Sunday, 26 February 2012

My head in the clouds...

I've not a lot to show and tell this week. I've finished the first module on my Creative Quiltmaking course but I don't think the next one will be completed so quickly. However I have been trying a few things out in anticipation and here are a couple of spreads in my A2 book in which I am recording progress in all things textile, and an A5 book in which I am recording colour notes, trying to build up a resource of colour schemes that I see in magazines etc.
I have been working on a motif from an old key which as been with me a long time.  I made a couple of printing blocks from foam sheet stuck onto scraps of mount board using photo-mount spray. They are fairly robust and will work well with acrylic paint. I used Stazon ink for thy key print.

But mainly I have been spending time reading this week two stories at once, which is very unusual for me. The first is Stephen Kelman's Pigeon English.

Not only was Stephen Kelman in my husband's tutor group when he taught on the Marsh Farm estate in Luton, he also taught Stephen's wife.  There are some nice references to the local area although the story is set in London.  We contacted Stephen to offer him congratulations when he was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and had a lovely reply to our e mail.  It is a humorous but poignant tale which has had me laughing out loud. But before I finished reading it, this arrived ...

We had watched the TV series on Sky Atlantic and I was totally captivated by it and had to have the book.  The series started again last Friday, so if you have Sky A - I highly recommend it.  We cannot find anyone else who watched it.  The minute I picked it up I had to start reading.  It is set in Australia between the 40's and 60's and is about two families, the Lambs and the Pickles sharing a house on Cloud Street, but it is so much more.  Time Out magazine says "Imagine Neighbours being taken over by the writing team of John Steinbeck and Gabriel Garcia Marquez and you'll be getting close to the heart of this tale."
The language is lyrical, hilarious and earthy, every character loveable, there is a river is running through  the pages and there is the house which holds them all together.  I hope I've made you want to read it. I'm off now to do a bit of reading myself, but which one will it be?
Have a good week

Friday, 17 February 2012

What I've been doing...

I usually manage to write a blog once a week, but it seems ages since I last posted.  In fact it hasn't been that long, but I have been busy.  Last weekend was a real treat when I went to Art Van Go on Saturday to see the exhibition put on by the Spectrum textile group.  Not only did I see some very high class work, eat rather delicious cakes and drink tea from pretty cups, I was able to chat to Gina.  I also met Gill of Vintage Rock Chick and Jane from Things to Make and Do.  It was especially good to meet Jane as we exchanged postcards as part of out Postman's Knock project last year.  You can see photos of the exhibition on Gina's and Gill's blogs. After a pleasant Sunday I was pole-axed on Monday with a violent headache, mainly down to sinus problems, but I seem to have spent most of this week half asleep. I have been raking around for things to share with you. 

These are colour exercises for my course


This book arrived on Tuesday so I was able to sit and have a lovely read between naps.
It is "Breaking the Rules of Watercolour" by Shirley Trevena.  There are lots of examples of her work on the web and even a couple of short videos of her talking about her techniques.

Laura Kemshall is a fan of hers and recommended her work to me.

I haven't done much this week bit I did unearth these two drawings which I must have done over fifteen years ago. They are on A2 size paper and I must say I especially like the tope one.  I had completely forgotten about it.

The second one is a sketch done of poppies which grew in my garden at the time, but have long since disappeared.

Finally I will share with you this old book I found in Letchworth some months ago. 

 I bought it to have a go at an altered book.  It is in very bad condition, but it is old.
The cover is marbled paper with a leather spine.

The spine is broken, the paper brittle and badly foxed.

However it is just seven years shy of being 200 years old.

It is Volume IV of Boswell's Life of Dr Johnson.
I have been pondering what to do with it, and what theme to take.  As I bought it from a book dealers very cheaply, I know it is not worth much, but I haven't been able to bring myself to start altering it.

I stalled for longer when I found that Doctor Johnson and his friends visited Lord Bute's garden at Luton Hoo.

Although here Dr J seems to be unimpressed with the gardens, overleaf he is quoted as saying,
"This is one of the places I do not regret having come to see. It is a very stately place, indeed; in the house magnificence is not sacrificed to convenience, nor convenience to magnificence"
I wonder if the hotel management which now runs the house has this as their motto. 
After their visit DR J's party dined and drank his Majesty's health at an inn, in the village of Luton, as it was the King's birthday!

So what shall I do with the book?  I still haven't made up my mind, but if I keep reading it, it is going to fall to bits!

I have another busy week ahead.  On Thursday I am giving a short talk to my U3A Natural History group on Bumble Bees.  I'm no expert, but I hope I can keep my group entertained for 30 minutes or so.  The BBCT have provided me with a Powerpoint presentation so that has given me a good start.
Wish me luck.
Have a great weekend

Tuesday, 7 February 2012


I have enrolled to do Creative Quiltmaking with Design Matters which is a City and Guilds recognised course.  This is something new for me as I haven't taken part in a textile course before, although I have learned a lot from some workshops I have attended.  I am hoping that it will help me with the design process as I don't want to feel I am just making things, my inner artist is calling.  There is nothing wrong with just making things, I love it, but I want to express something and the trouble is I'm not sure what it is I want to express - perhaps it is just the love of making things!!
I started this blog when I was doing photography with the OCA as a way of chronicling my learning, so I shall be doing the same again by sharing my work with you.  I haven't quite finished the Creative Sketchbook course, but that has given me lots of ideas and skills.

The course has kicked off with lots of drawing activities, and I love drawing.  However I don't usually draw from photographs so this was different.  I did similar work at the beginning of the Sketchbook course but this time I had more freedom to choose my own subjects.  I wanted to challenge myself so did not choose easy objects to draw.  Here are a few examples done in an A4 sketchbook.

My grandmother gave me these crochet gloves - they WERE a challenge to draw even working from a photograph.

I had to make a collection of items together that would be used for various exercises. I chose things for their shape, colour and sentimental value.  Grouping the objects together reminded me of the classic creative writing exercise where the teacher would present her class with a seemingly random group of objects and ask them to weave a story round them - thank goodness no one is asking me to do that! Although the key and little bottle do bring Alice's adventures to mind.

I hope I can keep you entertained as well sharing my learning curve.

Thursday, 2 February 2012


Here is my February all fresh and green and ready to go.  It may be freezing, but the sun is shining and there are snowdrops in the garden.

I made the background by printing the pages with white acrylic and then giving it a watercolour wash.  The paint acts as a resist.  My paisley lino cut gives a damask effect.  I scanned the pages for the squares and added a bit of depth to the wash with watercolour and Inktense pencils.

January has turned out rather lively.  The blank page was very unexciting but wintery silhouettes added some atmosphere.

There are lots of calendar pages on the Flickr site or your can link to calendar blogs from Kate's page, do take a look.
It's not too late to take up the challenge.