Monday 31 December 2012

Lego Quilt Update -On the Design Wall

I've been motoring away making the 20 (4 x 5)  ten inch blocks for this lego quilt and they are now trimmed to size and pinned  on the design wall to marinate and tweak.  I've also  just about finished my Sketchbook  Project  using lithographs I made several years ago and have put together a sample for SAQA 'Metaphors for Ageing'  based on tree rings , inspired by the work of David Nash.
Just in time too as I feel I'm  going down with the lurgy that has put Ian in bed for the last 3 days.
At least I've had a productive end to the  year !!

Wishing us all a creative 2013.

Saturday 29 December 2012

Blue Marks Journal Quilts

Now the Christmas activities are over, with a well stocked freezer and fridge, I'm now in the second day of my planned creative period. First thing on my list was completing  my Journal Quilts 'Shades of Blue'. I had so many ideas that came to nothing - I worked for quite a while on  blue doors and printed off loads of images on  fabric before deciding they were too photographic and not enough blue! Sorting through my fabric stash  and scraps for potential bookwrap material, I came across some monoprints and leftovers from other projects with interesting marks so this became my theme.
 Several years ago  after Cas Holmes workshop I bought some Pebeo Soleil fabric paints and did some sun printing with weeds  from the garden, I combined these with some monoprints from Jo Budd workshop and machine quilted it
 I was pleased with the double stitched leaves I achieved on Indigo Winter School at Great Missenden and combined them with some scraps of arashi left over from 'Weymouth Waves', adding some machine stitching.
 I produced this gorgeous monoprint with  brush strokes of  screenprinting inks on silk when  working on pieces for Red Flotsam but couldn't bear to use it! So I took photos and inkjet printed sections out on fabric at different scales (below). I used different thicknesses of white thread and hand stitched it.  Definately an idea to follow up - having your cake and eating it!!
It has its limitations though - it doesn't have the sheen of the original so in this last JQ I used a silk satin monoprint, both shiny and matte sides and machine stitched with Madeira metallic thread. I really wanted to hand stitch it but ran out of time but I like the effect anyway.
I've really enjoyed this years challenge  and found it a useful process to explore and make mini-series on different themes resulting in a more cohesive collection. Look forward to seeing what next year brings! 

Tuesday 25 December 2012

Festive Greetings

This year we have reduced the number of cards and printed copies of our annual letter we send out and are donating the savings made to 'Combat Stress'.
 With all our best wishes for the Festive Season and 2013
Mags and Ian

Monday 24 December 2012

Catching Up Part I - Drawing at the V&A

Work finished for 2012  after heroic sessions catching up with transferring plants to fresh media; chilling and cryopreserving  orchids; putting a rare moss into sterile culture. The Christmas ham was collected this morning and Ian has anointed  it (and himself and the kitchen) with treacle glaze.  Cumberland sauce, Tiramisu, summer pudding , ginger macaroons and devils on horseback made and in the fridge. So finally a bit of time to catch up with a few blog posts I've been meaning to write!

The Friday following  the last of my National Gallery drawing sessions, we had booked tickets for the final days of 'Bronze' at the Royal Academy (more about  that in another post). I also had my lab Xmas lunch that day - as we didn't finish until 2, rather than going back to work  for a couple of hours before I was due to meet Ian,  I headed off to the V&A. I have my favourite haunts there  but influenced by my drawing classes I went for a wander around the Medieval and Renaissance Galleries. Lots of interest (including the wonderful Tristan and Isolde  quilt) but after all my weeks of studying folds in fabric  what caught my eye were the stylised folds of  'The Virgin Annunciate' drawn with distemper on linen.  Difficult to believe it's from 1500, it looks so modern!
I did a rough sketch but I'd like to return and do more detailed studies.
Appropriate too as I'm currently reading the  World Invisible  series on my Kindle which starts off with drawing in the V&A.

Saturday 15 December 2012

Thread and Surface

 Just received my copy of the 'Thread and Surface' Limited Edition  Sketchbook  Project   which includes a spread from my 'Distressed Doors' sketchbook.  

It's fascinating to see what other people have done with the same theme,  reminding me with pleasure of the evening I spent at Canada Water library looking through sketchbooks and giving me the inspiration to get cracking with my 2013 project which I've left to the last minute as usual!!
I think they chose well - the image of the door in a cave at Sougia in Crete  is the strongest composition.


The pages of my sketchbook were constructed from used 'colour catchers', treated with either inkaid or Golden Digital Ground and inkjet printed photos. I joined them together with connecting strips of non-printed colour catchers using zig-zag and then stitched them by machine using Madeira Polyneon thread.
Above are the 2 sides of the same sheet and below that how it looked once bound.

Tuesday 4 December 2012

Lego Quilt Progress

 I was up late last night determined to have 4 blocks of 'lego quilt'  assembled on the design wall  as a reward for Sunday's marathon piecing section.
 The stages involved are :
1 - chain piecing patches of strips, light/dark with medium into 2-patches
2-  chain piecing the 2 -patches into 11 inch strips ( adding extra bits on as necessary)
3- pressing the strips (that took a while!)
4-  chain piecing 2  strips together
5 -  Randomly deal out 5 x double strips (below)  but weeding out  duplicate fabrics ( not had to do too much of this so far - have over 200 different ones!).  Sew together
 I'm loving how the random colours work together , now the decision is  what arrangement to use.
( it will be 4 x 5 ten inch blocks). What do you  think? Rail Fence or Bricks?

 A -'Rail Fence'
B - 'Bricks'

Sunday 2 December 2012

Drawing from the Masters - Sustained Drawing

I'm sorry to have finished my City Lit drawing course at the National Gallery, I learnt such a lot in 5 weeks. For this  last session there was no tour beforehand and a different tutor with a more abstract  approach which was refreshing. I got there early to have a look round to choose my victim painting to draw from. I whittled down my short list - some were much smaller in real life, others had poor light or  lacked  a good position to draw from. It was  very busy with events going on so that also had an impact as did rooms that were very busy ( I don't mind sketching in public but there are limits.....)
 Continuing my cloth theme  I  chose  ' Mary Magdalene' by Giovanni Girolamo Savoldo.
The time went so quickly tho' I did go for a coffee break  and my ideas about working in a more abstract, simplified  way went out of the window as I concentrated on analysing and trying to capture accurately the folds in the fabric. We  met in Central Hall to look at each others work rather earlier than in previous weeks - at  8.30 instead of  8.45. This had pro's and con's. On the plus side it was great to have more time to appreciate the varied styles  and to see the journey for all of us from our first works. In  previous weeks we've been asked to comment only on our own work and experience with  a summing up by the  tutor ( competing with  insistent remarks from the stewards that the gallery was now closed!)  This week we were asked to comment on other peoples which  we weren't used to - I  found positive things to say  but not everyone did -  one person  was  unnecessarily harsh, she'd earlier made  unwelcome suggestions about how I could 'improve' my drawing.  
In general though it was a nice group of people. Being spread through the gallery, concentrating on our own drawings, there wasn't the same interaction as in other classes but I enjoyed chatting with Catherine who  was like minded in needing a coffee before each  session started  and also in admiring the work of  Gerhardt Richter.  
So what were the 'learning outcomes ' for  me?
- a new appreciation of 'traditional' figurative paintings
- increased skills in observation 
- a better understanding of composition
- improvement in drawing techniques
- confidence to draw in museums and galleries
- finding time for art, the realisation that I could fit in classes after work, not just at weekends.
- that sustained drawing is sustaining!!
Most of all I've fallen back in love with pencil! For the last 30+ years my drawing has been rather cursory as I want to get to colour as quickly as possible. Now I want to explore  drawing further for it's own sake. I'm investigating life classes for the New Year but in the mean time bought a wooden hand at the National Gallery Shop ( even if it does look like 'Thing' from the Addams Family). The hands were what I noticed most in many paintings and I have ideas to incorporate drawings with the prints I produced in the British Museum lino printing course into my Sketchbook  2013 Project.