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New Beginnings.

It feels like waking after too deep a sleep. I sat down to do a bit of stitching  and have just come to a stop  roughly 6 hours later.  My fingers hurt, I am stiff  and tired. I think I remember enjoying it, I think there was a brief lunch stop too.

The piece that caught up my attention so completely is a coming together of several ideas and processes, and is BIG.  The stone landscape ideas meet text, meet pattern and meet string.

The plan formed as I discovered a torn blank canvas when clearing out after Open Studios.  Rather than discard I decided to try  an experiment and work with the damage. I also had some reject pieces of cotton lawn with text  and stitch on from a previous good idea, and well they had to be made to work.  As you do.

 

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Glued and inked, drying in the garden . See the hole on the right?

The pieces were soaked and glued onto the canvas  letting them form mini landscapes of lumps and bumps, shapes and patterns, then a fair amount of acrylic paint and ink were sploshed (carefully) around.

 

 

 

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What do you do with a large canvas with holes and glued on wibbly bits and thin paint? Well stitch it of course.  There is no point in doing things by half. Lots of little holes….

It is still on the stretcher so all hand stitched. The scale required really chunky yarn so out came the hairy string I use in the garden-  all of the fancy wools and cords  looked too slick.  I am now using 2 strands of  unbleached cotton yarn and making denser areas of stitch, just about to begin stitching across the hole.

This is  quite intuitive in approach, letting things happen and responding to them, yet there is  direction. I intend to add more layers of paint, some monochrome to absorb some underlying colour, some layers of thin washes/glazes so that the colours float, haven’t really decided.  It may well depend on the weather – I will paint it in the garden if fine so I can be really messy and the colours used will be stronger in sunlight! There may be fabric added to extend the textures but I think I want this to be sparse. How it will look in the end I will tell you when I get there. Whether it will come off or not  is not truely important, this is a learning curve crossed with a twitchy fingers project – it is all about the doing.

And as for everything else?  I have signed up to do Staithes Festival in September, have submissions for a few other things out there and am waiting to hear back. The York Textile Artist group have a show in July, a new exhibition in November in York and  are already booking venues in 2020. My own little sale event is  getting closer –  I have found more of the older work that I would like  to move on so instead of a tasteful selection  I have 2 wall fulls to sell!   I will have to tidy up again.  Contact me if you would like an invitation. img_20190426_082332

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Grudges in Textiles

It is wrong to hold grudges. They are a waste of energy and can be damaging. On the other hand they can be such fun.

This is a stonelandscape that I was working on over the York Open Studios weekends. How sweet.  Looks well behaved?  Even when ‘peeled’ off its fake stone and laid out for sizing?

It still looks deceptively  ‘nice’ after some dye and ink experiments. What lovely detail and texturing  after that loving hand stitching.

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And so I go out to retrieve it  after a little weathering…..and there it wasn’t.

 It chose the wrong morning to hide.

The collage below shows the next 3/4 of an hour…. look in the workroom, check through piles of stuff, check the front garden – I often leave things on the front step to dry. Check more piles of stuff . Check in all random bags. Double check outside, the hedge, under the bushes and then……

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Returning to where I had sat to have breakfast in the sun…. right next to the garden chair….  oh what is that resting on the back??

I took this personally and inbetween attacking the garden plants have brutalised the piece with first paint, then screen printing ink, spirit-based  cleanser and now drawing ink. The original idea was about lines across a landscape, field edges, plough lines, harvesting patterns. But mostly it is about vengence.

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It is now drying on the lawn. It had better be there when I go out after posting this!

2 points of interest –  don’t forget the new run of day and evening workshops starting this week. Check the ‘want to try’ tab at the top of the page for details. And  I have a proper sale of work – some at over 50% off the listed price- coming up soon. All those who follow me on the various social media or subscribe to my mailing lists are invited. If you  should have received an invite but somehow escaped my mail shots please email for details.

 

 

landscape books

This is an extension from the standing landscapes. It is a combination of old trends and fascinations and new materials and priorities.

Fun!

Fascination list 1.

Folding. Inside/outside. Angles/ curves. 2D into 3D. Front and back.  Out comes that can be changed rather than rigid. Perspectives. Mark making, textures, simplicity of line. Rhythm. Less not more. The seen and the understood . Denying  the sanctity of vision. Enclosing, revealing. Communication. Enigma. Questions. Narratives.

Oh dear – how many contradictions!

The standing landscapes addressed many of these areas.  But I am going further – or at least trying to….  Communication and narritives – tehse already speak of visual things, of space and textures, lines and perspectives – all physical things, all expressive but have underlying rules and conventions. I wish to introduce some of the deeep and wonderful thinking that happens as I move through the landscape. For me they are entwined into the physical. The obvious is to write – a familiar route. Underlying or overlaying? Woven in ?  to be read or just hint? With or across the lines of the landscape?

Giving the folding a purpose – making a pull out book. Having a cover and the landscape folded within. This seems a very York thing. Driving around the city I see distant hills in 3 directions,  blue and purple horizons, or gleaming in the sunlight, once I get to them they unfold into complexity and character, opening up their secrets and corners.

Proto Landscape Book 1

Construction-  Samples,  vilene panels cut and fused onto muslin to act as hinges. The tall narrow strip will be the spine,  the ones either side will be the covers. The last is of the final blank ‘book’ , stitched around to seal the muslin to the vilene.  The scale is too small for anything other than the briefest experiments.

 Nothing over special about the image – do like the layers in the foreground but the covers are where the interest lies, should maybe have a greater disction between cover and extension – colour? content?  density?

There is no writing on it yet –  that is next. Down the spine like a title? following the perspective lines? in the pale, in the dark or in a slight neutral? 10 minutes later and there is writing! As if by magic! or sewing machine…

The text is one I have used before, and always reminds me of leisurely walking through the Yorkshire Wolds on a bright and breezy day. It  is whimsical rather than deep,  it comes from watching the wind ripple through ripe barley as the clouds scud about above them.

Problem – front and back – writing has a right and wong way round.  Very much a problem on the front cover, so the text has to start only on the inside panels. Should I be colouring the cover? Thread or paint?  I shall try paint……

Who am I kidding? Is this a way to avoid thinking about York Open Studios?  April 6th is just how many days away?? Please do come and see me if you can –  I promise to have tidied up by then…..

Painted scarves

These are fabulous, but dinky.  I wanted to get bigger again but to keep the pace  and the challenge without getting trapped by the scale or technicals,  so I decided to paint, of course! Let’s make a scarf, or two.

Matt acrylic and textile medium? Brusho? Indian ink?

Brusho is a powder – often used as a watercolour- and is often used on fabric. Problem would be making it wash-fast. Do not want a scarf where the colour rubs off on to skin or gently dribbles into your clothing.

Indian ink – waterproof ink – more liquid, very strong but will it stay where it is put?

Acrylic paint plus textile medium is tried and tested. Just mix the two and paint it on. It needs to be heat fixed (ironed) before it is washable. It can be clumsy, can create hardspots and can sit on the top surface.

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Play time. results – the red is brusho- far too enthusiastic even with the medium- red everywhere. The black is Indian ink – so strong but better manners.

Decided on the devil I know- the acrylic plus medium, the first a fairly neat mix, the second more dilute to get more flow.  The pieces are 2m x 1/2m muslin.  Far too easy – so dyed over it to give a  warm dove grey. The paint is resistant. Great fun to do even if the room and sink area look like a battlefield and the only place I had to hang them to dry  was the stairwell. But then comes the finishing- hand rolled hem.  It is only 2m. Then 1/2 m across, 2m back, and another 1/2m to complete. Now hate rolled hems, and muslin. (been out and bought 3m more)

Still have a few Wednesday evenings and Friday mornings left if you would like to come round to play with creative textiles. York Open Studios is approaching fast – 6-7th and 13-14th April and I will do more formal workshops after this. Also have a piece at the gallery in the Ryedale Folk Museum on the North Yorks Moors, in their Open Exhibition – things are getting busy…..

Life after sprout continues…. experimenting with the CS800 –

“SPUNBOND WITH UNLIMITED POSSIBLE USES

CS 800

For experimental surface designs, for home decor and interior designs as well as painting.”

 

Well that is the marketing blurb. It is a firm white synthetic, designed to take colour and stitch. Think pelmet vilene/stiffener but with out the thickness and weight.

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 Applying colour – the surface is reasonably firm but has furred up a bit with the Inkintense pencils I tried above. Thin paint sat on the surface below and soaked in unevenly but with out the  furriness.  P1180353 I washed the piece to knock out any surplus paint before stitching and the structure of the fabric is obvious but not unattractive – reminds me of chip board or wax resist crackle.

Theme-wise I am on one of those cyclic tangents again – this one from years ago – and more years ago before that.

I have been back  up in the landscapes of the Yorkshire Dales and Moors  that I know well, and that has raised the old quandaries about trying to draw them. What am I drawing? is it that one view? or is it more about what I know of the landscape, where the paths go, what is round the corner just out of sight? Are my memories and understanding of walking through that space as important as that photographic image?  Well, I like stories more than photos – I have more books than pictures – narratives are histories – and experiences are personal, tying place and time.  An awful lot of concept and theorising for a very simple visual outcome.

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Meet the portable landscapes a, b  and c.

The piece of  CS800 was sliced and diced – just in straight blocks. The pieces are reattached edge to edge by zig zag stitch. so that they can flex without bending.  The image is stitched  on directly .  The gaps were made by inserting a piece of solufleece and washing it out after stitching. They are small, soft sculpture, and can be arranged however the mood takes.

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I like the play on scale and perspective, the ideas of front and back being not important, and also that each time these are put out the angles and emphasis changes. The simplicity is fun – it is about leaving out not embellishing.  It is making me focus on stitch patterns, markmaking with a sewing machine. I am keeping the colours minimal – deep olive, beige and gold, and adding on the odd splash and wash of ink. The monochrome ish-ness is just so lovely and stark.

As for the CS800 – it takes stitch without  quibbling, distortion or complaint. Though it does blunt needles quite quickly,  the machine stitches fairly cleanly and consistently. Problem is the lack of ‘healing’ the holes made by the needle. Also its strength is that it doesn’t fray or tear and cuts like cardboard, but is it happy to stand on its edge without wilting?

Scale is going to increase since I have grabbed some more supplies from work, but this size is pretty cute and easy to manage.  The next batch is going to play with ideas of frame and layers – fun.

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My severest critic? Photo crashed by a ladybird.

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.

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.