Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Drawing Tuesday at the National Maritime Museum

It's been a while since I've been drawing with the Tuesday gang in museums  because of  travelling up for the British Museum 'Drawing from Collections'. That course being over it was good to reconnect, the venue today being the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich. I haven't visited since the 'Turner and the Sea 'exhibition - travelling from Faversham  changing trains at Gillingham and Woolwich was a bit more of an adventure but actually quite  straightforward as I avoided central London.  It was good to see the  '4th plinth' ship in the bottle with its sails of African fabrics  and I was mesmerised by the sea projection in the 'Voyagers' gallery.
 However, having arrived late I was eager to get stuck into some drawing, what to choose??
 I loved the figureheads which both Margaret and Joyce were drawing  from different angles. But in the end I headed back to the Voyagers gallery as they had some interesting items in the cases , not  too badly lit and relatively quiet.
 My grandfather  on my dad's side was a pattern-maker on the Glasgow shipyards (including the Queen Mary)  before he became a gardener, a love of working with wood he passed on to   Dad.
 As I've been doing a lot of hand stitching at the moment ( and know the importance of thimbles , my favourite is the ' comfort'), I was fascinated by the sailmakers tools - the reamer for  flat seams(7)  but particularly the 'roping palm' (5) .

It proved surprisingly difficult to draw correctly ( I should have stuck with 1 drawing rather than multiple versions). What I really wanted to do was to have it on my hand  and feel how it worked!

Monday, 28 March 2016

Beginning a Traveller's Blanket

I've long admired  Dijanne Cevaal's quilts and stitching ,  particularly the  Travellers Blankets ( having had my own travel stitching on the go  for years!). So I've signed up for the Travellers Blanket class, partly to extend my repertoire of embroidery stitches.
I bought this wonderful piece of indigo Khadi cloth  ( below) from her for this project.

Looking through my fabrics to find a suitable  muslin to back it with, I came across a very large  piece of African  tie dye bought over 20 years ago at a market in Morocco  very close to the border with  Mauritania. As it's  thin I've never used it apart from as an impromptu  net curtain  so  using a section of it ( it's joined down the middle) seems appropriate! 

The recommended ' wadding' is curtain interlining ' Bumph' as it's easy to stitch but the material I bought online  seemed too heavy. Again in my stash were some lengths of 1970's cotton and wool 'Viyella' (Mum used to buy 'seconds' in the nearby  factory shop  for winter dresses and nighties )
I  like how the wild patterns  show through the backing!
So already my blanket incorporates fabrics with meaning from my childhood and travels before I even start stitching! I've started  collecting scraps of fabrics  and look forward to sharing  stories with other members of the class.

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Getting started again : On the Edge

Had a lovely day on Tuesday - Sue came to visit , the first time since she and Peter helped us move in December.  We had coffees that merged into lunch at The Yard while we caught up ,  then after a visit to Creek Creative, we  headed back to the house  to  see what progress we'd  made. Lots of good advice and suggestions about design walls and shelving in my studio  and  bit of tweaking of some fabrics marinating on cork boards got me thinking again about entry for CQ latest exhibition 'On the Edge'.
Seeing what  Margaret Cooter has been up to  plus discussions online on the CQ Yahoo group ( with an extension  to the deadline!)  has opened up the possibility that I might actually  have a go.

I'm using the sections of 2 very tatty old red and white quilts  that  I over-dyed with indigo  ( and re-appraised  after I'd been to the Simon Calley exhibition )  and I think I've solved how I can show both sides and showcase the lovely raggy edges.  It  shares some characteristics  with the 'Cwilt Cymru ' Red Fragments piece I made a couple of years ago ( below)  but without the paint! I've put together a  sample JQ ( top) to work out how to stitch it .
Regardless  of whether I   manage to finish it in time for entry ( or whether it's accepted), it's great to have excitement and motivation back again. Meanwhile I'm still stitching my second 'Cynefin'  quilt.   

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

BM Drawing from the collections: Detail and Definition

Most of last week was taken up with practising  for Faversham Choral Society's performance of Haydn's Creation on Saturday. It  was tremendously enjoyable to sing and the feedback  from the audience and choral  director was excellent: the altos ' captured the spirit of the piece and the B flat in the Heavens are Telling did not disappoint' . A break for a couple of weeks then a programme of Shakespeare inspired music.  Returning the score tonight, it took me over an hour to erase all the pencil markings...
 The following day was the last session 'Drawing from the collections' at the British Museum , concentrating  on detail and definition  through looking a  contemporary Japanese ceramic made of over 1000 feathered leaves. An interesting session - how to capture the intricacy  and delicacy without slavishly drawing everything.  Back to the 4B pencil of the first week, putting in rough shapes lightly then looking for  the dark areas ( above). Then  starting to define the edges of those dark areas and adding a bit of detail.
 Just as well  I  remembered to take photos as I go along as I should have left  the drawing at the stage it was above with some areas having a suggestion of detail and others blank
 But no - carried away by success of scribbling with new artists material (biro), I filled in  areas on the main drawing and of course these can't be erased. I'd forgotten how much I liked drawing with a biro - you can vary the mark much more than with my  usual 0.5  Profipen. Brought back memories of my experiments  inspired by the Boetti exhibition.
It's been an excellent course, well thought out and structured. I particularly enjoyed the session drawing the African pots.   As it was so successful, they're hoping to repeat it later in the year - I would highly recommend it . 

With evenings drawing out now, the sunset  while on the train home was moving East - these photos were taken at Rochester( capturing both the cathedral and the castle!)

Tuesday, 15 March 2016

CQ Rydal Hall Retreat 2016

Last week on retreat at Rydal Hall  was spent in excellent company with  gentle strolls, sketching and  stitching  fuelled by coffee, 'tray bakes', wine and laughter.  Woke up on the first morning with  snow falling overnight (although it didn't last long). After tearing myself away from the view out my  bedroom window,  went for a walk in the very green woods with lots of piles of wood. Tried a bit of retail therapy in Grasmere but many shops were shut and  the  tins from the gingerbread shop washed away in the floods. There was  a lot of flood damage evident from huge craters in roads, footbridges out of use as too dangerous ( entailing longer detours) and piles of stones where there shouldn't be , washed up by the flood waters. The main road between Grasmere and Keswick is still  out of use.
Another day I walked to Rydal  Water and  drew until my fingers were too cold to hold a pencil - it was a bit more sheltered in the 'Grot' drawing Rydal Falls. I did some watercolours  but have got more into drawing as a result of all the courses I've been doing.
Most of the time though I was stitching and  making small collaged compositions inspired by my strolls and sketches, returning home refreshed in body and spirit.   

Latest Stitching

Last week I was on retreat with 10 fellow CQ members at Rydal Hall in Cumbria. Excellent company as always ,  and as usual I did some  walking, sketching and hand stitching. Among the projects I had taken along with me was a  12 inch square I'd put together for SAQA Benefit Auction  using leftover from my 'Fleet Mudflats' quilt. Only 3 years late....  This one was sold  for quite a bit of money so hoping this indigo piece will  do well too 

And while I was in 'stitch everything to death'  mode, I finished my February Journal quilt also based on  Chesil Beach and the Fleet lagoon at Ferrybridge . I like putting together collaged compositions as reminders of places I've been - I'm now  stitching into a moody Rydal inspired piece.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

BM Drawing from the Collections: Volume and Mass

3rd session 'Drawing from the Collections' at the  British Museum was focused on  volume and mass using the pots in the African Gallery ( and the addition of burnt sienna pastel to charcoal and white chalk of last week).  I just love these pots and have drawn them before 

 I remembered this time to take photos as I  went along both to record the process but also to spot where things start to go wrong .
  After practising mark-making and 'swooshes' with the side of the burnt sienna pastel and  a wrm up with a quick drawing in charcoal, we sketched the outline of the structure in charcoal
 Next step was filling in mass with the pastel   then adding  darkest areas in charcoal.
There was a lot of small adjustments between these 2 stages, gradually adding tone, marks and textures. I thought I was ready for the white chalk  but wasn't allowed it until I'd properly defined the dark areas. Good advice,  along with showing where I hadn't quite described the shape, how to hint at texture without putting every last mark in, areas where I needed to work into more to balance more finished areas  ( bottom right still need attention)  
 Overall, I was really pleased with what I achieved  - unfortunately I won't be going next weekend as  bus replacement  service for rail  would double the journey. But as I'm heading up to Rydal tomorrow, I won't be short  of inspiration ( my packing mainly consists of art materials and thermals!)
On the way home, the reflected evening light over the marshes between Stratford and Ebbsfleet  was  lovely despite  being a bit out of practice taking photos at speed from the train.