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

Dorothy Rowe

Friday 28 September 2012

I feel very neglectful...

but it has been a full week! Looking after Babybel and the VHC takes up two full days, and recovering from looking after them takes almost as long. Our Art Appreciation classes have restarted, which curtails Tuesday trips unless they are short ones, and the usual boring stuff filled up most of the rest of the time. 

I have done a little stitch related work, although it has, so far, only involved cutting, sticking and painting.

In my continuing quest to find out how to keep a proper sketchbook (and in hope that some of her patience and ability to make beautiful work will rub off), I have started an on-line course with Karen Ruane - although Karen calls sketchbooks 'ledgers'.

The first exercise has been a colour matching one. We did one of these as part of our C&G course, but as with so much of C&G, there was no follow-up or development  of the process. Karen's approach is rather different, and I suspect we are going to do more with the results than we ever did in C&G.

This is my effort. 

I chose a Giorgio Morandi still life, because I'm fascinated by his use of colour. Selecting a picture to use made me realise straight away that there is much more varied use of colour in his painting than I had thought, although they are all muted and chalky. 

The first column is watercolour, the second coloured pencils, which was much harder because of the subtleties of his creams and tans.  (I love those little touches of green and mauve.)

There is a third stage which I haven't got round to yet - hopefully on Sunday. I can't wait to see where Karen will take this.

Saturday 22 September 2012

Is photography taking over my life?

Maybe - I have been posting much more regularly on Cheese Snaps than here. That's because it's easier to take a photo, app it a bit and stick it on the blog, than to think of something vaguely interesting to say. Like this photo, taken last Tuesday at Walford Mill, then apped with 100 Cameras. Somehow I always photograph the sky at Walford Mill.

And I have started a photography course at City College in Southampton,so now my head is swimming with f stops, ISOs and whatever the other one was - oh yes, shutter speed. We did take photos, but as they were of my fellow students, and I don't have their permission to use them here, I shan't be posting any.

The course was this afternoon, and I have discovered a drawback to driving into that part of Southampton on a Saturday afternoon. Those of you who know the city may know what it is. Here's a clue - although the traffic may have been made worse by this. It's a happening place, Southampton. Unfortunately. However, I enjoyed myself, and I hope to have better photos to show as a result, both here and on Snaps.

I am still working with textiles, though - a collection of tiny weavings 

and some stitched photographs (there we go again).

I decided in bed this morning that I need to focus my textile work more, and to concentrate on the photos, the weavings and the machine embroidery (!) rather than the vessels, much as I enjoy them, as I don't know where they're going. (Most of my important decisions are made in bed over coffee. It's sticking to them that's the problem...)

Will I stick to this one? We shall see. It will depend on whether I come across any inspirational coiled baskets.

And my final achievement of the week, which I've just managed, is to work out how to add apostrophes in IOS6. (I've already had a conversation with Siri.)

Now if I could just discipline auto-correct...

Tuesday 18 September 2012

If it's Tuesday...

it must be a trip. Today we went to see the Nora Fok exhibition at Walford Mill. 

Words fail me. Well, not quite. Magical. Fabulous (in its original meaning). Amazing. Beautiful. Inspiring. Amusing (especially the fruit and eg and the insects). That's just for starters. Photographs are allowed, for a donation, and I took lots, but there are far better ones here, (plus instructions to make your own) and here.

Apart from the stunning work, which unlike much art to wear is both art and wearable, I appreciated the information about where Fok's inspiration came from, and how herideas were developed. And  of course I love the way she uses simple materials and basic tools to make such dramatic, ethereal, stunning pieces. I'm just sorry that they have sold out of the special pieces she made for the exhibition, as I can't quite afford the others. :>(

On a more mundane topic, I've written before about the cafe at Walford Mill. It now has new management and is even better - more imaginative food. Like baked Camembert with olives, onion chutney and warm bread for two to share. Mmmm.

And on a completely different topic, you may have noticed that there have been no apped photos for a while. I got bored with faffing around with the same photos all the time, so I have abandoned that idea. Instead I have started yet another blog, with the aim of posting at least one photo, preferably apped,  a day. There's not much on it yet but if you are interested you can find it here.

And finally... I don't think I mentioned that we eventually got our degree results. As it's a Foundation Degree, we don't get conventional degree results, but I got a Pass with Distinction, so I am feeling quietly pleased with myself! 

Saturday 15 September 2012

A week I'd prefer not to repeat.

Four sessions of grandchild minding (they are lovely but tiring)  and a stomach bug. Fortunately the former preceded the latter, but because Wensleydale got the bug first, I had a morning of single handed baby minding. It made me appreciate how much help he is, (divide and conquer), and, what I'd forgotten, what hard work it is looking after little ones single handed. Of course the last time I did it I was 30 years younger...

So not much creative has happened this week. I ended up starting some very simple knitting, but made mistakes even with that. 

This week was particularly complicated because Babybel has started school, and these days they seem to have a prolonged induction period - 1 week of mornings only and one week of mornings + lunch before she goes full time next week. She has obviously enjoyed herself but has found it very tiring, just like her daddy did. And the VHC clearly misses his big sister, and has been a bit clingy in her absence - just like his daddy was, although in his case it was big brother.

However I can show you one or two textiley things I made earlier. Ages ago, when I was constructing POT, I showed you a scarf I'd started.  Two rows a day, in a colour to match that day's sky. I started it last August, with the intention of working it for a year, but unfortunately I lost the note of the date I'd started. So I went on till the end of this August. 

As you can see, we did have some sunny patches last year. (As well a lot of grey ones...) It is about 2 metres long, and Wensledale is quite taken with it.

This is a bit smaller. 

I bought an iBook called 'Stupendous Stitches' because I'd come across Carol Ann Waugh's work on Craftsy - the iBook was cheaper than the course, and I don't do videos. 

I was interested in the combination of machine embroidery stitches and hand stitching, but I can't see myself using it too often, so I'm glad I didn't pay too much to find out about. It made a nice little bag, though.

I'm hoping for a quieter time next week, as we settle into the new routine of picking up our schoolgirl in the afternoons.

Saturday 8 September 2012

One thing leads to another.

After our visit to the Thompson, Thompson and Thompson exhibition at Highcliffe on Tuesday, I decided to try some samples of the techniques used by Karina and Marion T. - the wood carving was a bit beyond me.

I should say the techniques I thought they had used - I was fairly confident that I knew what Karina T. had done, less sure about her mother - but if I'd read this before I started I'd have done things a little differently...

I wanted to explore the colour shading and directional variations Thompson gets, which you can see in her gallery on her site. If, liked me, you've dabbled with this technique, it is well worth looking at Thompson's  work to see what she has achieved with what seems at first glance to be a simple technique.

The instructions I've used before for this technique involve stitching, slashing and washing, but I knew as soon as I took these samples out of the washing machine that I had taken a step too far - without getting the effect I wanted. And now, having looked at her website, I know why.

 I was less sure what technique Marion Thompson uses for her floral machine embroideries - there is a lot of stitch, on, at a guess, fabric collage on a base of felt of thin wadding.

The backgrounds seemed to be made with multicoloured silk or rayon fabrics,  which I did not have, so I used a scrap of hand dyed silk, backed with felt, and then some more scraps for the leaves and flowers.

Then the self-confessed machine embroidery-phobe got her machine out and embroidered with it. And I love the result. Of course the machine embroidery is not very good - mmm, do I dislike machine embroidery because I'm no good at it, or am I no good at it because I don't like it?

Whichever it is, I like this so much I was inspired to try some more.

Last week I had tried cutting figures freehand from card and using them as masks to spray paper and fabric. I decided to use a fabric piece as a background with more figures appliquéd on top.

Marion Thompson's pieces are quite puffy, and I am not sure if she deliberately uses over-large pieces of fabric, whether the puffing happens because of the quantity of machine embroidery, or whether she uses felt and shrinks it. But having put this piece through the washing machine, I think the latter is unlikely. Good puffiness, bad ravelling.

Those figures reminded me of Etruscan pottery, so today I had a quick Google and  made an Etruscan inspired piece without any figures. 

Effectively these are small quilts, and, having just bought C. June Barnes' new book  'Exploring Dimension in Quilt Art', I am thinking about vessels.

And what of all those other kites she's been flying, I hear you ask. 

Well, experimental weaving is ongoing. And I was given an impromptu lesson in Inkle look weaving during a visit to Bursledon Brick Works on Thursday. (I can find textiles anywhere!)

And  the ugly stuffed ribbon has become a pot - not loose coiling, it looked hideous, not close coiling, the ribbon was too floppy, but crochet. Very firm, but  uses a lot of wool, which is not a bad thing if you have a lot  of wool.

No apps today, I have delighted you long enough, and my new blogging app, 'Posts' is typing at snail speed!

Tuesday 4 September 2012

A Monday Meander (and a Tuesday Trip).

After a bad weekend (hearing aid problems leading to a visit to the ENT Drop-in on Friday, toothache on Saturday and Sunday leading to a phone call to the dentist and a prescription for antibiotics on Monday), we decided to get out and have fun on Monday afternoon. As 'fun' for us is a walk, some art, and tea and cake, we decided to head for the Hillier Gardens. It was a warm, sunny afternoon and once we got away from the car park, not too busy. 

I can't remember the artist who made these, but they were beautifully 'planted' very close to the bed of enormous rudbeckias (?). Some other interesting stuff, although I'm beginning to find 'Art in the Garden' a bit samey, year on year.

The forecast for today was also good, so we decided to go to the seaside - a walk and lunch in Bournemouth, followed by an exhibition, tea and a walk at Highcliffe Castle. 

We found art in both places. 

At first glance, from up on the East Cliff, the deckchair looked quite normal - until I realised the scale of it! Great fun, despite some of the comments on that link. Do Bournemouth residents have no sense of humour? 

Walking along the clifftop, we spotted the planes. They are a memorial to Flt Lt Jon Egging, the Red Arrows pilot who was killed after taking part in the Bournemouth Air Festival last year - and very moving they are.

There was more art at the Russell-Cotes museum, where we had lunch, but I'd left my camera in the car, so I can only show you this photograph of the big bird which has landed in their garden. There are other birds by the same sculptor inside, but I preferred the big one.

At Highcliffe we saw an exhibition by the very talented Thompson family, recommended by my fellow ex-student, Liz. I suspect most quilters and embroiders have tried the technique of layering fabrics, stitching and slashing, but Karina Thompson takes the technique and makes wonders with it, while her mother Marian uses appliqué and machine stitching to make atmospheric flower pieces. And father Ray's wood carvings are quite something too. 

That was followed by tea and delicious apple pie (as a change from cake) in the Castle tearooms, another short walk, and home before the traffic got too bad. 

For a change today's apps (yes, apps) are not ones using filters, although they include a small selection, but apps which make collages. Since I abandoned trying to use Picasa with the Mac, I have been looking for an app which will make collages as well as Picasa does. I still haven't found one, but these two are closer than most.

The images above were made with 'Tiled', which, unlike other Frame apps I've looked at, allows you to design your own frames, starting from a series of basic grids. (There are preset frames as well, some of them quite unusual.)

You can change the colour of the frame, add text or pictograms, apply a filter, or add colour to empty spaces in the grids. It is fairly easy to use, especially if you watch the tutorial videos, and doesn't attempt to sell you something else.

The two below were made with 'Phototangler' which as you can see is a lot more soft focus. No set frames to choose from, you just upload your images and move them about as you wish. You can adjust the size, bring photos forward or send them back, change the colour of the background, and add text and filters.  This one is a bit girly/scrap-booky for me, and I wish it had a harder edged option, but it is very unrestrictive, which I like. Also easy to use, although the way to start a new image (click on the trash bin) wasn't intuitive, for me at least.

I can see myself using both of these again, but if anyone knows an app which will arrange photos in a collage wihtout you needing to do any more than select them, like Picasa, please le me know. I'd even pay money for it!