Wednesday, 23 August 2017


My mind has been a bit obsessed with tree bark lately! 

I am working on some new art pieces for a small exhibition in February & guessed new work is inspired by bark!

To inspire me even further, a friend has lent me this book.  Within these pages are the most incredible photos of tree bark from all over the world. It is such a visual pleasure to look through.  As a result I have spent a considerable amount of time trying to find & organise my own collection of tree bark photos... none of which come close to those shown in this book!

It seemed logical then, to use bark as my theme  for this weeks art project.

Time was in short supply, so I reached across my messy desk, grabbed a sketch pad, a view finder, pens & pencils & started looking at lines!

I was trying to find a place where I could adapt the deepest grooves in the tree bark into lines & from there, I could work out shapes & colour.

Once settled on a design & a colour palette that pleased me, I found some fabrics that were a close match.  A friend has recently given me some discontinued curtain swatches, which are a convenient size for these weekly projects.  They also contain fabrics of different weights & textures.  Having chosen mainly plain colours, I hoped that the texture of the fabrics themselves would provide interest.

For this project I had two different coloured outlines.  The outlines in the first colour were drawn on using a lightbox with the template/pattern/map underneath.  Once cut back, I drew the line guide for the second coloured outline freehand.

After cutting back those outlines, it looked like this & I was pleased to see a bit of textural variation coming through.  Cutting back continued ...

What this last photo doesnt show you, is how thick the depth of the piece was!  It was a little like a relief sculpture!

I was very pleased with this outcome & love the flowing lines & colour combo.  Not a bad result when I started this today, completely lacking in motivation & desperately wanting to get on with my other work!
I think this marks week 42, which means I have another 10 weeks to go to make it to 52 weekly art projects.  That's my goal anyway. That means 10 more inspirations to be found in my problem!! :-)  

Monday, 14 August 2017


There is a lot happening in our garden at the moment.  Irises are beginning to burst into flower, more daffodils are dotting the garden with sunshine, and...finally...our agave bud has begun to bloom!

It has been extraordinary to watch the slow development of this plant's flowering process.

The flowering seems to happen in bands. As one layer opens into flower, the layer below begins to die. 
The local bees are having a festival of feasting!!

As I printed off copies of the photos above,  I really had no idea what I was going to do in terms of design, for my art project this week.  Having the self inflicted restrictions of size & technique meant that my options were limited.
Sometimes when in a place of stuckedness, the only thing to do is move forward anyway & hope that something will budge!  Out came the pencils & water brushes.

In the process of recording, it was the watercolour play that I was most enjoying.  The way the colours bled & blended into & with each other, having begun in a controlled way, but then taking on a direction of it's own was exciting to watch.  It was the uncertainty that created the magic.
A blank white piece of paper could be transformed with water & colour .
I asked myself the question... what would happen if I tried this with white fabric instead of paper?

Not just one layer of white fabric...

...but another...

...and yet another, sewn in layers on top of each other, with two further layers below...

...and then cut back... reveal a white-on-white-on-white-on-white-on-white flower motif?  Each of those white layers having a design already printed onto it, adding texture & interest... what would happen if I applied water & painted on dye?

This would happen!

Oh...but then the I paint the background as well, to cover up the colour bleeding, or do I leave it in this gentle subtle state?

Out came the brushes again.

This is the result.
It could easily be a hibiscus for a Hawaiin shirt couldn't it?
Whilst the colour match is not perfect with one of the flowers on my agave bud, that was the all important starting point in a process, THIS is the result.

It has been a very enjoyable play today & I am happy with the outcome.  I am particularly pleased with how the patterning on the different 'white' fabrics, show in relief to the colour I have applied to each layer of this piece.  Whilst a strong part of me was inclined to leave it as all white, ( because I liked it like that!), and then another part of me was inclined to leave it at the painted flower point, (because I liked it like that too!), I'm glad I experimented with it to this end.

I see all sorts of possibilities for work in the future using contemporary reverse applique in this way....never a dull moment with this technique!! :-)

Tuesday, 8 August 2017


The magpies have been messing with my body clock!

One of the delights of living where I live, is that in the big old trees gathered in my front yard, many birds like to visit.  There is nothing quite like starting the day with birdsong & the caroling of magpies is one of my favourites.

HOWEVER, at the moment, they are in their mating season & establishing both relationships & territory.  This means that magpies can be heard at any time of day or night!  With a body clock attuned to the sound of magpies signalling it as time to get up....their current tendency to chortle away in the earlier hours of the morning is really discombobulating my sleep pattern. Consequently, I am...a magpie affected zombie!

There's nothing else to do, but make magpies the subject of my weekly art project!

After gathering together a few photos, I decided on my water pens & black paint to make some very loose images, with the main focus being on the shapes of black & white.

Further exploration & then a linear breakdown of spaces & shapes helped me on my way to creating a usable design to try out with fabric.

The lines of sewing held only 4 fabric layers & a backing in place.

As  the first two layers were black fabrics, I chose to skip cutting the first layer back until after I had dealt with the lighter coloured fabrics.  This gave a cleaner line to the edge & sharper contrast.

Even with minimal cutting back, it was beginning to look interesting.

Cutting back the first black layer to reveal the second doesn't look like much in this image, but, being satin, that second layer does look good with the light on it! A shiny fabric  dances with the light, & brings energy & interest to a piece.

I had noticed that in my haste to get the project done, I hadn't included a fabric for the background....what little there is!  Therefore, I whipped out the paints & painted directly onto the area.  Problem solved!

Although this type of design is more like what I'd do as a sample piece in preliminary work for a bigger project, I am still quite pleased with the outcome.  With a brain considerably vaguer than usual, multiple interruptions & many distractions, I was just pleased to get SOMETHING done at all!!

Monday, 31 July 2017


 My son's birthday often heralds the arrival of the first daffodil of Spring to my garden.  Sure enough, last week, a beautiful ray of sunshine opened up into bloom, gently bobbing on it's slender stem.  However, on Saturday morning, a storm was well & truly brewing.  Warm wind gusted in, rattling the branches & whipping up havoc throughout the garden. In the process that nasty wind knocked my poor daffodil to the ground, so I had to rescue it & put it in a vase.

Naturally, it is my muse for the weekly art project.

This was the photo that I knew I wanted to work from, but before heading to the studio to begin exploring design options, I went back outside...

... to photograph the strappy leaves & budded stems that are still insitu.  With these sources then printed off, it was time to get to work.

This week I decided to change my usual pattern of behaviour & instead of black pen studies, I got the felt pens out!  Drawing directly with colour in a variety of nib widths & often colour tones different to what the pen lid indicates, creates a different style of study!  I was heading for a simplified interpretation of my daffodil.

Having found a design direction that I wanted to pursue, it was time to see what fabrics  I had in my stash.  I also found a button & some beads, which I hoped would provide an interesting centre to my daffodil.

The background was where I started.  I wanted to reference the strappy leaves with their tendency to twist at the top.  Using a contrasting colour thread to sew the design in, I began.

I didn't cut back the background, because I had more sewing to do. On went the background petals.

And the final lot of sewing added a centre to the daffodil.
NOW it was time to cut back & this is how it went...

And then the finishing touches...

 I am quite pleased with the results. 

Were I to do it again, I would probably forget about the length of the leaves & just repeat the 'twist' section to form a patterned background.  As for the daffodil flower, I like the irregularities that drawing something freehand produces & I'm pleased with the addition of the button & beads to the centre.

All in all, a fun little exercise to hail the arrival of Spring!

Tuesday, 25 July 2017


Over the past few weeks my usual first-thing-in-the-morning routine has been altered as I have been trying to complete one of my (many) projects.  This has meant that instead of doing the breakfast dishes at 8am, I've been doing them at 10am!  What has excited me about this, is that the garden I look out on whilst doing those dishes, has been bathed in a different light than what I'd been used to!  Consequently, as you can see in the photo above, there have been some lovely light & shadow moments seen in the agave leaves.  When it came to choosing a focus for my weekly art project this week, I knew exactly where to set my gaze!

I began by cropping (with a view finder) the image to this amount of visual data.  By restricting my options, I could be more economic with my time.

Out came the pens & paper to explore both the range of lines & the range of light & shade.  I was interested in the background where I had two different 'line' variations competing for attention; the strappy leaves of the plant behind the agave & the the brush fence beyond that.  Although I wanted to reference them, I had to be careful that they didn't detract from my Agave leaves in the foreground, and I had to also be mindful of a limited time in which to complete this project!  The paints came out for a little further exploration of ideas.

Finally I settled on a design that I felt could be translated into contemporary reverse applique & so proceeded to draw up a 'map' for myself to achieve this.

The fabric stash was rummaged through & I quickly painted up the stripey fabric for my background.

Once the design had been stitched through the whole 'sandwich' of fabrics, I used my white pen to mark out where my cutting lines would be.  For this piece, not all the outlines were going to be the same width.  I wanted variation in size to give a sense of shadow & depth, therefore drawing on these guide-lines was important.

It wasn't until I had cut the second layer that I realised...whoops...I'd put the greens in the wrong order!  That's what happens when trying to do more than one thing at once in more than one room of one's house!!!!!  Because of this mistake, I had to concentrate a bit harder on what I was cutting & where, and as a result...I forgot to take my usual quantity of cutting back photos!!

When all was cut back, this was the result.
The only change I'd make if I were to do this again, is to make the wider outlines a little more wide.  The contrast in widths isn't so easy to see here!
A fun project for me this week, even if I was distracted with other things. :-)