Sunday 21 February 2016

Painting, piecing and popping into town

You may remember a while ago I showed the initial stages of an oil painting I started of a gorgeous jug I found at our local market. I confess  the canvas has sat on the easel waiting for my attention since then but today, as there were no distractions, I had a couple of hours to play.

The second coat of paint has helped a lot I think.  I also corrected some of the basic drawing with oil pastels. Not sure if it's the done thing to mix the two but it seems to have worked OK.

I'm loving how the colours blend together so easily. Can't imagine why I've taken so long to use oils! Of course all this is now really wet and will have to sit for quite some time before I can go back in and add detail. I've already suggested highlights but on such a shiny surface the reflections from the window and surrounding objects are very obvious. I can't paint them in yet because the white paint simply mixes with the underlying layers - I have to find patience from somewhere!!

Of course the best way to avoid the frustration of the wait is to do something else. This photo shows how I've squared up the short sides of the patchwork with diamonds and triangles.

The diamonds are teal on one side and dark red on the other. That way the tumbling block illusion is maintained. I could have saved time and just added half hexagons but I wanted the pattern to run right to the edges. I'm at the point now where I want to see it finished and especially to see how the quilting will transform it from a floppy rag to something substantial - always the best bit!

After all the late night sewing it felt like time for a break so I was pleased when Laura called and suggested a ride into Birmingham. It's always worth the journey to buy dressmaking fabric on the Rag Market and we did manage to find a few bargains - more of that another day! When we are in Brum we always make time for a visit to the Art Gallery and Museum. The building itself is worth the trip. This wonderful gallery leads the way to the Edwardian Tearoom where we had lunch.

The tearoom is always a popular place to sit and rest your tired legs.

And, as it was half term, there were lots of children in the museum enjoying the interactive displays. You may recognise this one having fun in the 1930s style kitchen. The little pinnies were a nice touch but I suspect the box of Lux and the washboard meant little to this generation.

Hope you had a productive week too!
Bye for now,
Linda x

Thursday 18 February 2016

Who says trees are brown?

Don't you just love the quality of light you get at this time of year - especially late afternoon?

I had to dash out and try to capture the moment before the sun sets completely and this ancient apple tree becomes almost invisible in the evening gloom. The sun has to be really low in the sky for this effect.

I've often photographed these beech trees that border our garden. Normally they form a dark silhouette against the bright sky but today they turned gold and lime against the blue. Looks strangely unreal doesn't it? Especially where the light catches the tops of the shrubs beyond the pond.

Back inside I can relax and enjoy the sunshine through the window rather than brave the cold outside. It's a pleasure to sit and embroider my linen scrim with double cross stitch and beads.

This is no great work of art but I think it might make a lovely book cover - that's what I'm working towards anyway. Of course I'll let you see it when it's finished.

Even though the mornings are cold and frosty we are planning for summer. Granddad has his helper well trained already. He's brought most of the potting shed indoors for a day or two so she can sow the chilli seeds. It's warmer in here!

Not surprising when you see what I've been doing in the kitchen next door. Bertinet's olive dough today - that's lunch sorted for the gardeners then!

Bye for now and thanks for dropping by.
Linda x

Sunday 14 February 2016

I'm gonna need longer arms!

I've not had a lot of energy for a couple of weeks due to an unpleasant viral thing. On the positive side, it has meant I've sat about doing nothing very much except hand stitching my patchwork. Although that's quite relaxing, true to character it has also become a compulsion. Every time I finish one row of piecing I'm so desperate to see how the next row will look I have to carry on. I've heard, but not really seen, far too many late night films on TV as I sew away beneath my daylight lamp.

You're seeing this from the side as it's too big to hold up the other way. The width of the quilt is now exactly what I need for the bed so my next task is to fill in the half hexagons that will complete the sides and give me straight edges. What you are seeing at the bottom of the image above is the right hand side of the quilt where I intend to join a dark diamond to a pale  triangle so the pattern of tumbling blocks isn't interrupted.

I've just placed a couple of patches here to give the impression of how that'll work. I have to make 2 more rows of tumbling blocks at the top and the same at the bottom and I'll be almost there! My sister doesn't know it yet but I'm planning to commission her to quilt it on her longarm machine. I had thought I might hand quilt it at one point but I don't think it would be finished in my lifetime!

It's dangerous to spend time trawling the internet when you're under the weather. You feel sorry for yourself and think you need a treat. I might not have had much energy but I wasn't too feeble to press 'buy me' buttons. These seemed tempting!

It's great to be feeling back to normal and I like to have options on the go so there's always something I can be working on. I've narrowed my selection of beads and Madeira Lana threads down to a few colours and found out some coarse linen that was sold for polishing windows. I'm sure I can come up with something more creative to do with it than that.

My trusty Mary Thomas's Dictionary of Stitches is open, the linen's hooped up and I'm ready for the off. I'll let you see what transpires!

Bye for now,
Linda x

Monday 1 February 2016

Through Our Hands and an exhibition

You probably know about Through Our Hands by now as we've mentioned the Magazine and the Portfolio lots of times, but have you seen the Through Our Hands Facebook page? We'd love you to visit and like the page!

It really is essential reading for anyone interested in the creative arts and not just for the opportunity to see the work of the 27 affiliated artists connected with Through Our Hands, although of course that's wonderful too. Annabel is doing an amazing job to include the most fascinating links and features you might otherwise miss. Just take a look and be sure to visit often because there's something there for everyone and always something to inspire.

With the wonders of the internet, we aren't limited by geographical boundaries and we can discover diverse art from people all over the world. Excellent as it is to enjoy exhibitions online though, it's sometimes an advantage be able to see the work up close and personal. If you are within travelling distance of Llangollen, Wales you might want to put these February dates for Quiltfest 2016  in your diary. Some events open tomorrow and from February 10th the Nineties Collection of the Quilters' Guild of the British Isles will be displayed along with more recent work from some of the original participants. I was one of those commissioned to make a piece back in the '90s to become part of the Guild's permanent collection.

'Demons in my Head' 
Linda Kemshall
I've realised in my usual scatterbrained fashion that I never took any photographs of this piece back when I made it but when the collection was exhibited in Walsall a few years back they used my quilt for the advertising poster!

'Demons in my Head' (detail)
The detail of the apple with its telling missing bite was always my favourite bit! It should be interesting to make comparisons to see if there have been changes in style and technique over the intervening years. 'Demons in my Head' will be on show together with 'To the Brim' made in 2015.

Hope lots of you can get there!

Thanks for reading today - Love Linda

Painting from scratch

I'm trying to get to grips with oil painting. It's a completely different kettle of fish from watercolours or even acrylics so I feel I'm starting pretty much from scratch. First thing is to chose a subject and preferably nothing too complicated.

I spotted this beautiful jug on a bric a brac stall recently and couldn't resist adding it to the collection of jugs and teapots I've been collecting over the years. There is a signature on the base but sadly I can't make it out - the date though is 1906. I'm amazed at that as it looks so contemporary. I may never use it for its original purpose but it earns its keep by becoming a subject of a still life!

I decided to paint just the one jug on a square canvas panel. It's not much of a composition but it'll do  for practise. This is the first layer of colour. It's still very wet so I have to be patient for a few days before I can correct the drawing with opaque paint and then start to add thin layers of colour to try to better describe the rounded form.

My biggest challenge is to stop painting like a watercolour painter and keep thinning the paint till it runs. Oil paint applied straight from the tube stays where it's put and holds the mark of the brush, completely unlike watercolour which flows across the surface with a mind of its own. To help me make the switch and stop reverting to old habits, I experimented with a knife for a while. I liked that a lot but I think it may be technique more suited to less smooth and shiny subject matter. Looking at what I've got so far I can see that the shadows and highlights are going to be all important if I'm going to capture the shiny surfaces of the tiles, the window and the jug. I can't wait to have another go!

Bye for now,