Friday, 25 September 2009

Evening Class in Drawing

I've been feeling the need to get back to basics in drawing again , having withdrawal symptoms from no painting holiday this year or indeed any holiday I could throw myself into sketching mode. So I've signed up for an evening class held at a local school and best of all it's only 5 minutes walk away! I arrived early and was enchanted by all the school art equipment , especially these rather stained brushes. Being the first session, it took a while to go through all the paperwork (health and safety , learning plans etc ) before launching into our first excercise - drawing shells. Typically I chose the most difficult but isn't it gorgeous!

First of all we had to draw the outline without looking at the paper( lots of hysterical laughter during this!) then we could peek , then it was adding in the contours(but still not taking the pencil off the paper) and finally with shading etc.

My drawings seemed to get bigger as I observed more and it was interesting in the group review at the end of the session to see the different approaches people had. It's a real mixed group in both ability and ethnicity so it looks like it will lead to some interesting sessions

The tutor continually moved round making suggestions for improvement - in my case sharpening my pencil to create a more obvious edge between inner and outer surfaces.
I've also signed up for an on-line lino printing course with Dijanne. I think my first cuts might be based on shells.....

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Breaking Bloggers Block

After working almost solidly for 2 weeks, there hasn't been the opportunity to update the blog and you know how it is, after a gap you always think you have to say something momentous and put off posting until that occurs. I referred to this as 'bloggers block' in the talk I gave yesterday to Thames Valley Contemporary Quilt Group. It's the first time I've given a presentation on blogging and I wasn't quite sure how to pitch it but in the end decided to concentrate on what I get out of it rather than a 'how-to' . Hope I didn't puzzle too many people!
It was such an inspiring meeting, expertly organised by Sandy Snowdon and with the opportunity to spend quality time with like -minded textile people, it's become a fixture in my diary. Linda had brought in a massive bunch (is that right word?) of peacock tail feathers and I couldn't resist bringing some home, getting some funny looks on the train especially making way through loads of football fans at Brentford!Today I've been scanning and photographing them with slightly different results - scanning captures the iridescence more I think. I couldn't resist playing in Photoshop altering the hue. The afternoon of the meeting was spent in a number of exercises cutting and glueing papers into scrapbooks to drive home the design principles so clearly outlined by Judy Fairless. It's great to be reminded of these and particularly in relation to textiles. Having spent some time looking at how designers drew attention to products, I'll never look at adverts in quite the same way again. As one of Sandy's famous 'icebreakers' we were asked to choose which was our preferred colour group for our textile work (as opposed to favourite colour - don't necessarily coincide). I never thought I'd be joining the 'neutrals' group but given the greys of my 'Lunaria' piece and the fabrics I'm currently auditioning for my next project, it was the logical choice. However, shoot me if I start to express a liking for beige.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Garden Makeover

With major project at work handed over and first stage of garden makeover completed (see below) , time to start on my 'breakthrough' piece for Contemporary Quilt.
Last weekend was spent stabilising the hazel hurdle screening, finalising the layout of paving stones and Ian carrying bags of gravel which I slit and raked around. We're very pleased with the final result. Apart from feeling smug that we did it ourselves, it looks even better than we'd hoped. It seems a long way from March when we were laying down newspaper squares on the lawn to mark where the paving might go and using hosepipe to indicate the edge.
The paving stoness and gravel were delivered over the Easter holidays ( each bag and slab carried through the house individually.....)

Then with some hacking back of vegetation , 'whirligig' dryer relocated and metal edging in position, Ian took over turf cutting duties.

Soil raked and compacted, membrane laid then a haitus in activities -not helped by swine flu!

We completed the gravel laying on Sunday afternoon and polished off the last of the Pimms still in our extremely dirty gardening clothes.
Which gave use Bank Holiday Monday for play!
Ian has long wanted to roast green coffee beans and after mixed results with a frying pan in his old flat, we requested a popcorn maker as a wedding present.
Four years on and time had finally come to experiment. We plugged the popcorn maker in the external extension lead and placed it on the patio - just as well as the action spits out the husks everywhere and gets extremely hot. After the 2nd 'crack' the beans were poured out into a frying pan to cool down.
We couldn't wait to grind and brew some in cafetiere for 'brunch'. Very nice too and a big caffeine hit.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Richard Long-Heaven and Earth

In between the Chunghie Lee masterclass and my main visit to FoQ, I had a day off to recover(!) which I jam- packed with shopping, coffee with Sue and a visit to Tate Britain ( an easy trip by train from Brentford to Vauxhall). The object of my visit was the Richard Long exhibition.
It stirred me in many ways and will I think leave a lasting impression. It's first effect was to colour my view of the Festival of Quilts - many pieces seemed so fussy in comparison until I acclimatised. Like Olga, I had seen his work in galleries and exhibitions before, and liked it but its hadn't made much impact on me. This time, being surrounded by it, in a large spacious setting with detailed explanations was quite a different experience, sometimes unexpected. The photographs, drawings , sculptures and textworks were interesting and often beautiful in themselves in addition to representing in varied ways the act of walking. But as I was going round I realised I was thinking as much about my own interaction with landscape and interpretation of it, relating his work to my own experiences. In Room 3, mainly wonderfully grainy photos of walks and 'interventions' in the landscape, he talked of ' making a circle of stones, just placing a stone at every mile, or carrying a stone from one place to another' . This made me think of the World Beach Project and the fun Ian and I had last year in Greece, making us look at a familiar landscape in a different way.

Room 4 contained large 'indoor' sculptures of stones-
"I like the fact that every stone is different, one from another, in the same way all fingerprints, or snowflakes (or places) are unique, so no two circles can be alike. In the landscape works, the stones are of the place and remain there. With an indoor sculpture there is a different working rationale. The work is usually first made to fit its first venue in terms of scale, but it is not site-specific; the work is autonomous in that it can be re-made in another space and place. When this happens, there is a specific written procedure to follow. The selection of the stones is usually random; also individual stones will be in different places within the work each time. Nevertheless, it is the 'same' work whenever it is re-made."

My favouites here were the Norfolk Flint Circle which made me think of the flint pebbles at Bexhill (above) and 'Slate Line' which put in me mind of the limestone pavement at Malham (below). These had very different properties - white and knobbly versus sleek grey shards but both had interesting things going on in the negative shapes between the pieces. The idea for 'Transference' in room 5 was "first making a walk on Dartmoor recording various things. Then later on a completely different walk in Japan, I deliberately looked out for and could find certain things that were the same as on Dartmoor. It is about a symmetry of places, or events, on different sides of the world, and universal phenomena"

That it something I could relate to. I've been to many nature reserves in UK and Europe as part of my job but when I visited this 'swamp' reserve on Mt Chokai in Japan, it felt both familiar and alien. I could recognise that some plants were orchids but frustratingly couldn't name them ( the guide book had no latin names - so much for it being the universal taxonomic language) Food and meals feature in his 'transference'. I'd taken my normal walking snack of Duchy Original cheese nibbles with me to Japan , but I never anticipated eating them with chopsticks during a picnic in a carpark!

Since moving to Brentford, I've been much more aware of the tidal nature of the river Thames - from mud to high water in just a few hours. Tides were the focus of room 6 where I spent most time, mesmerised by the huge painting 'White Water Line' . "......White Water Line demonstrates different types of energy. It uses china clay from the big clay pits near St Austell in Cornwall. This work represents the force of my hand speed, and the forces of water, chance and gravity. I make the top line of the image and nature makes the rest, revealing the cosmic variety of the microscale."

I loved seeing the mark of the maker in this and the other'mud' paintings.

The 'dribbles' reminded me of Osterley Weir which was a focus of our canalside walks at Xmas and New Year

I did several journal quilts and paintings exploring this subject earlier in the year and even pieced a quilt top which I put aside to work on my FoQ entry. Time to return to working on this piece I think. Not sure I'll use mud though!