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Tuesday, April 29, 2008


I think I've said before that I took copious photographs of a wall in Lyon last year; it was cracked, distressed and very, very beautiful. This new piece is the first of a series entitled Scars. It struck me that we see scars as blemishes, ugly things that disfigure. Looking at that wall, it was clear that although I could see things that perhaps should not have been there, like cracks and holes, there was great beauty there also. It was as if the wall had changed to accommodate the cracks, the light touched them gently, changing their colours and creating mysterious shadows that flickered and moved as the day progressed.

Finally, I realised that a scar is a sign of healing. It is the body's way of accepting a change, often a loss. For me, living with depression, that is very important. I can't get rid of the depression, just as it can be very difficult to remove a scar totally. But I can accommodate it, live with it, allow myself to be beautiful despite it. And that is the beginning of a whole new phase of work, and of life.

Scar I is a mixed media painting on canvas; sand mixed into the paint in places gives it an incredible texture. There are some detail shots here, if you are interested.

I'm going to be away for the rest of the week, dealing with a family emergency. I won't be blogging during that time, but I will be back on Monday, so normal service should be resumed after that! In the meantime, what are you waiting for? Go be creative!

Monday, April 28, 2008

Painting Today...

but not as I usually do it! The shed was ready for a coat of paint, and Robin had a day off, so we spent it painting ceilings and walls. The photos are before, taken around 10am, and after, taken around 4pm. The light in both shots is pretty good; I'm really looking forward to being able to work in it. And that will be soon! Another coat of paint for the ceiling, and then the floor will be laid at the weekend, and that will be it, all ready to move into after a weekend trip to Scotland for me.

I never thought I'd have a space like this to work in, and I'm absolutely thrilled. Robin has been an absolute star throughout what has been a long, slow process. I'll have to find a way of making it up to him...though perhaps relinquishing some space in the house will be enough! Though I have to say that I'm alarmed at the amount of 'stuff' that will come outside...I'm beginning to wonder if there will be room for wee me!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Too Much Of A Good Thing?

That 'you can never have too many books' has always been my motto. But I've been going through my books, recently, and realised that there was a significant pile in the corner of the bedroom that hadn't been looked at, or even touched. Some of them are art books, too... including the French art books I bought in Paris. Tut, I thought, I really do have too many books.

And then I thought about it. I really do believe that you can never have too many books. So something in my thinking was wrong... and it turned out that it was the amount of time that I give to reading and reflection that was too small, rather than the number of books being too large. Today, I've been wandering around being quiet in deference to Robin's migraine, champing at the bit to get going and do some machine quilting on the new Texture of Memory piece. And I did get some productive things done, some parcels wrapped, some of them Etsy orders, some gifts, and I did go to the post office and send them, too. But it strikes me, writing this, that I could have spent the time being still, reading something, or just looking at something, contemplating the universe and generally being with myself. Perhaps tomorrow.

The image is 'Back To Blue', an ACEO monoprint. I like its directness. Hope you do, too.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Another Dose of Tranquillity...

I painted again this morning, despite the phone ringing four times in quick succession. I was expecting a call, so each time I leapt to answer, and each time it wasn't the call I was expecting. Despite that, though, I painted happily, and have produced several more much so that I'm going to have to stop; I've run out of space for them to dry in. This will not be a problem with the shudio, of course, but in the attic, it gets a bit...busy... The image here is 'Somewhere', another of the gentle paintings I began yesterday.

So, this afternoon, since painting wasn't an option, I began a textile sketch of a new Texture Of Memory piece. The Texture Of Memory series is an old one, relatively speaking, pre lutradur, and it focusses on the way in which our minds tamper with our memories. This piece is an experiment that uses both lutradur and evolon; pictures when it is finished. I think it has potential, though. It's wonderful to be back to working productively again. It feels as if I've not done anything really interesting in a long time, like walking down a long corridor past all sorts of doors, until I found the 'right' one to open and walk through. Long may it continue.

It is interesting to restart a series that has been dormant for several years. Just as the theme suggests, I have moved on, and my mind sees new ways of approaching the same material. I wonder what will come out of this exploration.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


I haven't painted for a while, or not in oils. Partly that's because much of the studio is packed up awaiting transfer to the little green shed. And partly it's because I haven't felt much like painting. Today, though, I went upstairs and... surprised myself. I took a number of pictures of a wall in Lyon last year (other people snapped the quilts, I went for a distressed patch in the wall...figures, I suppose). I've been trying to get it straight in my head, how to work with those images. Or rather, how to work in response to those images, because I don't want to work with photographs. Finally, something or other in my head shifted, and I came up with several paintings that are the beginnings of a way to approach the subject, which in my mind is about scars and healing.

The new pieces are quite different in feel and palette to anything I've done before, or at least to most other things I've done before, as I can recognise at least one transition piece, and some experimental work with acrylics before that. All of that has been sloshing about in my head, along with other thoughts, and finally, something is coming to fruition. Now, if only oils dried quicker...

The pieces shown today are small ones, it will be interesting to take this approach and use it on larger works. For now, though, I'm sticking with small. See what you think.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Yes, It's True...

I really will dye anything. I've been dyeing vintage cloth for a while now, I love the way it feels, soft with use, usually much better quality than anything you can buy today. This particular piece is a napkin, which I did some very basic batik on, forgot about, overdyed and ironed out... I'm really very pleased with the way it turned out.

The problem, of course, is that I bought it to cut up, and I can't bring myself to do so. Repurposing may be all the rage, but I find it difficult to sidestep the original context that a textile piece has. Mind you, I have managed to cut up tablecloths for pieces, so perhaps all I need to do is wait. Or let someone else do it!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Done And Dusted!

At least, the top is. This is the wedding quilt for my son Andrew and his fiancee Sarah; they wanted a quilt in browns, not my usual palette by any means! But it is finished, and ready to go to a long arm quilter to be quilted. At 76" by 80", it's too big for me to do. It's not a conventional size...but then, I'm not a conventional maker. Come to think of it, it's not a conventional pattern, either. Log cabin technique, without the central square, uneven sized logs... it's a make it up as you go along sort of a quilt.

But it does have some things that make it personal to them. Andrew works in a bank; there is cloth featuring gold coins. They have three cats; there is cloth with cats on it throughout. There are spiders webs for luck, eggs for fertility and as a wish that they may never go hungry. Stars for romance, and the sun for joy. Australian fabric, given by friends, signifying both travel and friendship. I really hope they like it.

As you can see, it was a bittie windy today; the quilt is at full flap! Let me know what you think, I very rarely make practical quilts!

Friday, April 18, 2008


Well, no, I didn't mean to, not today. I meant to paint. In fact, I did paint, but that's another story for another day. When I'd finished painting, though, I had some paint on the palette. I don't know about you, but I hate wasting materials, so I added some white acrylic to the acrylic mix already there, and began monoprinting.

What's a monoprint? It's a way of producing a one-off print in a very painterly style; it is explained beautifully here (I wonder what we did without Wikipaedia...). So these pieces are abstract monoprints; if I'm honest, I'd say I made them for the joy of working with the paint, and for no other reason...though they are in the form of greetings cards, and doubtless will end up in the shop at some point. I'm really pleased with them, see what you think!

Thursday, April 17, 2008


Black And White
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we forget that the best things are often very simple. Like this ACEO, part of the 'dark v light' challenge that is running as part of the ACEO Bounty competition on etsy at the moment (I talked about it yesterday, too...I might get boring, as I'm making a lot of ACEOs at present...). We also forget that sometimes it's a good thing to work with someone else's subject suggestion, or a limited palette, or a small size. We discover how far we can stretch, when we do that. The second ACEO is 'Voodoo', not a subject I'd usually choose, perhaps, but it's an interesting ACEO, I think...

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Turning Trash Into Art...

was the focus of the day. I am taking part in the 'ACEO Bounty' competition on Etsy (see here for more details). Basically, anyone can set a challenge to either a specific artist, or all of us (there are around 80 signed up), and view the results either by keeping an eye on the Promotions thread to see ACEOs as they are posted, or by searching the Etsy database for 'ACEO Bounty'. I thought that I might make several challenge pieces, using things and ideas I've had for a while. The perfect opportunity to use some bits and pieces I'd been hoarding for a while.

Cleaning out the garage a while back, I came across some corrugated paper that was definitely distressed! It did have wonderful texture, however, and some interesting variations in colour. I added a fragment of that to a piece of stitched dryer paper, backed with velvet, that had been dyed, as well as some pieces of snail shell found in the garden last year. The result was 'Cracked And Torn', the ACEO that is pictured here. I'm very pleased with it. Amazing what you can do when you try!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Deja Vu

I've just spent ages looking for my camera. This will ring bells for regular readers, who know that I have lost not one but two cameras, and then found them again after replacing them at huge expense. Robin was not amused to spend half an hour looking for it with me, only to find it tucked in beside the printer in the music room, the place where I took the photographs I wanted to upload in the first place. Oops.

I think that the problem is that we think we know what the thing we're looking for is supposed to look like. In this case, black thing, sticky out bit, small, funny shape... except that I couldn't see the lens, it had its back to me, so it just seemed to merge into the printer. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

The photograph was of Meditation, an abstract oil painting. I made it a couple of years ago, but don't think I've ever actually shown anyone the here it is. There are detail shots here
I'm rather fond of it.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Today has been quiet, apart from making some cards, of the greetings card variety, from small paintings. Sometimes it's a good thing to just do nothing, or not a great deal, anyway. Other than think. Had I had good in my heart, I'd have ironed also, but... though I might do so this evening while watching House, one of the few series I actually watch on television.

I had intended to work on the quilt I was working on yesterday, but I still don't think it's up to much, and besides, Advo was sound asleep on it when I went to mix the paint, so that was left to one side. I posted a couple of parcels, chatted to some friends on line, and played Solitaire on the computer, how sad is that! And now it's teatime. What I have done, though, is to remember a couple of projects that I have been putting to one side; so at least I know what I'm doing next week!

And, of course, in a couple of weeks I'll be gazing at the view from the shudio window, and possibly even painting en plein air! Now won't that be interesting?

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Danger, Man At Work...

as can be seen from the photos. Robin continues to spend every weekend (almost every weekend) working in the shudio, bless him. It's looking good, now, with the electrics functional and all its internal walls up...Robin is just mixing plaster in this shot. Not much more to do...a bit more taping and plastering, painting, and the floor to go down...and then I can move in. I'm really excited about it. Mostly because of the space itself, but there is a bit of me that is looking forward to having more room in the house, too. I'm not the most houseproud of people, but even I admit that anywhere I work turns to mayhem in seconds, and continues that way long after I'm finished. Much of the 'stuff' I've collected for altering and collage will go out into the shudio (which might be renamed the Tardis...), giving us our conservatory back to sit in. Which will be very pleasant!

Sunday, April 06, 2008


a white blanket of it, at 6am, gone by 11am, back with a vengeance around 3pm and now gone again, the sun shining brightly as if it had been doing so all day. Lets hope it doesn't snow tomorrow; I need to go into Norwich, and I don't need to skid all over the place whilst doing so.

The picture is suitably subdued for snowladen skies... an aceo from hand dyed lutradur and vintage mother of pearl buttons. Fortunately, the daffodils seem frost proof!

I've had an upset tummy for a couple of days, which has kept me from working on the large piece I started quilting on Friday, but hopefully that is clearing up, and I'll be able to get going on it again on Tuesday. No use planning anything for tomorrow; reiki usually means a sleep in the afternoon, but energy later in the week. Here's hoping...

Friday, April 04, 2008

Never Say Never

I think I've said this before, but it needs repeating, if only for me. I once said I'd never make dolls. I said that for several years, before doing a workshop with Michael Brennand Wood, where lo and behold, I made a totem doll (as well as something deep, meaningful and serious, which I still have in a cupboard somewhere). That was followed by various art dolls in cloth. But, I thought, I draw the line at paper dolls. That's just silly. Ahem. Guess who just made an ACEO with a paper doll, and intends to make more? Yes, you guessed it. Dotty is the first of what appears to be a series of little dolls, while Ukraina is a totem doll; both are available for sale here.

What have I learned from this? The obvious lesson is above: never say never. The less obvious answer is that whenever I say 'never', it means I should recognise that this is something I'm not ready to do, yet. It certainly doesn't mean I'm never going to do whatever it is, just that I'm ahead of myself in thinking about it. That tends to be the case with some books I've bought, looked at and put aside. Eventually, I come back to whatever it was, in need of that particular technique, sentence or photograph that I rejected before. I suppose everything comes to those who wait. Especially the things we need to help us grow and change, as artists and, more importantly, as people.

ps check out Michael's website; you won't regret it, I promise. Great teacher, lovely person.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Trouble With Mirrors...

is that they will reflect things. I really didn't want to be in this photograph, but....
I do like the ACEO, though!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Purely Painting...

doesn't happen much at present, awaiting the finishing of the shudio (it now has power and light, hurrah!). Paints are in boxes, paper too, canvasses piled up upstairs. But I did pick up a canvas a couple of days ago, and White Goddess is the result. I'm pleased with the feeling of balance that I think the painting has. You can find some close up images here.

Tomorrow, though, is another day. Perhaps some textiles?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

ACEO Amendments...

I'm taking part in an ongoing conversation amongst a group of ACEO artists on Etsy. At one point, the topic of what to do with unfinished pieces came up. So, we decided to trade round our UFOs, and see if we could finish what had been started by someone else. Jessie sent me two ACEOs to work with. Like an idiot, I failed to take the 'before' pictures, so I'll just have to describe them. One was a landscape in gorgeous warm browns; the other was a woman's head in a crystal ball (at least that's what I took it to be... I don't know many people who put their heads in goldfish bowls just for the fun of it!). Both are quite unlike my style (which is of course the point, or a big part of it...).

So, here are the new versions. The first is still recognisably a landscape; it is now called 'Leaf Dreams Tree', and you can just see the tree underneath the skeleton leaf. The title is written on the painted lutradur that runs across it. The second, though, is quite different. I added a tiny hand made envelope that came as an 'extra' from another etsy seller, and wrote the words 'secret love' on the sides of the card, with a paper heart collaged onto the envelope. There is a little card inside the envelope for the owner to write down their secret, be it love, or be it something else.

Jessie, let me know if you would like your cards back, I'd be happy to send them to you!