Saturday 28 May 2011

May Boat Friday

It's a while since I walked along the river looking at the boats so I left work around 4.30, fed up of filling in COSHH forms. I had my teeny paint kit with me and my mobile phone - neither of which gave great images but useful tools for looking - the tide was really low giving a different perspective.  I was using cream coloured cartridge paper in a sketchbook and struggling to use a pentel waterbrush (hardly my travel sable mix!). It made me sympathise with all those put off watercolours by starting out with poor materials and a tiny brush - it does make a difference although at least my paints were artists quality. The results were pretty terrible,still,  it made me think about simplification and what the key elements were. The photos were pretty awful too but I used their low quality to my advantage - increasing saturation and applying 'underpainting' and 'palette knife' filters in Photoshop do the job nicely.

Talking of boats reminds me that the TVCQ exhibition 'Whatever Floats Your Boat' has now opened at Slough Museum - thanks to the hard work of Jane, Sandy and many others . There's various activities on this week  and I shall be going to the private view next Saturday on my return from Bulgaria ( short work trip with v. early start and the joys of Easyjet! )

Wednesday 25 May 2011

Prism at Mall Galleries

I took the afternoon off from work today to go and see the textile work of 'Prism' group at the Mall Galleries and decided I should do this more often! The excellent  custard tart was a bonus as was buying book: 'Gerhard Richter 100 Pictures' - excuse my drooling!   I took copious notes - inspired by the notebooks of Bea Sewell with her dyeing samples and vignettes ( She even had tiny bundlesof fabric you could take. Who could resist? I didn't!)
 Inevitably I was drawn to the more'painterly' pieces of Janet Wain (above), Prinkie Roberts (below) , Amanda Hislop (who I did a workshop with at Art Van Go) and the atmospheric abstract landscapes of Liz Harding.
 But I also enjoyed some of the installation and sculptural work like these amazing structures made of basketry and cable ties by Julienne Long based on seedpods seen at Millennium Seedbank. I know just the ones - saw them last week at 'Bioscience Evening' at which I was lecturing/demonstrating techniques.
 With President Obama in the vicinity there was a very special atmosphere in the Mall and I don't just mean the massive police presence and the barricades. Those flags (alternating UK and US) are HUGE! There were so many tourists - but then I'm not often up in town.
Walked back via the Southbank to Waterloo to get the train direct to Brentford, there's lots on for anniversary of Festival of Britain. Have to save that and Tracey Emin at the Hayward for another skive day.

Monday 23 May 2011

Watermans Sky

A double rainbow and a spectacular sunlit streaky sky Walking home from Watermans Art Centre after a Friends wine tasting (choosing wines to stock in the bar and restaurant) and an excellent lamb pasanda and vegetable dansak. There's far worse ways to spend a Monday night....

Monday 16 May 2011

National Quilt Museum USA 2012

 I'm thrilled to say that 'Strindberg Shore' will be going into an exhibition highlighting UK contemporary quilts  at the National Quilt Museum, Paducah, USA next year! Appropriate as it was made for QGBI  'In the Spotlight' exhibition on behalf of Region 1 (London) at Festival of Quilts 2007.
 A turning point in many ways (it was made during the time I was moving house!) it was  my first large scale foray into painting with acrylics on quilted fabric. Working with African fabrics brought the challenge of how to mark for stitching (I used  more than one spool of 1/8 inch masking tape ) and then after months of stitching the sharp intake of breath knowing there was no going back once I applied the first brush stroke....
 You might find it difficult to believe that these  fabrics lie underneath the paint ( sample above and below,  before and after) but they make all the difference to the texture and vibrancy.

Friday 13 May 2011

Compact and Bijou

Second attempt - last nights post disappeared into the ether with not a trace left ( and long deleted comments reappearing - what IS going on ?!!! ). On my travels, my watercolour kit is a Winsor and Newton 'bijou' - the one pictured is an updated version - a bargain £19.95 from Cass Arts complete with paints and proper metal strips to secure the pans rather then the lumps of blutack of my old model.  Having finished off my travel mints, I had the inspiration from seeing the watercolour exhibition at Tate Britain of making an even smaller box for when even the 'bijou 'is too cumbersome. Isn't it sweet?!(pun intended- sorry) . I did try it out with Pentel waterbrush but not so good if you want to mix colours. A spray of water and old Cotman field  brush did the trick in a dry run (sorry, another intentional pun)
I packed it in my handbag for work trip to Brussels but didn't get the chance to use it as came home a day early. The combination of  stifling 4th floor hotel room under the eaves and meeting room at European Commission so hot the projector overheated frazzled my brain. Save the city break for another (cooler) time.

Saturday 7 May 2011

Cretan Seascape Watercolours

Cretan Landscape watercolours

Cretan watercolours of buildings

Innovative Solutions

For washing clothes when on holiday we always take pegs and wire coathangers but had forgotten the elastic washing line. However a suggestion from the group about using a spring loaded trekking pole worked a treat even in a stiff breeze. Definately one to remember.

On our return we found that the neighbouring cats had been using our gravel garden as a giant cat litter tray - removed 8 piles of poo !!  Until we get an ultrasonic deterrent, yesterday I purchased from TK Maxx a  pump action water pistol (Water Warrier 'Titan' ) Now just waiting for the supercilious ginger cat from down the road. As Ian says , the inner child is never far from the surface...  

Friday 6 May 2011

Mosque of the Janissaries

With more time for painting, one of my favourite subjects  was the 'Mosque of the Janissaries' (orKucjk Hassan Mosque ) on Chania harbourfront - the oldest Ottoman building in Crete. From the guide book:" Here the Christian-born slaves of the Ottoman Empire worshipped , although little did it improve their character; not only did they terrorize the Greeks , but in 1690 they murdered the Pasha of Chania and fed his body to the dogs". It's currently an art exhibition space.....

I had my own troubles to deal with : I'd started sketching from a bench and then  a string of horse and carriages parked themselves right in front of my view - I had to peer round and hope that some tourists would turn up for a ride.

I had a better vantage point on another day - in a rooftop cafe with a grandstand view. At the table next to us was an art  tutor from a local college and 2 of her students. They  made a much better job of the perspective but the tutor was very kind about my colours - a rather enhanced version of the  faded pinks. A lovely spot for a fresh orange juice or Greek coffee with the background clatter of backgammon.

Thursday 5 May 2011

Cretan Textiles and Stitch

 A visit to 'Roka' at 61 Zambeliou where traditional rugs and sakouli (sort of woven rucksack) are handmade on a 17th century loom. Lovely old examples and an evocative smell of wool
 Then in the Folklore museum examples of costumes, lace, weaving and embroidery as well as domestic and agricultural collections in an idiosyncratic setting. In the workshop 2 venerable electric sewing machines were set up - reproducing old embroidery for sale (above) and showing embroidered pictures by Asposia Bitaki in different stages of progress. There were no completed pieces on show but a book has been published - delightful 'naive' designs of local customs and village life depicted in very dense free machine embroidery.

A different type of stitch - a sample of how wooden planks and rods were tied together with rope in the life size scientific reconstruction of a an ancient Minoan boat  at the Maritime Museum . Not just a model - it was sailed  from Chania to Pireus and took part in the 2004 Olympics.

Wednesday 4 May 2011

Cretan Crumbly Doors

Lots of crumbly doors to choose from - a wider variety than I've encountered elsewhere. From basic rustic to positively palatial , all equally charming -in  Chania many of the Venetian and Turkish style houses and mansions remain un-restored after bombing in WWII


Tsikoudia (or Raki) is an eau de vie made from grape skins and seeds in mountain still such as the one above. This  moonshine/firewater is synonymous with hospitality , offered after meals, as 'welcome drinks' in shot glasses ( my favourite being a dolls hous beer glass with handle) . Never managed to down it in one
 Note the 'brown wine' - only Ian and I appreciated it's sherry like nature which complimented food well , although some were too acidic for me - luckily could usually order a half bottle of something better while Ian polished off the 'half -kilo ' on his own.
Raki is mostly clear( this one was coloured if not flavoured by fruit) , the most palatable was with honey, cinnamon and cloves. Yammas!!!