Sunday, 27 January 2013

Works in progress...

This week seems to have lasted a month!  Not only have we had heavy snow which has come and gone,  but other events seem to have strung the week out.  My sister flew to New Zealand on Wednesday for an eight week break!! She and her partner are staying with friends of his in Aukland. Of course the snow situation at the beginning of the week meant a lot of weather web-site watching and  nail biting.  She and Bob are not seasoned travellers, and neither have taken on such an adventure before, so it was with great relief that I followed the flight information to establish all connections had gone smoothly.  Even more thrilling when she rang me yesterday evening.

I have at least four stitching projects on the go at once for my City and Guilds unit on appliqué.  None of them are finished.  However I have sat down and done some machine stitching. Now I need to go back to a needle and thread.

The sunshine shows up the texture of these samples.

These two are exercises in shadow appliqué. A bit of hand stitching should liven the bottles up.

On Saturday afternoon I thought I would sit for an hour with my sketchbook and RSPB sheet for the Big Garden Bird Count.  Marvin joined me at an upstairs windowsill ... and then nothing! All week we have been watching three types of finches, fieldfares, three types of tit, up to 10 blackbirds, as well as the usual sparrows, dunnock, robin and pigeons. Sometimes I have refilled the feeders twice a day. It must have been because the thaw had set in, we hardly saw anything - not even a blue tit!

We both got rather bored, and my sketchbook page mainly empty, except for some rather poor renditions of house sparrows.

This week on my iPad I have been recording Gustav Klimt. We had a Klimt calendar last year, and as Mr T won't let me cut it up. I thought I would try and record some of my favourite patterns on the iPad.  It really does lend itself to this sort of thing as to trying to capture all these colours with paint would be a major undertaking.

"Dreaming of Gustav"
I love the shapes, and so adaptable to a bit of appliqué. 

The other bit of news, forwarded to me by Cathy, was of Gretel Parker's loss of her partner Andy.  If any of you follow her blog Middle of Nowhere you will know about her and Andy's adventure in buying their first home together, which turned out to be rather more of a task than they bargained for.  They christened it Bodge Cottage and Gretel's recent posts have been about how much work they were going to have to do, along with her cheery optimism and delightful needle felt creations.  Andy's sudden death must be devastating, and now she faces the possibility of losing her home. Her friends have set up a relief fund for her - you can read about it here. I'm not campaigning on her behalf, I'm just moved by the generosity of the (relative) strangers who have donated. Such sudden losses touch many of our lives, I know they have mine. In many cases I have felt inadequately helpless, as I have not been needed to do anything practical to support friends, so in memory of those lost I pass on this information.

The snow has gone and the sun has been out today. Who knows what the next week will bring. I do hope yours is a good one.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

A mixed bag

It's been an odd week. Snow doesn't help, we're just not used to it.
I seem to have spend an awful lot of time staring out of the window at the birds.  A flock of Fieldfares has totally stripped the cotoneaster of berries and so our half a dozen or so blackbirds have had to resort to other tactics.  Tried to capture this behaviour with the camera but it is impossible without camping out in a hide!!!
The blackbird is getting better as balancing on the feeder, but it is just too big. I have never seen a blackbird attempting to use a feeder before.

Marvin rarely ventures out beyond the nearest convenient bush. But just before the snow, last weekend I got fed up with him not eating his cat food so put it out for the magpies, all of a sudden he found it tasty. (He is on a strict diet, and eats his 'pellets' reluctantly)

He is still a favourite subject for iPad drawing.

 I spaced dyed some tulle in the microwave using disperse dyes in a jam jar.

 Started a bit of appliqué.

 Started another bit of shadow appliqué.
and then started another piece... all waiting for some hand stitching to fulfil my City and Guilds brief.

I have experimented drawing on the iPad trying to create different styles.

I also spent several hours with Joanne photographing her wonderful textiles for her web site here.
Her Harris tweed bags are a real treat.

But mostly this week I feel as if I have been asleep!

Fingers crossed for next week's weather.  My sister is off to New Zealand on Wednesday for a once in a life time trip. It's a long story, but it is her first holiday for many, many years and she really deserves a good time.  We are just hoping it gets off to a good start with no weather hold ups this end.
I hope you have a good week.

Sunday, 13 January 2013

New for 2013

Paper 53

First of thanks for the get well wishes.  We are both feeling much better, although not 100%. The last week has seemed like a month and I am hoping to get back into full creative mode soon.  I have been starting on some appliqué exercises for my City and Guilds, but my concentration is poor at the moment.  Meanwhile I have been exploring drawing on my iPad.  I have been using two apps; Paper 53, which is free with a mixing palette upgrade for peanuts, and Brushes which is also free but you can buy a layers add-on for £1.99 which I haven't got - yet. I have also got a cheap stylus as I found using using my finger didn't give me the control I wanted. I thought I would share these explorations with you, in case you're interest. You will have to excuse lots of sketches of Marvin as I have mainly done these from my armchair in the evenings and he sits next to me, making my perfect model.  Unfortunately he is nearly always in the same pose - asleep!
Paper 53

Paper 53
I started by using 'Paper' - this has a pencil, pen, felt tip, fibre point and watercolour brush tools. You cannot vary the width or zoom in and out. However it is great for quick sketches.  I like to draw with the pencil tool and then fill in with the watercolour - this gives you depth of colour, but it is a broad line. You can take colour out with an 'eraser' which is broad, or by drawing with white or a paler colours to add texture.

Paper 53

However I got rather frustrated by not being able to work up any detail so decided to download the Brushes app. This is 100% more complex.  It has loads of brushes, each one variable, an infinite mix colour palette and colour sampler so you can match colours and you can import pictures to work on.

Paper 53 plus Brushes
So this one of Marvin was started in Paper and then imported into Brushes - I just couldn't have got the detail on his tongue with Paper.

The drawback with the more sophisticated Brushes is that it loses some of the spontaneity of the simple program. This face was done by starting with a black page and then removing the colour. I like to draw faces when watching the television - they end up being an amalgamation of characters.

'Marvin Dreaming' is an experiment in mixing, and below an attempt at a landscape copied from one of my photographs.

The main purpose of this is to refine my drawing skills, but of course I also have to conquer the electronic sketch. Nothing will replace paper and paint, but it is good at making you look and analyse colour and shape. 
Just to prove something else is going on...

some stitching in progress - more of that later.

The sun is shining here at last, but it is very chilly. 
I do hope you have a good week, 

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Not what you wanted

Since Sunday Mr T and I have been laid low by some sort of tummy bug - symptoms sounds similar to to the notorious norovirus, but thank goodness we haven't been vomiting, but still feeling pretty yeuk. I'm definitely beginning to feel better today, but annoyingly will have to absent myself from my Nutty Knitting group tomorrow as I don't want to pass anything on. 

I've been doodling on my iPad, but my eyeballs feel frazzled so have to keep giving them a rest.
I've nearly finished Hilary Mantel's "Bring Up the Bodies" but can't concentrate on poor old Anne Boleyn's fate, I can only manage a page or two at a time.

On Saturday I woke with a stinking headache, but put it down to a late night and managed a trip to Milton Keynes Art Gallery in the afternoon to see the Hemmed In exhibition before it closed on Sunday.  It was an excellent collections of examples of embroidery, some from the Embroiderers' Guild Nation collection, some from local guild members and some selected by the local guild and some selected by Jamie Chalmers otherwise known as Mr X Stitch.
This cross stitched door by Lithuanian artist Severija Incirauskaite-Kriauneviciene

detail below, was just one example of stitching on found objects.

This door by Sarah Greaves was another example, she also had a stitched full size bath tub.

Other examples were stitched photographs and this embroidered 7" single sleeve by Rachel Rose.

Some of the most charming exhibits were these needle felted animal heads by Zoe Williams.

There was also work by Alice Kettle,  Julia Caprara and Jan Beaney to name a few.  Thanks to Joanne for suggesting the visit, and hopefully I haven't passed on any bugs.

I do hope you're having a good week, I'm off for a nap.