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

Dorothy Rowe

Thursday 30 June 2011

And so we reach the final…


photo challenge. Yet another self portrait. With spots. As it’s a Babybel day, for this one I took the easy way out – no Photoshop, just one of the photos I took for the last self-portrait, and the abstract geometric filter from PostworkShop.

It’s been fun, and I’ve learned a lot about PSE which I am now attempting to transfer to Photoshop, but I’m glad of a break.

Now for some mark making!

Wednesday 29 June 2011

Busy busy busy…

Having a college-free morning, I buckled down and tidied the workroom. Sort of. Put print-outs in the right places, emptied the bins, put some bits of fabric away – so now you can see the floor and a bit of work space.

It won’t last.

Then off to college to assemble my plinth wrapped in corrugated card with a tatty cardboard box on top of it. This was a relatively quick process - apart from taking all the cardboard off and remounting it with the corrugations outside 'cos Miss thought it would look better – and it did. Note to self – always make sure your display doesn’t have to be hung on the wall or from the ceiling so you don’t have to wait for a man to come and erect things for you. [Double entendre intended – sorry, I’ve got that sort of mind.]

image Since I got home I finished this – which I mentioned a while ago and then went very quiet about. It got shelved for a while because it had got to the machine sewing stage and I was more in the mood for sitting in sunshine with a bit of hand sewing. But as part of the deck clearing, I decided to finish it. Not sure about the flap, and I think the button will have to be moved, but it holds the essentials better than the elderly black one I've been using.


For those who remember a tirade I posted ages ago about small bags, I should point out that this my little bag – I also carry a bigger one with all the rest of my junk in it – other specs, drawing kit for Babybel,  shopping bags, rain hat, extra tissues, camera etc. etc. etc.

So now that is out of the way I have no more excuses for not getting started on SAM, PMS, PCs and essay - not even the photo challenge, which ends tomorrow.

The penultimate challenge is ‘black and white’. Now, PFAEC has lots of recipes for turning your colour images B&W, but the effect I fancied for the image I wanted to use wasn’t one of them. I wanted something moody, and ‘Nocturnes’ inspired by Whistler, seemed to fit the bill - so I decided to try the Nocturnes effect and remove the colour afterwards.image

I think I was a bit heavy handed with some of the steps so it’s a bit cartoonish, but I’m quite pleased with it. Can you imagine Heathcliff behind those windows? [For those who don’t know it, it’s Haworth Parsonage, where the Brontes lived.]

Tomorrow is the final self portrait - will Cheshire reveal her true face to the world at last?

Not bum-bum likely. 

Tuesday 28 June 2011


I need flowers. Not as much as I need gin and chocolate, but in the absence of the latter, flowers will have to do.flowers1

Especially as they are today's’ photo challenge.

For once, this effect is not from PFAEC, but a tutorial from ‘The Photographer’s Guide to Photoshop’ a ‘magbook’ I bought in Smith’s without realising that it is written for earlier versions of PS. [So is PFAEC, but I bought that second hand, not from a magazine display, which you expect to be current.] As Babybel has taken to saying ‘bum-bum’.

However, it gave me good practice in extracting an image, and I like the result, especially the reflection.

Why do I need flowers, chocolate and gin?

No real reason, it has just been a day of minor hassles – many of my own making.

The day started reasonably well. We wandered out to Haskins/Hobbycraft to buy:

  1. a growbag so Babybel can transplant her flourishing pumpkin plants on Thursday
  2. a basket for a present for someone who I am not going to name.

The growbag was easy – but of course I can’t go into Hobbycraft and come out with just one thing [paper, card, rug making tools for some experimental rug making – no, I haven’t got time].

I intended to fill the basket with shredded tissue paper, add a selection of small prezzies, wrap it in cellophane and add a ribbon – but I looked at the not very exciting basket and thought it would look nicer with a lining. While I was looking for some lining fabric, a bit of wadding jumped out and told me it was the right size, and I could quilt the lining.

When I'd quilted it, I realised it was too stiff for my usual ‘gather the edges, as long as it’s a bit too big it will fit’, approach to basket lining – I had to tailor it, trim it to size, and hem it properly. I still haven’t sewn it in – nor have I bought the prezzies to go in it.

Note to self: do not decide to make a simple presentation far more complicated than it needs to be.

Then a friend phoned:

Note to self: do not talk on the phone for hours.

Then I looked at last night’s embroidery.

Note to self: do not decide to unpick last night’s mark making just because you don’t like it. ‘It’s only a sample’

Then I looked at the BBC news webpage.

Note to self: do not get addicted to Thornton’s drinking chocolate just before Thornton's decided to close the majority of their shops.

Tomorrow is half a college day – putting up the display for the end of year show, which starts on Thursday night and continues all day Friday and Saturday morning.

And then it’s a summer of sketchbooking, mark making, personal cloths and essay writing.

Can’t wait.

Monday 27 June 2011

Yesterday was ‘close up’ -

from a distancea here’s the same Jaume Plensa sculpture ‘from a distance’.

To give you some idea of scale, the red blob is a person inside the sculpture. The effect is ‘Seurat’ from PFAEC.

I am fascinated by this piece – does the fact that it is made of letters make it a book? Probably not – but it inspires some interesting ideas.


Knowing that today would be Babybel and gym day, I worked on the image yesterday – and I’m glad I did because today has been so hot and humid, I have little energy for anything challenging.

I will probably manage some more work on SAM tonight – I made 2,3,4,or 5 marks yesterday, depending on how you count them.


Is this one or two marks? I’m counting it as two, even though they overlap, because they are not conceptually related to each other - [‘ark at ‘er!]– apart from both being inspired by the dye marks on the cloth.



I have decided  that this is also two. The little blue blobs were worked over splatter marks, and I’m counting them as one mark. The others were an exploration of related ideas, so also count as one mark.

The block on the right, which reminds me of rhubarb, was inspired by the colour exploration I did yesterday – using embroidery floss and changing the proportion of red to green by one strand each time. Then I tried a similar idea but changing the number of strands in the needle each time. I’m tempted to have another go with machine embroidery thread, which I hope is even finer than floss – how minimal can a mark be before it ceases to be a mark? 

I did look up the word in a dictionary yesterday: lots of interesting ideas came out of that, including holes and symbols. But I can’t make up my mind how 3D a ‘mark’ is – and what about texture? I tried thinking about art media marks – the difference between pencil marks and paint marks, for example – and of course paint can be textured and 2.5D if not 3…

Is it just me who wastes spends time thinking deep thoughts about questions like this? Does everyone else just get on with it? It’s interesting, though, and looks like being a good cure for insomnia.

One decision I have made is that somewhere there will be a big red ‘X’

Sunday 26 June 2011

A sunny day…

a good night’s sleep, Wensleydale out and chores done meant that for the first time for ages I felt like doing someIMG_6385 college work!

I started with a little painting for the PMS. Somebody recommended this book, and when it came I saw why, but I hadn’t got round to doing anything with it. But on a sunny day, what could be nicer than sitting in the conservatory with some paint and a sketch book?



The first two exercises are  ‘wet into wet’ [the circles] and ‘wet into dry’ [the squares]. They are simple enough not to deter the least confident watercolour user [i.e. me], and, once I got going, fun. Because I was using these two little sketchbooks, in which I’d collaged some bit of paper, I ended up using the techniques as colour exercises, based on the papers, and I could have gone on all morning. But it got very hot in the conservatory, so I drifted out into the garden to look for ‘marks’ – as in ‘stitch as mark x 50’, amarks1ka SAM.

This made me wonder what a mark is, anyway [according to W. it’s a stain], but I did end up with a collection of photos of lichen, bark, planks and peeling paint – which tells you a lot about our house and garden, really…  These are the edited highlights. I love that daisy-like shape in the top row, which is knot marks in the fence.

After lunch I went out and tried to draw some of them, before deciding that a pen wasn’t a good idea and I’d have been better off with my favcloseupourite oil pastels.

So I fired up Photoshop for today’s challenge –’close-up’. This is a photo I took of a Jaume Plensa sculpture at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park last month – I’ll show you the whole thing tomorrow, which is ‘from a distance’. The effect, from PFAEC as usual, is ‘intaglio’ – and was much easier than it looks. Yes, the letters are back to front, but that is not because I reversed it, it’s because I was inside the sculpture when I took the picture. Obviously.

When I’ve finished writing this, I'm going to sit down outside, if it’s cooled off enough, and sew a stitched mark or two while W. sands down the window sills. Mmm – wonder who’s got the best bargain there? I will make him a cup of tea to keep him going first…

Saturday 25 June 2011

Pretty in Pink

Today’s challenge is ‘something pink’. Pink is yet another colour I don’t have a lot of – and what I do have is either unexciting [a polo shirt] or something [unspecified] I do not intend to post a photo of on the net. image

Fortunately on one of our Babybel walks [now there's someone who has a lot of pink] I photographed a dog rose. 

This started off as an attempt at the ‘fine art flowers’ effect from PFAEC, but I failed to notice that there were 4 pages of instructions for the effect, not the usual two, found the half-way point a bit uninspiring, and added a filter.

It is my first full Photoshop effort, and I’m quite please with it, although I could do without those blue blobs.

I enjoyed myself with PS, although there are a few differences to PSE which I’ll have to get used to. At least it hasn’t got the dreadful black on black controls, which to my mind are close to infringing disability discrimination legislation….

Friday 24 June 2011

Three for the price of one.

A combination of college, Babybel and a stomach bug you don’t want to read about has made me get a bit behind with the photo challenge.

College was busy, but more productive for me personally than it has been for a while. I got my draft essay back [no problems, go away and write it], had my photos taken and, in a very positive peer review session, got some good suggestions about my 3D piece and about how I should present it in the exhibition. I don’t know whether I’ll have time/motivation to make changes to the piece itself, but the suggestion about display was easy to follow up, involving only a trip to Staples, which is conveniently close to Babybel’s nursery. All I need to do now is remember to take some scissors and our long arm stapler next week for construction purposes. The great advantage of making something deliberately grungy is that you can make the presentation grungy too…

The down side was that we were unexpectedly given more homework – the  obscurely phrased ‘Mark as stitch x 50’ – which I take to mean 50 examples of stitch used to make marks. This is on top of the [non-draft] version of the essay, and the open-ended Personally Managed Sketchbook and Personal Cloths. The up side of that is that I feel quite enthused about stitch as mark [SAM?] – perhaps because it will be nice to get back to doing some proper stitch.

I did think of stitching on used colour catchers, assuming I’ve got 50, but in the middle of an insomniac morning, decided a better idea would be to find onimagee of my large pieces of too-multicoloured-to-use-in-a-proper-piece hand dye, and work into that, rather as I might doodle on a randomly painted piece of paper. Of course finding a suitable piece was more difficult than I anticipated – too small, too big, too dominating a pattern, too good to use for that – but I did find this, and a selection of threads which may or may not match, because I picked them out in artificial light.

So have I got started on all this homework? Of course not. After mucking around with PSE, I spent the afternoon sitting in the conservatory [pleasantly warm if not sunlit] and working on the beaded bag, which I feel I ought to finish before starting anything else. And drinking tea and listening to Radio 3’s ‘Light Music Weekend’, which is a delight for anyone brought up with the Light Programme in the 50s.image

But I digress – back to the photo challenge.

Wednesday's was ‘Hands’. This started off with the Surreal photomontage effect from PFAEC, but got simplified and filtered.




Thursday was ‘Sunflare’, but not much sun, so I used a holiday photo which needed a bit of sun added to it.


And today’s is ‘Animal’, for which there was really only one choice.


Quality Control meets the Cubists – or rather the Cubism effect from PFAEC, with afterthought sepia/glow in Picasa. She really needed more cubes and more distortion, but I think I was up to 25ish layers before I got bored and gave up.





These will probably be the last photos for which I use PSE, as my student’s version of CS5 arrived today [very prompt service from Adobe, Germany to Hampshire in 2 days!] so I’m looking forward to playing with that while continuing to enjoy a nostalgic weekend on Radio 3.

Tuesday 21 June 2011

Self portrait? Again?

faceless copy

This time the photo challenge is a faceless self portrait – of course, in my case, there is no other sort.

This is an attempt at the ‘Powerful Portraits’ effect from PFAEC. [Don’t laugh.]

It was somewhat restricted by the difficulty of taking a photo holding the camera above my head – and that the effect relies quite heavily on Photoshop bells and whistles that I don’t have in PSE. And that, from the look of it, my hair needs washing …

College tomorrow, so a certain amount of slippage may occur. More photography, though this time it will be by someone who knows what he is doing - for the end of year exhibition [Thursday evening on 30th June, all day Friday 1st July and the morning of Saturday 2nd July, at the Desborough Centre, if anyone is interested]. 

Monday 20 June 2011

It’s been a long, tiring day

and today’s photo challenge was particularly challenging – so I’m not sorry that I cheated a bit with it – well, quite a lot really.


So here’s one I made earlier.

The challenge was ‘bokeh’ – which I had to Google – and I’m still not sure if it means an out of focus background, or those circular blobs, or both, or neither.

I did try a couple of tutorials on how to make your own bokeh backgrounds but they were written for Photoshop, and I couldn’t get my brain round them for PSE – so the first cheat was to use a pre-made texture I found on the web. Well, the second cheat, I suppose, as I could have tried to take a bokeh photo with my camera instead of Photoshopping it. Yeh, right.

So this is the view of the Needles from Highlife Castle, with added blobby bits, and a darkish filter to make it look mysterious.

If I'd made it even earlier I could have cheated even more and used it for ‘silhouette’ as well…

Sunday 19 June 2011

Something orange?

imageIt’s another colour I don’t have much of – if you know what I mean, but it’s today’s challenge topic.

Fortunately the packaging industry is much keener on orange than I am – which means that a quick glance through my litter photos and a lot of muttering and swearing over Photoshop produced this. For once, it isn’t a PFAEC effect – just an extracted image, a textured background, and a trawl through the filters till I found one I liked.

And for once – I've done some sewing. Nothing at allimage to do with college, and not something I designed myself, just taken from a print-out of a bag pattern I got somewhere. Not my sort of colours [mmm – a hint of orange?], but based on the Chinese brocade you can just about see in the middle. I’ve been sitting in the conservatory enjoying a sunny interval and doing a bit of beading – very relaxing.

Of course, now it’s clouded over, and we are bracing ourselves for the arrival of [grand]father’s day well-wishers, so the beading has had to be put away.

Saturday 18 June 2011

Day 18?

Where has June gone?

Today's photo challenge was ‘your shoes’.


Good job I told you, wasn’t it? This is the ‘abstract watercolour’ effect from PFAEC – it could have been less abstract and more recognisable, but you may be able to spot a couple of shoe-like objects in there – there are actually 5 and a bit.

Apart from that, all I’ve done today, apart from the boring bits, of course,  is take out a second mortgage and order the full Photoshop – student edition while I’m still a student <g>. Just hope Adobe accept that I am – ordering it it is a complex process involving scans of supporting documentation…

Addicted? Me?

Friday 17 June 2011

Still faffing about…

doing a little Photoshopping – and making a lot of unsuccessful attempts to get Opera to talk to Gmail, without success. It had started downloading 2 or 3 of most messages, so I tried uninstalling and reinstalling it – and now it won’t download any…

I may have to return to Microsoft after all, since I have tried Thunderbird twice without ever getting it to work properly.

So here is today’s photo challenge - ‘technology’. I tried the ‘Futurists’ effect from PFAEC, on a picture I took at Hollycombe Steam Museum last autumn.

technology futurist_edited-2 Babybel loved these cars so much it was almost impossible to get her off them.

Thursday 16 June 2011

And number 16 is…

‘long exposure’.

I have been experimenting with increasing the exposure time on my little point and shoot, but all I got was blurrrrrrr. So I turned to my new bible, PFAEC, and the first effect in the ‘Photographers’ section, daguerreotypes. The outline specifically mentions that these involved long exposures, leading to blurring of moving objects, like water.


I cheated again and used a holiday photo – Daguerre comes to Yorkshire. Still not got the border the way I want it, but I’m working on it…

Wednesday 15 June 2011

Here’s one I prepared earlier…

since it was college today and I knew I wouldn’t have the time or the energy to work on today's photo challenge.

The topic was ‘Silhouette’. I tried the ‘Expresblur slide_edited-2sionism’ effect from PFAEC, but just couldn’t get it to work, so with a judicious bit of selecting, cutting and mucking about  with filters,  I ended up with this.

Guess who?




College was a bit undirected because we are on ‘student directed work’. I made 2 and a bit books, using some of my photos and a bit of plain paper for a fold -out. The blue cover is cut from a plastic notebook cover.

I’m experimenting with single sheet sewings from this [and let me assure you I did NOT pay anything like that much for it!].


They are fun to do, but I’m not sure that they are what I want to use for my litter books. I’m swithering at the moment between books with grungy covers – like the one with a card cover – and ones with beautifully bindings to contrast with litter photos inside. Which assumes I’m capable of making a beautiful binding, of course…

Tuesday 14 June 2011

The eyes have it.


As you may have guessed from that dreadful pun, today's challenge is ‘eyes’.

After struggling for a time with the question of how you photograph your own eyes, I realised it didn’t actually specify my eyes.

So I found an unwilling and somewhat wriggly model, and after taking lots of photos of fur and ears and other bits we won’t mention, managed this.

Just be glad you’re not a mouse.


Another attempt at the ‘Fauve’ effect from PFAEC – seemed appropriate, somehow.

Monday 13 June 2011

Up to date…

with the photograimagephy challenge if nothing else.

Today’s challenge is ‘Yourself with 13 objects’. As you have probably realised, I don’t like photos of myself, so hiding behind 13 objects had some appeal. After ‘something blue’ I assembled 11 blue objects for the photo. [Why 11? Because the camera and the cupboard made 13. Except you can’t see the camera.]

For once, this is not an effect from PFAEC, but one from an article in an old ‘Cloth, Paper, Scissors’ by Christi Hydeck.

The cupboard has glass shelves and sides, and a mirrored back, so there are lots of reflections to make the image even more interesting. Like my granddaughter, I like reflections [and shadows].

Sunday 12 June 2011

I’ve caught up…

but I expect to fall behind again tomorrow!

Days 11 & 12 of the 30 day photo challenge are ‘something blue’ and ‘sunset’: one of these was much accessible than the other.

There are a lot of blue things around here, apart from jeans – sofas, curtains, carpet, vases, crockery, towels, eyes – yes, we like blue.

So what to choose? I've already discovered that I’m too impatient to spend time arranging still lives, and carpets and curtains seemed a bit restrictive – so I pulled a few things out of the sideboard, and photographed them individually, before deciding to go with this.


In case you can’t work out what it is, it’s a millefiori paperweight – which is blue – just not this blue!

This is the ‘silkscreen’ effect from PFAEC, which gave lots of practice in extracting shapes and using layers – and I managed to work out how to add a frame border –PSE calls it a border, who am I to argue?

‘Sunset’ was rather more of a challenge: yesterday was overcast, so no sunset, and I’ve given up expecting one today as it has been raining heavily all daimagey [has summer come?]

So I cheated.

When we went to ‘Another Place’ last month, I was a bit disappointed that there wasn’t a proper sunset, although I did take some photos of the light on the water.





PFAEC has an effect called ‘luminous landscape’ – or in my case, seascape. 

Quite pleased with that.

Tomorrow is Babybel and gym, so I don’t know if I’ll have the time to tackle ‘Myself with 13 things’…

Saturday 11 June 2011

A bit of book making…

and a bit of drawing took place today – as well as rather more photography.

The drawing was 2 minute continuous line sketching – I am doing more of this, and blind contour drawing, in an attempt to loosIMG_6129en up.

The books were quick, ad hoc things – after a morning with Babybel, good as she is, I didn’t have the energy for much else!

This, as you can see, is recycled yoghurt packaging. [Love those toffee ones]. One of my problems with getting interested in litter is that most litter seems to be things like cigarette and crisp packets, sweet wrappings and drinks cans and bottles – none of which we have around – and I can’t bring myself to pick them up…


This is much more salubrious – an off cut of hand made paper turned into an accordion book, I thought the flowers were interesting, but it needs something to bring out the patterns I cut in the inner layer.

By tomorrow I should be up to date with the photography challenge – if I can manage another two. Today’s are ‘someone you love’ and ‘a childhood memory’. I used PSE and PFAEC for both but I’m not completely enamoured with the results, and I’ve resorted to Picasa and Picnik to finish them off.image

This is Babybel in the ‘echo tunnel’ on our Thursday walk. It’s an attempt at a ‘Fauve scene’ from PFAEC, but I was too heavy handed with the black lines, I think. I added some glow with Picasa which has improved it a bit.





and this sad gentleman is my childhood memory – my one legged, earless Ted, pop-arted a la PFAEC. I managed to work out how to add the text in PSE, but not how to get it into a speech bubble – and adding a frame was  completely beyond me, so that was done in Picnik.

I’m feeling a bit like Ted at the moment, as yesterday my GP confirmed what I have suspected for a while – that I have arthritis of the hip – and possibly back and neck as well. So it is time for X-rays, [just like Wensleydale], and probably physio [just like Wensleydale], and hydrotherapy [just like Wensleydale]. But if that lot does for me what it’s done for him, I’ll be a new woman <g>.

Friday 10 June 2011

Numbers 7 & 8…

of the 30 day photography challenge are ‘Fruit’  and ‘A bad habit’.


So here is a ‘portrait’ of some very unripe apples in the garden, with my attempt at the Dutch Portrait effect from Photoshop Fine Art Effects Cookbook, hereinafter known as PFAEC. I like this hint of a tint – might be good for litter images.





And rather too edible,  my newly acquired bad habit, some Botham’s ginger biscuits which came back with us from Yorkshire. [W’s mother lived in Whitby, home of Botham’s, so this was an exercise in nostalgia as well as biscuity excellence.] Unfortunately we ate the last two today.

This started as the ‘Modernism’ effect in PFAEC, but morphed a bit, in my attempt to make it less obvious what they are.

By tomorrow I should have caught up, but we have an extra Babybel morning, so maybe not…

Thursday 9 June 2011

And last Sunday’s challenge was…

to take a photo from a high angle – while Monday’s was, perhaps unsurprisingly, to take one from a low angle. Both of which said ‘stairs’ to me. I did think of lying down in the garden and photographing the trees and sky but there was too much of an overlap with ‘clouds’ and ‘green’ so I abandoned that idea.

I took several shots from the top of the stairs but the one which appealed most was this one – my attempt at the ‘lith printing’ effect from ‘Photoshop Fine Arts Effects Cookbook’. I wanted to get a slightly spooky B-movie effect and this is the closest I got.

image image

Looking the other way, I tried the ‘Polaroid transfer’ effect. That border isn’t quite right, but I enjoyed adding the wiggles.

That – and a bit of knitting - is about all the creative stuff that’s happened recently. I hope to get something college-related done tomorrow afternoon – although I suppose improving my Photoshop skills is college related. Wonder if I should put these in my PMS?

Wednesday 8 June 2011

One down…

a few more to go. Modules, that is. I handed in Module 9 today, although I was still finding interesting book artists last night – or rather this morning, after insomnia struck again. Enjoyed it [the RP, not the insomnia], but I'm glad it’s done. The draft of Module 11 is due next week, and then there are no more deadlines until next term – apart from the end of term show.

We all had tutorials on the PMS and the Personal Cloths – or in my case the Personal Papers. Obviously, if I’m going to work in paper, there is an overlap between the two, but I suggested that the PMS would be about the structure of books, and the PCs about the contents, and that was acceptable – although it was strongly suggested that either might wander off in other directions and that would be OK.

Now all there is left of the second year of the degree is two sessions of peer review, photographing the sketchbooks from drawing studies for video display in the exhibition, setting up the display and stewarding it. Not sure where the two years have gone.

Insomnia did give me a chance to play around with some more of my photos in PSE. Challenges 3&4 are ‘clouds’ and ‘something green’. For some reason I often seem to photograph clouds when I go to Walford Mill, so I took some more when we went there yesterday.


Guess what the weather was like? I did try photoshopping this one, but it wasn’t improved by the process, so this is the original.

I wanted to avoid the obvious solution for ‘something green’ – but there are very few green things around here, apart from the obvious. I did assemble a green still life – knitting bag, watering can, water bottle, potted plant – but I am clearly no Cezanne and the result looked dreadful, so I drifted down the garden and found some cobnuts, which the squirrels haven’t gotIMG_5942 to yet.

I took some photos, one of which looked like this – a combination of the wind and, I think, a bit of stray finger on the right.] By the wonders of PSE I combined it with a better one


cobnuts exclsioncrop_edited-2 and ended up with this. OK. it’s not as green as it was, but it’s not quite the obvious solution, and I like it. [Didn't know you can get catkins and nuts at the same time.]

Day 9’s challenge is ‘someone you love’ – and tomorrow is Babybel day – so guess who that will be? [Sorry, Wensleydale.]

Tuesday 7 June 2011

Just a couple of steps behind…

so no change there.

While we were on holiday I came across this, and as I’m trying to improve my minimal photography and Photoshop skills, I thought it would be something to add to the roster of things I’ve started but not finished try.

I think the idea was that we started on June 1st – and I really meant to – but we were on holiday and other things took precedence – like the aforementioned eating and drinking too much.

So I started today, but I have taken several photos in an attempt to catch up. I haven’t photoshopped all of them, photographing being quicker than photoshopping, at least the way I do them, but here are the first two.

The first challenge was a self portrait, but shy, retiring soul that I am, I ducked out of the problem of trying to work out how to take a self portrait which actually showed what I look like, and went for a reflection instead.

I’ve been playingimage around with ideas from ‘Photoshop Fine Art Effects Cookbook’, which, as it’s written for Photoshop rather than Elements, has been even more of a learning experience. ‘Fine Art’ in this context includes historic photographs as well as paintings and prints.

This is my attempt at a fake wet plate collodion print from the 1850s to the 1890s. It was taken in the conservatory looking into the dining room so there are quite a lot of reflections of things other than me.

The second challenge is ‘What I wore today’. Now this runs into the same problems as a self portrait – how do I photograph what I’m wearing? I could take it off – but it’s not bed twearing pinlight crop_edited-1ime yet.

So what is easily visible? Well, the things I keep having to crop out of any photos I take of things on the floor.  Yes, my feet.

My skin isn’t actually blue, you understand, and neither is anything else – this my attempt at a cyanotype, c1840s, with a black line added by Livewriter without my consent.

Earlier on in the day I had collected my sewing machine from the repairers – so thanks for your suggestions, Sandy, which I will try if the Teflon foot doesn't work.

We also went out to Walford Mill to see the exhibition ‘Under and Over’, which is an interesting combination of very wearable clothes and accessories, and not-really-meant-to-be-worn art works inspired by clothes. I particular liked Carole Waller’s wonderful painted clothing, Elisabeth Hamlyn’s knitwear [oh, to have the figure/courage to wear it], and Elizabeth Forrest's combinations of recycled items of clothing and poems in calligraphy.

Funny how satisfying a busy day can be…

Tomorrow is the Research Project hand-in day. I keep finding new bits to add, so my initial plan not to include any print-outs has gone by the wayside – though I have read them all.

Monday 6 June 2011

Am I turning into a bad-tempered old bat?

[Sons are not allowed to answer this rhetorical question.]

Coming back from Yorkshire on Saturday, I found myself snarling at a pair of people trying to sell me something in a service station – standing together so the second one knew the first one had already tried and failed – and they had another go on the way out. I’d said ‘No thank you’, politely like my mother taught me – so why did they try again, and again, and again?

Now I've just had to hang up on an importunate woman who asked me why I no longer wished to contribute to her cause [because I'm p****d off with them, that’s why] but then talked over me when i tried to answer her question – making me even more p****d off, and even less likely to contribute.

I did say snarl ‘Good afternoon’ as I put the phone down but I don’t suppose she heard as she was still talking. I hate losing my temper, but have very low tolerance for people who won't take no for an answer.

On to more cheerful matters – maybe. We had a good holiday, just wish it had been longer. Ate too much, drank too much, did a bit of drawing, bought a lot of books and a fair amount of cheese. Can we have a Booth’s supermarket and the cheese stall from Skipton market down here, please?

On the other hand, since we got back I’ve found it very difficult to get going on college work – possibly because I bought one of these in Liverpool

imagebut more likely because I’ve got the draft essay and the research project out of the way and the deadlines for the sketchbook and the personal cloths are months away.

So I’ve made a new sketchbook, and, because the lasimaget two were a success with both Babybel and her daddy, a couple of aprons – not quite finished as the machine with the Teflon foot is in for repair after I sewed over a pin, and the take-to-classes machine really really really didn’t want to sew the PVC shiny side out.

These are, as I’m sure you realise, for when daddy or granddad [not ‘grangrad’ any more, she’s sorted that one out] help her with the washing up – while the other ones are for when mummy or gran help her cook. 

And of course, there have been the usual post-holiday delights of washing and shopping…

Wednesday 1 June 2011

Other people…

come to the Yorkshire Dales to walk in the wonderful countryside.

We come and look at textiles. [OK, we do a bit of walking as well, but not walking, if you know what I mean.]

On Tuesday we went to Bankfield Museum in Halifax, which has a couple of textile-y exhibitions on at the moment, as well as one about sweeties. Some beautifully executed embroidery but it didn’t really grab me, although the costume galleries are always good.

Today we went to East Riddlesden Hall, firstly to have lunch in their excellent cafe [Yorkshire Ploughman's is recommended] but also to revisit the house and take a look at the garden, which we didn’t manage to see last time.

When we got to the Hall we discovered an exhibition about rag rugs [I can detect a textile exhibition from miles away]. Now rag rugs are not something I've ever really thought about, although I did try locker hooking once and got very exasperated with it as I couldn’t get into a rhythm. However this was a very well presented exhibition which made me think I'd like to have a go – so watch this space. And I’d forgotten that East Riddlesden has some excellent embroideries – I was pleased to see that they now have photos of the inside of their little stumpwork box on display, so perhaps my campaign to persuade the National Trust that their customers might be interested in textiles is paying off.

After lunch we moved on  to Cliffe Castle Museum in Keighley, because I’d seen an article in Embroidery magazine about ‘Between the Lines’, an exhibition of work by Naseem Darbey. Now regular readers will now that machine embroidery is not my favourite medium – but Darbey’s work uses FME in ways which would be impossible with hand stitch. The pieces are beautifully made and beautifully displayed - the photos don’t really do them justice because you can’t see the shadows – and I have a thing about shadows. I also loved her use of writing in the pieces. I won’t go into the thinking behind them, but there are details on her website.

There is another textile exhibition there too, of work by the Flax textile group, so Cliffe Castle is well worth a visit at the moment – and the building itself is gob-smacking!

Probably no more textiles before we go home – but there may well be some walking, and a bit of retail therapy…