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The March of the Sprout

I have promised to stop calling this Sprout,  the same way that the Big Beastie is supposed to known as Middle Moor. Yeh, that worked.

I have sprouted away this week to good purpose. The tipping point is past, and it is now that manic downhill race to completion, exhilarating  and getting faster and faster but so easy to lose concentration and end up flat on your face.

From bones and structure this week has been about clothing and fleshing, some so subtle that it barely shows, other parts have made dramatic impact. It is now about detail, balancing formal elements and making sure the image reads in the way I want.  Spot the difference a week can make? (8) I think you have to be here to see them.


Main areas done would be the sky – inked as promised and fairly gloomy – it is Yorkshire in a soggy January.  And the road way.  This isn’t yet complete – but it reads better with the texture  and the sudden flashes of colour,  but both will be damped down to get that contrast in surface  quality to the undergrowth that I want.  I did try straighter lines of couching but it felt false , and gradually added more and more fluff and contrast. So it may look ambiguous – one friend saw it as a river – but ….. And the pink? Rather like the pink  ( a piece of sari silk)  it does make me question the state of my eyesight – the reds and saturated colours are all so close to the front.  I think more contrast in the verge. Navy or purple?

And the sky? Not impressed.  I like the cloudiness and the subdued tones but the physical surface is so flat and matt. I may feel the need to stitch, possibly quilt just to give it some life.  Quilting is likely anyway – I have not used stablisers so there is a fair amount of  ripple.  The calico has done well coping with the uneven weight and drag of the stitching but if it is going to hang it could do with a bit of support. This did begin as a good rectangle, cut on the grain, but that is distant memory.

And so the saga of Sprout continues. I do intend to have the imagery finished by the end of the week – I think about another 3 or 4 hours of concentrated stitching, with lots of pressing and pondering (coffee breaks).  Achievable? The to do list is nearly in single figures- the time of sprout is passing….  and I have a series of other deadlines to meet.

 

Don’t forget workshops/tutorial times available  on Wed evening and Friday mornings – check the Want to try  tab.

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The Most Difficult bit…. and workshop call

I am an experienced and  effective tutor of art and textiles as well as exhibiting artist. I am.  I have spaces in  Wednesday evening and  Friday morning  classes –  all levels and stages of experience and aspiration are welcome to come to play and enjoy creative textiles. Please contact either through email (on right) or the comments if interested. There will be coffee and tea, but I have already eaten the biscuit stash, (marketing not a strong point).   I thought I would get this out of the way before anyone reads the rest of it……

 

Well the Fairly Large Beastie with Sprouts  is steaming along,  nearly all of the base sewing is done and some places have multiple layers of work on them. This is where it gets difficult – there is a huge investment of time and effort in there and it is going from the experimental building phase to the consolidation phase.  Now I have to weld it all together, make those early decisions good and work upon the thing as a whole.

The stitching on the hills is the point of no return – so far a light varigated and a dull mid blue on the far left slopes. Still don’t like it – too flat and contrived. The treeline has  more stitch in it, working in blocks of hatching like the original sketch – might leave the trees behind as they are – very crude and sketchy.

The right is better – closer to the experimental rough work – but I still have to be brave and commit to working on the road way.  There are just too many niggly decisions attached to all the areas.  What I want is to  take alot of that green paint out – it flattens and homogenises now that I’m trying for subtle.

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I may be drastic, it may be bold, or it may be stupid: tell you afterwards.  The inking option is about to be realised. This is a bit derring do – sink or swim- in my best tradition.

 

Always was going to play with wet colour  in the top half – blooms and runs of  ink/stain washed and scrubbed into the fabric. Its time has come – the stark flatness of the calico is distracting  and killing the subtle stitching done in the tree line.     Will this be tightly controlled and considered? Of course not, what a daft question. It is going to be -do it and pray, then do some more, have a coffee, start thinking about bleach, rinse off in the shower and worry about the how and where of drying later.   It is a cold, dank and damp day so not happening outside – this will be attacked  flat on the biggest table and apologise to the carpet afterwards ( I think of the splashes and drips as honourable  battle scars).    I just hope I  have some inky stuff hiding upstairs. Should press it and de-whisker it first. Why is everything so complicated?

Probably not my brightest  idea.  Definitely not, but I can not bear working on something that is going flat and predictable on me. Deciding not to use big, blank spaces in the composition – which twit advised that?  Umm, me.

Please do not call round today – it may be dangerous.

Oops.

cOLOUR bACKWARDS

I know it is a bit of an obsession, but….  and it is giving me a head ache just trying to be coherent and wonderfully together over that old bugbear – COLOUR, and structured working practice.

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So which approach is the most effective?  Is what I am currently doing working –  umm….

are past approaches better? umm…..   Define ‘better’.

OK, harmonies are meant to work well together, but without contrast become bland or flat.   Using low saturation complex colours reads as beige.  Beige has a tendency to read as grey or to disappear. Multiple broken colours tend to eat each other.   Rayon threads rely on light levels and quality of light to read as true colours.  What works small does not work big.  And that is just the start.

So start with a ground. Let this show through a little and it can make subtle differences lifting or squashing colours, make shading, and all  without multiple  thread changes. It can also help with transitions between colour areas.  Saturated base colours throw everything else off kilter, pale yellow is easy to overpower, but it does make it more exciting.

So create a base of  either coloured fabric or applied  fabric pieces. Or how about tapestry wool which can give a more complex, finer areas of colour to work over.  Does this make it sound easy? Yes.  Can’t be that easy in my little world.

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And this is the idea at present, big bit of work to be the next making.  Looks just like the sketch! At the moment it is merely one lump of old patterned silk to be the base for the forground scrub and some rough stitched tapestry wool as the base for a stand of conifers.  The fabric is to argue with the following colours and to give a coherence, the yarn is to work  with, providing  harmonies and depths of colour and texture. The next layers will be machined – but what?  mid tone hues to get the colour established?  Shadow colours to start creating depth in the foreground? Should it be more neutral colours to work out tonal ranges and contrasts?  Or will it be the usual erratic and dabbling approach, as in ‘all of the above, and then some’?  It is so big that I may have time and space to try all of them, repeatedly.

I think I need to find a fancy name for my working method that will it make it seem more deliberate and artistically worthy.  An ‘ism’ perhaps.

If the witterings haven’t put you off- remember I have several  come and try opportunities  very soon. Take a look at the workshops page on the website or on the other pages on this site….

 

Happy Christmas

middlesbhut I have definitely survived the Mid-winter Hut in the Middle of Middlesborough  experience but it has taken quite a while to organise the house back to some semblence of order.  Now most things are sorted – all now have some where to go and somewhere for me look when I can’t find them.

It was good to  see a selection of old and new work together, to see the constant and also progressive elements, and to see how a new audience respond. They were not looking for art, not looking for textiles, I was in their patch rather than them coming into mine, and the response was either blank, disbelief or real enthusiasm, one guy went and fetched his friends and then his family to have a look! (Didn’t buy anything though,  still waiting for my millionaire to roll up).  Can’t really compete with the Reindeer Parade or hot street food.

So I have put all of this year’s efforts up at home, just to see where I have got to,  and…. it doesn’t fit. I need a bigger wall, in fact 2 bigger walls. The snapshots do not include the larger pieces or the last winter walks offering.   Very surprised. Rather smug.  Bit confused. My perception of  the last months seems askew, the pictorial is as strong as the abstract.  Some of the tangents  do seem less tangenty.  Since I stopped doing the pure  process based things  the 2 extremes are working together, a bit forced in the hybrid pieces but more comfortably in the newer bits – like the Winter Walks.  And as for the basics – use of stitch, use of colour and surface , they are dotting about all over the place.  Perhaps  the separation was a good thing, it let the ideas about how I should work get tested out and now I am reverting more to how it is natural for me to work without over thinking.fBrammerWinterWalk

One thing is certain, this is a cyclic trend. I have to test, to try, to ask. And don’t always see the answers immediately.  Above is Winter Walks, I think it is finished now, even quilted it a little. It has come quite a long way from the mangled thing shown last post. Next post I think should be his life history.

Think is definitely time for Christmas. Hope you all have a thoroughly enjoyable festive season and  recover quickly from the New Year celebrations.

ps new workshops are listed on my website and the frantextiles facebook page, plus some sale items.

Despatch and Hatch.

Hurrah the first batch of work has been delivered – this was to Art In The Mill Gallery for their Summer Salon, part of the FEVA festival.

Bit of a scramble to get everything ready, onlyP1180139 picked the work up from the framers on Friday afternoon – the one opportunity to get the work across was on Saturday after work.  Rather busy Saturday morning, breakfast was on the hoof in the rush to prep, record, price  and pack,  then off to work for a rest!

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I had wanted longer to reaquaint with the work in its new clothing, somehow framing does make the scruffiest work look ‘proper’. But it is gone now – hopefully someone will love and buy! (still waiting for my millionaire to come along and insist on buying all of it- I would resist of course out of creative modesty, but after subtle persuasions ( poss invovling chocolates, flowers, etc,) I would give in  and  then live in happy self indulgence until the next P1180153one  comes along….)  Lacking a millionaire I did settle for icecreams…..  and then set about prepping the neP1180152xt idea – and as you can see the first ‘stones’ have been hatched. They are carved out of old insulation block so should be much lighter to work with now I want to increase the scale a bit.

Shame about the mess.

Peeling II

These landscape stones are becoming a bit of a fixation. Sewing them became welcome relief from the weight of sewing the robes (fingers still sore).  The second one is painted, dry and ready to peel. This should be easy – would be if I didn’t paint it first. I literally smear base coat all over it, rubbing it into the fabric, it changes the nature of the surface, blending and pooling around the stitches and pulled details. It also stiffens the fabric and unfortunately glues it to the stone. Oops. Does make the peel difficult and destructive.

Post Peel-  It took 3 hours this morning of creative sunbathing to get it free. The peeling has lost all pretence of being precise or new, the fabric is distorted and torn, the paint has been disrupted in places and flaked in others. Flattening it caused even more damage and the whole effect is aged and worn. So much better. It does have a history now, a character, a story to tell. It has the shifts of texture, shapes, I associate with landscape, those sudden details and concentrations in the midst of big spaces, on the down side, it does make me think of roadkill.

I have been a little more experimental with this one. There are a wider range of stitches, the old favourites of chain, french knots, back, whip, seed and of course running. Some I imagined would trap more paint, others give more emphasis or surface. Totally right but not as expected, the bold stitches have become claggy  and lost definition and pattern. I think there was too much stitch, there is a lumpiness rather than a lightness.

I think I will mount this on more of the orginal cotton lawn and present it as something fragile and ephemeral, unless of course another idea occurs.

Peeled and resewn

Once it was a flat piece of cloth, then it  encased a stone, then it was broken off and made flat again, showing all the c

landscapestone peeled

First stages- tacked on and a few lines stitched.

uts, folds and pleats  as pattern and scars.

It is now being stitched down to hold its shape and its history.  The backing cloth has had its own saga,  loosely snagged up in elastic bands before tea staining and then  drenched with dilute inks.  The plain cloth was too machined and perfect, this now is offering more.

It is slow at present – hand stitching outwards, following lines and seams. I have tried to raise some, the backing is a bit thick but it is trying to behave.

I have tried various threads, matching the ones sewn with on the stone and also experimenting with the frayed threads of the backing fabric.  It may be an odd shape but I have hopes – It has a sense of landscape,  it has a sense of having evolved rather than being  designed. There are plenty of decisions still to make – blending over some of the edges to hide the fusion of the two  layers of fabric,  how neat to stitch,  how much to stitch, whether to work in some paint, how about pencil marks and shading, or graphite powder?

Some of these techniques are covered in my classes and workshops – check out the list on the Want to Try page.