Gallery of past work

Monday, 29 April 2013

Circle words

My current preoccupation with circles has led me to search out poetry on the subject.

I came across this fragment from a much longer poem by Margaret Attwood on the Poetry Foundation website. I must confess I had not read any of her poems before but this one seemed to say something to me about the never-ending and hypnotic nature of the circle and its mysteries.

It is shown with some small snippets from my sketchbook.

 From ...

The circle game 
by Margaret Attwood


The children on the lawn
joined hand to hand
go round and round

each arm going into the next arm,
around full circle
until it comes
back into each of the single
bodies again

They are singing, but
not to each other:
their feet move
almost in time to the singing

We can see
the concentration on
their faces, their eyes
fixed on the empty
moving spaces just in
front of them.

We might mistake this
tranced moving for joy
but there is no joy in it

We can see (arm in arm)
as we watch them go
round and round
intent, almost
studious (the grass
underfoot ignored, the trees
circling the lawn
ignored, the lake ignored)
that the whole point
for them
of going round and round
is (faster
going round and round .....

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Black and white with colour

Recent playing around with black and white has had me scurrying to revisit a technique I first encountered with Sandra Meech at Farncombe* a while ago.

This involved a large sheet of paper (about A1 or A 2) placed on the floor, a 3 inch decorator's brush taped to a long stick, lots of cheap black paint and some crayons or oil pastels.

The results were very abstract and great fun though I will admit to having enhanced the graphic qualities a little in Photoshop.

Gosh where is all this leading? I wish I knew.....

* As an aside, courses like this are sadly no longer available at this lovely UK venue.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Finishing Circles

Now finished - my little circles sketchbook ... what fun it's been and how much I've learnt. The main thing that I will take with me straight away has been the use of holes cut through pages to give unusual and unexpected juxtapositions. Exploring colour has also been good (it always is). I've developed some unusual and unexpected (for me) colour palettes.

The outside cover - helped by the lovely paper used by Pink Pig on the outside of their sketchbooks ....

.. and a couple of pages I've not shown before, using a colour palette very different from my usual...

Now, I will start a sketchbook for my next project ....

Seeing some of what I did is no substitute for following Dionne Swift's excellent online course for yourself. For those interested, full details can be found here.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Japanese Circles

Being currently rather taken up with circles and allied things, I went browsing more deeply on Donna Watson's lovely blog.

 I came across the following definition of a circle, taken from Japanese elements of design:

MARU: Circle. Extending a point into a line begins a journey that ends only when the line comes 'full circle' to return to its starting point. The circle thus symbolizes completion. A circle is harmonious and tranquil, yet it represents the cycle that is life. The circle is an opening, a window on the whole of being that it also represents, the eye that sees itself. 

On the linked page given above are lots more links to other posts on her blog that I look forward to exploring when I have the time.

And here is my latest offering on the subject of the circle - or in this case, its close cousin, the oval - some eyes that see themselves?

I suspect all this playing will end soon and then I'll have to work out how to link it all to my textile work..... It's certainly been a great time for experimenting and putting together lots of techniques, many of them already known but not before inter-related.

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Yellow and circles and sketchbook pages

In the last few days, I've played further with the idea of circles and with yellow and done more research. There is so much of interest and wonder out there ...

My offerings (yellow circles in my sketchbook) ....

And I've been searching via those enticing little snippets I see on other people's blogs linking to yet more inspiration. These beautiful pieces of work (with circles ..) are by Donna Watson and are posted on her blog Layers. She provides links to Japanese art and design which are fascinating and which I feel I must follow up when I have the time.

Donna Watson
Rhythm 1
Mixed media

Donna Watson
Mixed media
These subtle pieces are such a contrast to my brightly-coloured experiments of the moment. They make me think, but right now I can't contain myself....

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Yellow images

It's the time again to post images of a colour - this month yellow - in the Roy G Biv challenge.

In a very late and predominantly grey spring here it's been a great relief to search for a few signs of yellow. Few people are wearing the colour yet - we're mostly still muffled up in winter darks, but there are a few hardy souls more brightly dressed. In my mind anyway, yellow is a summer hue ... and, in spring, a uniquely floral one.

As a result, I have two flower pictures and I couldn't resist one of the traditional signs of spring here in the UK. There is also a reminder of warmth and sunshine from Thailand and a couple of more general photos.

The first dandelion in our lawn - the ant is enjoying it before my husband scythes it with the mower ...

....and a flower from a friend's gift ...

... some yellow (and red and blue) pipes from one who loves primary colours ....

.... his delivery truck ( he really does love primary colours) ...

... and last of all, a window from the outside of the most extraordinary public toilet taken in Chang Rai, Thailand - a reminder of exotic sunshine and summer heat ...

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Plant forms

Yesterday, I posted some 'extended' drawings which came out of the sketchbook workshop I'm currently doing. These were brightly coloured and based on fairground and circus photos and my own abstract acrylic background papers.

These two, by contrast, are snippets from a black and white image of a climbing plant and I've tired to exploit the organic feel of things. I also changed the orientation from

...landscape ... portrait ....

...which seems to give each a surprisingly different feel.

With all this, I feel I'm reaching back to graphic art roots from the course I took as part of teacher training years ago. Maybe it's telling me I need to return ....

PS For anyone interested, the course is Dionne Swift's Online Sketchbook course and details can be found here.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Sketchbooking 3

I'm still catching up with myself - but this has been the most interesting and enjoyable sketchbook session so far for me .... Lots to think about.

I cut out pictures that appealed to me from magazines and newspapers, stuck them into my sketchbook and then extended and developed the shapes and designs out onto the mount papers.

One of the sets of clips I chose was brightly coloured and some contained photos of a circus which appealed to me. Another set was monochrome with swirling, arcing plant forms which I had great fun developing - more of them another time.

For the brightly coloured set, I started with this ...

The two halves of which became this .....

and this .....

and when the two black and white pieces were amalgamated they became this .....

Not sure where it'll go next but I think those coconut shy shapes that look so like stylised trees will go somewhere very soon.

PS For anyone interested, the course is Dionne Swift's Online Sketchbook course and details can be found here.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Free wheeling

I spent time yesterday afternoon playing with some new media - in particular a set of refillable markers I'd ordered off Dionne Swift's website. I'd filled these with Quink ink as I'd intended to bleach out some of the colour, though so far I haven't done so.

All three were lovely mark-makers - and I will experiment making other shapes and using different inks and paints when I have time.

Colour, contrast and hue enhanced
I found if I pivoted the largest one on itself it made great wheel shapes - like a car or bike wheel travelling fast. 

I then twisted (cheap) pastel sticks over the top, though the colours were a bit limited. (Note to myself - must buy some better ones).

Meanwhile, I played with the contrast and colours in Adobe Photoshop.

Contrast and colour intensity enhanced 

Colour removed
and contrast enhanced

All this is a great change from my usual subject matter. Just shows that doing a good workshop can make you think outside your usual box....

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Sketchbooking 2

More work yesterday and today on the sketch book course I posted about on Tuesday.

I experimented with mark making on backgrounds I'd created on the first day. I had great fun and tried out all sorts of media.

The purple and yellow piece became this with the help of violet circles done with an oil pastel and a print made by inking up the bottom of the ink pot I'd used to paint the back ground in the first place (I went for the subtle approach so it's only just visible in this photo if you look really hard) ...

... and an acrylic painted sheet of acetate became this when scratched with a blunt pair of scissors and an old screwdriver - great fun to do ...

.... and because I thought I should try something simpler, a sheet of cartridge paper painted with acrylic paint using  half an old credit card and drawn on (very quickly) with charcoal became this ...

Tomorrow - I'm behind the curve - It'll be drawing. Even though I draw quite a lot, I'm sure there'll be a new take sprung on us - that's the joy of this course.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013


Yesterday I began the Online Sketchbook course with Dionne Swift that I posted about at the end of March  - although I seemed to spend much of yesterday sorting out computer problems - no sound on my PC for the course video being the chief one.

So only today did I really begin preparing backgrounds for future work - painting pages, spattering, dribbling and spraying....

... and searching through my box of old papers, many of them previously used to cover my table during other work.

These seemed to yield the most interesting pages.

Now looking at them posted here though, I can see that, while they make interesting pages, they will be hard to print or draw onto .. I think I got carried away playing and didn't think about the likely demands of the course. Tomorrow I will have to start by painting quiet and unobtrusive washes over some pages - less fun but much more useful. You'd think I'd know that after all this time.....

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Thinking .... and stitching stones

My attempts at taking a new direction are still stuck in deep waters despite efforts to put the idea on one side and think of other things. Nothing has come to mind ..... though I've had yet another thought that's telling me it will need investigation and play with pencils, watercolours, scissors and glue ... and maybe even a bit of printing and stitch. That's great by me - I always enjoy playing. It may be more productive, who knows - but more of that another time ...

In contrast progress with stitching the Cotswold Water Parks sample has been quite fast. Funny how sometimes I can see just what to do and how other times I have to think, look and reconsider constantly and even then I make little progress.

Colour that feels right helps. It gives me instant pleasurable feed back, even when the stitches aren't in quite the right place.

I have yet to finish but so far I'm pleased with how it's shaping up. Right now, it looks like this ......................

Water Parks - Detail 1

... and this ......................

Water Parks - Detail 2

The next question will be whether to add machine stitch or to leave it alone. I must remember that, though big pieces make me cautious - this is just a sample so I'll probably take the risk.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Cotswold Waterparks

I find having more than one piece of work on the go at the same time helps when thoughts run aground. I then have something reassuring and relatively undemanding to pick up on while the brain goes to work on new thoughts.

Drawing plan for
Cotswold Waterparks
So while I experiment, I've been thinking about the next piece in my Geology Series that I had thought I'd leave for a time. Now seems to be one of those times when I need something to get my teeth into - something I have confidence in as I've worked in a similar way before. 

This afternoon then, I took out my sketch book with the preliminary work I did last autumn and looked at it afresh. The first thing I did was add pencil stitching lines into the plain strip across the work so that these would suggest strata as they did on the first piece. The plan is that each of the pieces will have this feature to tie them together.

Gravel Stones pen and ink wash
Then, as I will have to work in a different way on the main part of the work in order to suggest round gravel rather than linear strata, I played with applying spots of colour and adding some round shapes drawn in pen on drawing paper.

I then painted a square of cotton fabric with patches of silk paints in a possible colour range, ready to  start sampling how to stitch the gravel shapes. I'm thinking to make them more random than on the drawing plan, but with the same variation in size as this gives a pleasing sense of scale and great scope for changing tonal values.

Sample fabric
Setasilk silk paints on cotton

Now I just need to choose the threads for machine and handstitch ... and start work on my sample.