Gallery of past work

Friday, 27 September 2013

Creativity and Simplicity

"Creativity has more to do with the elimination of the inessential than with inventing something new"  Helmut John

Found on Donna Watson's lovely blog, Layers, was this golden nugget of a quote to ponder upon ... and, not least, to consider what is inessential.

I must remember this as I work. I long to be able to pare down and simplify but so often feel that I over-embellish and complicate.

It seems also to link so much to the work of Helen Parrott whom, somehow, I've missed. I've just acquired her lovely book, Mark-Making in Textile Artpublished in August by Batsford here in the UK.

A quick skim before I settle down to read in depth reveals a host of simplified, pared-down images of her mark-making work within ... and the cover itself is wonderfully minimal (though perhaps in this post not shown to its best advantage).

I'm going to enjoy this book, I know and ... could this perhaps be the beginning of a new, simplified, minimalist approach to my work? Who knows?

I will post any interesting results as I try out her ideas and you can judge for yourself ...

Monday, 23 September 2013

Unfinished business in black and white

I'm not sure why I called this post unfinished business when, actually, all my pieces are unfinished in the sense that one leads into another and then another and so on as new ideas and developments come to mind. Perhaps it's because these drawings feel more unfinished than most things and are posted here while I think what, if anything, to do with them.

Once a week I draw, play with mixed media, talk and generally enjoy myself with an artistic friend in her small studio. The work I do there often has nothing at all to do with the things that are most motivating me at the time - in itself, a kind of liberation.

So these are the - definitely unfinished - results of today's drawing exercise stimulated by a still life of bottles, a jug and various boxes. I have included the whole drawing and a small section identified as I so often do using a card window and the crop tool on my laptop.

As always, I did my own thing. I drew initially without looking at the paper, purely studying the outlines of the objects - always a favourite technique of mine.

I have a lurking fear that it is the choice of laziness as it generates a quick, easy and - to me - pleasing set of shapes to work on ... or perhaps it's what I choose in order to circumvent that requirement lurking in my subconscious to 'get it right' in a literal sense which can be so paralysing.

Whichever it is, the morning was very satisfying and generated much conversation about the whys, wherefores and purposes of drawing.

I will go back to this exercise next week somehow ... It will be interesting to see what form it takes ...

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Teasel prints

Posting today, some small test pieces and a paper experiment for a larger piece -all including prints of teasel stalks and shapes derived from teasel drawings I've blogged about before.

Here, stalks and shapes on a simple white ground - not sure I want the repetition in the planned piece, but I quite like the contrast in shape ...

... and here, the shapes their own on a monoprinted ground ...

... and the last, the section of a planned larger piece - teasel stalks on painted paper ...

One day soon, I'll get as far as fabric and stitch ... I have plans - they're just rather slow to develop ...

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Weaving walls

I have often blogged about how much I enjoy weaving and for sometime, I've been thinking about ways of representing the contours, colours and textures of the hills all around me here in the Cotswolds.

Through weaving, I find I can explore fine gradations of colour and texture and portray the shapes and contours I see in landscape. (Just at the moment, these undulating contour rhythms seem to crop up in all my work in one form or another).

When I was away in Scotland, I spent much peaceful time weaving samples and then a small (11" x 11") abstract panel - a monochrome exploration of the creams, beiges and pale golden browns of the stone.

Here is the small wall piece - not yet finished or mounted but off the loom.

The piece was woven in many different yarns - cotton perle thread for embroidery and crochet, silk and wool to give raised texture and to offer a nod to the lovely, richly-coated breed of Cotswold Lion sheep that live in the fields.

The warm, gently coloured stone walls meander all over the hills around here, especially on higher ground. Some are tall, complete and well-maintained, enclosing large parks and beautiful houses. Others are of great age and tumble gently into the fields, covered in ivy and nettles.

The stone was used to build our house and is in the walls in our garden. It is very much a part of my everyday consciousness and I have had this piece in my mind for sometime.

The weaving may become a larger piece next or perhaps I will turn my attention to the colours of the grasses and wild flowers... time will tell.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013


A fun time was spent on Monday monoprinting. Together with another member, Maggie Harris, I was to lead a technique-sharing session yesterday with Great Western Embroiderers, the group I exhibit with, and needed samples to show so it was a good excuse to play, especially with Gelli Arts printing plates that had arrived just before I went to Scotland.

It was sometime since I'd used the techniques and had forgotten the pleasure in the serendipity of the process - all those unexpected effects as colours mix and merge and are superimposed.

I kept it simple and small-scale (about A4) but was surprised again at the effects possible with acrylic paint, just by changing the consistency of the paint, layering colours, marking into the paint on the plate and masking out areas. 

There were lots of failures and some pleasures, as is always true in play (and the point of it really), but there are three pieces of fabric offering possibilities for stitch doodles. Others will go into my fabric box to await their fate.

Off a glass plate came this one - a hedgerow or coppice?

Off the Gelli Plate came this one - perhaps a snippet of a stone wall?

And off the glass plate again and back to circles - an abstract.

Now to choose the colours and threads, decide on the stitch to use, and to get going in those odd moments when I don't feel like working on my bigger pieces. As I've blogged before, I find these little doodles very helpful when my bigger ideas grind to a halt. They are undemanding and relaxing and seem to clear the brain.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Black and White Grid

I've been exploring black and white - this time using a grid, an ink spray, and lines of holes made with a very thick darning needle and stitch. The link to earlier experiments seems to be growing weaker - and becoming even more abstract - but then I guess that is what experiments and feeling your way are all about.

Still, the stitch and the lines of holes relate to contour lines and the rhythms in the local landscape and I seem to feel freer to explore these without other considerations to distract me.

This post was supposed to appear along with a couple of others while I was away on a three week visit to Scotland. I've been weaving and sketch booking while I was away so there will be plenty to post in the next few days but for reasons related to internet access and an inability to link into the open hub I thought I'd be able to access, I haven't been able to post anything or even to access my blog in a readable form. I've been surprised how much I missed it all.

It's good to be back and to see that visitors haven't totally deserted me in my absence and it will be lovely to see what has been happening on my favourite sites as I visit and catch up.