Thursday 7 March 2019

Where have you been I hear you ask?

I can only apologise for the unforgivable time that I've completely abandoned this blog! I hope no one has been waiting patiently for posts that never came! I've no excuses really other than, like everyone else life gets in the way sometimes and something has to give. I shall aim to do better! Of course, Laura and I have been busy as usual with Designmatters TV - I hope you all know about the regular creative videos on our website? What you may not have heard unless you visited DMTV over recent days is that we have a new recruit. We have finally persuaded my daughter Frances to join the team. She has worked behind the scenes for a while but we really wanted to showcase her making skills. Fran's first video shows step by step how to make a box bag. The image below is a ready made example from her online boutique

I've had one of these bags for a few years now and it's in daily use as my cosmetics bag. Laura uses hers to keep her current, small sewing project handy. The bags are fully lined and really capacious so I hope you might watch the video to make your own.

I'll be back soon with news of my latest quilt. I'm really excited to let you see how it's coming along!

Bye for now - Linda

Such a lot to look forward to!

I don't want to dwell on 2018, or even the start of 2019 - we're just happy that time is over! Now it's time for Laura and I to look forward to new challenges. We've decided not to take part in a major exhibition until 2020. We may do one or two smaller events but we want to focus all our energies on new work so we can be sure when we are ready to exhibit it will be the best we can offer! 

With that in mind I’m still making quilts! This one I’m calling ‘Twilight’. It’s about that time of day when the light fails and the creatures of the night come out to play. We often see a barn owl cruising along the field margins and sometimes swooping over the hedge almost touching our heads. But completely silent! I’ve only made a brief start to the quilting - just yesterday in fact. As ever it will be a crucial part of the piece and will provide the ‘bones’ I need for the painting that will follow. I'm intending that the quilting and painting will break through those rigid lines of the sashing and the border. I'll update you with my progress when I make some!

In between quiltmaking I’ve been working in my sketchbooks as usual - here’s a recent pen and coloured pencil drawing of a woodpecker. I've used a Pitt Artist pen with a very fine nib. Now I need to draw the tree he’s clinging to and I may add a wash of watercolour to give it a bit of substance. I'm keeping a log of the different birds (and moths) we see in our garden - woodpeckers are one of my favourites although I have to say this fellow is lovely but the green variety are the best!

If you follow me on Instagram you'll know that I’ve just finished a portrait of a Standard Poodle. My client saw it only this morning and loves it so that’s a big relief - I was quite nervous to show him what I’d done! I've not painted a dog for years but I really enjoyed doing this one. It's worked on a lovely wooden box panel which I primed with white gesso and then used Golden Open Acrylics and their glazing medium.

Thanks for taking the time to catch up with me here. I hope if you don't already subscribe to our weekly DMTV newsletters you'll do that soon. That's where you'll find the most current info about what we're up to. Just provide your email details at the foot of the DMTV page and the news will arrive in your inbox every week.
Bye for now - Linda x

Friday 6 April 2018

Tradition v Hi Tech - Embracing the Digital Age

I've been posting images of the latest moth quilts I'm making over on Instagram but there's limited space for much description there so here's a bit more explanation about a couple of them.........

You may remember this hand stitched hexagon quilt that I've been slowly piecing for some months now! You couldn't get more traditional if you tried and I think it's worth all the many hours it's taking! I love this quilt so much that I wanted to use it creatively towards a new work. I'll be displaying it finished just as it is but there's so much more I can do with it!!

So I imported the photograph of the hexagons into the Procreate app on my iPad and superimposed one of my moth images over the top. In Procreate you can alter the opacity of an image to allow layers beneath to become visible whilst still keeping something of the detail in the top layer.  In this version I duplicated the moth image a number of times, reducing its size and twiddling with the colours too, to add a row of small moths along the bottom of the design. It's a great way to fritter away hours of experimentation because you can save what you like and discard what you don't! I decided having hexagons all over the quilt was too busy, so I erased those in the background, leaving only those that added pattern within the moths.

But of course I didn't want a blank white background so I photographed a page from a very old book about moths and butterflies and layered that behind the image I'd created. Here you can see the result being printed on a wide format digital printer.

And here you can see how I've added black borders to frame the image and provide space for some relevant text that I'll be adding next. The fabric has been screwed up in my work bag which explains all the creases - a quick ironing and lots of quilting will put paid to that!

When you are working digitally it means you can explore other options! I thought it might be a good idea to try a small quilt before launching into the big one. This is a detail of a smaller version of the same design - I'm part way through. This one has text stamped on the border on using copper metallic paint.

And you can see how I've hand quilted every hexagon with a Madeira Cotona thread and free motion quilted some of the background with Madeira's Aeroquilt. Today I'm hand quilting each letter and when that's done it will be back to the sewing machine with a variegated thread to deal with the rest of the borders.

I've counted up and discovered I have 5 quilts on the go and not a single one complete so no time to waste - I'm back to my studio as soon as I've brewed a coffee!

Bye for now - Linda x

Thursday 29 March 2018

This Is Everything We Are

I get really irritated when I visit a blog and only find apologies for why there haven't been more posts of late! For that reason we'll gloss over the fact that I haven't been here since January!! I have been posting on our DMTV blog so please check that out if you want to catch up with what we've been busy with recently. I also post on Instagram several times a week if you are missing me!!

Here's one of the projects that's been keeping me occupied. This is a small version of a much larger quilt already in the pipeline. We're working towards our exhibition at Festival of Quilts this summer and we've called the exhibit, 'This Is Everything We Are'. You can read our artist statement on Laura's blog if you'd like to know what's inspiring the work we are creating for the show.

This particular piece is a digital print of a design I created on my iPad. I've superimposed a photograph of a moth over a photograph of a hexagon quilt I'm making and added a layer of descriptive text from an old book behind that. I've added smaller versions of the same image along the bottom of the design and tweaked the colours and transparency to make them more interesting. The three layers have been tidied up so that some areas are erased and then they are merged ready for printing. I'm hand quilting each hexagon with a Madeira 30 cotton thread but plan to machine stitch much of the background. The black border you can see is where I plan to add text.

Probably in much the same way as you can see here on another of the moth quilts I have in progress. The black border fabric is the same as the black and white fabric you can see in this quilt - it bleaches really well so some of my text might be discharged rather than applied with fabric paint. I have to sample that first to see how it works! There are three of these quilts in various stages of completion and I've posted more images on the DMTV blog.

I have five quilts on the go at the moment. I don't usually work that way - I'm one of those people who like to finish a piece before I get diverted by something new and more exciting. I am finding though that it's making me more productive - I can have some hand stitching to kill time when I'm out and about and frantic free machine quilting when I'm in the studio and can focus. It doesn't look like progress is being made but all of a sudden several pieces are done - at least that's what I'm hoping! In between all that there's DMTV! If you subscribe to our online TV you'll recognise this chap. What you haven't seen though is his friend.

Yes he did get finished! I loved having a doable project like these kingfisher portraits and will certainly be making more. There's no shortage of subjects in our garden at the minute. It may still be chilly but the birds have decided it's spring and I can hardly get any hand quilting done as I'm distracted by their antics on the feeders outside my window!

Thanks for reading today. I'll be back again soon - Linda x

Friday 12 January 2018

Mixed Media Moths

I hadn't planned to start a new mixed media panel this week but while I was tidying stuff away in my studio I unearthed some lovely paper bits and pieces.

These two sheets of handmade paper were some we had dunked in an indigo vat years ago and promptly forgotten about!

They'd been stashed away in a crate with some of my painted papers and some coloured photocopies of symbols that I had waxed for a project inspired by all things oriental.

My old favourites, the hole punches made short work of cutting a few squares in two sizes.

Then it was time to audition a few waxed paper moths that were also lurking in the bottom of the crate. Should the squares with their button details go in a column on the right or on top of the large waxed rectangle of text on the left??

On reflection I like them better arranged on the left and a layer of orange fabric brings a flash of colour that helps balance the composition. Just need to attach the moths now and it will be done. Amazing what you can concoct when you only intended to tackle some of the heaps in the studio but I have to confess - I never did manage to make the room tidy!

Bye for now - Linda x

Tuesday 19 December 2017

Landscape painting - moving on slowly

I should start by saying I don't do much landscape painting. I much prefer the solid objects of a still life or the fascinating features of a human face or a bird - subjects you can describe because of their definite shape and form.  I think that landscape is much more amorphous and vague and that makes it hard for me to get my teeth into it but sometimes it's good to step outside your comfort zone and try something you don't find easy.

We've had such glorious sunsets and sunrises this last couple of weeks I really wanted to try and capture the light between the bare trees, especially since we also have a covering of snow which adds to the drama by creating beautiful blue shadows.

At the moment this looks like nothing on earth but you have to start somewhere! All I'm doing is staining the canvas with dilute washes of acrylic paint. I've used Alizarin, Cerulean, Lemon Yellow and Titanium White with a touch of Mars Black to darken the crimson. My normal painting style is quite tight and controlled but I want this to be more about the atmosphere of early morning in the garden than it is about fiddly detail. I'm using bigger brushes than usual and silly as it sounds, I'm favouring longer brushes so I am farther away from the canvas as I paint!

Because the bare branches are so fine and delicate without their leaves in December, I'm experimenting with a technique that may or may not work. I've put down large blocks of colour in the areas that are the darkest and when they are completely dry I plan to overpaint with the pale sky colours again. I'm hoping that will mean I can scratch through the pale layer to reveal something of the dark beneath. Fingers crossed it'll be OK!

It's a leap of faith and if it does work you'll see the results here soon. If it's a tragedy I'll paint over it and you'll never see it again!

Hope you are making time for yourself to be creative in the run up to Christmas!
Bye for now, Linda x

Tuesday 12 December 2017

End in sight?

I promised not to post any more wintry pictures on instagram because endless images of snow do pall after a while don't they? Couldn't resist sharing this one with you though....

That's the roof of my garden studio with some hints that a thaw might be coming!! Trouble is, it dipped to -13C last night so those icicles might hang around a bit longer yet.

Our country lanes are very icy and snow ploughs don't bother about us but being cooped up does mean I have time to finish some abandoned projects. Remember these blocks from DMTV? I've put them into the simplest arrangement and have decided to add a border, machine quilt it and then finish with a pieced binding. It's only small but with lots of stitch it should look pretty on a bedside table. That big empty space in the centre is just crying our for a lovely bit of quilting!

You might remember these blocks too. I made them for the DMTV video about establishing and working with a limited colour palette. I'm quite liking how those blue squares pop! I'm fancying to hand quilt this over the holiday. Always like to have something useful to keep me occupied when the only other available distractions involve overdosing on chocolate and trash TV!

I can hear snow sliding off the roof as I write this - perhaps the end of the siege is in sight! Roll on spring!

Bye for now - Linda x

Sunday 3 December 2017

Painting glass today

Well, not painting on glass of course - just trying to paint glass in my sketchbook. Yesterday at the market I found this lovely ink bottle.

I usually look for green glass but this one is more blue than green - just as gorgeous though, especially as it only cost me £1!

I've got a growing collection of bottles and I rarely spend more than 50p or £1.

Some are housed in cabinets.

And I have ten green bottles lined up on a shelf in the loo. Several of these were dug up in our garden - there were no rubbish collections many years ago so refuse was just buried in a hole! Amazingly the bottles were completely intact when we found them and most have local connections that make them more interesting.

They all make great subjects for a very quick watercolour. No initial pencil sketch with this, just dilute watercolour to draw the basic shapes of the outline and the reflections. As you can see, this is still wet - I'll add a few more washes once it's dry and next time I'll try to make it fit the page!

Hope you have a Happy Sunday! Linda x