Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Black and white trees

Earlier today I went searching through my archive of photographs to find some that I could print onto fabric to use in a piece of work I'm currently working on.

I'm posting two from the large selection I found - I take so many. These were taken before the recent surge of spring growth as I wanted their bare bones.The following are two of my favourites, converted into black and white and enhanced in photoshop.




With all this black and white, I seem to be harking back more and more to my teacher training graphic art days - funny where the mind takes you ...


Sunday, 27 April 2014

Doodling in progress

As I work my way into my next set of larger pieces, I've been amusing myself with another stitch doodle, representing in an abstract way the local stone walls that form such a lovely part of the landscape near my home.


I feel at a loss if I don't have some stitch to do all the time so these stitch doodles are part of my regular practice and I really enjoy doing them. They provide me with the pleasure of stitching freely, always so far by hand, and are largely unplanned and generate themselves as I work.

Their function for me seems to be to provide an antidote to all the thinking and planning and the practical problems of putting larger pieces together. They give me space to think and also the chance to try out colour combinations, though they rarely contribute directly to the bigger work.




This time I'm working on a roller printed ground with pieced slivers of tree fabric off-cuts from a recent 3D piece. So far, I've stitched simply with perlé and machine threads using stab stitch. The little slivers of fabric were included to suggest the bushes and smaller vegetation that work their way into the cracks in the walls as they age and decay.

This is unfinished and I have a feeling it may form part of a compilation of similar pieces to be displayed together in the end... or maybe it won't ... time will tell, which is the point of these pieces. They are unpressured relaxation and the mere thought of planning to do others or preparing them for exhibition may just kill the whole thing. Still,  in this case perhaps there may be others as I can already see how things could develop ...

Other thoughts on all this doodling can be found here (again a stone wall - there must be something about them for me) and here.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Embellishing the facts

I've just bought a Babylock embellisher off a friend - almost brand new and with features I'd not come across before. Though I've previously played on other people's machines, I spent a really enjoyable time today experimenting. The (as yet embryonic) results are shown below, waiting for stitch, to be cut up for cards or just put in my experiments box.


I'm going to enjoy this ...!

PS A demo is available here on youtube.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Green lines

In the glorious weather we've had here in the UK recently, the green of new growth is everywhere and in every shade imaginable. Sorting photos for my post for this round of Roy G Biv has been a case of careful selection rather than hard searching.

At the moment, I find myself spending a great deal of time exploring lines in landscape. Horizontal, vertical or diagonal, straight or wandering, natural or man made, my eye seems to be drawn to lines of crops, tracks, fences, hills and watercourses, by concrete objects and by shadows so this green post features these lines.

Following the heavy and persistent rain of winter, tractor tracks through fields of crops are particularly marked. I've been watching this field near my house with its lone tree and growing winter wheat since January ...


and just beside it, I've watched the flood waters of this wandering stream recede and the rich green growth intensify ...


and everywhere there are the vertical lines of growing crops - here oilseed rape, the most advanced ...


... and here the diagonal lines of fence shadows thrown over the grass in my garden ...


and last of all - and not organic - a green fence enclosing huge arrays of solar panels just down the road towards Chippenham ... 


... and generating green electricity!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Beguiled by April

Today has been the most beautiful spring day here in the southern UK. I was beguiled by the warm sunshine to sit in the garden and draw. There were a hundred and one things I should have been doing this afternoon, but I did none of them.




I picked spikes of newly unfurling horse chestnut from the tree at the end of our garden and sat and did one of my favourite things - I drew without looking and without any reason or end purpose for the result. Such a relief after all the grim greyness of winter and such pleasure it was ...

As I drew, I thought of the child that tree was planted for and who is now grown up with children of her own, the passing of the seasons and so to my own grandchildren who run with pleasure about our garden and search out the conkers from that tree every autumn.


Friday, 11 April 2014

Starting things you can't do

This post is something of a chain reaction since I'm writing it as a result of reading and replying to recent posts by Connie Rose on her wonderfully varied blog and by Margaret Cooter (introduced to me by Connie) who has also had much to say on the subject.

They were both writing about doing something new and Margaret especially was asking why people start something they can't do at all, with all the uncertainty, the inevitable failures and the frustrations.

When I retired almost 7 years ago, I took up textile art with very little specific previous experience but with a great deal of enthusiasm and a belief that given time I might be able to 'do it'. So perhaps that's some sort of an answer to the question of why people start completely new things - a certain level of faith, maybe blind and misguided, but nevertheless faith in themselves and their abilities.

Also, there was for me then a need to start something new and enthralling after giving up a very fulfilling and time-consuming job. I am no good at just pottering. I need a 'passion' to occupy and intrigue me otherwise I quickly become bored and frustrated.

For me though it was about more than just time-filling. All my adult life I'd told myself that, when I had time, I would go back intensively to the 'arty stuff' that I'd parked in my early 20s to earn a living. I knew that this was what I was going to do - not quite how - but certainly in general terms that art in some form was what I would turn to. This new start was the result of a promise to myself and, at some deep level, I felt I had no choice but to keep if I was to have peace of mind.

I love the challenge of learning in any situation. It's a thrill for me. I find all the reading, researching, asking of questions, experimenting and playing fascinating for its own sake as well as for what it then allows me to do. Perhaps then, that is another aspect to it all - a love of learning and seeking out new skills.

I suppose also that the curiosity that makes us human drives us forward to seek out new areas of endeavour, even when the areas are unknown, puzzling and fraught with risk. There is the 'How would that work?', 'What if I did that?' and 'perhaps if I tried that' which is irresistible.

I've luckily discovered that starting anew in this way could be exciting as well as intimidating. I've posted here two of my very early pieces that I am happy to admit to. There were many others that didn't make the grade. These two were both serious labours of love, in hand stitch only, because I had yet to learn to use a sewing machine creatively. By the time I had completed the first - the white on white piece I called Moon and Stars - I was hooked. So perhaps that is another answer - we are seeking the small moments of thrill when things start to take shape against all the odds.

Textile art has introduced me to very good friends, both here and in the 'real' world. I'm sure that companionship is what many seek when they look for new things and that this is especially true for women. We like to talk to and support one another and above all to find and interact with kindred spirits. This is an important driver for us.

Above all though, for me, I seek the pleasure this textile art thing brings, pure and simple. I ask myself every time I sit down to draw, paint or stitch, what more could I want? I just know how lucky am I to have the time, the interest and the opportunity to do it when I want.


Monday, 7 April 2014

Contrast and 3D

Today I'm posting a further glimpse of finished work - a 3D piece developed from the sketch book study I posted about on 26 March. It's a quilted and Möbius twisted piece echoing the lines, shapes and contours of the Cotswold Hills where I live.


I'm sure there is still more to explore with this form and with the stitching lines so I have a feeling I'll be back with it fairly soon ...


Thursday, 3 April 2014

Snippets from Lydiard House

We opened our exhibition at Lydiard House, Swindon yesterday with a private view - a lovely afternoon with excellent attendance and much kindness from all who came.

Those of you who read this blog regularly may remember the beginnings of the woven piece shown below - or at least the small snippets shown as I went along.

This is what it turned into - a twisted, gently wired Möbius form, playing with the contours and colours of the Cotswold Hills. I've called it Stroud Form and it's part of my Cotswold Edge series.

You may also recognise the small pieces on the table beside it, all set out in the staterooms of the house, alongside the artefacts and furnishings.

It's a most interesting venue in which to exhibit and makes us look afresh at what we are doing.

It was hard to pick favourites from amongst all the variety but I've chosen a very small selection from other members of the group that seemed especially to speak to me. I hope they show something of the range of the work and reflect the setting within the house. 

First of all there is a beautiful 3D textile pot by Ruth Hayman called Smocked Pot. Ruth stitched and smocked in a wonderfully random fashion onto a transfer dyed ground and then wired the whole to give the piece a quirky, mishapen form. It's even more of a delight than this trickily lit photo can suggest. 

The next is Painted Window, a lovely cushion by Jane Smith which refers to a fascinating, brightly coloured window at the far end of the house. I've struggled to show the textures of the piece in this photo. It's done in scrappy collage and has lots of machine embroidery - but to me it's very satisfying and tactile.


Then there is The One Who Is by Anne Hayhoe, a response to the parable of the Lost Sheep. This is a mixed media textile hanging with, among other media, charcoal, paper, acrylic paint, and foil. The lost sheep is hard to find but it is there ...


I could have chosen much more to show and maybe I will do so before the exhibition ends on June 1st. 

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