Monday, October 17, 2016

CQ Winter School

I was fortunate enough to spend the weekend in the company of fellow CQ'ers under the tuition of Shelley Rhodes. Shelley is a great tutor - no pressure, just a steady measured flow of information (Until something exciting happens!) that moves you slowly towards creating work that is your own whilst based on the intent of the weekend.

Like all workshops I reached a point where I didn't know where I was going, if anywhere, but with quiet support I got through that point.   Now I'm excited to think that I can add some line and stitch to these pieces, then move the process into a different area altogether. Watch this space - I've even got my sketchbook out again!


Monday, August 01, 2016

What goes around, again ...

Whilst drafting out a cartoon for my next TwelvebytheDozen challenge based on the work of South African artist Pierneef I started to make connections with previous pieces that I've made, one of which was my first ever 12 challenge. The connection may not be too obvious in this collage as I'm only showing a small section of the new challenge piece, the reveal isn't until the end of the month, but my brain is making all sort of links and wondering about next steps! It seems that I don't have as many original ideas as I thought!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Are you a starter of a finisher?

They say most people fall into one or other category - these days I can do a bit of both but what I'm definitely not is a maintainer! I love starting things and can even finish them when a deadline is near, even self imposed deadlines. But ask me to do routine stuff and my brain just goes into resistance mode, and so it has been with my website. Even though I have set a reminder to update my website on a regular basis, it has been gathering dust to the extent that I was shocked by how dated some of the work on it was. But no more! I'm now up to date with some work in the wings ready for the next time. The update took such a relatively short time to do I don't think I'll be putting it off for quite so long again!

Monday, July 04, 2016

Reminder to self

This quote from from should be enough - but I'm not good at routine or a builder of habits ......

“Forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain whether you’re inspired or not”

Octavia E. Butler

Thursday, June 09, 2016

12bythe dozen have begun a new round of challenges

 - we have to create a16" square piece based on the work of artists chosen by each member in turn.
The first artist chosen is Paul Klee - see to view his work.
I've enjoyed Klee's art for as  long as I can remember. I was attracted to his use of geometric shapes even before I took up quilting, so I looked for something new about his work and discovered that he included an enormous number of facial features in his work. They were sometimes the main feature as in Senecio or more abstracted as in Red Waistcoat.

I drew eyes, I sampled techniques, I pulled out some colour families and then went back to review Klee's faces again. That's when I saw 'House on the Water' .... It puzzled me, it felt unbalanced, my eye kept settling in different places, it seemed to lack focus. I wondered why, I tried cropping the image in different ways - those two light areas felt quilt uncomfortable. I covered the left hand area of the painting and suddenly the eyes were forgotten and a quilt was born!

The finished piece has slightly different proportions to the original, they didn't seem to work as well in the square format we had to use. I still feel uncomfortable for (Almost) copying my chosen painting but I really like the end result:

Monday, May 16, 2016

On the edge ...

is the title of the 2016 CQ Challenge. I nearly didn't enter this year's challenge as the title didn't seem to fit with what I'm currently working on, which I'm still trying to verbalise! It has a lot to do with how adding and altering shapes impacts on the negative space around them...all closely linked with the idea of personal space.
But then whilst I was exploring my theme I asked myself what would happen if the shape was on the edge and a quilt was born and, to my surprise, accepted to be exhibited at a range of venues including:
  • Bramble Patch: 4th June to 11th June 2016
  •  The National Needlework Archive, Newbury: 1st October to 3rd November 2016 
  •  Quiltfest, Llangollen: 8th to 19th February 2017
  • Knitting & Stitching Show, Olympia, London: 2nd to 5th March 2017 
  • A selection of the quilts will also hang at the Grosvenor Autumn Shows in 2017  at Harrogate, Scottish Champs, Kent, Malvern and Duxford
A Point of Balance 60 cm x 100cm

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A good read

I'm currently enjoying the writings of Nicholas Wilton you can see his work and read about him here -!nicholas-wilton/c8k2
I'm not sure what I think about his art but his approach and the simplicity with which he describes it is very appealing.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

What do Rayna Gillman and Coreldraw have in common?

A conversation with Sandra Wyman today came round to a discussion about a class that Sandra had taken with Rayna Gillman. I've always appreciated her work so was keen to hear more. Except that Sandra has pointed out that her class was with Susan Brandeis not Rayna Gillman, though we did talk about Rayna, and memory loss!! It was obviously a class that Sandra felt that she'd both enjoyed and benefited from including, almost as an aside, learning to use thumbnail sketches to develop an idea. Sandra even had her sketchbook with her to demonstrate the point - so simple, half a dozen pen sketches on a page exploring line, scale, position and other variations. Wow, I thought, I can do that. Every piece of work has several iterations before reaching a conclusion but recording them in this way is both easy and relatively quick.
Then driving home it occurred to me that I already do something very similar using Coreldraw. It doesn't work for all my quilts, but as I become increasingly interested in how you can affect a space by the way you sub-divide it or add shapes to play with the negative space then Coreldraw makes the thumbnail sketch idea very easy indeed:

Wednesday, March 02, 2016


In the words of fellow member Heather Dubreuil "Monday marked the twelfth and final "unveiling" in our second series for the 12 by the dozen group. Every three months for the last three years, we have set a challenge for ourselves: to make a small A4  piece highlighting a particular colour. This time Dianne chose "yellow" as our theme and, unlike the rest of the group I wasn't inspired. I chose instead to use this as an exercise in varying the thread colour and quilting pattern to observe the effects.
Interestingly the threads varied from a mustard yellow to white in colour and from 12 to 50 in weight. There's a rayon thread in there as well as cotton and polycotton. All of this is totally over-ridden by the quilting patterns:

Thursday, February 25, 2016

No picture, no post!

My workroom is a hive of activity at the moment!  I've literally just finished quilting one piece, there's a another in sections on the design wall and pieces for a smaller variant waiting to be put together. That's aside from the sketch for the next piece and a gift quilt which is awaiting binding hanging over the banister in the hallway.
So why no posts with all this activity to talk about? Well my techniques are fairly traditional quilting techniques so probably not very interesting to experienced quilters and none of the pieces are sufficiently finished to photograph!
I could just write about what I've been doing, but I've realised that I have quite a big mental barrier blogging without a photograph to illustrate the post! This came about as a result of reading a book, which I will blog about in due course, in which one of the exercises was to identify 'barriers to progress'. I've always enjoyed blogging, it gives me time to think and it's fun to look back over the posts I've written since I joined Blogger way back in 2004, so it's good to have found a way back in, all I need to do now is make writing a habit again .... 
And here's a gratuitous photo, just to make me feel better!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

CQ Journal Quilts

I've made Journal Quilts each year for the last eight years but when I saw this year's additional challenge I seriously considered having a year off!
"Each month you are required to include an area not less than ½” square of a set colour within the quilt. For January to April you are asked to include a little bit of purple. For May to August you are asked to include a little bit of green. For September to December you are asked to include a little bit of orange."
These are the colours that I'm least comfortable with and as I've begun to use my JQ's to experiment with different techniques throwing new colours into the mix felt like a step too far.
But the penny dropped at a recent NW CQ meeting where a fellow member said that she has been combining her JQ's with the NWCQ group's theme, which this year happens to be pattern.
So, no technical challenge this year. My challenge will be to find an appropriate pattern and complete the JQ within that calendar month, something I've not done for several years and to have fun in the process. 2016 JQ's will be my downtime! To go with the un-appealling colours I've chosen a wacky palette which I'll use for as long as my eyes can stand it.
Judy Fairless led a pattern making session at NWCQ and peppers featured heavily. So here is January 2016 featuring my seedless pepper! (I might still knock those background colours back a bit.)

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Getting back on the horse

... Having second thoughts is a luxury I need to let go of!  It's taken me a while to convince myself that the only way to find out whether this latest idea will work, or not, is to get stuck in and have a go. I've lost too much time wondering.
I don't normally post rough progress shots at this stage when there is still a lot of colour work to do, but it's here as a reminder to myself to just get on with it!

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Why is it ...

... so much easier to review other people's work than bite the bullet and make your own?

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Green with a hint of surprise

This is my latest piece for the international challenge group 12bythedozen . The colour apple green was chosen by was chosen by fellow member Heather Dubreuil whose work I particularly admire.
I've been playing with some fairly minimal pieces recently and this seemed like a good opportunity to go one step further, using just the green blocks of colour on a white background with a white grid of stitching to define the structure. That's where the surprise came in - I drew the grid with a water erasable pen and liked the turquoise line so much that I stitched one in, instead of using white as I intended.  Minimal, me?

Thursday, November 05, 2015

If only I didn't dislike getting my hands dirty ....

I'd be tempted to take a pottery course, and no this post is not inspired by the Great British Pot-off!

There is something about ceramics that can make the hairs on the back of my neck tingle. The ability of a potter to create a simple form then, using skills I can only guess at, create a surface that ranges from the most simple to almost peacock like (I'm thinking raku firing!) leaves me feeling quite humble.
On a recent visit to Cambridge I had a brief opportunity to visit the Fitzwilliam Museum. I'd intended to view their contemporary art collection but didn't get that far! Once I'd seen the ceramics rooms I was a lost cause and right at the end of my time there I came to some pieces by Jennifer Lee that had an impact that I can't really find words for. Alun Graves, V & A Curator can do the waxing lyrical:

"Confronted by Jennifer Lee’s new group of pots in her south London studio, I am at once  struck by their quiet but insistent beauty, their unassuming elegance, their balance and poise. Caught between movement and stillness, their fine, standing forms appear simultaneously rooted yet weightless, both silent and exerting considerable presence, holding within themselves a concentrated energy."

Suffice to say, her work made the hairs on the back of my neck tingle ...

A trip to Manchester Art Gallery

Today I went today to see Grayson Perry's 'The Vanity of Small Differences' tapestries  at Manchester Art Gallery . The work was well documented both in video and text and further informed by a display of some of Hogarth’s engravings.
What I haven't resolved is whether by putting the spotlight on, and stylising the class differences between, his 'subjects' in Sunderland, Tunbridge Wells and the Cotswolds he hasn't added to the stereotyping of class. That said his observation is superb and I loved seeing these pieces executed as textiles rather than in paint. I'm not familiar with the detail of The Rakes progress so having some pieces on display meant that I spent a lot longer viewing the exhibition than I might have done because there was the opportunity to see how the tapestries were informed by Hogarth's work.

Before going to the Grayson Perry Exhibition I took a look at the Manchester gallery which used to be full of cases, full of 'stuff' - too much to assimilate usually. Currently on exhibition is 'Art for All: Thomas Horsfall’s Gift to Manchester' to quote the catalogue 

"This display explores a selection of nature-themed artworks and objects from the city’s little-known Thomas Horsfall collection. It is co-curated by local school children from St Augustine’s CE Primary School in Harpurhey, Manchester.
Thomas Coglan Horsfall (1844-1932) was a remarkable philanthropist and pioneer of art gallery education from Manchester. He collected over 1700 objects and artworks for his groundbreaking Manchester Art Museum, which he set up in 1884."

With associated quotes from Horsfall it was easy to see him as having clearly identified the benefits of  providing people with examples of 'beauty' and of using the art gallery as far more than a safe haven for his collection. I'd loved to have spoken with the children who 'co-curated' the exhibition!

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Time to play again

On a recent break to Cambridge I saw an un-labelled piece of pottery that really caught my eye. Looking at a list of ceramicists that the gallery sells I think it may have been a piece by Tony Laverick. The excitement stayed with me and I've been making small pieces ever since:

There are plenty of influences at work here, a friend recently commented on how often I have a solid piece of fabric on the left hand side of my work. I'd be extremely flattered if you saw a similarity with Lisa Call's work but that is unintentional. Lisa's work is a reflection of the colours of her landscape whereas for me the original pot and these pieces are about control and restraint. Even that left hand 'margin' is about stability, holding things together.
But mainly my starting piece was my recall (Incorrect, as it turns out.) of this little, more figurative, piece I made several years ago:

But whatever the influences I'm having fun playing and developing this idea. I need to stop stitching long enough to photograph the growing pile of other pieces and to consider whether they would would  work on a larger scale.
One added bonus of playing at this small 6" square size is that I think I may have found a way of frame mounting that is both neat and relatively simple!!!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Getting the paperwork done

means that you can reward yourself with a bit of fun. Today is about the first pull of fabrics for a new piece, looking for the right deep dark colour and the right spark of contrast. I'm not there yet but I do enjoy this stage ...