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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Asking The Right Questions

I visited a blog that's new to me today, and found myself challenged by its writer, Bethany Stephens; visit her blog here . She asked a very astute question, and answered it herself, beautifully, in the post. 'What is your reason for your art of choice?'

My answer, to my surprise, was very short. I wrote:

"My blog is called 'artmixter', and I work in a number of different
media, often together. Why? Because I want to break down barriers,
challenge perceptions and create change. Thanks for asking, it has just
made me very clear about what I do and who I am... Oh, and did I mention
joy? The creation of joy. "

You know, for years, I have wondered why I don't fit into quilt groups, no matter how art focussed (and there aren't many of those around...if you know better, please let me know). Now, I know. People who do what I say I want to do, aren't always easy to get on with. They challenge things, people, ideas, concepts. They argue. They don't accept the easy answers, and they ask difficult questions, like, 'why?' The upside, is that they're genuinely interested in the answers, and may well make you see things differently just by being around and asking odd questions. I'd like to thank those of you who are regular blog readers; you stick around where others would give up in disgust... or annoyance... or something. I hope we can learn lots of new things together; it's such an exciting journey.

Happy as I am to be here, now, in Spring, the quilt image I've shown you here is Summer Garden. The colours in the original are even stronger than those in the photograph, and if you look closely, there are lots of roses quilted into the piece. But I mentioned joy, and for me, this piece is truly joyful.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Froggius Interruptus

I've been darting between the Little Green Shed and the house today, working on a new book. Every time I've passed the pond, there has been much splashing and sploshing as the frogs take fright. They're not usually quite this shy, but clearly Spring has Sprung, and procreation is a private process... I did notice Molliecat paying particular attention to the pond this morning, so I think they must be less concerned about other animals spying on them... but who knows.

I thought I'd prove I'm not just working with Bertha. This is a landscape, of sorts, one of a series. As well as stitching into the transfer dyed cloth (evolon), I've used the embellisher to add extra colour and texture using both silk and wool tops. I think it's fairly successful. I've written about making a series in the new Evolon book, and these are some of the results. I'm quite pleased with the overall effect. I'm going to mount them, and frame a couple, too, for Open Studios.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Bertha's Big Day

I'm thoroughly enjoying using Bertha... for those of you wondering who or what Bertha is, she is a wide scale printer, which allows me to print cloth up to 24" wide, and as long as I like... I'm still at the experimental stage, but I hope to offer other textile artists the opportunity to send images to us at the Gallery, so that we can print cloth for them, too. Meanwhile, this is one of the images I'm working on currently. This was printed on Evolon and stitched into. It's part of the 'Cracking Up' series I've been thinking about and working on for a while. Not sure if it's finished yet, I may add something else to it, possibly using the embellisher. I've included a small close up, to let you see the detail in both the stitch and the print itself; remember you can click on the images to enlarge them.

The original image was a photograph of cracks in the floor of an outbuilding at the Gressenhall Museum. It's amazing how quickly and easily a photograph can be manipulated on computer. The challenge, I'm finding, is working out how to combine photographs as abstracts with stitch. I've always said that it's important to leave space for stitch in any design we make; I'm finding that if I work the image too hard, it's difficult to work out quite how and where to stitch...and to justify the stitch at all. That hadn't really occurred to me. I don't see myself as a photographer, but in some ways, that's what I am, or what I have become. It's not a turn in my creative journey that I was expecting, but that's okay. I love the unexpected.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Out To Play...

with Big Bertha today, as well as working on a number of small pieces for Open Studios in May. If anyone's in the Dereham area today, you're welcome to drop into the gallery and see me at work. I'm planning a lot of free motion work today, as well as printing off some images that I worked on yesterday. Meanwhile, though, have a look at this piece, rust dyed silk, one of the pieces I finished on Wednesday. I rarely hand stitch, or rather, I used to rarely hand stitch, but somehow this kind of cloth needs it. That led to a bit of hand stitching on Evolon, which is so textured that it somehow also called for it... and here I am, now doing both and enjoying it, to my intense surprise.

There are several rust dyed pieces in the Evolon book, and full instructions on how to rust dye. I know that rust dyeing gets a bad press in terms of durability, but so far, I've had no problems with any of my cloth, some of which is now about eight or nine years old. These pieces feel organic, somehow, and to me, if they change over time, it's simply a reflection of that organic nature.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Back To Work...

...and my, it feels good. No, not the HR stuff, I was made redundant in December and haven't found anything suitable yet. Back to the creative stuff, instead. I've been in bed for most of the last four weeks, if not longer, and I was beginning to think I'd never get back to making things, though I have been working on the Evolon book in snatches (it should be with the printer in the next week or so, hurrah!!!). No, I'm talking about Working With Cloth.

I ran the regular workshop on Tuesday night, and we're working with cloth for the foreseeable future. So far, we've been working with small scraps of cloth, often cloth we wouldn't give house room to, and making small art pieces. I had planned a particular path for this Tuesday, but as it turned out, the class had other ideas. And since I was clearly surplus to requirements (other than advice and guidance now and again), I wondered what I was actually going to do... So I put three pieces of hand dye together, and began to stitch. Yesterday, I went back to the Gallery, and finished the piece. Not only that, but I also finished three other small pieces that had been awaiting trimming and embellishing. So I feel I'm Back With A Bang!

The first new piece is pictured above, and is nameless, as yet. Echoes, possibly. See what you think. I'm going to have it framed, along with most if not all of my new output, this one, I think, in a box frame. I've tried and tried to be a Proper Quilter...even a Proper Art Quilter... but it doesn't seem to fit with what I am and what I do. So I give up. I'm just going to be me, the artist, and do what seems right. I'm teaching at Festival of Quilts this year, right enough, but I think nobody will mind !!