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Friday, August 30, 2019


...are interesting, as they give you the opportunity to explore, to see what would happen if, to interpret differently.  These pieces aren't exactly a pair: they're monoprints (yes, again), and as such, one is fainter than the other, and as a result, the pieces have a different feel to them.  That, in turn, invites a different approach.  So...

The overall structure of them suggests an island, to me at least, with a reflection of sorts in swirling water.  In both pieces, I've tried to suit the stitch to the marks of the paint.  The original print, on the left, has significantly more marks then the ghost print, and, as a result, I've added only enough stitch to support the directional movement of the paint.  The exception to that is the island, which is stitched using random marks.  I haven't stitched the 'sky' at all in this variant; there didn't seem to be a need.

There's a lot more happening, stitch wise, in the ghost print, because of that lack of definition.  It reminded me, somehow, of the Impressionist approach.  There's a lot of light in the second piece, more so than the first.  I wanted to support the idea of movement, but I also wanted to stitch the whole piece.  The 'island' section is stitched in a random way, but with larger stitches than the first piece, while the 'reflection' is stitched in the same way, using even larger stitches.  The rest of the piece is stitched using a sort of exploded herringbone stitch, creating a patterning of sorts, but without the crossover that characterises herringbone.  I'm sure there's a proper name for that, but I'm equally sure I don't know what it is. I wanted something to suggest movement, but without too much structure. 

Two pieces, same structure, completely different approaches and feels to them.  Interestingly, I find I like them both.  Which do you prefer?

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Unexpected Choices...

...are always interesting, and usually the best.  I'm mid relapse, and whilst  lying in bed, was leafing through an art book... and had an idea.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was a book about Sean Scully, and the idea was to do with this particular structure.  Yes, it needs to be ironed... sigh. 

The colours in this aren't all that accurate, but you get the drift...  Left to right, there's a section of rust dyed lutradur, one of tea and onion skin dyed cotton, and rust dyed muslin.  Two of the three are semi transparent, and that proved to be quite important. 

I'm not that keen on this, mostly, I suspect, because I hate white, and rarely use it in anything at all, textile or painting, other than to mix in with other paints.  I love colour...and apparently have a problem with the absence of colour.  The original idea I had, was to add some colour, a square, thereof, in the lower right section, which is quite different to the original idea, to stitch with the thread you see there, browns and blues, following the curves in the rust dyed sections, and across the white.  When I went into the studio to select the fabric, though, I spotted the box with the lace. 

I don't use lace, much, but I have some for hats.  Somehow, though, it seemed like a good idea to use something lacy on top of these semi transparent fabrics, following through on that idea.  When I opened the box, I spotted a doily.  Now, I don't like doilies.  I had a brief moment when I thought I'd use them in work, as is the fashion...but it has never really seemed like my kind of thing.  I really don't like this whole, take something, or better still, lots of things vintage and slap it/them onto a background and call it art, trend that has been hanging around for at least a decade, if not more.  Circles, though.... I liked the idea of circles.  So I fished around in the box some more.  And then I had a rest (as you do...well, as I do, these days). 

And this is what I'm going with.

Three doilies, all featuring lace and/or cutwork.  The one on the right is positioned on a circle of lutradur, to echo the lutradur element of  the base fabric.  And I've fished out some very pale threads to stitch them down with.  That, though, is for another day : I've overdone it.  But it has been worth it, I think... much better than sitting gazing at a computer screen. 

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

That's Better...

...though you may not see the difference.  My sister kindly gave me some water based oil paints, some time ago, having heard me talk about them.  I finally tried them out.  I hadn't realised quite how big a difference there is between acrylics and oils, but this confirmed it.

Reader, I painted.

Boxed In I and II...and there's a lot to explore in this, for me, at least.  It's how I feel about ME: locked into a tiny space, unable to move much, or do a great deal.  The observant quilters among you might notice a resemblance to a log cabin block in the structure of the painting...that was certainly going through my mind as I was painting. 

I've never used water soluble oils before, so I tried monoprinting.  Okay, maybe not.  Each of these was made on paper that had been underpainted in acrylic.  The first one then had additional marks added, the other two were left as they were.  Don't think I'll be doing that again, though.  Not fussed about the red one, but rather like the other two, especially the second one.

The upside...I love painting with oil paint, it's thick, buttery, easy to work with, and this watercolour version is incredibly easy to clean up.  The downside, though, other than the oil smell, is the length of time they take to dry.  This is day three, and we're still not quite there...I don't really have enough room to have work lying around drying for days on end.  So the jury's out on what to do about it.  I suppose the simplest thing would be to stop painting, but I get a good deal of pleasure from it.  So I think I'm going to reserve judgement, and perhaps play with some more of my toys...I have both printing inks and a lot of pastels, soft and oil.  Maybe there's something I can do that will be easier to do and not take as much energy.  I'll let you know.

Monday, August 12, 2019

When In Doubt...

...change it.  In this case, crop it hard.  I made a collage, several, actually, and spoke about one of them here.  I said I wouldn't keep it... and I haven't, at least, not in its original form.  I found some card blanks lying around, and thought... okay... 

And here's the end result.  This was the original piece

I basically looked for the interesting areas, cut those first, and then took whatever else I could see worked in the little aperture of the card.  I've got some small bits and pieces left, including the circular piece, which just looked daft in the aperture.  I think I could have tweaked it, but frankly, a. life's too short and b. I didn't have enough cards. 

I like them in this incarnation...and hopefully the recipients will like them too, when they eventually get sent.  Must eventually get some more card blanks... some time after the expenditure freeze... in the meantime, I'll put aside anything I think will work.  Although given how expensive greeting cards are these days, I reckon this is a pretty cost effective way of doing it.  Green, too...

Friday, August 02, 2019

Process, Process, Process...

...oh, and learning.  The two most important things in my practice...and possibly, not giving up.  I bought some canvas boards to paint on some time ago, and they've been waiting for me to be brave enough to use one.  Today was the day.  I approached it the same way as I've approached the smaller works, and decided to use a table easel.  I bought one several years ago, when I first got ME, thinking that I'd be unable to stand long enough to paint, so... The jury is out.  I couldn't work on the board vertically, because it hurt my arms to do so.  Fine, I turned the board round.  And then, having applied the paint, I thought....that's awful.  So, given it was lunchtime, I stopped painting and had intended to leave it for a a day or so... well, that didn't happen.  I went back into the studio to have a look at it and really is awful.  So, rather than binning it, which was tempting, I thought about what it was that was wrong with it.  Reader, I was trying too hard.  Instead of relaxing and letting things happen, I let my head get in the way, constantly thinking, instead of just going with the flow.  Structure wasn't right, either. The result?  Flat painting, no movement, too dark... you get the drift... but at least I knew what to do about it.

I should have taken a photo at that point, but I didn't.... so here's one about half way through redoing the green section.  It's not obvious from this, but I've extended that section significantly, and lightened things up... more interesting brush strokes, giving a bit of movement... sorry, lousy image, light behind the canvas isn't helpful, but it was the only place I could put it. 

 You can see the difference in tone and movement between the area I've worked on and that lower left hand, darker section... not quite chalk and cheese but... And then I worked on that middle section...

I'm still not convinced, but it's an improvement to some extent...the real thing looks better than the image.  And that's as far as I can go, until I can get some more paint: I've run out of the darker blues I want to incorporate in this, so no more for now.  What is particularly interesting, though, is that I'm not particularly enjoying working with acrylics.  When I started painting, some twenty years or so ago, I worked with acrylics, but switched to oils on the suggestion of my painting mentor.   Apparently it has ruined me for acrylics altogether, except for working on fabric, and possibly monoprinting.  Fortunately, I've been given some water based oils to try, so I'll make a couple of smaller pieces and see how I get on with them. 

I don't think this is going to be a piece I hang on my wall...or even keep...but I'm learning a great deal from it.  I suspect I'll paint over it, it's still not working for me.  Pieces like this can be discouraging if you let them.  It helps if you bear in mind that subsequent pieces will be improved by the learning you get from the process.  And at least I can paint over it until I'm happy.

Thursday, August 01, 2019


...what I know, is one of my favourite things to do.  I miss running workshops, and coaching people, more than almost everything else.  I had a visitor yesterday, and took her into the studio to see the paintings and monoprints I've been making recently.  And when she asked how I made the paintings, it seemed easiest to show her, rather than try to explain.   And these two pieces were the end result, a painting, and a monoprint taken from the painting.

The paint was quite thin, so the guidelines in the top piece are clearly visible.  I'm not actually sure that that's a bad thing.  They're both interesting, in different ways.  My friend left, determined to try it for herself, which is a good thing.  The more people making art, the better, after all. 

I told her, during the session, that the thing to do was to trust oneself, and trust the paint ( I should have said, trust the process, but hey...).  And interestingly, when going through some old journals, looking for some notes I made for a possible book (didn't find 'em), I found this.  'There is something about just letting the paint be paint... that it will ultimately be part of a landscape is irrelevant.  Work it as it needs to be worked and it will come together eventually, and you will have what you will have.'.  Which is really what I was trying to say.  At least I'm consistent: that must have been written at least ten years ago.  It works for fabric, too. 

Wednesday, July 31, 2019


...isn't always a solitary activity.  Cara has been with us for a couple of days (you've met her before; she has a reputation for creativity...), and wanted to make a cat.  Okay.  So we went through the process... making a pattern (based on Mooncat, who you can see here), cutting it out, choosing the fabric (took a while, that one), pinning it on (working out the difference between pins and needles), cutting it out, stitching and then stuffing. 

Had I thought about it, I'd have enlarged the pattern, or drawn one from scratch, but Care's really quite happy with the end result, and that's the main thing.  She did really well for a five year old, paid attention the whole way through, and stuffed with aplomb.  The acid test, of course, will be if she wants to repeat the process.  We had fun, though, and that's the main thing.  How long til we progress to doll's clothes, I wonder...?