Thursday 29 January 2015

Cake and culture courtesy of the National Trust

We had a lovely few hours out yesterday visiting a local National Trust property, Wightwick Manor

The house is a treasure trove of Arts and Crafts decorative arts and interior design.

Even the grand rooms are on a domestic scale and feel cosy - I could move right in here given half a chance!

It's all a bit Downton and knowing my luck I'd probably be one of the women in the kitchen rather than with the ladies in the drawing room.

The main reason we visit this house regularly is to enjoy the Pre Raphaelite paintings and drawings. I've not cropped this Dante Gabriel Rossetti so that you can see the original William Morris wallpaper that adorns most of the rooms.

Here's a detail of Edward Burne Jones' Love Among the Ruins. He made this oil copy after the original watercolour was severely damaged. After restoration by the artist the watercolour recently sold for 14.8 million pounds!

I'm sorry about the poor quality of the picture above - it was a very sunny day and the glare on the glass was unavoidable. This amazing watercolour by Phillip Webb was one of four designs he produced for William Morris. You can see much better images of all of them here.

Evelyn De Morgan's Flora was a bonus as although there are works by her and her husband in the permanent collection, this is only on temporary loan from the De Morgan Foundation.

I love this very well known photograph of Edward Burne Jones and William Morris with their incredibly photogenic, although somewhat sulky, womenfolk! 

And as every NT member knows, no visit is complete without cake in the tea-room!

Thanks for dropping by - talk to you again soon, Linda x

Thursday 22 January 2015

Some Day I'll Fly Away

Don't think I've mentioned it before but this piece has a name. I find it difficult to make a quilt unless I've already come up with a title. Not sure why that should be but I'm never happy with an anonymous piece. I've printed the name around the bottom of the quilt using Liquitex acrylic paints in just two colours - crimson and blue, applied with my favourite foam alphabet stamps.

Forgive the wobbly bottom - it's just the way it's pinned on the wall. As usual, there are loads of other quilt tops in archaeological layers underneath!

The words give some visual weight to frame the crow and they also interrupt the angular quilting which to be honest is getting quite monotonous now - I'm going to break it up with some seed stitch, worked by hand with Madeira Lana I think. It'll be a change of activity anyway and I like a bit of hand stitch for evenings in front of the fire.

I shouldn't complain about the time the quilting is taking - I could have a proper job couldn't I?

Back soon - Love Linda x

Monday 19 January 2015

Quilt progress

The last couple of posts have been all about sketchbooks and painting so I thought I'd let you see there is quilting going on as well!

I've finished the small version of 'To The Brim'. I free motion quilted this on my Husqvarna quilting machine and embellished it with a few hand stitches using Madeira Lana thread.

Most of the patterns are inspired by the work of Paul Klee.

His painting 'Ad Marginem' includes stylised bird images and I've put a couple in too but it wouldn't be my work without a crow would it? I've just outline stitched this one so he's hard to spot unless you look really closely. Now I've got to tackle version 2 which is a much larger piece.

Before I do that though I thought I'd better finish this quilt first. It somehow got buried under piles of other stuff and was almost forgotten. Sorry about the photo - as you can tell it is extremely sunny in my workroom today. You can see how fantastic the Pfaff PowerQuilter is though can't you? Well maybe you can't since the quilt covers all that enormous table surface which supports the work as you quilt. This is the biggest piece I've done on it until now and I have to say it's a treat to stitch!

Yesterday I quilted the crow's head - it was important to get that right if I was going to be happy with the finished quilt. He looks quite benign I think. I love being in my workroom with the iPod on shuffle and the sewing machine whirring away - a few more enjoyable hours and this will be done!

Thanks for dropping by - talk soon, Linda x

Friday 16 January 2015

Liquitex acrylic inks and a book challenge

I was lucky to receive two sets of Liquitex inks for Christmas - a set of basic colours, red, yellow, blue, raw umber, black and white and a set of gorgeous iridescents.

I've been using them on paper and fabric and love the results.

Viewers of DMTV will be able to see how I've created the papers and how I've translated the effects to fabric. This should come with a health warning though! It's another of those completely obsessive techniques - once you start it's impossible to stop and before you know it every surface is covered and you are drowning in glorious colour. I don't know - maybe that's just how it grabs me, most people probably have more restraint!

I also have a new challenge in my life! Laura has presented me with one of her, 'Finish Me' art journals.

Nothing exceptional about a journal you might say but this one is very unusual. In the handmade book, the blank, white papers are interspersed with all kinds of different pages - antique newsprint, vintage text, old maps, original artwork, prints etc......  Every journal Laura makes is individual and unique and the challenge is to work with the existing imagery, fill in the gaps and  'finish' the book. It's certainly thought provoking and I've have spent quite some time this evening looking through my journal wondering where and how I might start. My plan is to be inspired by something already existing on the page and to integrate often diverse words and images that have been bound together in a totally random fashion. I'll let you see how this works out.

Here's a 'before' picture to show you an  example of what I'm facing.

The small scale text might look like a low key pattern which would provide an interesting background to drawing or printing.

On closer inspection your eye is caught by some little gems in this newspaper from 1898. I'm certain I'll be doing something about 'Tea Table Dainties'! Not so sure if 'How to be Happy Though Married' is such a safe bet - he who gardens might have something to say about that!

I've always been fascinated by maps so this page shouldn't present too much of a problem.

And this page features a lovely monoprint which won't cause me to scratch my head too much.

But this page is more of a puzzler - Laura tells me it wouldn't be half as interesting without such challenging images!

I'll keep showing my progress and any bright ideas you might have to contribute would be welcome although you might like the idea of finishing your own book - they are now for sale on her blog and don't forget, no two books are alike!

Must be off - I've got a book to finish!  Linda x

Monday 5 January 2015

New Year - bring it on

December was a bad month for me. I succumbed to a horrible virus and, four weeks later, am only just recovering. Of course we blame Amelie - she gets blamed for most things these days. Playschool and nursery seem to be perfect places for picking up any unpleasant illness that's doing the rounds and being the affectionate soul that she is, with her hugs and kisses, she shares all her germs with everyone else. Laura was really poorly too so Christmas was necessarily quiet - we didn't want to subject family and friends to the bugs! BUT it's a new year now and it's time to put on a more positive face.

Even when you don't have much energy, as you begin to feel better, the need to do something creative resurfaces. I've spent far too many hours lying on the sofa watching old films lately. He who gardens had cut lots of beautiful eucalyptus to decorate the house for the holiday and the blue green elliptical leaves were just begging to be part of my altered plant book. Laura gave me acrylic inks for Christmas and I tried them out here to establish the base colours.

When the ink was dry I deepened the shadows with Inktense pencils. It's the deep shadows that convince the eye that some leaves are partially hidden behind others. A final lick with a damp brush over some of the pencilled areas heightened the effect.

This morning I added a wash of clear water over a quick pencil sketch of two poppy seedheads. I'd made this quick drawing one evening in front of the TV. I'm obviously very out of practice and must try harder!

Hope your new year has started well - mine can only get better.

Talk to you soon,