Monday 31 May 2010

Door Progress and Samples

I've been grateful for the overcast Bank Holiday weather as I've been motoring away on my sewing machine , quilting my door quilt. This was after taking over yet another room in the house for art activities, pinning the quilt on the extended dining room table.
I've completed all the door area using 4mm twin needle with different threads, it's amazing how much texture it adds.
I'd already worked out what I was doing in this area by preparing a 12 inch square sample where I'd tried different needle widths and ways of attaching the door handles and organza ' nails'.
Before I started quilting the arch and brickwork, I realised I needed to make a sample for that too!
Working on Journal Quilts (particularly the 12 inch square format) got me into making my samples up into properly bound mini-quilts. I find this years CQ format of 10 x 7 are a bit small for this purpose although I've enjoyed using scraps up! All useful for the 'story boards' I use for works in progress.
The other advantage of 12 inch square 'sample' mini-quilts is that they look great mounted on canvases , particularly in related groups .
I have a bit of a dilemma in relation to this - I have the opportunity to potentially exhibit some of these for sale in a new gallery. However I don't really have the time to mount more work and organize the paperwork as I'm entering a manic period at work ( 12 day stretch of back -to- back training and giving paper at conference) besides looming deadline for door quilt. Not forgetting 2 day lamination course at Art Van Go!
I'd be sorry to pass on this opportunity but would it distract too much from what I really want to do - make large pieces? I think I already know the answer but would appreciate your thoughts.

Saturday 22 May 2010

Been A Bit Quiet

The bug I brought back from Malham developed into phyringitis and laryngitis so I've been rather quiet this week apart from a hacking cough and croaky or nonexistent voice. In between snoozes, crunching paracetamol and sucking homemade treacle toffee( only thing that soothes) I've been making some progress on my Tunisian Door quilt.
I'd printed out some photos of door knockers onto fabric but wasn't satisfied how how they blended in with the back ground fabric. Time to crack out the 'inktense ' pencils and try to match the colours/markings of the shibori fabric.

Pleased with the results (top) and the time spent painstakingly glueing the 'nail' patterns on organza with FuseFX - fiddly but it alters the surface of sheers far less than Bondaweb. I used a bit of 'Badger Balm' on my hands while handling it (trick learnt for handling PMC) and that helped a bit.
I'm now auditioning bricks !
My peace was disturbed yesterday by a huge thud on the conservatory roof - a dead pigeon in the gutter. Using rubber gloves I lobbed it over the fence into the unused alley behind our garden but as it was rather a pathetic throw got Ian to apologize next door in case it had landed there. Ed thought it highly amusing but was grateful for the warning . Otherwise the first he might have known about it was Cipher(his dog) bringing him a present in bed.
As Pigeon Tales go, still got a long way to match Tilly the Jack Russell bringing in a pigeon with a bagel round its neck....

Sunday 16 May 2010

Water in Ink and Watercolour

On Wednesday when the rest of the group went to Arncliffe to paint, feeling rather rough, I retired instead to the birdhide with watercolours, inks and a flask of coffee.
I was entertained by the Coots courting and chasing off Great Crested Grebes but applied myself to trying to capture the solidity of the branches in the water contrasted with their liquid reflections and the constant changes in the direction and colour of the ripples.

Fascinating if frustrating exercise! I took lots of photos so I'm going to try and analyse the colours and shapes in some more watercolour sketches.
I'll be back at Malham in August on a watercolour course( including making our own paints) so good to get some practice in!

Saturday 15 May 2010

Stick and Ink

After dinner on Tuesday, we set off for the birdhide overlooking Malham Tarn, armed only with ink ( acrylic in my case) hunting for a stick along the way.
I hadn't considered sketching from a hide before but it's very convenient (apart from the insects ) being under cover with a shelf for materials and a seat to prop yourself on( glad I took my Therm-O Rest Cushion though).Katherine suggested using a long strip of paper to draw the panoramic views.

Some areas work better than others
Besides the stick I used a dip pen, a reed pen and a brush, also a water mister. For the water shown below I used a Pentel waterbrush over drawn lines.
Most of my sketching I do with a technical pen such as Profipen 0.5 or PITT artists pens rather than pencil -I'd forgotten the joy of dipping in an ink pot and the variety of line and texture achieved. A technique to explore further - if only I could do it without coating my fingers too.

Friday 14 May 2010

Painting at Malham Tarn

As I write ,I should have been on the train heading south from Yorkshire after my painting course at Malham Tarn but I made that journey yesterday morning after a rough night when I realised that my cough and shivers were not improving and I wanted to be in my own bed.
Even though I missed 2 days of the course and was not at my best, I still got a lot out of it.

We started off with a demonstration by Katherine of the techniques and media she uses (watercolour, acrylics, pastels, collage, inks) - she made it look so simple!!
Then we sat under the covered area at the front looking out over the Tarn and tried to put mixed media into practice, not helped by all the layers we were wearing (it was bitterly cold) or the scattering of snow! I'd managed to sit under the only panel that wasn't glazed.
It was mesmerising watching the constantly changing colours in sky reflected in the water as the clouds advanced and I stayed on to paint while the others went into Settle to see exhibition at the Folly. In retrospect, I'm glad I made the best use of the time I had.

For me the best results on paper were when I used watercolours in the sky/water and acrylics and collage for the land giving more of a sense of structure and solidity.
I attempted one 'pure' acrylic painting on canvas board - rescued from blandness with dribbles of Paynes Grey acrylic ink. More about my rediscovery of inks in another post.
Still a long way to go to capture the subtlety of colour and line in the landscape.


A visit from Maggie was the excuse to go and see the bluebells at Kew. We originally met on a trip to Morocco over 20 years ago and haven't seen her since 1999 but we soon caught up ( and she approved of my choice of husband!) Hope I get to see her in Melbourne next year. The bluebells were the best I've seen them, a bit later than normal but worth the wait.

Used the opportunity to take more photos of the patched doors of Queen Charlottes Cottage and the red rhododendrons at the Japanese Gate drew our eyes (as did the peacock sitting amongst the them)
Got a bit chilled looking around the Garden Photography exhibition - will return another time for a closer look, there were some interesting images. If it was this cold in London, I would definately need to pack my hat and gloves for painting course in Yorkshire!

Monday 3 May 2010

York Minster

As we were walking back from dinner on Tuesday, bell ringing practice was in full swing at York Minster- if you looked up to the belfry you could just see the ropes in action. A magical sound - I've had problems trying to post the movie clip I made but you can get an idea from the videos on this site. We could still hear it when we got back to our hotel (athough the birds were doing their best to compete!)
I was thinking as we walked round the Minster how your perspective changes over the years. Having visited as a child, what struck me then was the scale , now it is the details that attract.
Restoration is currently taking place on the Great East Window and they had some examples on display to illustrate the conservation process, from showing how crude it had been in the past to the current painstaking process where they carefully match the colours, sign and date each piece and crosshatch them so in the future they can be distinguished from the original. I was particularly taken with the medieval depiction of lions (probably not having seen that many, their features are rather human)
Even the lion faced fire-breathing horses from Revelation seem rather benign.
The Apocalypse was certainly heavily featured. Both of us were rather taken by the 'Doomstone', a limestone sculpture in the Undercroft, especially the devils and demons stoking the cauldron of hell.