Tag Archive | Yorkshire

Do not ask and gallery page.

do not askThis is the do not ask.  The posh term is responding intuitively and instinctively  to a walk  along Horse and Holmdale and then along some of the tops.  It feels more like fishing at the moment. There are elements I want to include- the warmth, the light, the textures, the stillness, but not  any specific picture of one place.  It is more a response to the fabrics chosen  at present, I will have to be more brutal to bend it to my will!  Need to be braver, or dafter.

So far I have made apple and blackberry crumble, dismembered various buddleia, etc, etc. Also experimented with adding an informal gallery page to the blog site….. please take a look. Good idea or not worth it?

This is in a state of undone and pending. How it will end up I do not know, so please don’t ask.



The Silver Birch fights back!

first sketch for the new silver birch embroideryJoy! From this to this!

I don’t feel any responsibility for it now. It can stand on its own and fight its own battles.hanging birch


Ok, so it may not be totally finished, as in finished, but I have been cutting those creative apron strings. In cycling terms it is off the stabilisers  and is pedalling away.

The last few stages are always the worst – there is more to lose with each decision,  but it is now in the last fester stage  of blocking, stretching and framing and the occasional tweak. One of the very worst is sorting the backing fabric – this stayed determinedly bright white so an attack of tea and dye took place!(Yep, an English Summer – outside in the rain) This can affect how the colours work against each other, I’d been judging and building against a white ground – and now it isn’t…….


7.30 this morning – want to get this done.

9/10s early there. Still WIP.


Things to consider – the “white” trunk. Too short, too white (it is pale blue and grey, but it was a rayon thread so shows up cleaner and brighter than the matt finishes around it). Have already extended the trunk into the canopy but more required upwards and downwards.  Did too many height extensions on the tree – looks like Mr Whippy (soft icecream  before you get too excited) .  Not sure how it starts and finishes – I had wanted to leave the margins emptier and build the complexity toward the centre, just plain got carried away. Do I deconstruct or leave – do the margins look   deliberate or not? Asking the question is enough of a warning.

And so this it….. at the moment, perched in the garden while I have breakfast…..

nearly there......current final birch

And sorted.  single line suggestions for the cow parsley foliage, more density on their heads, grew the tree trunk, added more rayon to the tree top and attacked the ground line with the dread tweezers.


Now the path looks stilted and “neat”. Tree looks like taking off,  cow parsley leaves have disappeared.

It will look different depending on the light. Repeat, repeat, repeat.

  May never win.

How about reducing the size? or switching to larger stretcher? or just having some more toast….

It is much denser than last year’s work, why?  There is much more  of the worked textures but without that cavalier attitude to colour – is it less or is it just refined and redirected?  This feels heavy?  heavy can be fine, lunpen or clumsy is not. Is this just because it was later in the day and also later in the year? I do find mid summer woods oppressive.

More fester required!

far enough, or too far?


My camping stool has lost one of the structural screws and kept sinking at funny angles as I tried to sketch.P1050786 The result is a vagueness due to the multiple view points as I sank slowly ever lower and the desperate need for speed.  I was trying to keep that notion of  suggestion rather than fact in the textiles but it has ended up with greater clarity and detail!

The photo sequence shows the emergence of the silver birch tree- from crude blocks of fabric ( these were a real primrose yellow!), the breaking down of the blocks, adding more brighter green fabric, gold organza and of course layers of stitching, mostly in variegated green rayon but also in thicker acid green cotton.


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final piece, of course I want to moan. It’s bigger than intended. need to buyer a bigger stretcher.

The question I have is how to control the finish quality. I get to the composition and colour that I want before I get to the level of stitching. I feel the results are often left cruder than I would like but I don’t want the slickness that more layers would give. This section  conveys all that I want, the directional stitching tell the tale of the pathway, the flat grass either side and then the verticals under the trees,


the elusive Scarlet Pimpernel, they seek him here, they seek him there…….. It goes up and down, it goes side to side, it goes into the distance….. one of those has to be right!

but does it go far enough, or too far?  I like structure but I want surfaces and colour. Being ‘like a photograph’ rates very low. This is too photographic or am I just too familiar with it? More or less stitching?, more or less fabric peices? more or less picture?

Probably time for answers on a postcard please.

Stitching the Woods.

Bit of guess what happened next!  The initial stages of this were tentative and not really that convincing, but…….it was worth it. This is closer to what I am about.  Just why is it such a fight to get it out there!

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The pics are a bit skimpy – got too involved in the making. This one really did push back, ended up varying techniques to create depth and definition rather than relying in tone. This  is a painting, not a drawing any more. Okay, there are areas I would set light too out of sheer frustration, but  it does give much more back than the last piece. Sad but true- explicit control bores me, dancing on the edge with Mr  Arrgh! is much more fun.


Done! The left is still asking questions Staring to feel like dribbling blue pigment through the yellow. Please stop me.

Or bleach? No, Down, Leave.

Do like the shadow frame though. Took this to an art event on Sunday, did get interest but folk preferred the drab and sombre Big Beastie colour palette!  Get told I work too cold, now too hot…….

Went back to the woods yesterday. Got a head full of sunlight and shade, of heat and sound and touch –  fabric is being abused in rust and dye at present. Wonder how it will happen this time.




Open Studios Taster Exhibition excitement



You can probably get a cure for this but I hope it takes me a long time to find it!  I like the tension of a deadline, the delivering and then knowing next time I see the piece it will be up there in public!banner rectangle

Of course I had it all under control until I realised at 12.00 on delivery day that I had diligently and carefully finished and presented the wrong piece.  Only a spot of gibbering panic later and the right piece was mounted and in a frame, and then delivered in plenty of time…..  The Blossom Street Gallery is hosting this again, opening next week!

This is the making of the wrong piece – didn’t even remember to photograph the right one! Scroll over the photos for very brief making notes.


Liked the colour on the tree but added some into the hedge. Also added some hand stitching to the trunk after this to break up the slick, smooth surface a bit.

To balance the image more colour and texture went into the field margin and the ink was allowed to blur and soften some of the stitching.

And how did this turn out – just what is the exhibition missing?

field edges CopmanthorpeField edges, Copmanthorpe, York.

Big Beastie revealed

This is  how far it has got –

At least it is out of the shower ( guests appreciated that). It had half an hour of stitching but the only place I could put it for the week end was on the tall wall at the head of the stairs.  Over the two days it has hung more and more lop sided.P1050409

So at the moment it is hanging under tension over one of the bedroom doors. ( the guests  escaped before their room was quite effectively barricaded.) I intend to steam it gently and hope it relaxes. Doubt that it go back into a perfect rectangle but it should agree to get a bit closer than it is.P1050410

I find the over piece a bit stark still, overly dramatic, but in sections I really like it. Because the contrast in approaches, in the surface textures , works well,  the difference between the linear  banking, the wall and the dense mat of the  trees needs no restrictive outlines or defined edges.  Maybe the trees are  a little too dense  but I am looking at it with winter eyes, used to bare branches, and these are  pines.  The photos are not brilliant, the colours are deadened and duller, but when it comes off the door …….

and don’t forget banner rectangle


Winter Series 2, a tale of woe.

This should be Winter Series 1 but it was overtaken by other Winter piece so has to settle for 2nd place!

I started a post about this in January……. winter 2a1

It began as a sketch across the Wharfe valley  by Collingwood. It made it through the initial paint stage and was level pegging past the first stitch and into the dye and stain phase.


winter 1a  winter 2b

Here there was a distinct lack of love, so it stayed out on the washing line through several storms, violent attacks with more stain and scrubbing brushes until…….winter 2

The problem has been spaces, letting them be, using them to balance the intense areas, and on the whole failing. There is no resting place in this one. The first error was to do the woodland across the valley. This is so strong (fun to do) that it dominated the whole piece.

The foreground should be a nonentity, an annoying fringe to look through, obscuring the view and the understanding of the landscape beyond. It began much darker,  but the brushwood  tried to be the centre of attention so got itself unpicked. Perhaps the amount of stitching on the distant hills was the domino mistake,  it has meant that everything to the front of them also had to be stitched heavily. Even though the thread was a polyester ecru colour and so resisted the dyes, the effect lacks contrast. Perhaps  embrace the gloom and work more blue/black ink into the brushwood. That is a mix of  variegated cotton and  grey polyester thread …….lose the subtle colour shifts or gain contrast?

The dark fabric along the valley was once a solid piece,  ripping into it helped  a lot – there are glimmers of light now. Bleach and detergent helped to pick out some more but I’m getting worried by the level of abuse this fabric has taken. Maybe a final splash with paint? Lighten the storm clouds, add some acidy yellow/green (Dulux ‘Expectation’)  into the foreground?

It is on a stretcher at present, being tortured back into shape, there may be some more done to it to alleviate the gloom, but it will be done kindly,  probably while thinking happy thoughts and involve biscuit/cake/crumpet eating.

Well I can hope…..