Sunday 24 June 2012

Secret's out

If you follow our newsletter you'll know by now that Laura is expecting a baby girl at the end of the summer. We are all very excited as you can imagine. For weeks now while I've posted pictures of paintings, sketchbook work and of course quilts in this column, I've been sworn to secrecy about what's occupied most of my evenings in front of the TV.

My knitting needles have been a blur and the pile of jackets, hats and boots is growing rapidly. These are just the latest!

A new baby isn't the only magical thing happening here this summer. Sometimes I wish that elves would come and finish my work during the night - this faerie ring in the garden today makes me think they may have heard my prayers. I had to take the picture quickly before 'he who gardens' mowed the lawn!

The whole garden is looking rather magical right now. This bit is left quite wild. It's at the entrance to a part of the garden we rather grandly call the woodland walk. The foxgloves have found their way here without our help. Some of them are taller than me and they look really stately in the sunshine.

I couldn't resist photographing these beautiful poppies either. I love the lime coloured centres, the blue green leaves and the way the buds bend double before they lift their heads to bloom.

Although I love the bright blues and pinks of the hydrangeas when they are in full flower I think I prefer the delicate colours as they fade and become papery like these.

Now while it's true that I did get my hands dirty today doing a little gentle weeding and planting I wouldn't want you to think there was no 'proper' work done. Here's proof that I have at least started to quilt the latest moth piece. Making a start is always the worst part isn't it? Once you get over that hurdle it's just a case of getting on with it whenever you have a minute or two to spare.

I'll let you see how it progresses assuming that it does!

Thanks for dropping by. I'll be back soon - Linda

Wednesday 20 June 2012

Getting stuff done

My workroom is an old outbuilding in the garden. (I may have mentioned before that once upon a time it was a pigsty but that's another story!) On a sunny day like this, when I work with the door and windows wide open it feels as though I'm actually in the garden and it's lovely! I don't even play my ipod because I'd rather be listening to the birdsong. I took 10 minutes to block in a bit more of the background to the latest still life. I'm reluctant to show it in this wishy washy state and yes, I do know that that iris looks as though it's in the jug rather than on the quilt in the background. Have faith! I intend to paint over it all with a darker wash to make it recede and that'll help give the things in the foreground a lot more umpff.

There's still lots to do but I am liking the lemons better now.

I scraped a knife across a watersoluble pencil to make the little speckles - they only stick where the paint is wet so unwanted colour can be blown away.

 I've got a new printed fabric panel on the design wall today. You may recognise this fellow from my sketchbook. Laura photoshopped him with my moth drawings and photographs and printed him out for me greatly enlarged. The original drawing was 8"x11" but the quilt will be about a metre square. This is just a detail.

Here are a couple of the photographic images of moths.

And a closer shot of the graphite pencil drawing. The digital print even shows the marks I made with the plastic eraser.

I like to have several projects on the go at the same time. I think switching from one thing to another makes best use of my time and means I never get bored! So, I also have this quilt top on my design wall. I've used the digital print of the old boat to help me chose the fabrics for the railfence blocks which measure 4inches square. All the angles are at odds with each other right now but I plan to quilt a 4 inch grid over the whole piece and then applique a band of horizontal squares of patchwork and digital printing towards the lower edge. With luck that should marry everything together.

I think the hand dyed fabrics match the surface colour and texture of the peeling paint quite well. I might even embellish with a few buttons to suggest rivets and nails heads when the quilting is finished.

I'll leave you with a glimpse of yet another quilt top I'm working on. I've foundation pieced the strips on the left to continue the direction of the lines of the digital print on the right. It's very exciting to work with colours I don't often use. I'm loving all this patchwork! Next time I'll show you how the whole thing is coming along.

Hope you're having a good day too - thanks for dropping by - Linda

Sunday 17 June 2012

More painting today

I stretched a sheet of watercolour paper onto my drawing board yesterday so I'd be all ready for a painting session today. It's so much easier to work with flat paper! My still life has a few favourite pieces of china and some fruit. I only had 3 lemons but that looks far too mean so I shall cheat and pretend there are several more in the dish when I come to paint them. I love to use familiar objects in a painting and this time I thought it would be fun to include a small quilt too.

I needed a backdrop and the Iris quilt almost hides the longarm machine at the end of the room! I'm working with very transparent layers. Here's the first bit of colour. As you can see from the shine, the paint is still wet so I must leave it to dry before I can add a second layer or paint right up to any of the wet edges.

I don't mind a few blurry areas but some of the shapes are looking very woolly right now. I'll try to correct that next time.

My paintbox gets topped up with a squeeze of tube colour whenever I use up a half pan. I now have quite a selection of different brands and colours in there but gradually I shall have my favourite colours like sepia and indigo take over from the more basic colours that are usually in a paintbox when you buy it!

I've got a lot of work before this is finished but I'll keep you posted if it's going OK. I've also done a bit more to the daffodil painting - I'll show you that next time too.

Thanks for dropping by. Talk to you again soon - Linda

Thursday 14 June 2012

Back to work

I have been busy every day since I last wrote but it's been finishing little jobs off rather than starting anything new and exciting. Every quilt that is ready for exhibition this year now has a binding, label and hanging sleeve. It's essential but boring stuff that has taken me ages so I'll spare you the details! I have found a little bit of free time to practise my watercolour painting though. At the moment I'm working into a pencil sketch I did for a DMTV video in the spring.

It's still very much a work in progress as you can see from all the white paper that's left. I'm being strict with myself about allowing drying time before I add more washes. Patience was never my strong suit so it's hard to walk away.

I'm trying hard to get the accidental marks that most 'proper' painters do their best to avoid. If you know the work of Shirley Trevena you'll know exactly what I mean.

The trick I find is getting the right balance between painterly colour washes which appear completely out of control, and the necessary hard edges required to define certain shapes. Total chaos is not an option. I need lots more practise but I am enjoying trying! The garden is another distraction right now. Everything needs attention. The Iris are some of my favourites but their moment of glory is very short. I shall have to be quick if I'm to capture these in watercolour.

I attempt to paint them every summer but what difficult subjects they are. The shapes of the petals and leaves are easy enough but those amazing markings are impossible. Nature is such a show off and refuses to be outdone.

Hope you are finding a little bit of time to be creative too. Bye for now, Linda

Wednesday 6 June 2012

The party's over

I can't remember a weekend like the one we've just had. Seems the whole country went Jubilee mad. The only thing that didn't do its bit for Queen and country was the dratted weather. I don't think rain can be very good for musical instruments but it didn't stop the band playing at our village fete - mind you they did have the foresight to wear plastic hats!

It's surprising who you bump into at the local Indian restaurant when you pop out for a special Jubilee dinner isn't it? I'll leave you to decide who's the card board cut out. Must say though, pink is a very flattering light.

After 4 days of celebration it's an ordinary day today and we're back at work. Seeing the inside of my workroom again reminded me I've had lots of emails from DMTV viewers asking about the faces on my pinboard.

The smiley self portrait above is me circa 1993 or thereabouts. I was teaching City & Guilds Patchwork and Quilting at Westhope College in Shropshire to a group of wonderful women.

And we made the self portraits as a bit of end of term fun using nylon tights, knitting yarn, thread, wire, beads and odds and ends of jewellery. They were attached to a giant card and presented to the college at Christmas. I don't think any class of students ever had so much fun. The faces took on a life of their own and we were in hysterics most of the day.

Years later, when the college was clearing out its storerooms, the Christmas card came to light again and I claimed it for posterity.

I have incredibly happy memories of that first group of students but they are bittersweet because two of the most talented ladies are no longer with us. None of us thought the faces were anything more than a bit of fun but here they are nearly twenty years later still making me smile every time I see them.

Thanks for dropping by. I'll try to get back into the zone and make sure I have some proper work to show you next time you visit!