Gallery of past work

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

A woven glimpse

I've woven the first few inches of my 3D piece - one of the soft-coloured ends with just a hint of the colours to come. On my PC screen, this appears almost to size, though the colours seem changed a little as is so often the case.

I'm weaving intuitively as I always do, treating the warp bed like a canvas to be painted upon and stitched into and taken out and changed and rewoven if the balance seems wrong. 

So this is not set in stone and may change as I progress. Perhaps this is a lazy way to weave and I should plan all before I begin, but planning in detail seems constricting and limiting and contrary to my instincts.

Sunday, 26 January 2014

Weaving the hills

Yesterday, I began what I hope will turn out to be a large woven 3D piece based on recent work on the Cotswold Hills. I'm planning wandering lines and a sculptural form ... but time will tell.

So far, I've chosen a range of colours and threads in different weights and textures, including a hank of wool from the local Cotswold sheep (front right and without a paper sleeve) and some red spun silk strip to increase the texture, diversify the colour, and give a nod to the soldiers's red serge woven for so long in the area and left to dry in the fields around Stroud.

I've warped up my large table loom (I don't use anything more cleaver).

I've twined the warps to separate them evenly and completed a row of double soumak split into two widths to give a firm edge to beat against (the reason for the two widths will, I hope, become clear as time goes by).

And now to weave ... always peaceful and meditative ...

Saturday, 25 January 2014


On Tuesday, I had much enjoyment at another workshop with Chris Cook in Marlborough. This month, we experimented with reverse appliqué. Chris presented this (as she so often does) in a way that gave a fresh thought on an old technique.

It was suggested that we should draw out a simple design based on interlocking letters, prepare a felt top surface with the embellisher, layer it, machine stitch the letter design and then cut.

I chose to cut away the shapes only partially which gave 'windows' that could be caught back permanently with a stitch if I should decide to develop the idea in the future.

The colour is a surprise for me. I was forced way outside my normal comfort zone as I'd left buying felt till the very last minute and none of the colours offered by my local shop were in any way subtle!

There is something harsh about the resulting piece - which the photo represents very accurately - so when I came home, I photographed it and played with the colour to give something I find more pleasing, though still very vivid.

The work that resulted is just a sample of what's possible - and certainly not a finished piece in any way - but cutting through only partially gives a way of lifting things off a flat surface which might be useful.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Maybe you can guess

... what I've been experimenting with - more Adobe Photoshop ...

This time, I've discovered a new delight - the cutout option which allows me to remove detail and abstract the basic planes in an image thus saving time with tracing paper when I work on designs - excellent!

I used this on that crate in the Red Roy post last week ...

and on one of my small pieces of weaving I blogged about earlier in the month ...

I can see this being useful for print blocks, making masks for using transfer dyes and monoprints and probably lots of other things I haven't even thought of yet ...

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Photoshop 12 more play

Another quick burst of fun this afternoon with Adobe Photoshop playing with some of my recent photos. This time I applied polar coordinates (rectangular to polar) ...

First of all to the image I posted at the end of Thursday's post for Red Roy ...

and then to a small piece of weaving, this time with no other effects ...

I really wonder where all this is leading but it's a pleasure and I guess the next steps will become clear sometime soon.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Red Roy

And so to Red for the return of Roy G Biv. This is a bit of fun and an encouragement to look around my immediate surroundings for colour - a different one each month. If you're new to the challenge, details can be found here.

As it's the middle of a dark, grey, rainy winter here, I've found it very difficult to find red in the natural world. Yesterday, I saw a bush that had escaped the field fares and was still covered in berries in a front garden near my home but it was too dangerous to stop my car and leap out with my camera - and raining.

So, I decided to take a different tack and look again at the ordinary and the everyday. Objects around the house and signs and shop clutter in the street have caught my fancy as they seem to have lots of eye-catching red. Then I had a bit of fun with my copy of Adobe Photoshop 12, received for Christmas.

To start with, here is a small sample of images from a near-by village and from our house ...

... and (complete with spelling mistake) ...

... and delivery baskets beside a shop ...

... from my desk ...

... and from the store cupboard a favourite British spread ...

Last of all comes that little bit of fun with Adobe Photoshop, colour inverted, polar coordinates applied ... 

I hope you enjoy the brightness on a dark miserable January day!

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Infinite possibilities

Black and white mobius strips seem the next logical step so that is what I've been
playing with - in paper so far ...

... and a close-up ..

... more work needed, but fun to explore ...

Friday, 10 January 2014

2nd Möbius vessel

As follow-up to a previous post (where you will find an explanation) - here are photos of the second woven strip given a single Möbius twist and stitched in place.

I have a feeling there will be more on this theme ...

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Painting and fashion

I don't paint (much). My mother was a traditional landscape and portrait painter and I have somehow always felt the need to do something different. However, I admire and enjoy looking at paintings by a range of artists and I like to follow the passage of as much artistic endeavour as comes my way.

Tomma Abts
Ert 2003
A recent post by Olga Norris over at her blog Threading thoughts - a blog I always find thought-provoking - set me thinking about the vagaries of fashion and its influence on what is perceived as 'good' or 'original' in art and how painting as a medium largely fell out of favour in art colleges in the 1970s. Painting then and for much of the second half of the 20th century was thought to have run out of creative steam.

Her post reminded me of a story told to me of an acquaintance who was studying as a mature student in the 1980s for a degree in Fine Art and was told by her lecturer to change from painting (which she loved) to another medium as anything of any interest in painting had already been done. He said as it was no longer possible to do anything new and original, she could never achieve more than an average degree unless she changed and her prospects as an artist would be limited.

The more I thought about this at the time, and since, the more ridiculous it seemed - and how blinkered and how arrogant of the lecturer to assume that he and his ilk had seen everything in painting that could possibly be of any interest or worthy of acclaim?

Reading Olga's post, feelings of how wrong that lecturer was and how fashions change occurred to me. The painter Simon King, whom Olga quotes, is one of five painters currently exhibiting at Tate Britain in the Painting Now: Five Contemporary Artists exhibition. Another painter in the exhibition, Tomma Abts whose work is shown here, won the Turner Prize in 2006.

 ... and I'm glad to say that this friend of mine went her own way and, despite her lecturer's prognosis, is still painting as far as I know.

And, as an after thought, comes the feeling that I must make time to go and view this exhibition, if only to lay the ghost of fashion ...

Monday, 6 January 2014

A tale of two ideas

Today's post is a tale of two lines of thought unexpectedly coming together - in a fashion not at all planned but suddenly seeming to be the right thing to do - and maybe it's the benefit of putting things aside and into the sub-conscious when you're not sure what you should do ...

Sometime last autumn, I completed a small group of weaving experiments, making strips of my own cloth into which I stitched with the now familiar wandering lines to represent patterns in landscape. Since then I've gone off in a slightly different direction and weaving has been temporarily left alone.

Recently, I've been edging myself towards working in 3D. This morning, at my local art group, I played with shapes and the use of Möbius strips (sorry this link gets very mathematical!). It's a fun shape and I had seen it in C. June Barnes' lovely book Exploring Dimension in Quilt Art.

I played with strips of paper in different sizes and lengths and the shapes produced seemed to have a link to my thoughts about landscape and wandering lines ...

I then came home and looked at my woven strips, twisted one and produced this little form about 5" high ...

It's a tight little form, very different from the Möbius strips I made this morning or those shown in June Barnes' book but I liked the gentle contrast between the two surfaces of the weaving so I stitched it to hold it in place. Suddenly the back wasn't just the reverse but had a validity all its own and offered a pleasing contrast.

I will post the other strip when it's sewn in place ... and later this week the paper form I made this morning - a maquette for a very different piece, though I think its origins will be recognisable ...

Friday, 3 January 2014

Photoshop play 12

I've spent the last two days trying to load Adobe Photoshop 12 onto my PC - so frustrating. Still I finally succeeded and now I can play.

It was reassuring to find that this version was in many ways similar to the old Elements 3 I was using before so it wasn't completely new territory. But there are many new features and lots of help to use them so I can see I will find this fun and perhaps not too frustrating.

I've played with some of the features using doodles from last November ... and am posting some embryonic results.

First of all with the Orton effect applied (among, I suspect, several others) ...

and then with the stacking effect after removing the colour and adding brush lines ...

The trouble is, I always tend to jump into new things with great enthusiasm and when I look back over what I've done this afternoon, I can't remember which features I used to get which effect. If I've learnt one thing then, it's to be more selective in the tools I use and to keep track of what I do!