Friday, 23 December 2011

Merry Christmas

To my dear online friends, 
Merry Christmas to you all,
with very best wishes,

(Recycled magazine tree thanks to Lesley's link to this site ) 

Sunday, 18 December 2011

The next project

Moving away from the cutlery theme for my sketchbook work I toured the house looking for inspiration and finally chose this Royal Crown Derby Little Owl paperweight, one of a collection Mr T has bought me over many years.  I love the rich colours and the shapes in the decoration so I thought I would use this as a theme for a series of pages.

After a couple of quick sketches and looking at the owl in detail - probably closer than I have looked before, even though I have owned him for many years -  I chose this particular feather pattern as the basis of my design. There is something reminiscent of '30s patterned paper about it.

My first project using 'magic expanding sponge' was to make a negative and positive print.  I used the feather shape and mixed up some acrylic paint to reflect the gold,  Imari red and cobalt blue.

This is the page so far with some colour wash - not sure where I will take it next, or just leave it as a pattern.
Meanwhile I have cut a small 'lino' print of a double feather.  Below are a proof print and a couple of rubbings taken from the block. The one on the right is gold oil pastel rubbing on brown paper with a colour wash which I am particularly pleased with.

Hopefully this little motif has a bit of mileage in it and I am already twitching to get out the needle felt.

And for all of you kind souls who asked about Marvin here he is...
"Look Ma! No dribbling"
Although I have to say his fur has looked better.

We had snow this morning, although it has all melted, it is now beginning to freeze hard.  Hope you are all keeping cosy and have a a good week.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

These things happen!

In my last post I showed you this collage I had started using the linings from recycled enveloped.  I was moving stuff around on my desk when I had a spillage accident.  I squeezed a sponge over the page - don't ask why - and it left a great blot of green watercolour wash over the spoon!  

I had already decided to add texture to the page using a Sharpie pen.  Rather than just make random marks I had decided to mimic the textures of the paper with different types of cross hatching, so I managed to squeeze some more green wash from the sponge and painted it across the two pages.  When it was dry I worked on it with pen and added the lino print which I had cut earlier using the lines on the paper used for the spoon as a pattern.

Carrying on with the black acrylic I added some texture with some different size sequin waste  as this mimicked the texture of the background paper, I then worked into it with colour pencils and oil pastels to add more depth.

The stencilling seemed to suggest another fork, so I emphasised that and added some extra colour to link it to previous pages in my book which have beed much warmer in shade , I also added  some stamped letters.

Afterwards I though perhaps I should have spelled out "mash it up" as that was more in keeping with the fork.

Before I go I want to say "hello" to Diane in Surrey and Barb in North Carolina who have both e mailed me this week about my page, although they don't Blog themselves. How lovely it is to get mails out of the blue.
Hope you're keeping warm and dry and have battened down the hatches for the gales.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Thursday up-date

I hope all you UK residents are holding on to your hats!  It is certainly blowing a hooley here and I know up north it is even worse. 
 I have managed to fit a bit of creativity in.  
Here are four gouash and indian ink resist pieces I have been experimenting with.  They look rather better here than in reality.  Linda Kemshall did a demo on DMTV which I don't subscribe to at the moment (Too many other things going on) but a quick google soon came up with a few explanations.
I have coloured them with my Koh-i-noor intense watercolour dyes.

It has also been back to the cutlery drawer for me.  On the left is a cut out inspired by Matisse and on the right a collage formed from cutlery shapes cut from the insides of envelopes.   I managed to make the cut out all in one piece - but I could do with a new blade in my craft knife.  Not sure how to develop the envelope collage so I took a couple of copies on the scanner.

Here is one of them which I have been working on with a black Sharpie pen. You can see the different textures from the envelopes better in this detail.
Not sure yet if this is the finish I want. Without any work the textures are rather too subtle.

Thank you for all the comments on my previous post,  I have managed to clock up 150 followers so I shall arrange a give-away, but not sure if if I will fit it in before Christmas.  On Saturday I shall be supporting the Artists Network Bedfordshire at the Dickensian Fayre at The Disovery Centre, Stockwood Park in Luton - although I'm not sure what times I shall be there. (No, we're not dressing up) So if you live in the area, please pop in.

Keep warm

Friday, 2 December 2011

No Longer November

No longer November...

Like many people, I find this is a very emotive time of year. Christmas is bearing down on us, and there is an overwhelming urge to prepare for the festival. However in my very small, grown-up family there is really not a lot to do.  I'm sure many of you will envy our quiet time. However somehow I still feel the pressure to get things done...

I am enjoying my sketchbook course. Here are another batch of pages.

The page above now shows the pickled onions in the jar  through the window cut out in the right hand page. I have tried to integrate the photographs into the background with mixed media and different techniques without getting over fussy.

Onion studies.

Here are another two pages using the idea of a cut out and integrating a photograph into the page - the bottle revealing the spotted paper above and the photograph below.

And here is my journal page for December - going for a frosty look, although we haven't had much of that so far this autumn.  The white writing is done with acrylic ink and a dip pen.  They are all December quotations.

Marvin the cat has recovered well from his dental treatment but now only has his canine teeth remaining.  He seems perfectly happy especially as he has to have his 'kitty bricks' soaked to soften them.  We are happy too (although a lot poorer).  Not only has he stopped slobbering over everything, he no longer greets us with his 'killer breath'.  I shall soon be able to remove the pieces of  fleece which  cover all his favourite sleeping spots.

The convalescent sleeps soundly.

Have a great weekend and see you soon

Saturday, 26 November 2011

The weeks fly by

I cannot believe how quickly the last couple of weeks have flown by. I seem to have been very busy doing nothing, with a few productive days thrown in.  
Last week I visited Hertford where my friend Sally was having an exhibition at the YumYum cafe.  This was not only a good opportunity to support Sally, but to also have rather nostalgic moment or two.  I was a student in Hertford.  I went to the memorably named Balls Park Teacher Training College. Although I went to a college re-union a few years ago, I don't think I have visited the town since I left in 1971!  I didn't have long, but the town centre is compact so I soon found my way around. I had forgotten what an attractive place it was - or perhaps I didn't notice in my youth.  
The Yum Yum cafe is in this old building which I must have walked past many times when I lived in this rather elegant Georgian terrace in my second year - I think we lived in the far end - at the bottom of Port Hill on the road to Bengeo (what a great name).  

The River Lea runs through Hertford along with several other small rivers.

I must have also crossed this bridge many times.

The brewery looked rather resplendent in the late afternoon sun. I do remember the smell of hops, which I found rather unpleasant wafting over the town.

I seem to remember spending many evenings here in the White Hart - a half a lager and lime and one vodka and lime was the most I could afford at a time!

Graveson's brought back many memories - it was a favourite for buying fabric - I made a lot of my own clothes as a student.

Over-looking the car park was this wall with plaster decorations - pargetting - a local feature which I remember learning about when we had to do a local study. Can't remember much else!

...and at Courtyard Arts I found a textile exhibition including some pieces by Marian Murphy.  These small hands were captivating.  Marian ran the first machine embroidery workshop I went too, which leads me nicely onto Gina Ferrari's workshop last Wednesday at Art Van Go.
I had a great day learning some new stitches and ways with my sewing machine which I would never have dreamt of.
Some fellow embroiders awestruck at Gina's demo.

We learned how to do 'cable stitch' which involves hand winding bobbins and by-passing bobbin tension - very frightening!!! That's my multicoloured sample along with a rather rigid and damp sample of fringe sewn on water-soluble film - another first for me. It was a treat working with Gina, who was great fun and an excellent teacher, I'm sorry I missed her earlier sessions at AVG.  
I've got lots to do the week ahead including taking Marvin the cat to the vet for a tooth clean and possible extractions! But I hope to fit in a bit of creative work too.
Have a great week.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

More pages from my sketchbook

Thank you for all the positive comments about the Mac, I'm getting there. Meanwhile I am loving my new amount of S P A C E and putting time in on my creative sketchbook course.  
I am working on collage and adding photographs to pages. Not quite happy with this page yet - may work on it some more.

Meanwhile I am enjoying drawing. Here are two studies I did of onions.  The first is done with Inktense watercolour pencils on watercolour paper, the second with the same pencils on cartridge paper.

Below is another double page spread from my sketchbook exploring the making of pickles and chutneys. I have integrated a photograph and the middle jar is a cut-out. 

I am still working on the page that will show through the window.
It has surprised me out find how inhibited I still am in working on these pages.  The course encourages you to go back and rework pages if you feel it is needed, to supplement one way of working with another.  I don't know why my inhibitions and purist ways are so deeply entrenched - but I suppose I was brought up believing that there was 'proper' way of doing something and that had to be mastered. Going back to rework a piece always felt like cheating for some reason - even though I know it isn't.  I am looking forward to reworking some of my other projects especially the 'Walled Garden' which started so well and fizzled out through loss of direction.  I hope that I shall be able to apply what I have learned here to revitalise some of that book.

Next week I am doing a day's workshop with Gina Ferrari of Fan My Flame fame which I am SO looking forward to.  It will be a real treat to use my sewing machine under Gina's guidance.  If you have never visited her blog please do so, she is a very talented lady. I have missed working on textiles for a while, but hope everything will come together eventually.  However I have to remind myself that I am only doing all of this for fun and no one is going to call me to account.

Thank you all who take time to comment,  I love to read what you have to say. It is great to be able to view all of my followers again, the number has been hovering around the 145 number for a while with people coming and going.  As it approaches 150 I feel a give-away coming on, so watch this space.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Testing testing...

As you can see my new iMac has arrived and I have spent the several days starting to get to know it.  Now I have bit of a stiff neck from sitting too long at the screen which I did have raised up.  Now I have put it back to desk level.  Loading a photo into Blogger seemed rather long winded, but I guess I will get to know it all better.  I have also bought a couple of Ikea worktops which has given me a full length work bench, more space to make a mess!!  I haven't disconnected my old PC yet or moved the printer/scanner, which will take up a lot of room on the desk. I am also finding new homes for 'stuff' and then not being able to find anything.  Sorry, this is probably really boring for you. 

I do want to take the opportunity thank John who spent some time helping with a trip to Ikea, ordering the computer and helping move furniture. 

 Hoping to have some sketchbook pages to share soon!   Have a good weekend.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

"Moon of Falling Leaves"

Just a quick up date after another busy week. However I did manage to fit in creating my  November page.
2011 is nearly through - it is unbelievable. 

 "Moon of Falling Leaves" is the Lakota for October, whilst November is "Moon of the Coming of Winter". There are still plenty of leaves left to fall . With no frost to finish them off the geraniums are still adding to the colour scheme in the garden as well as a few out of season miscreants like the companulas.
For the November background I used Derwent Inktense pencils with some cut-out stencils created for my creative sketchbook course. The squares are plain brown paper.

Here are a couple more pages pages I have created using Inktense and Karisma colour pencils. 

Cotoneaster berries - a detail taken from a photograph
and in my smaller book, an experiment making a rubbing from a cutout I made of a sparrow. 
 I am very pleased that over the last year we have cultured a fair size colony of House Sparrows that live in the shrubs in the garden - and kick up quite a din too. Two or three years ago we hardly saw a sparrow, it was once such a ubiquitous bird that we took it for granted but its numbers have declined over the last decade or so.

Hoping to get my Apple Mac this week, so fingers crossed,  next time I blog....
Have a good week whatever you're up to,

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Only just time for tea

I've had an extremely busy week including visiting Dad on the Isle of Wight and a trip to Ikea to buy new desks for my work room - thanks to John and Trish for the lift and help lifting heavy flat packs. I have put together one under-desk cupboard, but my back suggests leaving the other one for a few days. Eventually I should have continuous worktop along one wall which will also accomodate my new computer.  Hopefully I will be able to fit everything in. At the moment every gap is filled with a folder or a box, my new arrangement won't have so many gaps!
I have made time for one project in my sketchbook.  I have used a favouite teapot as the starting point. May do a bit more work on it at some point.

It is nearly the end of October, so I am going to work on my November calendar page now as I've another busy week ahead with more family visits and appointments with the vet and the hairdresser! I don't know why, but appointments each seem to take up half a day since I retired.  I can't believe I used to fit them all in with working full time!
Hope you all have a good week and see you in November!

Sunday, 23 October 2011

The weeks fly by...

Thank you all who wished me well after my tumble - I'm fine now. No lasting damage, although my back is always a bit dodgy, as many of you who are fellow sufferers of chronic back ache know.  Falling over is not recommended!

I have been really getting into my sketchbook course.  It is helping get back into a creative mode.  Hopefully it will also push me into some textile work.  Meanwhile I have been getting into cut out pages -
the edge of the right-hand fork is cut out and turns over to reveal -

this page with pink fork and some rubbings on a cut out jug.

This was an experiment with large scale washes - not totally happy with these - yet.

Wax resist experiments ...

and a more finished piece.  The wax resist and rubbing has been really great for getting me away form  finicky detail, which has its place, but can obsess me!
I'm in for another busy week - but I will try to keep up with you all
Have a great week

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Catching up

Thought it was about time to catch up although not a great deal has been happening on the home front. However last Monday I took my camera out for a walk on Sharpenhoe Clappers to enjoy the last day of the 'heatwave'.
I bought myself an impromptu sandwich and ate it sitting by the car park enjoying this view, with the wind blowing in my hair.
Then I set off along the path ...

to emerge with a view across Bedfordshire.

Although very sunny, it was hazy in the shadows and I think the Travellers' Joy (aka Old Man's Beard) that smothers the hedgerows gives these bushes an almost eery appearance 

 It was very windy on top of the hill and there was the continual clatter of beech masts falling from these magnificent trees.  It looked as if someone had been trying to improvise some shelters with fallen logs.

As well as the magnificent beeches I love ash trees. Their leaves make a beautiful tracery against the sky.

I always like to keep my eye on the ground too ...

...however unfortunately, when I was nearly back at the car and on the tarmac path, I turned my ankle on a beech mast and hit the deck.  I was thankful that I had put my camera in my bag and managed to avert an expensive trip!  However I did cut my hand and knee AND TROUSERS.  It was a good job no one was around as I must confess to uttering a loud expletive as I landed.  If any of you watched Steven Fry's Planet Word you'll understand that this was to relieve the pain.  Luckily no lasting damage was done, although I was so cross with myself - I have very wobbly ankles and have to take care.  I had picked my way gingerly across the rough ground, but with the car in sight I let down my guard! I have said before that I can turn my ankle on a sixpence and devoted a whole post to my tripping disasters here.

Kitchen shelf

I am finding the Creative Sketchbook course with Design Matters great fun, and I am very impressed with the material and immediate feedback. I would not hesitate to recommend it (It's full at the moment) if Linda and Laura Kemshall run it again. I have finished the first module so here are a few more of my pages.



and spoons.
I'm moving out of the kitchen now and into colour!

My best wishes to all of you - several of you seem to be having a bit of a rough time lately, and what ever you do take care - watch out for those beech nuts - tripping hazard!!