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

Dorothy Rowe

Wednesday 30 June 2010

Hung at last.



I felt it looked a bit lost in all that white space – and I was underwhelmed by it anyway – but its done and dusted and the next piece will be better  [I hope].

So after hammering in a nail to hang it – and then hammering it in again because it was too low – and having photos of some of my drawing studies drawings taken [not the 100 drawings] - and having a gossip with a former colleague who’s doing C&G and who I only see at College exhibitions - I got home in time to eat lunch with Wensleydale.

And then I cheered myself up by sitting in tTop-28.BMPhe sun and drawing – never thought I’d say that, especially as they were ‘proper’ drawings [and proper sunshine too, come to that – haven’t had much of that over the last few years].

An attempt to draw the shell properly – minimal detail as I’m not confident with shading etc., but I like the abstract pattern of it -


and ‘what I can see in the garden’ – very stylised. I had great fun with this and fancy doing another in black on white –  if I can think of another 6 things to draw…

I’m counting this as one drawing – so that’s up to number 20.


I think this sudden enthusiasm for drawing is because :

  1. it’s lovely weather, so I work outside – production may drop if we revert to the traditional British summer
  2. it takes my mind off the exhibition – production may drop when its all over
  3. blogging about it motivates me [it’s all your faults!]

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At the suggestion of someone at college, I re-photographed yesterday’s land art – one bit of which had survived better than the other. Interesting to see what’s there tomorrow.

I may use a series of photos rather than the first one for the homework, which raises a problem. I liked the fig leaf piece best, but it looks like there might not be much there tomorrow – which will make it a short series.

Tuesday 29 June 2010

Imagine, if you will…

a window lying flat on the ground. As the frame is raised slightly above the glass, it forms a shallow trough.

It starts to rain. The trough fills with water and eventually overflows.

Now imagine that the window is not lying on the ground, but is a skylight which has inadvertently been left open overnight. A night on which it rains. Heavily.

Get the picture?

And of course the trough still contains water, so when you try to close it …

The one good thing was that it was the kitchen skylight [a tile floor] and not the one at the top of the stairs [carpet].

As it has been raining intermittently all day [and looking as if it will rain much more often] we postponed our planned trip to Art in the Garden – which means I have done a bit more ‘drawing’. As a substitute, I decided I’d do a bit of art in my garden, inspired by Richard Shilling and Julia Brooklyn’s ‘Land Art for Kids’.


Flick through the book on the link, admire their work – and then have a laugh at – er – enjoy mine.

I thought I would just go outside, plonk down a few leaves on what we laughingly describe as a lawn, and take a few snaps before the next shower.

Not that simple.

Of course it would have helped if I understood my camera – so that the pictures would all turn out more or less the same [reasonably natural] colour.

It would also have helped if it had been less windy.

But I found that it isn’t that easy to find leaves that are roughly the same size, and that will lie flat. I also ended up moving the arrangements from one part of the ‘lawn’ to another, because the fig leaves looked better against the yellowy moss, while the ivy and whatever that purple stuff is looked better on one of the few patches that have a some grass in them. I also discovered that unripe figs ooze a sticky white sap, which gets on your leaves and spoils them. And blackberry flowers hook themselves on their own thorns if you’re not careful.IMG_1691

I think nature was fighting back.

But I ended up with one image I like.

And I'm sure that Babybel, who I bought the book for, will do much better than her granny.




When it began to spit with rain, I came inside and did some indoor land art. Feathers from the ‘it will come in useful one day’ box, and a piece of paper I’d covered with tourist brochures and emulsion paint ages ago, and which came to light when I was looking for some hand made paper. Feathers held down with double sided sticky tape [a mistake] and stitch.

Never did find the handmade paper…

While I was in a conceptual artish sort of mood…

Last week we cleared out two years accumulatiIMG_1696on of car park tickets from the glove box. Of course I put them into the aforementioned ‘it will come in useful one day’ box.  Today I fished out some from last summer, stuck them in the homework book, painted them with cheapo paint from Early Learning and blue Quink, used a bit of bubble wrap to lift paint from one page and print it on the opposite side [that page was under-painted before I made the book] – and I have a record of what I did last summer. Mostly go into Winchester on the Park and Ride …


And finally - this is another drawing which I finished last night. It probably took more time than all the others put together, but it is much more my sort of ‘drawing’.

So that’s numbers 15-18. Keep on at this rate and I’ll be finished in 4 weeks!

Except that tomorrow we’ll be putting up the college end-of-year exhibition, on Thursday its the gym and meeting the external examiner, on Friday I’m stewarding and on Saturday it’s the gym and taking the exhibition down, all of which may slow me down a bit …

Monday 28 June 2010

Numbers 10 - 14

Another lovely day, and some more drawing – it’s great to sit in the garden and draw, until it gets too hot.


I’m not sure if I can count these as two different ‘drawings’ as they are the same process – rubbings with oil pastels from the shell I was drawing yesterday. I actually made 4, but these two were the best, and I couldn't choose between the subtle and – er - the less subtle. Subtle used white metallic pastel, which I then overpainted with Wensleydale’s morning coffee – he’d finished with it, honest!




In your face was a black pastel overpainted with spent Procion dye.








This is my favourite of all the ones I’ve done so far – drawing all the little lines on the shell without looking at the paper. I can see lots of things in it – not all of them rude.





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I also quite like this one, made with a constantly breaking pencil which I sharpened so often I began to wonder if it would last long enough for me to finish the drawing. I drew round the shell and then added ‘growth rings’ to the background. The 4 versions are 4 different scans – original, grey scale, black and white and my usual favourite, inverted colours.


Today’s final effort was made with a finger, white and brown inkpads and not quite the right colour of pencil. This one is growing on me -







though I like the inverted scan better. I love those subtle browns and greys, which are more true to -







the real colours of the shell. You can see where I got the idea of growth rings from.

Anyone know what sort of shell this is? I’m tempted to say oyster, but based on my very limited experience of edible oysters, that’s not right.



Busy day tomorrow, so I expect a drastic drop in production …

Sunday 27 June 2010

Nine down …

only another 91 to do. And three of today’s efforts are real  drawings. Sor100 drawings2t of.

The large one is a continuous line drawing, top right was done without looking at the paper, and the bottom one with my left hand. All drawings of a shell, in case you don’t recognise it …


I quite like the continuous line one – it could be couching with a nice lumpy thread. The less said about the others, the better – but I am assuming the point of telling us to do 100 drawings is to encourage us to work spontaneously, without agonising over the details. At least I hope it is …Top

Lest you think I have been very productive, doing 5 drawings in a day, the shells didn’t take very long – as you may have guessed.

And this is one I made earlier – it’s the paste paper I did the other day, now mounted in a larger homework book.




This is the only one that took much time – although I can’t persuade the camera or the scanner to make a decent picture of it.  Again, inspired by Alisa Golden, who points out in ‘Painted Papers’ that as the paint you use for paste papers is – paste – you can use it to stick things down. Like little bits of coffee stained paper with beachy words written on them. and – although Golden isn’t so mad as to suggest it – sand. I’ve just remembered that I have some tiny shells I could have included – but too late now … Sticking sand onto boring brown paper was just the thing to do on a hot day!


I did also make a book – the bigger homework book mentioned above. But it was almost instantaneous – the cover I made years ago, with collaged scrap paper, gesso and Brusho on card. So a few holes and some pages  and it’s done. I will bind it properly when I know how many pages its going to need. 

I am now ahead of myself with an average of 2.25 drawings per day – but as there will be days when nothing gets done - like next Wednesday when we have to assemble our end of year exhibition - I am sure the average will begin to drop soon. At least by posting about the process I can keep count!

Saturday 26 June 2010

A Saturday Saunter – and the first 4 ‘drawings’.

As I may have mentioned before, we don’t often go out on Saturdays – especially not in the summer, when roads leading to the south coast are best avoided. But Mrs Cheddar alerted us to an open day at Chawton House, and as it was a beautiful day, we ventured across to the other side of the M3 to take a look.

For non-Janeites, Chawton belonged to Jane Austen’s rich brother Edward Austen Knight, the one who was adopted by rich relatives. The house has obviously seen a lot of changes since then, but it is beautiful, with  lovely gardens. There were Shire horses, and Regency dancers, and the best carrot cake I’ve ever tasted [after the one Babybel made, obviously]. There will be a sculpture exhibition by Jon Edgar in the garden later in the year, so I think we’ll be going back.100 drawings1

On a rather less exalted artistic level – I have put the first 4 homework ‘drawings’ – or rather, 3 paste papers and a bit of embroidery – in my homework book. The lower two are Alisa Golden’s technique from ‘Painted Paper’, using some fig leaves and a chunk of cupressus Leylandii. The red one is more of a traditional paste paper, and the embroidery is a recycled C&G left-over, which may be cheating but it seemed to fit the theme. It is free machined silk organza sewn over a painted page. It was only when I scanned it that I realised there is part of a flower in the background, so I may go back and pencil that in a bit more. Would that count as a fifth drawing, do you think?

The piece I showed you yesterday isn’t there because I couldn’t bring myself to cut it down to fit this book - I rather regret cutting down the two green pieces in the image. So I will have to force myself to make another book for bigger pieces. So much for using a smaller book to make myself work smaller …


This is a sneak preview of another ‘drawing’. I made a workshop sample for the 2D piece using eyelets, and although I didn’t use them in the final piece, i really liked the effect of lots of eyelets piled up on top of each other. So here are some summery eyelets – but there will be several more before it’s finished. And possibly a few beads. But definitely no sequins.

The base fabric is snow dyed silk, which as you can see looks very summery, like the dappled shade of our apple trees if i look out of the window right now.

After I’d posted last night I went and pootled about with a few on-line graphics sites and ended up with – er – about 50 images. So only another 50 to go – not. I don’t think I’d get away with it – and I do need to challenge myself a bit!


I am going to have to be very selective – but some of them are going into the homework book[s]. Probably this one, made here -







and this one, made here.

But as far as the other 48 are concerned – mmm – maybe not.

Friday 25 June 2010

Scary Stuff…


Scary thing #1

At college on Wednesday we talked about our upcoming exhibition – what to include, how to hang stuff, etc. And then the words ‘artist’s statement’ were uttered. Aaagh! We were shown an example – possibly an example of how not to write one, as it was, in the opinion of several of us, incomprehensible. And ungrammatical. [Who am I to talk? But I can get it right if I want to!]

Of course I Googled when I got home, and found 1 or 2 hits – or ‘about 1,440,000’ according to Google – and some of those were quite helpful – no, I didn’t look at quite all of them. However, this morning I stumbled across an article on the subject in an old copy of Quilting Arts, and that was the best. So the statement has been written and Wensleydale thinks it’s OK [not that he’s biased or anything].

That was the first scary thing.

Scary thing #2

We badgered Sue for the summer home work –and she gave it to us. ‘Make 100 drawings’. Double aaagh! [Possibly aaaaaagh?] Fortunately it does say that a drawing can be stitch, sketch, painting, printing, collage, photography or mixed media, and I think the word ‘computer’ was mentioned, although it’s not written down.

I calculate that to achieve 100 drawings by the start of next term I need to average more than one a day. We got the good news on Wednesday and today’s Friday. So have I made 2 or 3 drawings? Course not.

Decisions, decisions.

I decided I needed a theme, otherwise I'd be blundering around with no sense of direction. [No change there.] Given the recent knitting activity, I did think about vessels. [ I thought ‘knitted bottles’ would be a bit too restrictive.] But 100 drawings of vessels? I might like Giorgio Morandi’s work but I don’t want to be him.

I decided on ‘Summer’. It might seem a bit obvious, but it does have lots of possibilities.

Funnily enough, ever since then, my thoughtsIMG_1586 have been running on flowers – which I have never really been interested in drawing or embroidering. despite the evidence of 100s of computer manipulations of passion flowers and dahlias

I did flirt with the idea of recycling some of those, but I decided that would be cheating. I found some new flowers to play with instead. <g>. Shortly before W, strimmed them.

The homework sheet also includes the words ‘You can create your own book or use a purchased one’. That needed a lot more thought than an overall theme. Not, of course, about whether to use a purchased one or not. No contest. No, the thought was about whether to use one of the empty books which has been biding its time and awaiting its moment, or make a new one.

I decided using an existing one would be quicker – but of course that raised another problem. Which one? It had to be big enough to hold 100 items – which meant around 100 pages – although I don’t suppose anyone will actually count them …


I narrowed the choice to this one – which has lots of pages but it quite tightly bound, so sticking stuff in would be a problem







or this one, which has room for expansion but only just enough pages and is smaller than A4. This is the one I chose in the end.

The cover is a left-over from my C June Barnes inspired dyeing and shrinking experiments. Not particularly summery but definitely organic!



100 drawings

I decided that some of my ‘drawings’ would be collages. As it has been a lovely day and we had some wallpaper paste left over from when father papered the parlour – er – I mean when W. papered the dining room – I made some paste papers.

I got a bit carried away.





I was especially pleased with this one. Not a conventional piece of paste paper, it uses a technique from this book by Alisa Golden.

It’s too big to go in the book, of course …

Perhaps I need two books?

Monday 21 June 2010

Excellent embroidery.

No, not mine – apart from the ‘Remember ‘ box [which Wensleydale insists on referring to as ‘the box of the dead’ – and that’s the improved version of his original name for it] – I haven’t done much. Nor would I necessarily describe it as ‘excellent’.

Today we had a Monday Meander, to see the work of two very different embroiderers. We started at Walford Mill, with an exhibition by Yvonne Morton. I am always attracted by work in muted colours – and her use of silk paper and black stitch, with occasional little touches of colour – is exquisite. Although her work is inspired by African fabric – and I can recognise that in it – some pieces also made me think of 18th and 19ht century estate maps - and I love maps.


Then, after lunch at the Walford Mill cafe – outside so we could enjoy the view – we went on to the Dorchester Museum to see Alice Kettle’s exhibition ‘Allegory’. I saw it when it was at Farnham, but Wensleydale didn’t, and he was keen to go.  It was interesting to see it in a different environment – the larger pieces in particular, hung lower and in a different light so it was easier to get up close and really look at the way she works.

There was also a small exhibition of ‘proper’ bookbinding – a couple of dozen bindings of ‘The Mayor of Casterbridge’ and one of ‘Under the Greenwood Tree’. Interesting to see how real bookbinders work – and the different interpretations of the theme.

I am always amused in Dorchester by the blue plaque on Barclay's Bank, saying that the house is reputed to have been the residence of Michael Henchard, Hardy’s ‘Mayor of Casterbridge’. A blue plaque for a fictional character? Is there one on Elsinore Castle [OK, Kronborg] saying ‘Hamlet woz ‘ere’? [Never say I don’t check my sources.]


I may not have been sewing much – but I have been knitting – more bottles.

On these two I deliberately distorted the necks – with short rows in the felted one on the right, and uneven decreases in the yeti on the right.



The distortion on these is, however, not deliberate. Neither are keen on standing upright – the bobbly one would probably have been better worked on smaller needles, and the sea anemone suffered from over vigorous washing. I was trying to felt the stripes, but only succeeded in making the non-feltable bits go floppy.

Wensleydale made the mistake of saying he liked these strange objects – he pets the yeti when he goes past it – so watch out for more. And if Giorgio Morandi can spend half a lifetime painting pots, I can spend some time knitting them! [Thanks to teacher Mel for introducing me to Morandi.]

Saturday 19 June 2010

I have been remiss…



in not posting about the progress of my ‘environment’ in a Scotch box  - or rather, the contents of the Scotch box. [Not the Scotch – that went years ago …]

I left you with the impression that this was going to become a book.

I misspoke.





This is the book -  in situ. [The colour isn’t right, it’s gold not green!]



This is the book cover.  I decided that, as it was inspired by a poem about memory, and memory is patchy [well, mine is] I wanted something equally patchy and less structured than the crazy patchwork wannabe that had been developing in the workshop.

june 2010


These are the contents of the book – unfortunately the pages wouldn't stay flat. These photographs of my parents were taken at the time of their marriage. I realised when I was scanning the originals that mum is wearing her little RAF brooch which I still have.

Sharp eyes may spot that Dad is in khaki, not RAF blue – that’s because the photo was taken in Iraq, where he served at the end of the war.IMG_1476

I am now trying to pluck up my courage to write under the photos.

The box isn’t quite finished – this needs a few beads before I add it to the sleeve of the box, to hide the word ‘Talisker’, which is still legible despite the spray paint. The gold bits fell out of my stash telling me they belonged together – again, it was inspired by the scrappy nature of memory.




I took some time out from box and book making to pay our first visit of the year to ‘Art in the Garden’. Perhaps because it was a drab day, I was a bit underwhelmed, though Wensleydale disagreed.

I did like these by Janet Schooley. You had to look twice to confirm that they weren’t natural …



although this was a bit of a give away.








I liked this too. You can’t see the very nice carrot cake because I’d eaten it.

Thursday 17 June 2010

On a beautiful summer day…

like yesterday the last thing you want to do is sit in a classroom.

Fortunately it was the day for this semester’s college trip.

And even more fortunately the trip was to Roche Court. [No photos, unfortunately, as photography is not allowed.]

Can you imagine a better ‘lesson’ on a warm, sunny day, than a  guided tour of sculptures by Hepworth, Caro, Gormley, Long, Moore, etc. etc. etc? All set in the beautiful Wiltshire countryside, with the roses in bloom in the walled garden. And, as a special dispensation, a picnic next to this.

Today the weather is equally beautiful, but the day has been marred by an emergency trip to the vet for Quality Control, who appears to have been in a fight [not unusual] and come off worst [most unusual]. We think she is OK but she is being kept in overnight for observation – much to her disgust.

No photographs as she is not a pretty sight!

P.S. – I should make clear that Quality Control’s enforced incarceration is at home, not at the vets – she’s not that bad!

Tuesday 15 June 2010

A Tuesday trip

- the first for quite a long time.

We went to The Vyne, a National Trust property we visited once years ago, but despite the best of intentions never got to again. I think we were put off because to get there from here you have to drive round Basingstoke.

Now I am well aware that there are otherwise normal people who drive round – and even through – Basingstoke, on a regular basis – but they know where they are going, and which lane they should be in, and which exit of the 27 available at each roundabout is the one they want. But we don’t. So we end up in the wrong lane and in the wrong place and it’s scary.

But we took our courage in both hands and went – and we only went wrong twice.

But I digress.

We were motivated to visit by an exhibition of furniture by Mark Brazier Jones. Do not be misled by the first page of his website - this was not an exhibition of motor vehicles, but of furniture. Somewhat unusual furniture. Reading the list of his clients on that page may give you an inkling of what the furniture is like. [We were told the sparkly side tables were covered with Swarovski crystals. And I mean ‘covered’.]

I went expecting not to like it – after all, I’m someone who thinks good furniture design pretty well started and ended with the Bauhaus – but I was taken by some of the pieces. Like this one, which they have in the house in Barbie pink hide. [I always did have a weakness for tassels.]

I liked the lighting and the clocks too – unfortunately I can’t find any images on the website of my favourite ‘escaped from Brighton Pavilion’ standard lamps – if you can use such a mundane phrase about something covered in crystals. [When I say ‘like’ I don’t, of course, mean ‘would like to own’. Even if I could afford it.]

Wensleydale, on the other hand, was rather taken by this. No, not the mirror. I can’t think why. [You can find more images under the ‘Flashman’ link but don’t look unless you are feeling broadminded.]

We decided we needed to go back another time, when the furniture wasn’t there, so we could concentrate on the house.

And, as usual with NT properties, the gardens are lovely and there is a teashop with very good scones.

It was even worth driving round Basingstoke.

Sunday 13 June 2010

Hope you like the new look…

I’d got bored with the black and purple and decided I wanted something lighter and fresher. This is one of Blogger’s themes and I haven’t quite mastered it yet, which is why that heading may look a bit big, and some bits could be more legible.

Of course, this being Blogger, changing the theme has buggered up the arrangement of all my previous posts – but I hope you’ll forgive me for not going through all 568 to sort them out. [Gulp.]

Wensleydale and I had a very pleasant outing on Saturday afternoon, to the Southampton Art Gallery. I may have mentioned before what a good gallery it is, if you like contemporary art. The ‘Sea Fever’ exhibition is excellent – a wide range of sea themed pieces, from their recently restored early Turner to living artists like Julian Opie and Richard Long - the majority are 20th century.


Well – I wrote that yesterday – and more – but the laptop crashed [which it has been doing rather too often recently] and I lost it all. Teach me to save regularly. [Click.]

So today I have emptied the recycle bin, and defragged, and cleaned discs – and I have my fingers firmly crossed that it will help. If not, I shall have to wait till the techie returns from here to take it in hand. [Somehow all my computers have always known when their master was on holiday.]

But I digress. I was going to write a long description of the exhibition – but I’ve rather lost the motivation. All I can say is that it is well worth visiting, especially if you are interested in contemporary art, and there is a small exhibit of amusing Lowry drawings as a bonus. [And entry is free! – although car parking isn’t.]

But I must end with a quote from Maggi Hambling, posted in the Gallery next to her wonderful image of ‘Erosion’.

‘The older I get I identify with the land which is being eroded. The sea is like time – you can do nothing about it.’

Last night I felt pretty eroded…

Friday 11 June 2010

Today was contemporary textiles day …

the last one as it happens, because we’ve decided not to go next year.

So of course it was the best one we’ve had.

IMG_1250 We were told to take a box, so I took one I've been saving for years, just in case.

Amazing what a bit of spray paint and a flash photo can do – unfortunately it doesn’t quite look like this in real life.

This is just a slip case -




this is what it looks like inside. [To give you an idea of scale, it originally held two miniatures of Talisker, a present to Wensleydale, though I helped him drink it <g>.]


We had to make an ‘environment’ inside, inspired by our choice of poem. Sensible people chose poems with lots of visual imagery, but I chose ‘Remember’ by Christina Rossetti.

Having a gold box, I had only taken gold and black fabric and threads, so I was a bit restricted. And I’d been looking through this book by Rozanne Hawksley before we started, which might have influenced my choice. [The only time I ever cried at an embroidery exhibition, was at Hawksley’s ‘The Seamstress and the Sea’, which we saw some years ago  in Portsmouth, a particularly poignant place to see it.] 


But I digress. By the end of today’s session the box looked like this inside.




I had also tacked this together, to go inside. It was going to be a panel placed on the other layers that are in there already - there are another 3 you can’t see.

But when I got home it folded itself over and told me it was a book.

It will become a book of photos of my parents and grandparents – I have several of those tiny black and white ones they took in the 40s and 50s, which I think will fit quite nicely.


On a much less serious nautical theme, the mermaid’s purse is finished. Note my attempt at set dressing.








And another bit of seaside felting – I can’t remember if I showed you this bit of hand needle work.

Tomorrow we’re off to ‘Sea Fever’. All this salt water splashing around. Must be the summer …

Sunday 6 June 2010

A productive weekend


So productive I’m gobsmacked.

Most importantly – this is finished.  Sewn down to the backing, cord made to hang it by, and all the paperwork done. It took me most of yesterday afternoon to write the critical evaluation.

It is all bagged up [I’d like to pretend I made a drawstring bag specially for it but really I liberated one I keep my slate frames in] and ready to go to college on Wednesday – together with all the stuff I need for painting still lives.


Flushed with success I went back to this and finished that too. Note I said ‘finished’ – I’d done quite a lot to it while I was procrastinating about the 2D piece. The lumps at the bottom are whipping over pipe cleaners, so it curls round and stands up by itself. There are also beads but they don’t seem to show very well.





And then I finished another piece of procrastination. [And weirdness.]

I didn’t expect it to stand up by itself – but it does.

Anyone else remember a fashion for vessels with holes in the sides, made of terracotta, some time last century? [I love saying that.] Possibly in the 70s? Or am I imagining it?



Then I got started on this. 

Two layers of florists’ wrap [possibly Sizoflor], with threads and sequins in between the layers, free machined, [forgot to photograph it at this stage] sewn into a bag and zapped.




In case it isn’t immediately obvious <g>, it is a lining for this, the mermaid’s purse to be.

I keep telling myself I don’t do whimsy. If its ugly enough, does it not count as whimsy?



Speaking of odd things - in my self imposed mission to rescue all textile related objects I come across in charity shops, last week I bought four ring frames and a bag of floss [£4.50 – bargain!].

And hidden among the floss, along with theIMG_1220 world’s rustiest needle, was this – a combined ruler and knitting needle gauge. Must be quite old as its pre-metric. It is made of heavy card, and can’t have been used much. I love it.

But then I'm weird.