Thursday, 19 October 2017


Around my garden at the moment are triangular & sometimes diamond shaped patches of an almost fluorescent yellow.  One of our succulents is flowering!! 
Because this succulent is very easy to grow, I have, over the years, sunk branches of it into the ground all around my house.  Therefore, it currently looks as if the garden areas are glowing with radiance.

One of the things I noticed, with one of the larger areas of this plant, was that the flowers seemed to line up in rows, forming a loose patchwork of flower & leaf.  It was this occurrence that led me to 'play' with the idea further in this weeks art project.

As per usual, I began with pen & paper, mapping quickly what I could see & changing that first study into more solid shapes. 

Once settled upon a design, I rummaged through the fabric stash until I had a reasonable selection that I hoped would produce an interesting composition.

My first task was to add some stitch to the background fabric.  I had really liked the roughly painted terracotta coloured background in my preliminary work, but didn't have any fabric in the right tone.  Therefore, I thought I'd add not only the colour, but  texture through the randomly added lines of stitch to fabric.

After layering up my fabrics & then stitching the design through the whole lot, it was time to let the cutting back begin!

At this point it was time to think about how I was going to represent the flowers, because as you can see...I hadn't included any yellow fabric in my sandwich of layers!

I remembered that I had a flower stamp in my collection, so with a bit of paint & a scrap of fabric, I rustled up a stamp pad & started stamping!!

This was my final result...and I was going to leave it at that.  However, when I went to type up my blog, life leapt out in front of me & interrupted my plans!!  I was therefore, left contemplating this piece for another 12 hours. 

I was thinking about how much I disliked it! 
I recognised that, actually, that background colour just wasn't working for me & it may have been hindsight NOT to add the sewn lines! 
Most of all...those flowers did NOTHING for me at all, they were insipid  & certainly did not express the vibrant energy of the initial source of inspiration!

So, when I got up this morning, I went into my workroom & did this;
Now, the first thing the eye is drawn to is the yellow flowers, and that is an improvement on the stamped version. 
Because the eye is focused more strongly there, the background fabric does actually fade back, as it is supposed to. 

All in all a fun little experiment & I'm glad I was delayed in writing this blog!
Timing is often... everything!!

Monday, 9 October 2017


For the past few weeks I've been working through an online art course with Lisa Call.  The subject we've been looking at is abstract art & Lisa has been taking us on a fascinating journey through the history of this particular art genre. 

This week I've been particularly focused on the work of Mondrian, whose grid paintings are his most famous.  Mondrian's grid paintings were non-objective, which means they weren't inspired by or meant to represent anything in particular.  

Because I LIKE referring to something real in my own art creating, and because grids have been on my mind... I wondered whether I could try developing a grid pattern inspired by a plant?

There's no reason why not!

There have been a lot of interesting flowers emerging in my garden, especially from the succulents, this being one.  It's flower is particularly interesting & inspired me to try the grid idea for this week's art project.

By already knowing the style I wanted to attempt, I leapt straight into exploring with pens, paper & paint.  Only minor changes were varied from drawing to drawing, but even so, lots of thought accompanied each one.

Composition was important, as was proportion...then there was the balance of colour!

Using a simple colour palette, I set to work tracing my final design onto the uppermost layer before...

....sewing the design through all of the layers.

The first lot of cutting back revealed the orange flower segments. A good start I thought!!

The next cutting back revealed the strappy succulent leaves... well, rectangles that represent them!!

The third layer cut back revealed the white background.  I'd chosen a white fabric with a small floral pattern (also in white), which adds texture, even if the camera wasn't able to pick it up in this photo!  At this point I had to make some decisions.  Art is all about decision making!!

The one I needed to make was whether to leave the heavier black lines in situ, or whether to cut them back creating more pockets of white.

I opted to cut them back, leaving just the one very strong black line marking a vertical third!
The piece could have been left at this point, but I felt it needed a little more movement & variety of line.

So I added some stitched lines, which make it look far more interesting.
Looking at it now, having completed it a few hours ago, I think those thin lines need a little more weight to them, as they are just a bit too spindly looking.  Never the less, I'm very pleased with this outcome and I certainly enjoyed the challenge of it.

One thing I've learnt both from my course work and from this little exercise is that, just because something LOOKS simple, doesn't mean that it has been simple to complete as a resolved composition!

Saturday, 30 September 2017


There are so many lovely flowers out nodding their happy little heads in my garden at the moment.  When I was wandering around saying hello to them, I noticed that quite a few are daisy-like in appearance.

Do you see what I mean?
Whilst some ARE daisies, other's have no reference to daisydom on their  name tags, yet still have that characteristic look. 
Therefore, I decided to work with all 5 of them today in a hope that I might create a design that can be used to include each of them.

I began with pen & paper, where I recorded each flower's unique combination of petals & centre.
Simple as they are, I am VERY pleased with these & like the way that they aren't all centred in the square.  Just with these rough sketches I can see the potential for them to become something more developed.
I chose one to base my design on, found a few fabric scraps in the appropriate colours & then began stitching through the lot of them.  I had decided to use a contrasting thread colour around the centre & REALLY liked the effectiveness of the yellow on the black.  For a moment there, I considered doing the rest of the stitching in yellow too....but, reminded myself to stick to the plan & continued with black instead!!

Do you recall my use of the word scraps?  I wasn't joking!

 I'd had an idea a few months back, that I thought I'd like to try in my weekly art projects & this seemed the appropriate design to try it out on.  You'll see what I do with those scraps soon, but just take a moment to say, "WOW!  Doesn't it look impressive even here as a giant black daisy shape against that backdrop of colour!"

I could have quite easily left it here, but no....I stuck to the plan!

Before cutting back any of the petal interiors, I created a stem first!

Cutting the black back reveals a shiny white satin as daisy petals & again, I could have left it at this stage too, but I wanted to see my 'what if..." experiment through  to the end.

Further cutting back revealed the end result & I'm quite happy with it.

Even so, If I'm honest, were I to do this again, I would leave it at the black daisy stage & develop it a bit more from there, because to me, that is the more interesting of the 3 transitional daisies.

Once again, it has been a very worthwhile exercise & a good place to try out possibilities.

Saturday, 23 September 2017


The weather is definitely warming up & it is consequently an exciting time in the garden.  Our orange pig face flowers are just on the cusp of opening up.  They look so elegant as buds though, that I decided they were a worthy muse for this week's art project.

As I've mentioned before, time is a little stretched these days as I try to balance some study, work for exhibitions, life AND a weekly art project!  However, even the few preliminary drawings helped me get a sense of what I wanted to produce & how.  One of the things I had to forgo because of technique & size restrictions, was the proportion of the bud.  In real life it is more narrow, whereas I needed to make it wider to be able to get more detail in as well as being able to fit my scissors around stitched lines!

 Because there are not many process drawings this time, I thought I'd show you the next stage before I transfer the design onto fabric.  Some might refer to this as a pattern....I call it a map!  I produce a map for each of my art works, because not only do they provide me with the design lines to trace & then stitch, but I write all sorts of notes over them, so that I can read where I'm going & in what order.  Sometimes I even write questions/options for myself if I'm unsure how exactly I'm going to proceed.  Whilst the idea of this is to be organised & KNOW what layer I'm going to cut where, I also need to be flexible, because sometimes my initial plans on paper, don't quite work out on fabric. 

My raid on the fabric stash resulted in some fabulous options & I must admit that these happy colours did make the process more enjoyable to proceed with. :-)

What I needed for this piece, were three seperate 'sandwich' layers.  The first was topped with the lime green (which you can see peeping out above) and stitched through with the outline design for the background pattern.  That was a 4 fabric sandwich including the background.  The next sandwiched layer was for the orange bud & that also included 4 layers.  You will notice that in this case I am sewing in the outline design before putting the next sandwich layer on top. This is quite risky, as it is very easy for the layers to move, so I had to make sure that the top & right hand side of each piece lined up.

Finally the top sandwich was applied & that only had 3 layers of fabric.

At last it was time to get the scissors out & start cutting back.

It was no time at all before I could start carefully cutting back the orange bud.

I was very pleased with it. Now it was time to cut back the background pattern that was inspired by the sharp little criss-crossing succulenty leaves of the pig face plant.

All in all I am quite pleased with this outcome & I am particularly pleased with the colour combination.  I like the effectiveness of the black background, which, although not accurate in terms of the garden, it is aestheticly more dramatic & pleasing to the eye!  Well....mine anyway!

Saturday, 16 September 2017


As I sit here to write this blog, my eyes are streaming, my nose is dripping & I want to scratch my eyeballs out!  It's Spring!

We've had a lot of lovely rain lately, which translates into LOTS of spring growth!  The bees are loving my garden at the moment & I am happy to help them out...they need as much help as they can get!!

My lavender speckles the green foliage with it's purple beautiful...and a worthy muse for this week's art project.

Short on time, my initial planning was whipped together pretty quickly with felt pens.

I knew I wanted to play with the linear cutback work I've been developing, but still needed this all important part of the process to help get me on my way.  The green striped background came together well, but I wasn't sure where to go with my lavender stems!!  Tempted as I was to do them as straight vertical lines, I chose to stick with their various curves, which made a more interesting combination of lines.

I raided the green fabric drawer!

I composed a background of various greens, before...
...covering them up to stitch lines across, which I then...
...cut back!  Call me crazy...but I LIKE this!!  It seems a shame to put lavender stems in the foreground, but that's the plan, so that's what I needed to now do!

To make the stems a bit more interesting, I used a variegated thread & stitched a double line down the length of the lavender stems.  I was pleased with this look.

A fair bit of cutting back later & this is my end result.

Aside from realising that I got a couple of the purples the wrong way around, I am relatively pleased with it as a sample piece.  Were I to try it again, I think I would like a less contrasting stem colour & I'd carefully place the purples on top of the stem colour, so that they become the more dominant feature.  I certainly see potential for an interesting piece here & am a teensy bit frustrated that I can't drop everything I'm working on at the moment to explore this further!  Such is life!  At least I have a starting point for future work!

Even though this has been a very quick WAP, it has still been valuable as a learning tool.  This piece is #46 of my 52 week project, & I am starting to think about what next after this.  The discipline has been so worthwhile that I'd like to keep it up.  Hmmmm, I shall continue to ruminate on the subject & will keep you posted!!