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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Double Glazing

No, I haven't been breaking windows! Rather, I went into the studio day before yesterday and glazed a couple of paintings that have been sitting waiting to be finished for Rather A Long Time. To such an extent that I was avoiding the studio, rather than deal with them. But I poddled around in there on Monday and just Got On With It. This is one of them, another 'In More Than One Language' painting, 'Outburst'.

Now, of course, there are empty canvasses waiting to be painted, and I find myself thinking about What To Paint. I'm reading 'Bird By Bird', Anne Lamott's excellent book on writing. She, and other such writers, like Natalie Goldberg, exhorts us to 'write what we know'. That made me wonder, am I painting what I know? I don't know that I am. I think I'm painting what I think. The Nosuchi paintings are developing from a mental construct, an invented tribe of 'neo-Celtic' people; IMTOL, from thinking about the process of reading mark, of reading painting style or school, of creating meaning. Nothing wrong with this, I think. Just... I wonder what painting what I know would be like? What would the difference be?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

A Little Light Shopping

...these lovely yarns, found in a wonderful shop in Nairn that smelled as good as it looked, full of candles, herbs, incense, as well as this lovely wool. I really must stop feeding my yarn addiction, it's not good for the cupboard space...but I've got a couple of dolls ready to make, and this particular yarn looks good for hair. And possibly wrapping...and a mobile, too, maybe... Besides, you've got to do a little bit of shopping on holiday. Did I buy books? Did I go to Leakie's in Inverness? Of course I did....

Got together with my friend Jill this morning. The intention was to Get Something Done; in fact, we talked, looked at books, drank coffee, drank more coffee, had lunch.... it was good to catch up, though, and, in our defence, we did plan a two person quilt for next year's FOQ. Well, sort of. Vaguely. I think we're more likely to improvise on the day. But we do have an idea, and that's a start, isn't it? I'm still pretty much enjoying the post holiday solitude, though. I like my own company, and am planning to have more of it next week, too.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Wanna Share?

I quote directly from Julie, who said in her blog...

I saw this on Deirdre's Sloppy Studio Studies blog, she saw it on Emmy Schoonbeek's blog (and she saw it on Arlee's... who saw it on Skybell's ...)So if you want to play along, read this and you wil get a piece of art from me , but you must follow the instructions.The first five people to respond to this in the comments section will receive a piece of artwork from me.BUT, in addition to the comments you have to post this same blurb to your blog too and continue sharing the art with people who respond to you.

Well, yes, I did. I emailed Julie. I was one of those five. You know what's coming, now, don't you? The first five people to respond to this in the comments section WILL receive a piece of art from me. It may not be earthshattering, it may not be large; but it will be mine. Same deal applies, of course...

Who's going to play, then?

Of course, there's always the chance that nobody which case, I'll just go cry in a corner...loudly.......lengthily.....and then you'll be sorry!!

Clooties All Over

You don't need to be interested in textiles to appreciate the Clootie Well. A cloot is a cloth, simply, but the Clootie Well is a place where the waters are believed to have healing properties, and a cloth, often a piece of clothing, but not necessarily, dipped in the water and left on a tree near the well, is thought to bring healing to whoever needs it. There are a few folk who need it, as you can see from the photograph. Interestingly, I've never thought to add a cloot myself, though I've always said I need all the healing I can get...

What intruigues me is the biodegradable nature of this particular offering. Over time, the cloth rots and returns to the earth. I like going there, it feels like an optimistic place in a world that can be overly pessimistic. I had thought of making a piece based on the well, but so far, inspiration hasn't arrived. My friend Lynn Bunis did, though, and made a great job of it, as I recall... so maybe there's hope for me yet.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Return To Rosemarkie.

Everyone has their favourite places. Rosemarkie, on the Black Isle, is one of mine, my favourite place to walk beside the sea. The day we were there looked just as this photo does, taken as we arrived, but the skies turned grey and dark, as befits a November morning with snow on the way. But that didn't stop me feeling still and calm, as I always do when I go there. As you can see, we pretty much had the beach to ourselves, though in the summer, it is always busy with holidaymakers and sunworshippers alike. So, I gathered some stones and shells, breathed the scent of sea and snow, and went for a brief walk.

I'm working on an altered book today. I thought I would add a good deal of text to it...but in fact, I think it is beginning to pull itself together as it is, text free, so I may paint in it some more, but leave the text alone. Perhaps there is a series, here, or perhaps not. It doesn't really matter. If the idea is good, the rest will come, one way or another, as books, as textiles, as paintings...if not, then one will be enough. We'll see.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Back Home.

I had forgotten what a holiday was like. It has been quite a while since we took a holiday at all, for one reason or another, and I didn't know how much I needed a break, until I was in the middle of it. First, up to Croy, near Inverness, to stay with friends, and to visit others; then down to Edinburgh to meet Andrew's prospective in-laws, and catch up with other folks, too. We had a wonderful time. It's not that we did much, other than hug people, eat, laugh, talk and generally have fun. It's just that we were doing it with people we know well, and seemed to slot back into everyday life in Scotland as if we'd never been away.

Back to a cold (me), a flu (Robin), a pile of correspondence (both) and four enthusiastic cats, all of whom have been turning up regularly for cuddles, just in case I take it into my mind to go away again. Well, I do have to go into Norwich tomorrow...but I will be coming straight back! There's plenty work to do, and I admit to having sneaked up to the cloth studio to play this morning. It's great to be back. And it was great to be there. Hurrah for friendship, laughter and fun! And a fuller report over the next week or so...

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Another Day...

another postcard...another visitor or two to the blog. Actually, there's been over twenty thousand of you since January, and I feel very honoured. Thank you for reading.

I was meant to be going out this afternoon, but I seem to have been stood up (you know who you are...), so I've prepped an altered book for working on when I get home from Scotland, I cleaned out the fridge (necessary, believe me), tidied the kitchen and made another drypoint plate which printed fairly well on paper, but refused to talk to silk organza... no, I'm not going to whine about presses, or the lack of them...sigh...

I'm going to Ipswich tomorrow, to take part in a self development workshop with my friend Terry, who happens to be visiting one of the facilitators. At the very least, I'm told she'll have my Christmas present with her, given that she's going to India for Christmas...sigh... I'm told it came from Fortnum and Mason; I'm not sure if I'm meant to eat it (here's hoping it's chocolate...) or worship it. Perhaps I can eat the food and worship the plastic bag???

And then, on Monday, we're off to Scotland. I'll be away for a couple of weeks, but I'll post if I can. And if Blogger lets me, of course. I'll be thinking about you...well, maybe...well, a bit...

Friday, November 10, 2006


Doesn't look like much, does it? This is a very small, very tentative drypoint, printed without a press on very thin paper. Surprisingly, the paper didn't tear, but I did learn that the paper really doesn't want to be too wet (or things runnnn....). And I really do have to have clean hands before I touch anything! I consider it a small personal triumph, considering I don't have an etching press, and haven't had time to go out and get myself a pasta maker. Robin has pointed out firmly that I don't have room for an etching press. Sadly, I think he may be right...but it doesn't stop me wanting one. I love the marks that this technique makes, and I'd like to do more with it.

I do have a book press, but it isn't the same animal by any means. At present, though, it does have a book in it. I'm contemplating submitting an altered book to an exhibition in Birmingham, so perhaps it will come in handy after all...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

It Ain't Finished....

'til you put some sort of hanging device on it. So I spent an interesting time crawling about the floor with four (sigh) large canvasses and a lot of wire. I hate picture wire. It tangles very prettily at entirely the wrong moments; usually when there's a cat waiting to pounce. I hope nobody looks too closely at the backs of the paintings...all four cats at one point sat on each painting, wondering what on earth I was doing, and why I was bothering to do it...they may have had a point. However, once they got to Blickling, and were hung in their places, it was worth the blister on the palm and the muttered curses...they look good!

They are roughly 2m by 1m in dimension, and I live in a relatively small house. Not only that, but I have a relatively small car, too, so my neighbours Mike and Moira conducted the paintings to Blickling Hall. Had they had to brake sharply, there was always the possibility of being decapitated by a low flying oil painting...but we didn't dwell on that unduly. Well, I didn't anyway, I took my own car!!

From large to small in one short post. The picture is of an ATC I made today. I swore I'd never make an ATC. Cough. What did please me, though, was the chance to use these metallic butterflies. They were on sale in the pharmacy at Strathpeffer for 50p a packet, intended to decorate one's hair. I thought, cloth...and they've been lying around waiting for an opportunity to shine. And now they have one! You do find embellishments in the most unlikely places...

And talking about embellishers...I cancelled the order. I had bought on line, and had expected delivery very quickly, or to be told otherwise immediately, just like it said in the online information...after a week of waiting, I was told the earliest I could hope for delivery was December. I think if I do want an embellisher, and I'm not really convinced that I do, I will go to one of the local shops and buy it might cost a bit more, but at least I can take it home with me.

Monday, November 06, 2006

On The Other Hand...

sometimes only stitch will do. This is another postcard sized piece, but it asked for stitch as soon as I looked at it. I'm not convinced that this is the right way up for it...but doubtless that will make itself clear over time. I'm about to make a set of small pieces to take to a Christmas Fair in Norwich in early December, along with the rest of The Well. I think I'll mount them, rather than sell them as postcards. I see them as small paintings, rather than as ephemera.

I was intruigued by Kari's comment yesterday. She said that ; 'As a confused drawer, painter, printer textile artist, I too feel I have to combine EVERYTHING in order to "prove" that I can, but as you point out, sometimes less is more.' I too, am all these things, but I took a different approach to them; I tried to keep them all separate. This was Very Hard. And then, gradually, over time, I discovered that they were all just boxes of techniques, no more, no less. If I took the labels off, I could take any tool from any box and combine them, and not have to worry about what I was doing. But I do rejoice when I manage not to overegg the pudding...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Knowing When To Stop

This post should perhaps have been titled "Look, Mom...No Stitch!". I spent yesterday afternoon dyeing lutradur and other non woven polyesters, and a little part of the evening making it up ready to stitch. And then I looked at these two pieces and though...perhaps not.
They are, in my view, well balanced, and really don't need stitch for any reason.

As textile artists, I think we stitch every piece automatically. It's not finished if it doesn't have a stitch or two...or ten...or fifty... Sometimes, though, it's just not right. Sometimes the cloth really just wants to sit by itself. I think we often don't consider that as an option. I have, though, today. These two postcard sized pieces get no further work. I'll mount them as if they were prints on paper, and we'll see. Clicking on the images should produce a larger version, if you're interested.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The More You Do...

the more you learn. This afternoon has been spent with the heat press, working out just how long you need to press different types of polyesters, including lutradur...okay, especially get a good print. The answer varies....but I'm glad I made the purchase, and the trials, so I'll include the information in the book I'm writing on Lutradur with Dijanne. If you haven't already got it, you can have a free information sheet by emailing me here . The picture is not a carefully constructed transfer dyed piece. No, indeed. I wanted to protect the bottom of the heat press, given that I'm likely to use it to press dyed cloth, particularly if I decide to start selling the cloth again, as I may well do, so I popped a piece of pelmet Vilene beneath the lutradur, and got this effect. It's the functional equivalent of the mopping up cloth in cold water dyeing...and I'm going to cut it up for postcards.

I spent yesterday at a Well meeting, and left tired, but having learned several things. One seems to be that perhaps my intuition was right. I'm not good at attending groups, being part of groups. I prefer to work alone, and to deal with people one to one, or in threes or fours. Six months on after the group's formation is perhaps a bit slow for me to come to this realisation, but then I've always been slow on the uptake with certain things. And I don't want to leave The Well, having conceived of it and started it along with Helen Simpson...but I do need to find a compromise that suits everyone.

A week to go before I go on holiday, a visit to my son and future daughter in law in Edinburgh, and one to my friends Alison and Michael in Inverness. It'll be good to see them all...we talk on the phone, but it's not the same as being able to hug a friend on impulse... People talk of cats as being either people cats, or place cats, drawn to one or the other, but not both. Despite what I've just said about not liking big groups, I do see myself as a people cat, or should that be person... rather than a place person. I'll be glad to see the mountains, but I'd much rather hug the people...they are very special to me.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

My New Toy...

is a steam press, intended for domestic ironing, but which is great for transfer dyeing. No more endlessly moving the iron over a bit of lutradur, muttering under my breath when the edge of the iron transfers, or the holes in the iron give me unintended, albeit interesting, white circles in the image. And the depth of colour I'm getting is definitely better than I got with an ordinary iron (though that is possibly down to my lack of, actually, probably down to said lack of patience...).

That said, there's a steep learning curve. How long does one keep the lutradur in the press before it melts? Which combination of time and heat is the right one? I'm not entirely sure, yet. I've made a couple of unexpected holes already... So, I guess I'll just have to go back upstairs and see what's what, do a bit more practicing...take a CD or two up, and a player, and listen to some Joni Mitchell... sounds like a good plan to me! Meanwhile, here's one I pressed earlier, in true Blue Peter fashion; see what you think.

I'm awaiting another new toy; I ordered an embellisher on Friday, under the influence of That Woman Sandy (told you I'd blame you!!). It should have arrived by now, but no such luck, perhaps next week. Or then again, maybe better next week; I've got a Well meeting tomorrow, a dolly to make and a portrait, too... as well as a couple of projects for a book to write up...
Busy, busy... but I went for a Reiki treatment with my friend Melanie in Norwich last night, so I'm feeling balanced and energetic. Thank goodness for that!