Monday 30 August 2010

Stainforth Foss

Probably my best painting of the course -of Stainforth Foss. I liked the contrast of different edges- of rock, where the water changed direction. I scribbled on the paper with a candle beforehand attempting to capture the movement and used a dry brush afterwards. I feel it does capture the force of the water.

Slightly less successful details from other sketches but I had a joyful time doing them

Thorns Gill- a new favourite place

Not the best painting I did but the one that sums up a magical time and place
After a tea from the van at Ribblehead , we walked over fields to Thorns Gill. Ignoring the picturesque packhorse bridge , I walked further down Gayle Beck (the main feeder into the the Ribble) and sat on a bank containing lots of grassland plants (thyme, potentilla, harebells), shaded by fruiting rowan trees.
I sat for a long time listening to the sounds of water before I ventured down to the stream to fill up my water pot (and retrieve my roll of masking tape ) before committing paint to paper.

A tranquil place (apart from the odd fighter jet!) and one that I held in my mind on my 7hr return journey by train the following day as I tried to exclude the raucous card games of a stag party ( the downside to travelling before a Bank Holiday)

Wednesday 25 August 2010

Putting Paints Through Their Paces

We filled the gap in our paint boxes with the ones we'd made (unfortunately the gamboge made rather too much of itself, oozing around) then headed off to Gordale Scar and Janet's Foss. I did loads of quick paintings ( shocking some in the group during the evening crit by admitting I didn't draw it out beforehand).My best was my first, still not great but hugely enjoyable process. Before heading off to Malham cove and its incredible field systems we had afternoon tea at Beck Mill ( only polite as we'd been given permission to park the van there)

Make Your Own Watercolours

From this array of genuine pigments and a solution of gum arabic ( with some gum tragocanth and a little Yorkshire honey)

we have been preparing our own watercolours to augment the delicious selection already carefully selected for us from Kremer (which includes lapis lazuli!)

We've made gamboge, 2 different colours of madder (1 above), ground up Davy's grey and haematite and watched Pip brew buckthorn berries( 'Persian yellow') and madder root. They're currently in the drying room , hopefully ready to use today at Gordale Scar.

The torrential rain cleared up a bit to allow us to experiment with our new paint boxes sketching Malham tarn .Quite different to Winsor and Newton, they have a larger particle size which gives wonderful granulations but , at least to start with, give rather more delicate colour

Lovely as our paintboxes are, I covet this hugely expensive collection of watercolour 'pebbles', a replica made by Pip of those Turner would have used for an exhibition at Abbot Hall , Kendal.

Tuesday 24 August 2010

Elizabeth Barton Masterclass

At last, a class where you don't race to finish something off, no matter how unsatisfactory! In fact the emphasis in Elizabeth Barton's 2 way workshop at FoQwas on making lots of potential designs and leaving them to mellow for a while- how refreshing. I loved her quote about people spending 3 minutes using their first idea, 3 months making it and then as it doesn't work, put beads on it! So true - in my case paint rather than beads!
After spending some time talking about design principles we started a series of exercises using the images we'd collected (which for me in itself had been very useful )
I decided to work with some crumbly doors - I love this one from Yazd in Iran with the shadows of the tree. We placed tracing paper over our photos and traced just the major lines - already simplifying and introducing hand work rather than a mechanical image.

Then from photocopies (thanks Hilary!) we used cropping tools to choose small sections of interest and then cut these out and mounted them on another piece of paper

I liked this one from the diagonal - the combination of straight and organic line. We did lots of cutting out and re-arranging ( glad I bought scissors and pritt stick) not thinking about it too much -" make visual decisions visually"

After homework thinking about our influences and preferences " I am a quilter who..."(helped by a glass or 2 of wine and assistance from Sue ) we came back the next day to critique our work ( more about that in another post) and work up value studies . Colour was discussed too - guess who couldn't resist getting her paints out even if we supposed to be getting on with shading in greys - bad Mags!

Monday 23 August 2010

FoQ Purchases

Yet another new experience, updating my blog on the train! On my way up to Malham for painting course, via York to see my Tunisian door quilt at the Quilt Museum. Apart from Blogger initially being in Swedish, length of time to upload photos and sqwarking child in carriage , all is well I've brought my notes with me from Elizabeth Barton Masterclass, hoping to find some time to digest them and summarise (in between grinding pigments!)

My purchases were relatively modest: more shibori/tray dyed fabric from African Fabric shop;book on 3d embroidery(have idea about making a vessel for Slough Museum Challenge)

Friday 20 August 2010


I was going around in a daze for most of the day yesterday as when I entered the show at Festival of Quilts found my 'As Rich as honesty' Quilt had received only 1 of 3 'Highly Commended' in the Art Quilt section !!!With over 170 quilts in that section, I'm overwhelmed .

Thursday 19 August 2010

Blogging with new toy at FoQ

It worked!Bought a netbook to access web when on my travels and brought it with me to the Festival of Quilts. The Hilton (where I'm staying ) charges £15 to access internet but thanks to Linda found there was BT Openzone in the foyer so currently on a comfy sofa tapping away. It will take me a while to get to grips with the tracker pad but I'll persevere.

Had a great couple of days in an excellent masterclass on composition with Elizabeth Barton and will be looking at the quilts in a whole new light when the doors open in an hour.
Will report back later.

Sunday 15 August 2010

An Oxford Adventure

A blog post by Olga inspired us to catch the last day of exhibition at the Ashmolean of the 'Lost World of Old Europe' - a fascinating insight into a culture I knew little about with some wonderful artifacts
No photos allowed so a few rough sketches.
While we were there, a charming exhibition of Mughul paintings of elephants owned by Sir Howard Hodgkin led us to Modern Art Oxford where 'Time and Place' offered a fresh view of his work.
I was as inspired by these monotone blinds in the building as his vigorous paintwork - both pathways to simplification.

Festival of Quilts update: I'll be at the Festival of Quilts from Tuesday to Friday, doing an Elizabeth Barton Masterclass Tues and Wed and on Thursday I can be found at the Contemporary Quilt stand 1-2 and SAQA stand 4-5. My 'Breakthrough' quilt is on display with others from Contemporary Quilt on the walls of the cafe ( and the excellent book for sale at the CQ stand) . Finally , my second honesty quilt is the Art Quilt competition , no 276.

Anniversary Outing to Bexhill

For our wedding anniversary we had a return trip to Bexhill, inspiration for my 'Breakthrough' Quilt ( about to go on display at Festival of Quilts and then at Hever Quilt Show 3-5 September)
A quick check on the breakwaters and a leisurely meal of local Sussex produce at De Warr Pavilion Restaurant overlooking ever changing sea and skyscape
Then a stroll along the beach to walk off lunch with an undignified dash for shelter when there was a sudden downpour
The rain dried just as quickly leaving interesting patterns.

Critical Mass -Antony Gormley

On the rooftop of De La Warr Pavilion at Bexhill, we walked among the 60 sculptures by Antony Gormley that make up 'Critical Mass' ( consisting of five casts from 12 moulds of the artist's body) . The artist is quoted as saying "It will be like a sky burial . How these masses act in space is very important"
Individually some of the sculptures were very powerful and it felt like there was an interaction between them and the space (for instance looking out to sea)
However they were quite regularly spaced almost in a grid and overall the installation for me lacked cohesion and a sense of linkages between them apart from their dimensions

A revisit after a sharp rainstorm did give some sense of vulnerability to the figures and the reflections and puddles gave a visual link to the sea beyond
And I liked the accumulation of water that had resulted in rusty crevices.
I'm going to print some of theses figures onto indigo and see what they look like.

Tuesday 10 August 2010

Childhood Memories -Dog Days

The theme of next CQ Suitcase challenge is 'Childhood Memories' and I'm not the only one that has been looking through old photos ( in my case it was about time they came up from the damp cellar for a sort) Wish I could still touch my toes!
My parents didn't take too many photos ( a surprise since Dad did his own developing at one stage and Mum took photos when she went travelling in Europe in the late 40's )

As most photos were taken on day trips/holiday which when we were younger was at the seaside ( Lake District later years) it fits in quite well with seascapes I've been making.
Not that you ever saw the sea at Southport - are you still allowed to park on the sands?
And I'm not sure I'd approve now of jumping off dunes knowing how it disturbs the ecology ( and might scare a Natterjack Toad!) But what fun it was!
My chief memories of holidays are that Jill , our Staffordshire Bull Terrior, came too and used to have a wonderful time digging holes burying stones ( and rolling in a dead seal on one memorable occasion!!)
I still haven't used the printed fabric that I produced on Jae Maries course at CQ Summer school last year that reminded me of Bamburgh Castle from Stag Rocks so I've been playing in Photoshop to see how I might use photographs in a non-obvious way. Maybe introduce some colour in the stitching?

Sunday 1 August 2010

August Journal Quilt

With some diligent stitching over the last few days I've caught up with my Journal Quilts!
The offering for August is one of several different size samples made to test out fabrics/techniques for my 'Tunisian Door'. Although I didn't have enough time in the end to sew metal beads on as 'studs' on the large quilt, I still wanted to try it out so did so on this sample. I think I made the right decision , although the beading looks good it takes an awful lot of them and perhaps takes away a bit from the fabrics which are the true stars.

I also sewed together the 3 Journal Quilts from 2010 that are going on display at Creative Stitches Show in Exeter, 23rd –26th September . From Left to Right: March Indigo Sea; February Llangollen Snow; July 9 Part Indigo Wave.
Unlike previous years, I did have a sort of theme this year in that every piece has indigo fabric and some of a Japanese blue/black fabric (even if it's only on the facing). It does add a sense of unity and hasn't been too much of a restriction so far.