Monday, 14 August 2017

Winner of Fine Art Quilt Masters 2017

 I'm recovering from nearly a week up in Birmingham at the Festival of Quilts. I had a fabulous time   and  will write posts on the  ecoprint/natural dyeing course I did ( again!) with Brunhilde Scheidmeir and some wonderful quilts  I liked.  But after being rung on Wednesday evening to say I'd won Fine Art Quilt Masters ( and having to keep it quiet until the awards ceremony), I've been in a state of joyful disbelief ever since.

The various painting and drawing classes I've been doing at City Lit  have made  a big difference to my approach  to working and you can see some of my preliminary design work  in this blog post from February.  My statement for this piece ' Birchington Breakwaters' :
" The fragility of disintegrating sea defences rendered using the reverse and reassembled bindings of a threadbare antique log cabin coverlet , holes and tears revealing glimpses of underlying structures"

I was still stunned when this photo was taken ( don't look too closely at the  dark blue fingernails from  dyeing with logwood)  but was more relaxed by Saturday ( photo at the top) . The contents of the envelope: this certificate and a bank transfer form to fill in ( the prize is  £5000, thanks to generous sponsorship by Vlieseline). The icing on the cake for me was being chosen by Pauline Burbidge  and Diana Harrison, both artists whose work I've admired for a long, long time.
Thank you so much to everyone who congratulated me in person  with whoops of joy , generosity of spirit and lots of hugs  and to those of you who contacted me by email  and Facebook  with your good wishes, I'm overwhelmed.
What a way to celebrate 10 years of blogging, you can still leave a comment, I'll be drawing a name randomly next weekend.   and then I should probably be updating my website....
I was going to collect my quilt entry  tomorrow from Upper Street Events  but  the  winning quilts from the show, including mine, will be at the Knit and Stitch shows  in London , Harrogate and Dublin.  I might have recovered by then !

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

10th Anniversary Giveaway

On Thursday 10th August  it will be ten years since I started this blog!   I was just about to move house  and   go on my annual visit to the  Festival of Quilts  ( some things don't change , that's where I'll be on that date this year).
Appropriately enough that's also the day where I'll find out whether I've won Fine Art Quilt Masters,( unlikely given the  calibre of the other competitors  but being selected for the gallery is a fantastic honour in itself)
 I don't blog as much as I| used to, especially now I have a smartphone and it's so easy to upload photos and a few words to Facebook, but I still like to  use my blog to record my thoughts on courses I've been on and exhibitions visited , a 'reflective journal' .
I know a lot more people read this blog than  comment  so as is customary on these occasions I have a small giveaway to celebrate 10 years.
If you'd like to be in with a chance of winning a  postcard sized 'textile sketch', a study for my FoQ entry, please leave a comment and I'll put your name in the hat. I look forward to hearing from you!

UPDATE:Thanks for all your kind comments,I WON!!! Still can't believe it.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Ecoprint Experiments at Home

Please bear with me in regards to random order of photos, I'm attempting to blog from my tablet for the first time ! In anticipation of repeating 3day ecoprint masterclass of 2 years ago and inspired by Alice Fox course in Eastbourne, I've been gathering leaves to dry in my herbarium plant press (from Ian's parents garden,Abbey Community Physic Garden and Faversham Police Station(!) and trying out electric veg steamer. Little books drawn while stewarding "Open House" venues worked very well, fabric less so, not helped by pipes distorting in the steam but finally cracked it thanks to the wonderful staff at M&B supplies who kept cutting me lengths to try out. Final collecting of fresh material this morning from the rec and  Cotinus from the grounds of the care home....Time for bed in anticipation of tomorrow.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Japanese Woodblock Printing Week: Printing

 Very pleased with the results of the printing of my woodblock cut during the week after  Day 1's  introduction to Japanese woodblock printing. at Morley College. And it is achievable at home and adds a different element to my watercolour painting.
In the  notes that Carol provided was a diagram of the layout  showing how woodblocks are traditionally printed . If only my efforts were quite so tidy and organised , I got carried away with the excitement ! 
 The morning was devoted to preparation:
- clearing the gutters  around the print areas and smoothing edges using the 'hira-toh' with it's bevel edge at 45 degree angle.
- making registration grooves ( 'Kagi'  and ' Hititske' )with ' Kentoh ' chisel if hadn't already done so
- soaking the block , wrapping it in a damp tea-towel and plastic
- making a 'damp pack' with newsprint  book ( 3 sheets  folded in half then half again and cut along the top) using a 'mizu bake' ( goats hair waterbrush) , dampening every 3rd sheet. This was then wrapped in plastic sheeting with the wrapped block on top to  flatten it.
- cutting paper to size ( 14.5 x 19 cm) . This took some time and some sums to work out how to get the most out of the sheet of Awagami Hosho.   These were then placed in the  damp pack  over lunch .
We were told several times that accuracy and  the right  kind of dampness ( not too wet) are key to the process!

 After lunch we prepared our 'Nori '  starch, squeezing out an inch into a plastic cup then gradually adding drops of water while mixing with a chopstick to get rid of lumps until the consistency was right(just dropping off the end of the stick) .
Then Carol demonstrated  the process.
The watercolour/gouache was mixed with water in a palette( roughly same amount of water to paint, a thicker consistency than I would use for painting)   and the damp block removed from the towel/plastic  and placed on non-slip mat.
The nori was dotted on the block with a chopstick  and then brushed in well  with a 'maru -bake' or'burashi' ( very dense hairs)
Starting with the lightest colours, paint was dotted on  and then rubbed in  with a smaller 'hanga -bake' (bunched bristles tied together and held between 2 halves of a wooden handle). This was repeated  3 time in total.  
The paper  was removed from the damp pack using a scissor action and slotted first in the kagi corner registration, held in position with the thumb then laying paper along the hikitsuke registration.
Then with a sheet of baking parchment over the top of the paper to prevent damage,holding the baren  in a 'live long and prosper' Star Trek grip ( Margaret has a better photo in her blog post ) , rub down with the baren using a circular motion,  matching the grain of the baren  with the grain of the wood, softly at first then with increasing pressure.
Once printed with the first colour, the paper goes back into the damp pack.
Then it  was our turn to set up the working space and start to print!

 It took  4  different blocks and colours to build up this print, starting with the yellow ochre sand, then the  cerulean sea, burnt sienna groynes  and finally crimson Alizarin beach huts
Too much going on in such a small print and I wasn't happy with the registration and the accidental background marks  where I hadn't  cleared enough . 

So I explored whether I could get  the 'bokashi' (gradation printing) effect with my sea and sand blocks. It's subtle but it is there along with some embossing where I applied pressure with the baren. Magic!

Finally  we had a demonstration ( with one of my completed prints) on how to stretch prints by drying then putting back briefly in the damp pack before taping with sellotape onto an acrylic sheet, going round the edge of the tape with the flat end of a brush before allowing to dry.   

 Following Margaret's example, I too  stocked up with specialist supplies and paper at the wonderful Intaglio Printmaker  to add to the tools I'd already bought. I think I'll start off with making more  prints from the block I've made ( maybe cutting into it more)  but look forward to experimenting more with this technique.

Drawing Tuesday: Museum of London

 A successful day out  along the Northern Line: dropping off my Fine Art Quilt Masters entry to Upper Street Events ( Angel) then onto Museum of London ( Moorgate) for 'Drawing Tuesday' then finishing up at Intaglio Printmaker ( Borough) before heading back to St Pancras.   

  I very  rarely make it past the Neolithic section, I just the love the marks, the evidence of the hand of the maker, in the pots and vessels  and knapped flints and tools.  This time was no different and with lots of sketching stools available  found a well lit  display case  with both.  What made it even more special was that they were collected  from the Thames close to where I used to live.

I attempted the vessels first, the very aspect that I like in their irregularities and roughness making them very difficult to draw properly - still not right  despite several goes.  I kept getting distracted by the different marks in the flint dagger so moved on to trying to capture those in different hardnesses of graphite ( and use of my  Tombow eraser , one of my favourite tools).  It was fascinating to really  look through drawing,  I must get back to recording my 'small treasures'  ( I've added rather more to my collection...)

After lunch with the usual wide-ranging discussions and  seeing what other people  had drawn I headed off to Intaglio Printmaker in Southwark ( a week later than the others!)  to stock up on Japanese woodblock printing items . The most expensive item apart from tools I'd already bought for course was the sharpening stone. Though the watercolour paints I've collected over the years must run into £££.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Japanese Woodblock Printing Week : Hokusai at the British Museum

 The day after the first session of Japanese Woodblock  course at Morley College,  by happy coincidence I'd already arranged to revisit the Hokusai exhibition at the British Museum  with friend Hazel. Being a member  meant that  we had guaranteed entry ( I'd booked for 1pm)  so we could have a leisurely lunch in the Members Room first , so civilised!
Having an insight from having a go myself I was even more in awe of the skill involved and having received a copy of the   exhibition book over the weekend ( with excellent  images) I concentrated on looking at the details and making  notes in my sketchbook. I couldn't resist buying  a wooden postcard of Mt Fuji tho'! Things I noticed:

 Masterly  compositions
 Miniscule pattern making, embossing and use of metallic pigments
 Mark-making in print
 Characterful ink drawings
 Use of brushmarks in drawing( particularly like the reeds)
 Contrast of patterns - a grid for saltpans , loose ink sketch for mountains
Textures: mark, line, embossing, metallic pigments
Using woodgrain of block as part of design

 Having seen Carol's book from 1830's, I had a new appreciation of their structure. This version of the 'Great Wave'  with  foam seeming to turn into birds ( like Escher) and it's quiet palette speaks to me.