Wednesday 29 September 2010

The Procrastination of Samples

In preparation for getting back into working on the Weir (Ian will be pleased!) I've put together not 1 but 3 samples. While I find these invaluable for working out what I'm going to do with stitch and particularly paint (there being no going back with acrylics), I do wonder whether there is a degree of procrastination here, putting off committing to the larger piece.   I put a lot of work into samples as journal quilts last year and deciding on the final construction. But perhaps I'm not totally happy with it. I think I've developed quite  a bit   in the last18 months in honing my skills, particularly in self-critique.  I didn't have enough ikat left so used some wonderful hand-dye from Sue and the African batik is a different one. As often is the case , the samples (as with sketches) may turn out to be more interesting  than the finished work but it will be an adventure.

Thursday 23 September 2010


No sooner had my  quilt 'Bexhill Breakwaters' returned from its travels to various exhibitions when it  was off to a new home. At least I've got the 'toile' that's in Ian's office as well as being featured in the excellent 'Breakthrough' catalogue  and there's the sample to be returned so best of all possible worlds!!
I'm wondering about whether to invest the money towards a  Husqvana 'Megaquilter'/Pfaff Grandquilter/Janome 1600p  sewing machine - good excuse to test drive them  at Knit and Stitch at Ally Pally. If possible I'd like  to do a trade in of my Bernina Vituosa 160  -  I've got my Bernina Activa 125 for all the fancy stitches I need   and workshops but could really do with a  workhorse of a machine with a larger working area. I do love Berninas but the Bernina 820 is way, way  beyond my budget.

Friday 17 September 2010

Door Samples and SeptemberJournal Quilts

As I'm still ruminating about next quilt and fighting off sore throat and sniffles, time to do some mindless sewing, catching down the facings of samples produced while making Tunisian Door Quilt. Ever since 2008 CQ Journal quilt challenge, I've liked the 12 x 12 inch format and have found it a big enough size to test out techniques , fabrics and stitching. I like to bind/face them so they're 'proper' quilts with the potential to mount on 12 inch canvases for sale at some point.
Another semi-mindless task was sorting through all fabric and scraps from the last few projects, folding them and putting them back in their colour baskets or classifying them by size and potential usefulness ( and there was me thinking I wasn't a taxonomist!)
I had a lot of wonky strips left over from the Tunisian Door which I decided to use for my September Journal Quilt, putting into fabric the ideas started in Elizabeth Barton's workshop of a distant photo placed over a detail/texture. Didn't put too much thought into it - like the flashes of pink that come through from the background fabric I used.
With the addition of an offcut leftover from 'thin blue line' quilt there were enough trimmings left after I'd cut it down to make another quilt, which I think I prefer. I like the results of being thrifty but how would I scale up and produce enough scraps of scraps?

Sunday 12 September 2010

What about the Weir?

Whenever I've finished one project and am considering the options for the next, there's a plaintive cry from Ian of 'What about the Weir?'
This has been on my design wall, all layered up since February last year, when I did a whole series of journal quilts and paintings before carefully auditioning and choosing the fabrics.

Ian feels a personal connection to this piece , being based on walks we did together down the canal and wants it completed as it sums up a particular place and time ( and I suspect he also wants it for his office)
I've been so wrapped up in finishing quilts for particular exhibitions, challenges or shows that the design and painting courses I've done this August came at just the right time. Now is the time having digested them a bit to step back and think about what direction I want to take next.
So rather than consider entering challenges with looming deadlines to work to (like SAQA 'Beyond Comfort') perhaps it's time to plan longer term about what inspires me and what I want to achieve- proactive rather than reactive.
I like to have things at different stages and I want to work through getting away from a more photographic approach to a more abstracted one. Maybe it is time for the Weir.

Friday 3 September 2010

Masterclass in Composition and Thoughts on Colour

Among the preparations I made for Elizabeth Barton's Masterclass was ( as instructed) , files containing images that inspired me, copies of 'good' paintings by artists of the same subject. I had a folder of waves, another of vases, a portfolio of images at speed from a train. I settled for using the one on doors as being more graphic they seemed easier subjects for the exercises. Given the plethora of pictures I had, it was surprisingly easy to choose an image from the village at the top of the Anovreti Gorge in the Peloponnese. It hadn't changed much from when I did a watercolour of it 8 years previously apart from peeling a little more and that particular Greek blue has stuck in my mind for decades Laying tracing paper over the photos, drawing then photocopying and cropping resulted in this image which got the thumbs up during the critique process from my peers. The combination of diagonals and wonky lines is particularly appealing.

On day 2 we discussed the importance of tonal studies, not something I've done much of but potentially very useful. I only had time for one stab at it so not quite balanced but definately worth pursuing. It also came in handy for my painting course!

Interesting thoughts from Elizabeth on colour - on using ones that sum up the emotions associated with the subject rather than being representational. Something I definately need to work on in helping me move towards abstraction. Co-incidentally, a post on this topic today from Robert Genn in his Painters Keys. Also an apt quote from 'Bright Earth ' by Philip Ball which I'm currently rereading

"The seventeenth -century French writer Roger de Piles clearly felt that painters re-created the landscape to suit their own vision- to such an extent that this 'imagined reality' impinged upon the artists very perception of nature:'Their eyes see the objects of nature coloured as they are used to painting them.' "

That's me! Seeing purple in everything!

I digress - talking about colour always does that for me. I argued for using 'Greek Blue' for this piece because it is so much about the colour itself but it would be interesting to try a different palette of colours eg reds- that's where Photoshop comes in handy.

A useful part of Elizabeth's class was the the one-to -one attention and opportunity to get another opinion. As part of the selection of artists intepretation of doors I'd brought along this newspaper clipping about Prunella Clough. Following on from our'homework' looking at artists and quilters we admired, I was more able to articulate why I like this piece - the bright fine detail inserted on top of a looser , larger scale painting, the interest this generates.

This made me think of how I could combine texture of peeling doors with image of the whole area without having the same level of detail all over. With Elizabeth's input looking at my photos, we combined a photo of the door area with a photo of frayed sample done for QuiltWOW workshop on distressed doors. Definate possibilities!

Wednesday 1 September 2010

I am a quilter who:

Our homework while we were doing Elizabeth Barton's Masterclass was to write a paragraph or two around 'I am a quilter who:...', thinking about our preferences for ways of working, quilt and art influences. I've tidied this up a bit ( my writing is terrible even before a glass of wine) and thought I'd share it with you I am a quilter who grew up surrounded by fabric. My mother taught embroidery, quilting, toy-making and made clothes. I helped build her stash from jumble sales before I ever stitched myself

I am a quilter who loves colour. I have excellent colour memory, able to ‘carry’ a colour in my head like others remember tunes or phrases

I am a quilter who has always painted and drawn ( did art to ‘A’ level before studying botany at University. And no I don’t like doing botanical illustration).

I am a quilter who likes to use commercial fabrics (African , Japanese) in new ways and to honour and ‘repurpose’ old textiles.

I am a quilter who likes to alter surface of cloth with stitch and paint with acrylic.

I am a quilter for whom it is important to use my own images and experiences

I am a quilter who has been quilting for over 30 years and have developed through experience a clear sense of what I want to achieve and how I’m doing (I’m my own sternest critic)

I am a quilter who as a professional scientist, works on quilts in an efficient and methodical way but inquisitive and experimental, always questioning ‘what if?’
Enjoys the process and problem-solving as much as the finished piece of work .

I am a quilter who blogs , and has found the process a useful tool to explore, explain and analyse ( as well as making many ‘cyber friends’ whose opinion I appreciate)

I am a quilter who has made over 200 small ‘journal’ quilts , experimenting with new techniques but prefers to work on a larger scale. I am a quilter who admires quilts of Edrica Hews, Jo Budd, Dorothy Caldwell, Pauline Burbidge, Elizabeth Brimelow, Deidre Adams, Elizabeth Barton for imagery, use of fabrics and colour , for stitch as mark-making

I am a quilter who is inspired by artwork, going to art galleries and exhibitions as frequently as possible. Current preferences : Ian McKeever, Barbara Rae, Victor Pasmore, Mark Rothko, Gerhard Richter, Nicholas de Stael, Sean Scully, Anselm Kiefer. Perennial favourites : Paul Klee, Pierre Bonnard. What unites most of these is colour and interpretation of landscape in abstract terms.

I am a quilter.