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

Wednesday 22 November 2017

Never too late!

They say it helps to keep learning new things as you get older don't they? The concentration required to pick up a new skill stimulates the brain cells and slows down their deterioration.

With that in mind I've joined a ukulele band! The first session was last week and to be perfectly honest I just mimed most of the time. It was fast and furious and I had no chance at all of keeping up. Luckily, there were about 80 people there playing their hearts out and a raw beginner can get away with murder when the music is so loud! How anyone is expected to read words off the song sheet, look at the chord diagrams, find the right strings and strum and sing at the same time is beyond me at this point.

Since the first session I've been making time to practice a few chords. I would have thought my hands were quite flexible because of all the things I do with them - sadly it turns out that's not the case. That's F above - quite a stretch for me.

But G is much worse - I feel like a finger contortionist! 'He Who Gardens' has been playing guitar since he was 11 years old and is being encouraging. Apparently all I have to do is practice. I have already made quite a sacrifice - I had to chop off my too long fingernails so I could even reach the strings. Oh the things we have to do for our art!!

I'll let you know how the second session goes. Bye for now - Linda x

Tuesday 31 October 2017

Are you shopping for Christmas yet?

I don't suppose it's escaped anyone's notice that it's November this week - time to start scouting around for special gifts for special people!

I realise this sounds like blatant promotion (and we normally avoid advertising in any form!!) but I wanted to let you know my talented daughter Frances has added a range of beautiful clutch purses to her online shop at Max&Rosie.

She has lots of gorgeous cosmetic bags, scarves and brush rolls, as well as cases for eyeglasses, all in amazing, contemporary fabrics. Please take a look on the run up to Christmas. Frances only makes limited numbers of each design and when they're gone they're gone! Everything is individually made, with great care, here in England and she's happy to ship worldwide.

Frances tells me there is even more Christmas loveliness coming to her website soon although I expect these will be snapped up in the wink of an eye!

I hope a visit to Max&Rosie might solve some of your shopping dilemmas and if a proud mom can't recommend her daughter who can?

Bye for now - Linda x

Saturday 28 October 2017

Back to the sketchbook

I was catching up with last Sunday's newspapers this afternoon (OK, it's Saturday and there'll be another pile to start wading through tomorrow!). In the Sunday Times I read a really interesting article by Andrew Marr. He says he's always astonished when people say to him that painting must be so relaxing. He finds it glorious, exciting and infuriating - but never relaxing! I have to agree but what it is, is absorbing. I can lose hours of my day when I'm busy with my paper and paints!

During yesterday's stroll round the garden I took a photo of some white Cosmos, still in full bloom despite the lateness of the season. Last night, in front of the TV, I had a go at making a sketch from the photograph. It's difficult to capture the delicacy of the petals using a fine liner pen but it was all I could use balancing sketchbook and iPad on my lap!

Today, out in my workroom, I added a few shadows on the petals and a wash of watercolour around the flowers to emphasise their paleness relative to the background. As you can see, I was too impatient for the paint to dry before I photographed the page!

On the following page I took a rubbing from a very old, cardboard quilting template I had made many years ago. The rubbing was made with a solid graphite stick and I painted a deep indigo and olive watercolour wash around it.

I introduced a little interest in the wash by flicking water and rubbing alcohol onto the paint while it was still damp. Finally, I cropped the edge of the Cosmos page following the diagonal curvy line of the stems and I'm pleased with how the second page is partially revealed.

It may not be great art but it is absorbing. I recommend it as just the thing to take your mind off any worries you might have! Who needs therapy?

Bye for now - Linda x

Friday 27 October 2017

Nothing goes to waste

Just because I haven't mentioned it for a while doesn't mean it's gathering dust up a corner!

I do pick up my paper piecing whenever I have a few free minutes and it's growing although only slowly, slowly, slowly. Good job it's not a race! What's interesting is how some new little patches are finding their way into the plot.

Do you see those checkerboards and the overprinted black, discharged fabrics at the top there?

They've come about because I've been joining scraps of fabric to make pages big enough for my fabric art diary and I can't bring myself to throw even fiddly leftover bits of lovely fabric printing away - if I can get a 3/4inch hexagon from it it's going in. So much for my carefully laid plans!

I even managed a bit of piecing in the garden this afternoon. It's been a glorious day today even if everything is looking forlorn and neglected. I made the most of the warmth by sitting on that bench beneath the huge beech trees for a while. It's good to make quiet time for thinking.

A walk around the garden in the autumn sunshine led me to these poppies - has nobody told them it's nearly the end of October? And look closely - there are more buds to come. Such resilience may have to find a place in my art diary!

Talk to you again soon - Linda x

Thursday 19 October 2017

Seeing spots before my eyes

We enjoyed Apple Day at the National Trust property, Dudmaston Hall, again last weekend.

This is the third year we've taken our own apples to be crushed and pressed to make juice.

And of course it's essential to do a little quality control!

The autumn colours at Dudmaston were as spectacular as ever and I'm sure these vines will be making an appearance in my new DMTV project - an autumn inspired fabric journal where I'll be recording events and things I see over the next few weeks. It'll be my new art diary using lots of techniques with fabric and stitch rather than in sketchbook form.

I didn't have to look far for journal inspiration as we had the weirdest phenomenon this week. Sadly my phone couldn't capture it at all but believe me, the sun turned the deepest red and the sky was a sulphurous golden colour. Apparently Storm Ophelia's winds carried particles from forest fires that were raging in Spain and Portugal all the way to England. The BBC said there might be some Saharan sand in there too.

I was in the middle of a printing session in my studio at the time so it seemed apt to record what was happening outside the window - these two bits will become journal pages once they have all their stitching.

And the next day I got really carried away printing more red suns for a DMTV video!

If it ever happens again I'll have the perfect dress for the occasion. I made this yesterday using a lovely jersey fabric I bought at Festival of Quilts back in August.

When I bought it I didn't have a pattern in mind and I found I didn't have quite enough fabric for the Ottobre dress so I've added a striped fabric for the lower sleeves and the neck band.

Just have to finish the hem and it'll be done!

Thanks for reading today - Linda x

Thursday 12 October 2017

Oh no - not again!

Laura won't thank me for showing you this photo......as you can see she wanted to remain incognito!

After thinking she was on the road to recovery we had another alarming trip in an ambulance this week. The third 999 call in as many weeks. I have to tell you that seven hours in the middle of the night in A&E is no way to spend a big chunk of the weekend! Although we still don't have a diagnosis of the root cause of her illness we have discovered that Laura can't tolerate huge doses of iron. Luckily, intravenous fluids and anti nausea medication had her back on her feet and on her way home in a short space of time. There are more hospital procedures to come but in the meanwhile stopping the iron tablets has had a miraculous effect! Laura has to take things a bit easier in future and so don't be surprised if you see her sister's name appearing more regularly in all things relating to DMTV and Fingerprint. We're really lucky to have Frances to call on and share the load when we need extra help, especially with the website and social media - she's a real whizz at all that stuff and let's face it, I'm hopeless in that department!

In the midst of the drama, work continues on renovations to Laura and Jamie's house. Ideally the  arrival of the workmen would have been postponed till she was better but when you wait so long for anything to get done it was decided to let them go ahead as planned. The next stage of work involves moving all the shop stock to another part of the building. On starting that yesterday we unearthed these two cushions that I made quite some time ago for a video we called something like, 'Button It' or 'Button Up', I can't remember exactly which. We make loads of stuff like this and it usually gets lost in the depths of the studio never to be seen again! We've added them both to the DMTV shop where you'll find lots of detail images listed under 'Linda's Work'.

We have a LOT of pieces that really need to find new homes and so we'll be adding them to the shop over the next few weeks. Let's call it a spring clean come early! OK, very early!

Thanks for reading today - Linda x

Sunday 8 October 2017

Start 'em young

Amelie thinks hand sewing is tricky - the dratted thread will keep coming out of the needle! She see's us whizzing away on a sewing machine and obviously believes that's the answer.
She's been pleading with us to let her have a go for ages but at just 5 I think it's a bit early for that.

An embellisher however, well that's a whole different thing. Look at that level of concentration!

No thread to snarl up and a safety guard to protect little fingers! She had to stand to operate the foot pedal because she's not tall enough to reach from a chair. I may have to rig something up to make life easier next time.

Look what I've made.

And by the time we go back into the kitchen the cakes have cooled down enough for a little embellishment of their own! Not sure we needed quite so many sprinkles but who am I to say?

Hope you enjoyed your weekend too.
Bye for now - Linda x

Thursday 5 October 2017

Did you know DMTV has a shop?

We don't make a big deal about selling actual items. Other than buying subscriptions and archives you might not even know we have an online shop! It's really only a very small part of what we offer but we've decided to change that over the next few months. Yesterday we added a couple of my small works to the DMTV shop.

This one is an acrylic painting on a stretched box canvas. Rooks are very characterful and one of my favourite creatures to paint.

Laura thinks he has a mournful expression but I think he looks quite amiable.

The detail shows how textural the paint surface is - my way of suggesting the wing feathers.

And the nature of the cornfield he's standing in.

The second piece is a quilted and painted panel featuring purple poppies and seedheads.

You may remember me making this for a DMTV video. During the making of a video we usually have to show step by step examples of the thing we're demonstrating and there's a limit to how many of these different versions we can display at home or give as presents to family and friends. The first of my purple poppies now lives in The Netherlands - I wonder where this one will end up?

If you like the look of either of these pieces you can find details over in the shop. Just scroll down through the images until you spot one called 'Linda's Work'.

Bye for now,
Linda x

Monday 2 October 2017

I'm back!

For reasons you already know about we've been neglecting all but the essentials over the last few weeks. The garden has certainly suffered but stuff continues to grow regardless. After spending most of my time at Laura's house while she recuperates I've come home to what looks like a different season. I always say I find autumn a melancholy time but despite that I do love the colours.

I promise these haven't been enhanced with photo trickery! They really are luminous and it's not only the plants that seem to glow at this time of year.

I can just about keep up with the tomato harvest......... this is a small selection of what I was presented with this morning!

What we can't eat raw I roast and pass through a sieve to make a lovely sauce that freezes well and keeps us going all through the winter. The oven will be on the go all day today!

But when I asked 'he who gardens' for a few chillies I didn't really expect this enormous offering. We may have to force a selection onto any and every unsuspecting visitor! Little does he know but I'm even keeping an eye open for the postman!

I have managed to escape the heat of the kitchen long enough to work into a new sketchbook. DMTV viewers will soon see more of these pages where I've used rubbing techniques to frame my favourite little birds.

And now that Strictly Come Dancing is back on our screens every weekend we can't ignore the fact that the countdown has begun and Christmas must be just around the corner! I'm working on our DMTV Christmas card - never painted a robin before but I'm enjoying it. The panel needs another coat of gold paint and he needs a few more details and he'll be finished and ready to print.

Thanks for dropping by today - I promise it won't be so long before I write again!
Linda x