a nail on one of the conifers, it's the best I can do...I'm in pain....

Am I going to tag anyone? Well, I'm not sure I should...but hey... There's Thelma, who gardens in the desert, there's Sally, who I can't tag, cos someone else got there first...there's Carol, who MUST garden. And there's bound to be more, but I can't think of any...not with blogs, anyway...sorry...that's the trouble with non gardeners, they flock with other non gardeners...
Here are the rules, just in case someone picks up on this...

The rules:
Each player starts with 7 random facts/habits about themselves. People who are tagged need to then report this on their own blog with their 7 random facts as well as these rules. They then need to tag 7 other garden blogs and list their names on their blog. They are also asked to leave a comment for each of the tagged, letting them know they have been tagged and to read the blog.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Working Away...




painting, mostly. I have, though, two painted screens ready to use, and have just negotiated some assistance from next door; they're a bit too big to pull by myself. That should be interesting...it's the first time I've used these screens, though I used screens of this size in Inverness. I've also got some lutradur to trim, ready for quilting. This is the third layer of colour on this particular piece, and I'm very happy with it. Now all I have to do is add stitch and embellishment...

It's clearly summer; Mollie is coming to see me via the studio window. She works her way up the house, checking out the old nest on the first floor (you never know, there could be food in there...). Then she hops into the studio and shouts at me until I go downstairs with her to check the food situation in the kitchen. Fortunately, this only happens once a day. Well, ok, twice. Sigh.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Washed Up?


Depends on how you look at it, really. Not, judging by the washing line, a nice, colourful affair. Small vintage cloths, painted ready to go under lutradur. A couple of larger pieces, including yet another dark brown, this one likely to remain as whole cloth; the orange through it is intruiguing. The cloth next to it is linen, overdyed three times now, intended for a jacket, a loose, unlined summer affair. Sally has one, but I never got round to making one for myself. But that will probably have to wait, preferably til I've lost weight, so that it actually is loose...sigh. It's good cloth, though...

On Saturday, we went to a craft fair at Sandringham, one of the royal estates, which isn't too far from here. On the way, I was planning a happy post about how wonderful it all was...but actually, it wasn't. Hardly any textile work at all; I'm afraid I can't count the woman selling 'quilts' (10" squares of what looked like upholstery fabric stitched together and 'quilted' in the ditch. One or two good potters, and a couple of glassblowers who were demonstrating their art, looking rather like magician and assistant. Some wonderful woodworking, some bobbin lace makers...and the rest a combination of 'collectibles', usually fussy little ceramics, and imported clothing. Disappointing. I had hoped for inspiration, and got it, not from the artists there, but from the birds. There was a falconry exhibit, and I'm always drawn to these incredible birds; flight, focus and fierceness, all in a relatively small package (except the owls, of course, big birds, the owls...).

Today, we're off for lunch with friends near Norwich Cathedral. The temperatures are supposed to soar today, and it looks as if that will indeed be the case, so perhaps sunscreen would be A Good Thing...

Friday, August 03, 2007

Inner Landscapes.


Today's painting is a study, a small, A4 sized mixed media on board. It is, I think, the beginning of a series, or the suggestion of a series, called Inner Landscapes, an attempt to show myself my feelings. As you can see, it's complicated in there. Dark and light. Confusing. Not always easy to live with. A blessing and a curse. But it's like they say; what doesn't kill you, makes you strong. All things considered, I'd rather not have the depression, but if I have to have it (and it does seem that way), then I choose to embrace it, to learn what it has to teach me. And that would be the basis of this particular series.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Playing With Paint...


is always constructive. Most paintings don't know what they want to be; this one was opinionated. Spirit Tree. Mixed media on board, around A4 size, for those of you interested in these things.

There's a lot to be said for being playful. We sometimes paint ourselves into corners. Actually, we never paint ourselves into corners; we think ourselves into them, in the search for Something Else, something greater, some higher meaning. Sometimes there is only a tree. Or a butterfly. Or a frog. And whatever it is, is beautiful, suggests itself, dances round the garden. This piece is my equivalent to a dance round the garden. There are more serious, deep and meaningful pieces going on upstairs, but that's another thing altogether. This is here, and now, and above all, it's fun. Make sure you have some fun, today. It feeds the soul. As does chocolate.... Oops! My obsessions are showing...

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

As The Song Says...


you don't know what you got til you lose it. I miss my camera. I want to show you what I've been up to for the past couple of days. It started with painting up silkscreens with thickened dye as per the Breakdown Printing book Then, it continued into painting up some cloth to put behind lutradur. Then I started to print with the thickened dye. It's been a busy couple of days. But I can't, as the cloth is batching and can't be put on the scanner...so you'll just have to wait until I get my new camera, which I've ordered and should arrive next week.

Yesterday, I had to take the car into the garage, and thought I'd go sit with some paintings; CAN (Contemporary Art Norwich) is on at the moment, and there's lots to choose from. When it came down to it, though, the weather was just too good for sitting inside, and I just didn't want to, so I skived. I went off to Waterstones the Bookseller and bought a copy of 'Old MacDonald Had A Farm' to go with the kiddiequilt I made for my friends' new baby, and a couple of other things (as you do...), had a cup of coffee and then headed out into the sun. I sat and basked for a while, reading the book I'd brought with me, and then started to draw. Until someone came and borrowed my pen, and then I just basked some more... and had ideas...and basked... and got my pen back...and basked...you get the drift! And there's a page of my sketchbook, just to prove that I did do the occasional sketch...

More painting today, I think, but on board and canvas, rather than cloth. All the windows in the upstairs studio are open, and I think I'll go find the big box fan. It's another beautiful day, but I can't really be bothered lugging all my kit down two flights of stairs and out into the garden, so I'll happily work inside, with views across the fields, cool drinks and the occasional phone call, doubtless... I can't think of a better way of spending time.