Thursday, 2 July 2015

Handkerchief Memories

On the requirements list for the  CQ Summer School workshop with Isabel Dibden-Wright, besides paper, drawing and sewing materials and black and white fabrics   was a handkerchief ' for artwork' .
I thought it might be used to mount a piece of textile work but its purpose was far more intriguing.
On the Friday evening, Isabel showed us a selection of handkerchiefs ( plain, embroidered, vintage, new)  and we had a brief discussion about what they're used for and  memories  associated with them.  Our challenge  was to decorate/ alter  the handkerchief we'd brought with us in any way we chose with a 'grand reveal' on Sunday afternoon 

 The  handkerchief I brought was one of those liberated  when I converted Ian to tissues  from revolting  ' Manky Hankies' ( of course the downside is tissue lint  in the washing machine... ).   Apart from  a  dainty small hankie I use with Olbas oil,  my main use of these large mens hankies is for  wiping eyes when I cycle; removing smears and fingerprints  from my glasses;  around my hand when using a trekking pole to absorb sweat and as an impromptu paint rag. So my decoration, continuing the mark-making theme of the class and inspired by my 'Human Marks' workshop with Dorothy Caldwell  involved fingerprints of  ink using a piece of felt and a  photo  printed on fabric  of my inky finger, tacked on with quilting thread.  This photo was a trial run for my  'Inky Digit' quilt - I'd brought it with other black and white fabrics. Ruth had suggested I should do nostril prints but lets not go there....   
The  'grand reveal'  was very moving as apart from the ingenuity displayed in  working with the handkerchiefs (3d origami structures, bags, hats, text , stitch), how handkerchiefs are used and who they belonged to had triggered   hidden and powerful  memories and honest sharing  of the difficulties in caring.
 At the time, my main memory was as a child   buying  boxes of them for my Dad  as presents  and finding them all  intact  as they were 'too good' to use.  He persisted in continuing to wear  a very tatty jumper and hat in the garden despite new replacements for the same reason.
Then when I got home I remembered  the stories about  Dandy the Delinquent  Dalmation, the dog we had when I was a toddler , who besides chewing up  anything in sight including heirloom silver napkin rings, used to jump up and snatch the hankies from mens jacket pockets and eat them!  
Who knew that a small hemmed piece of fabric  could unleash all this - thanks to Isabel for the suggestion, more than just a creative exercise.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Circles, Spirals and Lines at CQ Summer School

Another very enjoyable CQ Summer School  at Alston Hall - I worked out it was my 6th visit!
This time I was   in class with Isabel Dibden-Wright, looking at  circles, spirals and  lines through a variety of interesting exercises using different drawing media.  Quite a change of scale compared  to the A1 sheets of paper at City Lit   but that had led me to be more adventurous with materials. My favourite from my drawings was the  circle of tiny pencil marks ( above), most unlike my usual style. Don't know quite how I'd interpret that in fabric and stitch!
Isobel was excellent tutor, calm and organised,  with just the right pace. Every so often she's bring  together a selection of different peoples work so we could see the diversity even doing the same exercise.  This was even more marked when we moved to  fabric , (mine's the JQ sized piece below)


 But it's not just about the tuition ( I've done retreats at Alston too ) but the companionship, the wonderful food ( that cheesecake!!)  and the  lovely setting. I can feel my blood pressure and anxiety drop instantly I see this view. Sue and I just caught the glorious sunset on Friday evening ( with the liquid sound of a curlew - just magic ). I was going to say tranquil but for the noise of the sheep and very loud birds ( even Ian could hear them when I rang  him on my mobile)   including  very plaintive baby owls .
I was up very early on Saturday morning as hadn't slept that well  so went and drew and painted by my favourite gatepost!  We also had an hours  sketching later in the day -looking for those circles, spirals and lines.


 My other favourite drawing  with a large graphite stick which leaves a lovely sheen- that would be difficult to interpret in fabric too!
Didn't go to my drawing and printmaking class this week- too  weary after my weekend  with sensory overload but I'll be back for the final sessions next week.  

Friday, 26 June 2015

Printmaking Week 8 - Aquatint , Develop Your Drawing Week 7

 I was really pleased  with  the effect of aquatint , it  looks a bit like my original watercolours of Fleet mudflats.  I still need to work out  how to disguise the accidental  marks - maybe some drypoint?
  On a scanned copy of my etching  I used some    grey Pitt pens to   colour in areas with 2 different  tones. Then using etching stop-out varnish ( as sticky bituminous  mixture)  on my plate I painted the areas that would  be reserved as white, a counter-intuitive  procedure!
Then donning mask and gloves,  a thin layer of resin was  applied to the plate using aquatint box ( basically a dust cloud of resin! ) I should really have used the stop- out afterwards as it's inflammable and part of the process involves heating the plate from underneath to melt the resin.  

 Then the plate was put in week acid for 15 seconds, more stop-out varnish applied to  light toned areas just etched   and for the darker tone the plate was put in the weak acid for a further 45 seconds.
Then  the stop-out varnish was removed with paraffin ( resulting in this rather nice  effect of the gold of the resin) ) and the  resin removed with methylated spirits. 
Then the exciting bit! There was just time to ink up with Prussian blue - I'm getting better at judging how much ink to take off , and put it through the press.  

 I'm not sure  I'll want to do etching and aquatint  in  the future,  as it requires access to facilities and there's a lot of processes involved.  But I've gained a whole new respect and insight  into  what goes into an etching and  looked at the prints in the RA summer Exhibition  with a new perspective  on my visit on Wednesday (more in another post)
The 'Develop your drawing ' class this week  was off-site  around Waterloo Bridge collecting sketches  and information   for a 2 week project  on the theme of Journey.   My sketches really were sketchy but I had a lovely time scribbling .Below are some of the photos I took as a reminder, I'll probably do a bit of playing in Photoshop to develop some ideas for next week.


Tuesday, 23 June 2015

House for Sale!

After 3+ months work, our house is finally on the market and looking fabulous. I love seeing my work  displayed on the  freshly painted walls.

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Printmaking 7 : Etching and Drypoint Proofs

 First thing I did in my printmaking class was to put some paper into soak for taking proofs of my etching  but I had ( almost) instant gratification as there some paper already prepared in the blotter. Applying ink and the wiping it off again always seems counter-intuitive  but I loved the marks and the 'foul-biting'  where the hard ground wax wasn't thick enough. Shame about the unintentional mark across the middle  which occurred I think when I was applying the parcel tape to  the back of the plate and didn't give due care to protecting the front. Anne- Marie scanned  my proof and printed off some copies so I can play with  working out which areas  to use  2 different tones for aquatint. 

Meanwhile I did some more work on my drypoint plate of sand ripples.  Although also an intaglio technique, as it's printing from the rough burr produced from scoring into metal rather than a groove from acid etching, the  printed lines on the proof were either too harsh or too subtle compared to the plate itself ( below). Again, I have some scanned copies to  plan what to do next. 

Develop your Drawing 6 : Metamorphosis

Week 6 of  Develop Your Drawing at City Lit  was intriguingly titled 'metamorphosis' 

  After initial warm up   with graphite sticks of drawing cones, spheres , cylinders and cubes with line  only to describe surface   we had a longer  session than normal looking at artists work: Rembrandt's elephantDa vinci musclesGrunewald  folds; Henry Moore's Sheep and ( my favourite) Kathe Kollwitz figures with lines describing form with such sensitivity.
 Then dividing our A1 paper into four  and using HB pencil ( my least favourite drawing implement!)  we drew 2 objects on opposite corners, using only lines to indicate 3D structure. My colander  was rather more successful than the staple gun.
Then the 'metamorphosis' , using our imagination to show 2 different stages of change from one object to another:  my 2 were more like  paths of evolution with different bits lost!

Some interesting examples from others  of bloated hammers and bottles turning into hands, mine was very tame by comparison but then there was some good-natured  fighting over the best objects.
Next week we're released into the wild ( well Waterloo bridge)  with our sketchbooks to collect information for the following 2 sessions.  

Friday, 12 June 2015

Stash Sorting , Storage and 'Shibori'

 Once upon a time, I took swatches of all the fabric in my stash  and stuck them on pieces of  card  roughly by colour. In theory it was so I could identify gaps   or find what I wanted rather than rifling through lots of boxes and bags. In practice it was just for gloating. I've  got rid of  loads (honest) and acquired others ( this was before I got into African fabrics and Indigo) so time for the folder itself to be chucked as part of my studio sort out.
Most of my fabric, evicted from the  very large wardrobe, is now sorted by colour, projects and types into boxes on the plastic B&Q shelving. Not a thing of beauty  but actually more functional than the Ikea Ivar shelving I'd originally ordered but which fell apart.
 My original Ivar   stores mainly art materials and threads  and I couldn't resist the metal trolley ( not having my sewing things to hand in the drawers of  desk). The print browser  actually hold prints from my classes but also hopefully shows  potential house  buyers that this room is a studio  ( I debated whether to set up an easel but thought that might be a step too far).  I bought a second  wooden  step-stool - as  both Gillian and   Tiggy have also pointed out, they're indispensible studio equipment.
Erica- the- exercise- bike has been evicted from the kitchen  - it's actually rather nice to cycle looking at artwork rather than kitchen cabinets . As it's a bit early in the morning to switch the radio on , I've taken to listening to music on my phone with  earphone : 'losing my religion' works particularly well.

 Progress in the rest of the house - the electrician has just replaced some of the lights and   I've installed some blinds. The patterns of light through the venetian blinds in the bedroom on the newly painted walls are just magic - instant shibori.
Photoshoot next Wednesday!