'If you make happiness your goal, then you're not going to get to it… The goal should be an interesting life."

Dorothy Rowe

Saturday, 31 July 2010

It’s amazing how much you can achieve …


  1. you get up at silly o’clock to take the patient to hospital
  2. you spend the rest of the day keeping busy to try to stop yourself worrying.

Now the patient is home, bandaged up, looking a little worn, and dozing on the sofa, and we are looking forward to a couple of days doing as little as possible.


Most of my keeping busy activity was putting ‘here’s one I made earlier’ in the homework books – not much new creativity has occurred, apart from these two – and even they are assembled from previously prepared parts. The one on the left is a simple pamphlet in an recycled Amazon mailer [thanks, Mrs Cheddar]. The one on the right is made from some of my paste papers, using a technique I described in one of my early posts.

The version I showed there was wonky because the paper I used was too big and too lightweight. I’ve been meaning to get back to the technique ever since.

After I made that first attempt, some kind person pointed me in the direction of Alisa Golden’s ‘Creating Handmade Books’ which gives better instructions than mine, so I used those. Result – a smaller, stiffer book.

Of course, neither of these count towards the 100 drawings, although I may do something in the paste paper book.image

These are being counted as drawings and have been added to the homework books. One made [rather a long time ago]using sprayed Brusho and feathers as masks, and a screen print. Both probably need a bit more work, which they may get.





And these two, which I’d put on hold while I pondered on the ‘what is drawing?’ question, and because I thought they needed more work - which they will definitely not get.



This afternoon, when I knew Wensleydale’s op had been delayed, and I was feeling really stressed, I wrecked a photo. One of my images from ‘Another Place’, sanded and scratched, painted with black Koh-i-noor, wiped, which took a lot of the original off, and painted again with Pearl-ex. I like this a lot. Probably shows how I felt at the time!


The inverted scan looks even better.

Last night, when I was feeling creative, I printed some things on newspaper I'd painted with Inkaid – and I think this would look good like that too. Tell you more about that tomorrow.


After pondering about whether drawings were always 2D, I came across the work of Chris Kenny. Definitely 3D – but it’s hard not to describe some of them as ‘drawings’ – like this one. And very inspirational!

Thursday, 29 July 2010

We’ve got all the time in the world [maybe] …

so how come we end up with all out appointments – optician, hairdresser, dentist – crammed into the same few days?

Sheer bad management, obviously. And of course the timing of each was inconvenient – not enough time to go home and come out again – although I hate doing that – but more time than we  needed to get from one to the other.

We did manage to fill one overlong gap with a slightly belated celebratory lunch for our 39th wedding anniversary. Nothing too ambitious, we’re saving that for next year.

stourhead july'10

And I took more photos of the fencing across the road from the gym. I find the distortions formed by the corrugations quite fascinating. Wish I could find my ribbler…



We filled another gap by visiting the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Discovery Centre, although it’s not really our sort of thing. [Nothing against wildlife or photography, just not inclined to go and look at them. I like cake but I wouldn’t go to a cake decorating exhibition, either.]

But we enjoyed it nevertheless – some beautiful and thought-provoking images and a whiff of scandal - what more could you ask?

Yes – scandal – the winning image [top of this page] has been disqualified.

We still haven’t finished with appointments, as Wensleydale has an operation on Saturday, to repair the damage to his knee, as far as it can be repaired . We know it isn’t going to work wonders, but it may make his walking a bit easier. He also got his disabled parking badge today – despite having been lame for half a century he’s never applied for one. [Typical bloody-minded independent Yorkshireman.] After his injury last autumn and a lot of nagging encouragement from his family, he applied for a blue badge, and to his surprise, though no-one else’s, got one – which will widen our horizons a bit. If I can persuade him to actually use it.

With all our costourhead july'101ming and going, not much in the way of drawing, bookmaking or needlework has been achieved, although I have finished these pages, and made a start on the cover.

I am very pleased with these, and have come to like the colours – although I don’t think I’d necessarily use them again! I’m going to count these as 4 drawings, so that's no's. 43–46. I'm almost half way to 100 and a month and a half to go. As you can see, the pages curl, which is a result of pulling the whipped edges too tight. Actually, i don’t dislike that – although I think I will experiment with the soldering iron for the next one.

I have also been thinking about the definition of drawing I found on this site:

‘…  drawing is seen to be any form of marking a surface with a view to creating a two-dimensional image.’

It’s that bit about ‘2 dimensional’ I’m pondering upon.

You may have come across Cheeming Boey’s drawings on disposable cups – 3D surface, but 2D drawings.

And I can see that ‘drawing’ 3D shapes with wire, say, is probably sculpture.


But what about this?  One of my pieces of sun printing, free machined to felt and then washed, so the unsewn areas of felt shrank and the fabric puffed up. Marks on the surface? Yes – but the image isn’t 2D. I think. Possibly 2.5D?


My original intention was to make this into a one sheet book with added hand embroidery – and I still might – but can I also count it as a drawing? Oh, decisions, decisions…

Still, we are intending to go for a long outing tomorrow, while we can, before W’s hospital appointment and recuperation, so I shall have to defer such decisions for a while.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Oh dear.

I’ve just analyzed my last post using this. It tells me that I write like Dan Brown. If Mr Brown is who I think he is, I am disappointed in myself – although I can’t be accused of plagiarism because I’ve never read a word he’s written. Or seen the film.

Still, I suppose it could have been worse. It could have been Barbara Cartland, or Jeffrey Archer – although if I earned as much from my writing as any of them I could probably learn to live with the shame…

I’ve just tried again with two other posts and it told me that I write like Cory Doctorow [who she? – oh, I've just discovered she's a he] and Margaret Atwood. I’ll stop while I’m ahead!

Bet I don’t embroider like any of them, though.

I spent the day painting Koh-i-noor on the back of all the printing and painting I've been doing, in preparation for some bookmaking – and in a little experimentation.


That’s experimentation in the sense of using up left overs, experimentation in the sense of something which didn’t work the first time, and experimentation in the sense of ‘I wonder what would happen if …’ which I learned, after a long lecture on official  experimental methodology at Uni a long long long time ago, is what real scientists do. From this guy, as it happens – oh, the wonders of the Internet. Sorry to find out he has died – he was a good and  entertaining teacher once I stopped being afraid of him…

But I digress.

My ‘I wonder what would happen’ moment involved a nasty screen-print  on a polyester sheer [pale turquoise and red – whatever possessed me?], this much more beautiful piece of work by Aimee Lee, and my ongoing quest to make fabric books which don’t involve craft Vilene.

I cut up the screen print, glued bits of it together with Bondaweb sprinkled with glitter, Angelina and leaf shapes cut from a red sheer, and started embroidering. Because I have the screen print on both sides, I have leaves on both sides, so I’m working double running stitch round them, on both sides – which you can see in the image. A bit like shadow work. I love the way it makes ‘ghost leaves’ and the stitches pile up where the prints overlap – I'm very fond of that sort of serendipitous effect.

I'm working whip stitch round each page, which hasn’t really worked, but it has dawned on me, following Kitty’s well timed comment about mark making with soldering irons, that I could have cut out the pages with a soldering iron – and done fancy edges to boot. Maybe next time – and there will be a next time, the resulting fabric is stiff enough for small pages. The next experiment will probably involve more translucent sheers. Odd how although I generally dislike man-made fibres, I'm a sucker for polyester sheers…

Just tried ‘I write like …’ again with this post. This time it’s William Gibson – another one who’s new to me. Should have stopped when I got Margaret Atwood. I learned enough about the experimental method from Dr Harzem to conclude that this analysis lacks rigour…

Sunday, 25 July 2010

When I said I was getting bored with drawing…

I may have given the impression that I wasn’t going to do any more for a while – and, indeed, I didn’t intend to do so.

But today the mood struck me, and I sat outside and completed nos. 39 – 42 – possibly even 43.


Two were serious, proper drawings – I’m even quite pleased with one of them, the one on the left. The other two are some of the results of playing with ‘Effects’ in Picasa, and one of them may become no.43 – probably the one on the right, which reminds me of Mondrian's series of apple trees – without being anything like them!


This is the second proper, albeit vestigial, drawing – some pebbles found by Mrs Cheddar, at Highcliffe last week – some beautiful markings which I haven’t quite managed to capture!






Then there was a semi-silly one. Also inspired by the seaside, although I'll forgive you if you don't quite recognise everything.







And finally – a completely silly one – which was the most fun and the most time-consuming. Doodles inspired by the background paper, Nicolette Anderson’s ‘Delightful Doodles’ on-line course, and those wonderful Eastern European embroideries which are smothered in stitched flowers.

I’m feeling a bit more confident about what a drawing is, by the way. In the middle of an insomniac night I Googled ‘What is drawing?’ and found this definition on this site:

‘…  drawing is seen to be any form of marking a surface with a view to creating a two-dimensional image.’ Which allows everything I’ve done so far!

Saturday, 24 July 2010


which around here is a euphemism for ‘using up lots of left over paint’ [or ’things which didn’t really work’.]


I tried out various Jacquard paints on various interfacings [and some bondaweb.] You will notice that I had more orange left over than anything else. I am not fond of orange …

I like the turquoise with white squiggles though.


And I used up some other Jacquard paints for printing – some of these are on the sunprints I did the other day. It was really a bit too hot for printing – the paint was drying before I’d got it on the paper.

I like the abstract blue and white one on the left – although it may get a wash of something watery on top.IMG_2072


I also added some pieces to the homework books. I have decided that this one can be a drawing, although it may be replaced if I actually get to 100. So that’s number 37. I think.




IMG_2070 I don’t know why, but number 38 feels more drawing-like – it is end-of-the-session’ hand dye [i.e. stick an odd bit of fabric in a bucket and pour all the remaining dyes and soda over it], screen print, spray paint  and stencils. O.K, it’s a bit autumnal – but I'm getting bored with ‘summer’ as a topic. [Not with summer, it’s lovely to have a proper one!]



To tell the truth, I’m getting bored with ‘drawings’ as well – I feel some book making coming on. Although they may be books with drawings in, to salve my conscience.

Off to watch the Tour de France now  - what will I do when its over?

Thursday, 22 July 2010

The sun hat strikes again.



Yesterday we went to Highcliffe with Mr and Mrs Cheddar.

The sun shone, and the sea sparkled.





Ronaldog was in her element.







I had fun too. Shells, stones and seaweed. [I didn’t bring any seaweed home.]

But I did take my sunhat.






As a result, we had a thunderstorm overnight, and in the morning what we laughingly call the terrace looked like this.

And I didn’t even wear the hat – it was too windy! Perhaps I can solve the drought problem single handed – or single hatted.

Of course, it did rain on St Swithun’s Day – and it is the last day of term – and JP wants to do some sun printing - so we are probably due for more rain …

It did cheer up in the afternoon, but I used the weather as an excuse to stay in and potter with pictures [dither with drawings?]. [Wensleydale was up some scaffolding clearing the gutteimager – no wimp, him!]

I revisited no. 30 – except it is number 34 now.  It is such a long time since I last used Inkaid that I had forgotten that it ends up white, not transparent [at least the matte white version does – I think there may be a clue in the name].

So this ended up rather whiter than I had intended – but I think it works. The paper was bondawebbed to black felt, and cut into strips which were overlapped and machined together. Then I machined the result into the book, which was probably the hardest part of the whole shebang. Definitely an improvement on the previous version – more character, and overlapping the felt makes it look more like the corrugated hoarding which inspired it. I feel happier about it too, as I have put more work into it – the previous version felt a bit lazy. I have this belief that you need to use at least three processes with a piece – like Inkaid, deconstruction and stitch.

I also revisited no.32. I'd read somewhere that if you cover an inkjet print with black Quink and then bleach it, the print will resist the bleach but the ink won’t. I thought it would make the image more oilslicky, so I gave it a try – but using a previous version first.


Guess what. Inkjet prints don’t resist bleach, any more than Quink does. It’s very atmospheric though.





As is the back. 






Just to confirm, I tried bleach on Mark 2, without Quink. I was a bit too enthusiastic with the bleach, but I like this version, too. So this is no. 35 - I seem to be working in a series. And it just manages to fulfil the three processes criterion, if you don’t count computer manipulation of the image and adding text as the same process.

I learned something else as well – don’t add bleach with a natural sponge …image

Number 36 is something I started a while ago, using a magazine image and Applicraft Transferglaze. [I have a feeling you can’t use this with inkjet images but of course I can’t find the instruction leaflet…]

Not too pleased with this one – I ended up with a stretchy, plasticky, sticky image, which I found difficult to stick down – although that might be because of the background I chose. I tried to add more colour with Graphitints but they didn't like the plastic, even on the back. And only two processes – unless you include the background.

And then I splashed white emulsion paint on a variety of papers which I may eventually get round to monoprinting on.

So, a good day overall, despite the weather!

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Plan A for today …

was to do some monoprinting. But as it was hot and sunny I decided instead to make sunprints, using Karen Eckmeier’s technique from an old edition of Quilting Arts, with tissue paper as well as fabric paint. Only I wanted to try it on paper rather than fabric - and being me, it was a much more slap-happy approach than Eckmeier’s.

image So a few hours later I have a pile of bits of paper [and fabric – I couldn’t resist].

Does the technique work? Yes. Does it work on paper? Yes.

I used brown paper and newspaper as well as drawing paper, and it worked well on all of them. The biggest problem was that the paper dried out very quickly so I had to keep spritzing it. There was less colour bleeding from the tissue paper on some very fine polyester fabrics I tried, but there was a ghost of the shape left, which is more subtle – well, as subtle as I ever get …


I did try some traditional sunprinting as well. On the left, fabric and fig leaves pinned down on my print board. The middle is the ‘official’ sun print – but I also got a ghost print [far right] on the calico I’d used as a temporary cover on the board. Two for the price of one!


I also tried traditional  sunprinting on brown paper – with less success. You may just be able to see the ghost of a blackberry leaf in the bottom image. I think the paper just dried out too quickly for it to work. 

My plan is to try inkjet printing on top of the sunprinted paper – when I can think what I want to print on it.




I did decide what to do with this gentleman. Original on the left, version with added Graphitint pencil on the right. One thing I learned from this process is that it is important to keep the transfer medium just to the portion of the page where you are going to put the transfer, as it leaves a plasticky coating on the paper – which the pencils struggled with a bit. But as a first attempt, I'm pleased with it.


And finally – number 34.5. Maybe. If I decide it is a ‘drawing’. It is one of the screenprints, quilted. Oddly, I can accept that the back might be a drawing as it’s quite linear, but somehow the printed cupressus fronds make the front seem not to be one.

Let no-one accuse me of being logical…

Sunday, 18 July 2010

I thought I’d got up to 30 …



but I deconstructed this one this morning. After browsing Maggie Grey’s ‘From Image to Stitch’ I decided stitch was what it needed. And a more interesting substrate. So I have painted some black paper with Inkaid, and will have another go on Tuesday. The plan at the moment is to print out the poem on the Inkaided paper, Bondaweb it to felt, cut it up, and sew it together again.

Despite that setback, having browsed Dorothy Simpson Krause’s ‘Book + Art’, [strongly recommended] as well as Maggie Grey, I got a bit adventurous today and as a result  I have managed to get up to 33 ‘drawings’.


This is the new number 30. Aided by a £5 WH Smith’s voucher, I bought myself some Conte crayons on Saturday, and tried them out on a Pollocked page in homework book no. 1.



IMG_1970-1Number 31 is one of my photos from ‘Another Place’, transferred to a yellowish page in the homework book, using Colourcraft’s inkjet transfer medium. I’d never used it before, so it was a bit of an experiment, but I’m quite pleased with the result. As with all such things in my hands, the results are a bit hit and miss, but I think this makes for quite an atmospheric image. Is it a drawing? Not sure, but I think I am going to work into it with something – just not sure what, yet!



No. 32 may not be a drawing either. An image of an oil slick [not mine, I must confess], altered in Picnik, with the addition of some relevant lyrics!



100 drawings14

No. 33 definitely includes drawing. It started life as a screen-print on card, but then got coloured with spray paints, cut up, drawn on with gel pens and Inktense pencils, and turned into a book. I believe this is called an ‘ox plough’ book because it mimics the path of a plough going from one side of a field to the other.

The top image is the correct colour – for some reason in the bottom two my camera decided that our table was blue [it’s green] and changed the other colours as well …

Wensleydale pointed out that the real colours are autumnal – so I added the chorus from ‘September Song’ [one of my all time favourites] round the edge, and it’s gone at the back of homework book no. 1. All summers must come to an end…

Busy day tomorrow as we are Babybel minding again, but I hope to get back to work on Tuesday. Off to watch TDF now!

Friday, 16 July 2010

We had fun


with Babybel yesterday – but we needed today to recover! After a busy morning helping her granddad wash up, and her gran shop, we spent the afternoon at Manor Farm, where we all had a wonderful time.

We finished the visit by feeding the calves, which Babybel loved [and her gran quite enjoyed too].




Today I got round to making 2.5 more‘drawings’.

This rather bizarre piece was inspired by a fence round a building site in Winchester. 





The fence is corrugated so, as you can see, as you approach it along the pavement the writing appears fragmented.

What has this to do with my theme of ‘summer’? Not a lot, but I thought it was an interesting effect. I did choose a poem with a summer connection, though. Not sure it’s a drawing either – but I’ve been spending a lot of time asking myself what a drawing is.

We visited the Jerwood Drawing Prize exhibition a few years ago, and that wasn’t at all what I expected. I’ve come to the rather tentative conclusion that drawing involves mark making and line – but I'm open to argument – as long as it doesn't mean I have to rip half the pieces out of my homework book1

The other 1.5 drawings are these 2.100 drawings12 If my numbering sounds nonsensical, it’s because one is the reverse of the other, so I don’t think I can count them as 2 separate drawings.

Shells again, I’m afraid. Mrs Cheddar kindly gave me some fabric samples, and the colours immediately said ‘shells’ to me. So I appliquéd shell shapes on a piece of coffee dyed polyester satin [love that stuff!] with FME. and then couldn’t decide which side I liked better. So it became a double sided drawing.

It’s funny that I’m quite happy with free machine embroidery as drawing, but not hand embroidery.  I think it’s because this type of FME is, by it’s nature ‘sketchy’, but hand embroidery is much more considered, and the variety of stitches makes it more textural.

That makes the total number of drawings up to 30 - and about 2 months to go to finish the other 70.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Just a quickie

as we are preparing for an unexpected visitation from Babybel and her dad – but I came across an amazing website.


A wonderful collection of artistic inspirations, highly recommended – as good as the V&A website in a very different way.

Well done, Oxford Museums! Makes me want to go back to the Pitt Rivers…

Monday, 12 July 2010

I must apologise …

to everyone in the UK whose weather has deteriorated today.


It is entirely my fault.

I bought a sun hat yesterday. 

We went with Babybel, her mum, dad, and dog, to the wood festival at Queen Elizabeth Country Park, where a good time was had by all. Babybel was equally fascinated by a heavy horse pulling logs, a man carving with a chain saw, and drawing in the children’s activities tent.

But it was very hot, so on the way out I bought a hat.

And today it has bIMG_1882een cloudy and cool.

It did mean I had no more excuses, and had to face up to going out in the garden and screen printing.

I made some freezer paper stencils, which is my preferred method – not that I know a wide range of methods…

This was the first, and the least successful. Note to self – metallic fabric paint does not work well for screen printing.


This one, inspired by our cupressus hedge, was more successful. Apologies to those who dislike cupressus, but it does have fascinating fronds. B****r to cut out, though.

As you may have noticed, I like positive/negative patterns.



IMG_1902 This was the most successful – or is it just my liking for 60s patterns obscuring my judgement?

Some of the colour choices are a little odd, based on what came to light in the hand-dye stash, and setting myself to use up some fabric paints I’ve had for far too long. [Note to self – pearlised fabric paints don’t work too well for screen printing either.]IMG_1881

I found something else in the stash cupboard while I was in there.




I ended up with 20 screen printed ‘drawings’ - some on fabric and some on paper. Not all of them will go in the homework book, and those that do will probably get some stitch or more printing – I fancy a leafy linocut – except it won’t be lino…

I also think I’ll use up my transparent fabric paints with some sun prints – anyone know if sunprints work on paper? That’s assuming I haven’t driven the sun away permanently.

Of course, when the sun did come out this afternoon, I forgot to wear my sun hat.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Busy doing nothing …

I’m afraid that my enthusiasm for the 100 drawings has disappeared – I think I was probably energized by all the adrenaline associated with the end of term, but now I've wound down.


I did make some preparations. 

I’ve had the felt to make myself a printing surface for a loooong time – so long that I had used it for something else, bought some more, and used a lot of that. But I managed to stretch it out to cover a bit of plywood Wensleydale found for me. Although, as you can see, it’s not that well stretched.

I was going to use it for some screen printing – but look at the sunshine! Far too hot to screen print – the ink would have dried in seconds.IMG_1858 That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

So I sat in one of the chairs and worked on this - two pockets for a zapper holder.  But now it’s got to the stage where I need to use the machine and the weather is to nice to sit inside. So I'll have to find some more hand embroidery to do. Or some drawing …

There is a forecast of rain [possibly] – but they‘ve been forecasting rain [possibly] for weeks now and we’ve barely had a drop.

We have a feeling that Quality Control is feeling better – although, as JP guessed, we have to take her back to the vets next week for a check up. It could be because she is back to making her beautiful flying leaps [followed by clumsy landings, but they always were]. But it is more because when W. opened the bedroom door this morning he was greeted by the sight of a dismembered pigeon on the landing.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Numbers 26 - 28

shells and stones


26 & 27 are these two -  the inverse scan which I’ve shown you before, and a scan of shells, which I played with in Picasa to make it look sandy.




This rather odd effort is 28.It’s best described as reverse appliqué, embroidered from the back, using phone book pages – to which I added some gold paint because it looked a bit boring. If I try it again I will use some of the pages with more colour. I will also use some more robust paper as the base layer, as the phone book backing tor away when I didn’t want it to.

The workroom floor is now covered with bits of torn paper, though.

I’ve been a bit quiet, due to several outings, both the pleasant and less pleasant kind. The latter involved taking Quality Control to the vets, and then picking her up from the vets after a little dentistry for a loose tooth, some X-rays because she’s been limping, and a rather large bill. The limp is probably due to some ligament damage and not serious, unlike the damage to our bank account …

The pleasant outings were both arty – first to Winchester Cathedral to an exhibition by the Society of Portrait Sculptors, and then, with Mr and Mrs Cheddar, to Art in the Garden.

The former was, in my opinion, a curate’s egg. There were some excellent pieces, and some that did nothing for me at all. [Not saying which was which!] And of course they were all, in my eyes, in competition with ‘Sound II’ in the crypt, which takes a lot of beating – although with such dry weather it was not at it’s best.

[For those who don’t know the piece – the link shows water at the feet of the statue – in dry weather the water disappears and you don’t get the magical reflections.]


Art in the Garden was also variable – but there were some lovely pieces. We all liked this one by Eric Duggan – and Mrs C kindly identified the perfect spot for it in our garden. She didn’t offer to buy it for us, though…






I also like this by Carole Waller – textiles, in case you hadn't realised. We saw some of her clothing at an exhibition in Woodstock a year or so ago so it was great to see some of her sculptural pieces.