On not mono tasking.

I have read several articles and blog posts recently about how multi tasking is just plain bad and not at all good for you. Well, it seems sometimes there isn’t any choice, especially when cooking for instance, unless microwaving something in a packet is on the menu.

When it comes to work projects there is a choice; I try very hard to do one thing at a time, but never succeed. I’m not sure why, as part of me wants things to be simple, i.e. the mono work life, one project at a time, or always producing the same sort of work in the same medium, but the rampant brain always wins, and conjures up a few other projects to throw into the mix, or indeed to make the mix.

I can’t ignore these projects, I am putty in the hands of this other character that resides within. So, at the moment I am making a new artist’s book, as shown in previous posts. This is of a slowish evolution; the narrative is developing now, so I have an idea of what is going to happen. I don’t push it, I just have an idea every so often, and jot it down on random bits of paper. This morning something came into my head as I was eating cereal, and yesterday it was when I was peeling carrots.

So it looks as if it’s all food related then; fear not, the story contains no cooking or food related story line, it must simply be a default dreaming state for my brain. I’ve no idea why, I am certainly not thrilled by peeling carrots, although they look quite pleasantly tidy when they are done.

Other times I can get a few lines drift into my head when I am out on a walk. This is much more acceptably poetic, of course. I generally have forgotten them by the time I am home. I will take a notebook in future and look quite eccentric as I plod our suburban streets, stopping every so often to write something down.

So, there’s the artist’s book, and the needlepoint, which stalled a little as I was writing  a book for Search Press, the first draft of which is now done. I hope my editor isn’t overwhelmingly bewildered when she opens that document.

As you can see here, the needlepoint hasn’t raced ahead. That’s not the nature of needlepoint though, and as an excuse I did make lots of new work for the above book. Not needlepoint, I must point out, that would take years at the speed I go at it.

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Below, I can never resist a close up of needlepoint, it’s so digital.

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Then there is this new chap. I started him last summer, 2015 that is, not the one that’s just gone. He is a rather large textile raven. He had been put away, but won’t let himself be forgotten, so I have decided to finish him. It will take time, as he intends to have quite elaborate wings and tail, and body too I imagine. As usual I will be making it up as I go along.

Don’t worry, this isn’t him, it’s just a cotton experiment to sort how the pattern I had designed would work.

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There he is perched in the window. He is actually stuffed but looks flat in this image. He is made from felt and has a large polystyrene ball inside, with wooden legs pushed into it. He is not himself just yet, more work will need to be done.

He is stable but more work will be done on his legs too, and feet will need to be added. The wings and tail have been cut out; I’m just about to dig them out of the drawer to continue with them. He’s 57 cm long from beak to tail, and will get bigger I imagine, when his tail feathers are added, and his beak finished properly.

Some years ago I made some large ceramic ravens, and there are ravens in an artist’s book I made called The Stone Bird, so they are all based upon each other. Here are the ceramic ravens, with their nest and egg, photographs of photographs, but clear enough I think.

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So it seems that mono tasking with my work isn’t ever going to be on the cards. And that’s fine, as I think you must simply do what you have to do and make sure you enjoy doing it.

 

 

 

 

Doorway.

I’ve started work on my new artist’s book this week, using the images and materials, with a few additions of some of my painted fabrics, shown in my last post.

I actually had no idea of what the book was going to be about, and indeed it is still very much a work in progress, but it seems that it will involve trees, memory, doorways, quite a lot of stonyness and some text. And a boat, and mountains, probably. So it’s development has been kicked off by just making a piece of work, based upon an image that I like. Sometimes, in fact perhaps all the time, that’s the way to get going.

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This photograph of a little doorway at Castell y Bere in Wales is an image I’ve wanted to work with for some time. This wonderful ruined castle, built in the 1220s by Llywelyn the Great, is on a rocky outcrop in the Dysynni Valley. The area is astonishingly beautiful.

So here’s my piece based upon this doorway, using some richly coloured fabrics in keeping the illuminated manuscript influence that’s also in the air with this project.

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The piece laid out, with some threads. I didn’t use the heavier threads that much, as the piece really needed quite subtle stitching, to maintain a strong graphic quality.

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The finished piece, on an experimental background, and Khadi paper. It needs ironing. I think I have decided to make this into a hanging book; I’m not sure how many pages yet.

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I’ll finish this page, and think about some text. Even though it’s a hanging book it will be a double page spread, so will have an accompanying page, with text and most probably an image or two.

I have some text ready for a piece involving rowans, so that will be my next piece, I think.

A fabric digression.

During my breaks from stewarding the Art Textiles:Made in Britain gallery at the Festival of Quilts last month, I found myself buying patterned fabric. This was unusual, as I don’t use patterned commercial fabric, and I had decided at the start of the show that there was nothing I really needed to buy.

Well, the part of my brain that made those somewhat flimsy but sensible decisions, and the part of my brain that just changes all such plans and does whatever it wants to never seem to actually join up, so I came home with a small but satisfying stash of new fabrics. These will be used in conjunction with my acrylic painted and printed fabric, and now the maverick brain is enjoying itself and coming up with some ideas for new work.

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So here’s a little run through of the fabric. It was actually wonderful and necessary therapy buying it, as was being at the show. These cottons above remind me of some of the rich jewel tones found in illustrated manuscripts, so that may be the direction in which the new work will move.

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I also liked these linens. I’ll undoubtedly use them with my painted and printed fabrics; there’s some acrylic painted calico and black cotton here, and a tiny piece of green – grey acrylic printed cloth.

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Some Swedish linen threads, also with indigo and hemp fabrics from the Burmese Aid Charity stand.

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And some African fabrics from The Gambia, dyed with kola nut and indigo.

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Trying out some combinations here. Linen and hemp fabric, gem stone beads, patterned Indian fabric from my collection. I love playing around with this sort of exercise, it’s both good fun and creatively useful.

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More experimenting with patterned and painted fabric combos, with wooden beads and gem stone beads.

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Trying out some mulberry bark too.

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Black fabric printed with a thermofax screen, and some gorgeous African glass beads.

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Some simple neutrals.

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Cotton, gemstone beads, acrylic painted fabric and mulberry bark.

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Cotton, painted fabric, wooden beads, mulberry bark.

So a sort of decision may have been made, in that I would like to use these in conjunction with acrylic painted and printed fabrics, using illustrated manuscripts as a stimulus. It will almost certainly be an artist’s book.

With that in mind, I scrolled through some images on my computer, just seeing what spoke to me. Here are some of them, starting with seven images of  Wales taken on various holidays. Don’t worry, I know they don’t relate to the fabric colours in a particularly consistent way, except for the red boat; it’s more about shapes, illustration and emotion.

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I’ve used the beach and pebble images in pieces before, but have long wanted to use my other images of Wales; I have many more…

And a few other images I would like to work with, chosen just because they seem right. Still quite stoney, except for the plant at the end, which I like for its flower shapes.

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For images of the Art Textiles: Made in Britain gallery, click on the link in the list to the right.

Quite a lot of art.

Hello and thank you to all the followers and new followers of this blog. Because of work and so on the blog is appearing a little less frequently but all that will hopefully change at some point. This is quite a biggie, so should last for a while…

Life is a little pushed around here at the moment, so a lovely two day break in London last weekend with an old friend was much appreciated.

We spent both days at the Royal Academy, and flanneuring around London,  generally having quite a chilled time. I’ve never been to the Summer Exhibition before, but I enjoyed it more than many of the blockbuster art shows I’ve seen over the years. Art and what we like is simply up to individual preference, and there was a lot of good stuff on show.

Here are a few general views. If you have a spare moment it’s worth going onto the RA website and perusing the galleries.

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Spyre by Ron Arad, the camera at the tip of the moving sculpture creepily filming the Courtyard and projecting the result onto the screen. Yes, we did stand there for some time trying to spot ourselves.

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The architecture exhibits, working on the theme ‘Unbuilt’ were fascinating; amazing models and drawings, and also the most wonderful wall colour, Hague blue, which I’d quite like to work into our house in some way. I’ve just checked, it’s Farrow and Ball.

And now a few favourites, I had many more.

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El Anatsui, Avocado Coconut Egg [Ace.] The [Ace] is part of the title, although obviously I did like the piece a lot.

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David Mach, All the Fish in the Sea. [And me too; this bit isn’t part of the title.]

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Aono Fumiaki, Mending, substitution, consolidation, coupling.

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Roland Hicks, OSB5.

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Ian Ray, Large Cloud moving south east, Hythe, and Large Cloud moving north east, Dover.

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India Dewar, Slice of the Multibrane Loaf. [That’s the spelling.]  This was a painted slice of bread, genius.

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Stephanie Quayle, Man of the Trees.

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I love this pair, The Areoplane [yes, that’s the spelling] by Annie Whiles.

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Bob and Roberta Smith, What unites human beings is huge and wonderful.

We also saw Bill Jacklin’s gorgeous prints, Ken Howard’s plein-air paintings of Switzerland and David Hockney’s 82 Portraits and 1 Still Life show. I was particularly impressed by his painterly handling of the sitters’ shoes, quite wonderful.

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Regent Street was closed on Sunday morning for a fun run, so there was a great atmosphere with drumming and music further on in Piccadilly Circus. The street is closed to traffic on Sundays in July, so people were experimenting with wandering around in the middle of the road; it just had to be done. There was more music too, excellent fun.IMG_0542

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And, being self indulgent here, a view of the rooftops [and roads] of Bloomsbury from our hotel room.

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Back soonish!

Intermittent.

I’m so used to blogging fairly regularly that it seems strange not to do so, but it’s quite difficult when you are writing a book, as obviously the publishers don’t want you to show anything at all about its content.

This seems sensible, but since I blog mostly about my work and have been  working away at it solidly, and also visiting my mother who has been in hospital for a few weeks, I feel my existence is rather too dull to bang on about.

But, since I have been feeling the blog itch for a while, here is an effort. I am making a lot of new work for the book, which is in the Search Press Stitched Textiles series, and also writing about my design and making processes. It’s moving forward, but I can’t pretend it has been particularly easy. There has been a lot going on, and peace and quiet and enough good time are in short supply. But I am enjoying it.

Here’s my desk after printing some monoprints. I love the smell of those Gelli plates, is that too strange to admit, one wonders.

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These are disturbing times for all of us too, so, as it was our wedding anniversary at the weekend,  we went to a local National Trust property, Coughton Court. This is a Tudor house in Warwickshire, the gardens of which served to cheer and uplift. Well, they are amazing actually, like a huge setting that would be perfect for a Midsummer Night’s Dream. I would love to visit them on a night of full Moon and clear skies.

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Into the walled garden.

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The rose garden within the walled garden is stunning. I love stripy flowers  too.

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And the smells and colours are a balm to the brain.

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We seem to have veered towards pink here, but why not, tired of pink, tired of life I say.

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A luscious hedge.

And below, bees doing what they do, and posing for photographs, naturally.

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Above, part of the bog garden.

To continue the colourful theme, a couple of new books I’m enjoying dipping into. A new book is such a cheering thing.

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Time to stitch?

I designed a new needlepoint a week or so ago, but I think progress is going to be rather slow with this chap. One reason is because it’s quite large, about 65cm square, and another reason is because I haven’t yet finished the one below. That’s no problem as I like to work on two at the same time, as I find it more fun to alternate work with different colour ways.

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The main reason I think it’s going to take ages to finish is that I have started to write a book for Search Press. This will be part of their Stitched Textiles Series, and will be about how I make my work and its close relationship to the natural world. So I will be making new pieces of work for it too; not needlepoint in this case.

The planning meeting was last week in their headquarters in Kent, and it was 4.5 hours of excellent enjoyment. So now it’s a lot of steady hard work for the next 9 months or so. Yes, there’s a timescale loaded with meaning…

So this blog may be slightly weird for a while, as I can’t post what I am making for the book, obviously. But there will be other things to talk about, undoubtedly.

So, back to the needlepoint- in- waiting, which is about winter and summer, and has a haiku.

A walk in winter

the dream mountains of summer

future memories.

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It’s based in part on this image of Welsh mountains, which I have gazed at on many occasions.

It’s from one of my photographs, which I then altered in Photoshop using the cutout filter in the filter gallery. There are quite a few options with this filter; I like the way it simplifies colour into blocks, giving the image the look of one of those wonderful London Transport posters.

I will probably simplify it more when stitching. The other image I wanted to use in the piece is the one below, which I converted to monochrome, as these are the tones I want to use for this area of the needlepoint. It’s a piece of work I made a few years ago, called Snow. It’s about 60 x 20 cm .

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Shown below, the images laid down on the canvas.

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Below, I cut the mountain image into sections to draw the shapes onto the canvas, as this canvas isn’t particularly see-through.

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Below, all drawn out on the canvas, ready to go.

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And a lovely selection of yarns to work with.

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Little room.

There’s a White Stripes song, 50 seconds of genius, called Little Room; it’s on their album White Blood Cells, released in 2001. I’ve always liked this song, it resonated, and it’s been jumping in and out of my head for years. It seems to have totally influenced me at last. It’s about having great ideas in your little room and thinking you need a bigger room; it’s on YouTube.

I’ve recently relocated myself into what can accurately be called the box room. It would be a big box but it’s a very small room, being 2.5 x 3.5 metres. I have been happily working in the conservatory end of the kitchen for three plus years. This was a bigger space but I gradually stopped wanting to be there.

The ethos behind the song hasn’t always been accurate for me though. I was lucky enough to have a medium sized studio in the Custard Factory annexe in Birmingham for 2 years, and then an even bigger space was offered, so I was in that studio for another two years. And my work developed and changed through having these spaces just for work, with no home distractions.

I loved the big studio, even though ceiling tiles would occasionally fall to the floor. I was never hit, which is good, as they were quite chunky. Eventually I got lonely, so moved back home. I made a lot of large work there, because I could, and I was inspired . I also started lots of projects, put them under the very large table, and eventually, when I returned home to work, these projects kept me going for about two years. You can see a door to a safe in the image below; this was a very large safe, part of the offices of the company that owned the building previously, and was about the size of my box room.

Here are a couple of views of the big studio.

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And here’s the old conservatory studio at home. I’ve decluttered a lot of materials since this was taken, and I’m happy to keep things more streamlined.

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Now I’m in a little room, back with the White Stripes vibe, and love it. I find it totally wonderful to work in. I don’t make such large work any longer; that came to a natural end, which is a relief because the house is full of it.

So here’s a tour of the little room. It won’t take long, obviously.

I love to look at artists’ work spaces and studios, it’s fascinating to see how people work. You wouldn’t find my room in Interiors magazine, or Wallpaper*, but it’s a place to get the creative work done happily, and that’s all we need. I still have the plan chest downstairs, so I’ve included a tour of its drawers too. I couldn’t manage without this at the moment. It has to stay downstairs as it’s the size and possibly the weight of a small bungalow. We had to take the door and part of the door frame off to get it into the house; I can’t see it leaving in a hurry.

This hanging, Sea Lily, is over the radiator.

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All very tidy at the moment.

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This is what’s in the little drawers.

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This large basket holds all my bondawebbed fabric. It’s surprising how much you can pack in.

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Then all this stuff goes on top.

My computer and printer are in the room too, very handy to catch up on missed radio programmes and so on. Not the Archers, I’ve given that one up.

Here are the plan chest drawers. There is a mix of work I want to keep, needlepoints waiting to be blocked, and some fabrics, as well as paper and threads. It’s a fluid environment. Yes, that’s a Clanger.

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Of course this doesn’t include my rather too large collection of finished work, which is in three top of the wardrobe cupboards, a chest, and there’s a couple of folders of design sheets and finished smaller work too, at the back of the wardrobe. One day soon I’ll get a studio sale on the go, well, that’s what I keep promising myself.

Next time, a new piece of work, conceived in the little room!