Friday, 1 December 2017

WEEKLY ART PROJECT #5; POND IRIS


Our pond is home to four fish,  waterlillies that never flower, a pump that doesn't work,  lots of strappy plants and...currently...a beautiful water Iris.  This flower only appears when it wants to, so it is an extra special treat when that happens.

Although this means that two WAPs (weekly art projects) in a row have been inspired by an Iris, I don't think that's a problem! :-)

I took a few photos of this elegant beauty hiding amidst the straps of green before heading to my work books to start looking closer & exploring further.


This week I abandoned my black pens for sketching, and used only greens and purples to make visual notes and explore creative ways of interpreting the flower & the environment in which it sat.  It is good to change methods from time to time, it keeps the process fresh, interesting & it can inspire completely different ideas & options.

As you can see I ventured into the realm of abstraction, which was a lot of fun & I liked where it was heading.


Once set on a design, I gathered my fabrics together & began by preparing a background with the white.  I use an air erasable pen, which appears as purple, and eventually completely disappears.  This helps me see where I'm going.

To create the flower, I carefully cut vliesofix backed fabrics to the various shapes of my flower design & iron-appliqued them together.

It was then time to carefully place the Iris between the background & the foreground fabrics, before I could begin sewing those foreground lines in to secure them all together.


I held my breath during that first cut back.  Had I placed the Iris in the right spot? Yes, I had!!


Before anymore cutting, I gave the Iris some machine embroidered features, which also served to secure it in place more reliably.  Then it was time for the cutting back to begin.


This is the final result, and I'm very happy with it.
Definitely a fun & pleasing exercise!!

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

WEEKLY ART PROJECT #4; IRIS




Planted around our house are several clusters of purple Iris.  They seem to have a mind of their own as to when they want to flower.  This makes it all the more exciting on discovering that a bud has formed.  I love the shapes the buds get into before they unfurl into petals, much like delicate butterfly wings.


I cut a single Iris & took it indoors to study further with pen & pencil.


These were the pleasing results.
Having completed a more realistic drawing of both a bud & the flower, I chose to do a quick linear drawing of the flower in black pen.  It was from this that I saw the potential to develop a design for my weekly art project.


Using my trusty view finder, I moved it around the sketch, looking for interesting combinations of line and form.

These I made a visual note of, and then developed one design further.  It is amazing what changing the thickness of a few lines will do!



After the usual routine of gathering fabrics, sewing in the design and then cutting back, this is what I had produced . 
I absolutely love those dramatic lines.
However, it was a bit dull...it needed more oomph!  I also wanted to reference the colour more obviously.


I achieved that by creating more lines!
Stitched lines in purple thread form the narrow vertical lines, whilst the horizontal ones were achieved by cutting back to another fabric below.

Whilst I would make a couple of changes if I were to do this again, I am quite pleased with the result.  I am also pleased with the background fabric, which ties the colours together well.  In some of the purple stripes, I have put hand stitching, which may be lost in the photo above, but does add a textural quality to the piece...even if only noticeable under close scrutiny!!

I am actually beginning to enjoy this weekly art project...dare I admit, that I look forward to it each week????

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

WEEKLY ART PROJECT #3; PEACH BLOSSOM

 The first peach blossom to appear is always an exciting discovery.  It's pale pink petals look so delicate & fragile against the solidity of the wood branches.  The leaves are also delicate when they first emerge in their fresh lime green newness.

This year  they appeared just as grey & miserable weather was about to hit Adelaide.  The pink stood out beautifully against the grey sky as well as the grey corrugated roof of the neighbour's house.

Using  photos as a reference, I began by making a few sketches, exploring both line & colour.

Once settled upon a design, a rummage through the fabric stash eventuated in these choices & I was very happy with how the colours sang together.

Before starting on the fun...flowery...part, I needed to create a corrugated roof like background with my grey fabric.

The process continued with sewing the design through the layers & then cutting back...and cutting back...and cutting back some more!

This was the result after all that cutting, but it wasn't quite complete yet.

The addition of embroidery & beads finished it off nicely.

I love the flow of the purple lines, the colour choices and in particular, that green silk.  It is one of those fabrics that I wish I'd bought a million metres of, because it has proved to be so perfect for so many different projects.  Sadly, there's not a lot left now! Sigh!  Such is life.

Because of the square format I felt as if I had to squish the design up a bit to fit.  Of course, it wasn't until afterwards that I realised I could have rotated it & placed the blossom across the diagonal!!!!

This is an exercise.  I am always learning!!





Monday, 27 November 2017

WEEKLY ART PROJECT #2; ARUM LILY

We have had horrendous weather this past week (Oct 3, 2016) & expecting more rain yesterday, I nipped out & cut a bunch of  Arum lilies before they were battered any further.

My elegant Arums usually appear around spring time & I look forward with delight at seeing their flowing lines and graceful forms!  We have several clumps of them dotted around the garden, each flowering at different stages.  I love them from bud until full flower!

Naturally, I was inspired to use them as my muse for the weekly art project.

Being so attracted to their free flowing lines, I wanted my sketches to be quick & catch some of that freedom.  Several of these had potential, but I eventually chose one to take further...into colour!

It might be hard to believe, but this is how I spent a few hours!!!!  Design development takes time!


After committing to a design, and rummaging through my fabric stash, I then sat at the machine to sew in the design & then begin the process of cutting back!!

Followed by more cutting back...

And even more cutting back!

Whilst there was something deliciously appealing about the simplicity of the previous step in producing this piece, I felt it needed something more to draw the eye, so the yellow beads were added. 
I'm very happy with the lily, the shape & flow of lines & the beads, but am not so happy with the movement of lines in the left hand side of the background.  They distract & take focus away from the lily itself.  If I were to do this again, I think I would make them more like the right hand side & maybe use different greens...or at least ones that are a bit more interesting!!





Sunday, 26 November 2017

WEEKLY ART PROJECT #1 A CARPET OF BLUEBELLS.

Inspired by Brenda Gael Smith to do a weekly art project based on a garden related theme, I've decided to give it a go.
I have given myself some rules eg; only Monday can be used for this exercise, they all must be 15cm square & contemporary reverse applique, I mustn't get my knickers in a twist if I don't like the results & I must remember that it is just an exercise.
This is how the first attempt went...

Our Bluebells are flowering in abundance (sept '16) and we have several beds of them around the house.  They are our little patches of England, and remind us of the carpets of Bluebells we used to see when walking in Tehidy Woods while living in Cornwall.

They, being so very beautiful, are the perfect inspiration for my very first Weekly Art Project.

I began by drawing.
Drawing is very much a process of getting to know one's subject & I consider it essential, even if my end result will be worked in fabric and stitch!

After settling on a design & a colour range, it was 'search the stash' time!  After drawers filled with options...I chose these as my palette!

After a few hours of stitching and then cutting back, and then a final play with hand stitch...this was my final result.

I'm not particularly happy with it!  As soon as I pinned it up on my work board, I began the process of, "oooo.....I should've done that there & this here."
My immediate impulse was to start again, but this project had taken me ALL day!
I was even thinking about it as I went off to sleep!  The mantra "it's just an exercise' wasn't getting through, so what do I do...commit to this project & take the consequences of mental anguish & a lump of time...or not?
I still havent decided yet.
I'll keep you...posted!!





Tuesday, 14 November 2017

A CONTEMPLATION ON THE VALUE OF A WAP!

I've been reflecting on the 52 week art project that has become such an important part of my art practice over this past year. 

Although I was initially inspired to give it a go by Brenda Gael Smith (Textile Artist), who had already started hers & was encouraging others to join her...  it didn't take long for me to realize that I didn't need the 'group' dynamic to keep me motivated.  

At the outset, my major concerns about making a committment to this project were ...that I could actually KEEP the committment, and... that it wouldn't interfere with the production of my 'other' work.  I didn't want it to become a noose around my neck. Thankfully, it didn't... most of the time.

So I set myself some rules, both for my practice and for my mindset.  These rules WORKED for me! 

*Setting only one day aside for this project...specifically Monday, so that I started the week with this practice...WORKED.

*Having a size limit & sticking to contemporary reverse applique...whilst very challenging at times...WORKED.

*Having a restricted 'theme'...my garden...WORKED.

*Telling myself that it was just an EXERCISE & that it didn't have to be perfect... WORKED.  In fact, this was the most important rule of all & released me from so much in terms of pressure & anxiety.

*Publicly sharing my WAPs, first on my facebook artist page & then in Blog posts...thereby making myself answerable & accountable to this commitment...WORKED.

Having these rules actually liberated me to explore the possibilities & gave me a much clearer perspective of realistic expectations.

Along the way, there have been some unexpected outcomes that I hadn't anticipated.  One of those has been thanks to the blog.

Using the blog as a platform on which to write, not only about the process of my technique, but the inspirations, thoughts and feelings that led to & occurred during that weekly project... actually helped to clarify & complete the process itself. At times I have felt somewhat vulnerable, so in sharing the exercises that were not so successful, I have had to become a little more brave.

It has also reaffirmed how much I enjoy writing.



The photography of my subjects has  become more important.  I find myself trying to compose shots   & when I don't manage to get a well composed one to put on the blog... I'm aware of it.  It niggles!  My standards have risen!

These pieces were produced as exercises/samples, they were not MEANT to be anything more.  However, some of my results have excited me so much, that I DO want to return to some, develop them a little further and produce them as exhibition quality pieces of art.  My two favourites that I particularly look forward to working on are #22 'Succulent Flower' & #38 Pansy Poetics.  I'm even tempted to have a go at patchwork to reproduce #8 Nasturtiums!

I certainly didn't expect to enjoy the process of this discipline so much.

With that in mind, I have decided to continue doing weekly art projects from January 2018.  There will, however, be a couple of changes.

I'm not going to commit to 52 projects.  This is partly because I know that I am going to be travelling for at least 2 months of next year, & being away from the routine really throws the whole discipline out of sync.  I've also noticed that during the past couple of months whilst I've been participating in a course & fitting the remaining WAP's in when I could....this has been something that DIDN'T work!  It DID become a noose around my neck.  If I hadn't have had that #52 as my deadline, I would have felt better about finishing before the course started.

Therefore, I am going to calculate how many weeks I have before a trip away & set THAT number as the deadline.

My theme will also change.  I have had SEVERAL ideas of what I could use to inspire me through the next year or so.  All of them worthy & exciting inspirations, but my husband definitely came up with the RIGHT one... for me.

Soooooo...in 2018 I will be doing Weekly Art Travels! 

WAT...you might ask??! Well, over the past few years, I have been exceedingly fortunate to travel to a number of countries.  With the introduction of digital photography to the realm of travel... I have taken THOUSANDS of photos.  A large proportion of those were with the specific purpose that 'one day' they would inspire my art making.  Alas...that has very seldom happened!  Soooo...my upcoming weekly projects will return me to delightful adventures in Istanbul, Egypt, Jordan, Spain, Morocco & possibly France, and I will finally have a dedicated time to work with the visual notes my camera has taken, and create something new from those references.

What about between now & then, then?  Well, tonight I nip off to King Island for a short break & when I return, I'll be writing up blog posts of the WAPs I produced earlier in the 52 weeks.  The purpose of this is to then create a book from the blog, to keep as a reference.  I also plan to sort & tidy all the fabrics in my stash.  That will be quite a chore...believe me!

Between now & then, there is also Christmas to celebrate & with that in mind...may I get in early & wish ALL of you, my heartfelt thanks for following this blog, and my very best wishes for a happy Christmas  & an excellent start to a good & happy new year!

See you then!

Cheers!



Monday, 13 November 2017

RED BLOBS OF BEAUTY

It is actually here!
The last of my 52 weekly art projects!

You would not believe how difficult it has been to choose which inspiration from my garden would be my muse for this final project.  As I have looked around my garden areas, I have been made very aware that it would be easy to continue using these plants, birds, animals & trees as a source of inspiration for another year of weekly art projects...but I wont.

As summer has made itself known, and many of my plants have shriveled under it's glare, there is one that has stood defiant, looked the heat in the eye & dared to bloom in pure brilliance.  Red geraniums are dotted throughout my garden areas not only because they are hardy, but because they are beautiful.  As we can no longer avoid the fact that Christmas is just around the corner, I thought this flower the perfect subject to explore for this art adventure!

Drawing, drawing, drawing...all part of the exploring of line & shape & working out how best to place them within the frame!

Once a design was settled upon, it was time to consult the stash.  I knew that I had the PERFECT fabric for the flower section of my geranium, but wasn't sure what else would work alongside it.  After much huffing & puffing...this was my chosen line up.

You'd think that, it being the last of this series of 52, I'd be more diligent about photographing each & every stage...but alas, I wasn't!  Never the less, this was how it looked when my two 'outline' layers had been cut back.  Already I was very pleased with my fabric choices.

More cutting back & a black shadow adds depth to the stems & my lovely dotty fabric is revealed.  It is so tempting to leave it all there, but...

...back it was cut!

Finally, the finished Geranium was revealed.

I am quite delighted with this end result.  The colours & fabric choices all work well together & that floral fabric is as perfect as I thought it would be.  The bright green doesnt distract too much, but adds energy & interest.

What a way to end this series.

What next?  Well, I will be doing another weekly art project next year & I will tell you all about that in my next blog post!  Until then...happy art making!