Saturday 31 December 2016

2016 CQ Journal Quilts

 My    Contemporary Quilt 2016 Journal quilts (  8 x 10 inches with requisite small piece of purple, green and orange)  are a mixed bag to say the least!! The earlier hand stitched collages inspired by my surroundings and  experiments for larger projects are the best .The later ones, mainly machine stitched  samples from workshops/ art classes  were rushed and my heart wasn't really in them.
The main  factor ( apart from the 2 months around Ian's op when life went on hold) is  using postcard size 4 x 6 inch pieces for my experimental ' fabric sketches' rather than the JQ format.  It started with  a challenge on the facebook group ' sketchbooks and experiments for textiles'  and then I found they were the perfect size for stitching on the train !
I've made 38 of them so far  and am using them  to explore ideas for new work.
The blog posts I intended to write  will have to wait!
Wishing everyone a  Peaceful, Creative, Healthy, Happy New Year!!

Wednesday 21 December 2016

Drawing Tuesday: Islamic Glass at the V&A

  Drawing Tuesday this week was  in the glass gallery or architecture section of the V&A . I love the glass gallery - I remember  gasping out loud the first time I saw the amazing glass staircase.  The problem was deciding what to draw among all the treasures there  as I was already later arriving than I'd hoped.  So I settled  on a case of  Islamic  glass  ( it's becoming a bit of a  series,  having drawn  examples  at the British Museum)

  I loved the watery nature of the shadows but as shadows do, they kept disappearing and moving !

  It was the variations in colour that attracted me in the first place but I got absorbed in drawing with 4B pencil and using eraser ( current favourite is a Tonbow mono zero, it's like  drawing with  light) . I daren't risk adding any colour having learnt from bitter experience that you can't rub it out  so I  did a very quick colouring-in of my preliminary sketch  with a watersoluble pencil (Caran D'ache Supracolour II Blue 260)
One of the sessions in Advanced Painting course was on  using Photoshop or similar  to  review possibilities  for making changes to your artwork in progress, something I do  frequently for source material, less so for  my own  work. So at home  I did some playing around with Photoshop, seeing what my pencil drawing might have looked like if I'd been brave enough ( and had more time) .  I sampled the blue from my drawing  and then used it  in combination with different 'sketch' filters.
Graphic Pen

The same filter ( 'chalk and charcoal' )applied to the photo (  below)   rather than the drawing ( above)  is far less interesting and dynamic  as there isn't the variety of marks

Monday 19 December 2016

Prints, Vessels and Waves

Before my last  Advanced Painting  class on Friday , I went to the prints exhibition  room 90 at the British Museum to see 'Touch:Works on paper' by Maggi Hambling.  But I got distracted by the  selection of works  in the display area to the right:
'Modern Design and Graphics: Objects and Prints from Post-War Europe'
A small display of objects and prints, highlighting the relationship between three-dimensional objects and two-dimensional objects.
 My favourite was by Swedish artist  Philip von Schantz , a watercolour 'Towards Arholma'  where the curved vessels merge with the water and sky. Having actual vessels displayed alongside was inspired . I found other examples of his work online like the one below

 Other pairings was this linocut of sails  by Jurleif Uthaug  with wooden vessels  ( above)  and the lithograph of a woman hanging out washing  by  Jurgen von Konow  with an engraved glass vase  (below)

 I was a bit short of time so didn't note down the makers of the print and woven baskets above or the glass vessels  displayed with the Morandi etchings ( rather a contrast to the dusty  bottles they were drawn from!!)
The drawings that Maggi Hambling made of   close family and friends on their deathbeds (or in  her coffin in the case of her mother) are  very moving but it is her studies  of waves  that I  find compelling in capturing their force and energy.  

Friday 16 December 2016


Prompted  by an excellent post by Sheila on adult colouring books and a discovery among my books while unpacking , I'm sharing what you could say is my first attempt at an 'altered book'.

 The discovery  was this copy of  'Memoirs of a London Doll' still with my mum's notes attached from when she gave talks on toymaking ( she did City and Guilds in this as well as embroidery, I still have some of her innovative examples) . Although published in 1840, this was  an ex library copy published in 1926 and withdrawn from use at Darwen library in 1943 ( which is probably when my mum acquired it )
 As a child , besides playing at shops, I used to have a pretend library  of my own books where I'd write in the date at the front when it was due back just like the one which I was introduced to as soon as I could read ( so sad to see it's under threat of closure)

 But probably before I could write, I'd coloured in some of the plates with  wax crayons, and it's interesting to see the progression in skill. I'm guessing that I'd got bored  and finished the colouring books I'd been provided with and wanted something more challenging! The quality of the paper was much better too.  'Magic' colouring books that you wet to reveal the colours were always deeply disappointing.

This first one I was obviously trying out all the different colours in the crayon pack with mixed success - I've never been very good at( or motivated) to stay within the lines. Note the  early attempts at  colour mixing at the side!
The second plate  I attempted (at the top of this post ) is much neater with a more restricted palette ( and a squiggle of green felt tip - rejected for further use)
By the 3rd plate (below) I'd gone for a lighter touch with the crayons, 
 At that point I'd had enough of colouring in others works and did my own artwork at the back of the book - a patterned tent?  with a nice bit of frottage rubbing crayon over the tapes of the binding!
I don't remember being told off for colouring in this book  ( I probably thought it needed improving as my other books had colour pictures in !) but I remember  art materials and paper  always  being available.
The main reason I'm not interested in adult colouring books ( besides liking to draw my own designs) is that I don't like being constrained by the lines. At school in art classes I used to feel I wasn't painting 'properly' as my style even then was very scribbly and loose, enjoying colour mixing and making marks when everyone else was patiently and neatly going up to the lines with the colours provided.  Luckily good teachers encouraged me  and I didn't  succumb to peer pressure.

Thursday 15 December 2016

Drawing Tuesday: Keys and Kew

 Drawing Tuesday this week  was  at Richmond Museum - I chose to draw the  keys for the gates of Richmond Park, firstly  a quick outline of the shapes  and how they related to each other and then in more detail  in 4B pencil.  Quite a challenge particularly following the labyrinthine  intricacies of the  teeth or bittings  themselves. Some were double ended  which made me wonder how you carry them?  

Afterwards we had an excellent lunch at the 'Tide Tables'  underneath Richmond Bridge  and then I used the opportunity of being in the area to revisit  Kew with my 'Life Pass'
 It's  over a year since I've been  back, some things like the parakeets flying noisily overhead  and the Pagoda tree are still the same
 But there had been major changes to the Broadwalk and installation of ' The Hive'  and my colleagues  were finally installed in  the Jodrell  after  literally decades of various proposals for moving the lab.

 It was lovely to see them and catch up and I had a guided tour of their new facilities - very strange to see familiar items of equipment  ( even my still-labelled bench trolley) in a different location.  I'm invited back in the Spring.
What felt most odd however was catching a 65 bus to South Ealing  for the Piccadilly Line ,  passing the bus stop very close to my old   home  in Brentford but not getting off.

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Advanced Painting: generating ideas and Home Studio

We had a different tutor  for Advanced Painting last week : Rod Judkins who has written a couple of books on creativity. It was interesting to have a different perspective, giving an overview of the work of Mark Tansey and how he generates  ideas through his 'color wheel '.
 The canvases are huge and monochromatic ( partly to unify as the starting material is collage  of all different colours ) .  If you look at them closely ( as were able to do when projected on screen)  you can see all kinds of witty detail, puns  and references to the art world ( eg art speak text in 'building the Grand Canyon)
Picasso and Braque

Valley of Doubt

Building the Grand Canyon

Doubting Thomas
 Many people were continuing with their 'transcription' of Bachus and Ariadne, starting new work or   continuing with paintings they already had started.  The muse  however was missing for me and I  had a few false starts   until the last half hour when in desperation I pulled out a scumbled failed painting from the drawer , similar to the surface used for oil transfer technique.  I did something  based on photos of Minnis Bay , very loose with splatters and use of credit card scraping and in the end decided it wasn't that  bad!

  Maybe I was just painted out having had  my first session the day before using the kitchen as a painting studio ( Ian's complaints about me taking over the house may have some justification... )

  I was working again the mussels: photos printed on black t-shirt transfer paper and applied to fabric then quilted before painting. The one based on the outside of the mussel went from bad to terrible , dark and over-worked,  but  the one  of the inside with its circle of sand   went better
  Yesterday I added more stitch with  my Pfaff Grandquilter  which  copes with all the layers of paint admirably and am excited by the possibilities of scaling up.
Only 2 more classes to go and I'm deciding what to do -  painting time is actually  only a couple of hours taking into account set up and cleaning up  and I always take too much stuff and waste time trying to decide between option. This course has generated too many ideas! More shells or Minnis Bay?