Pale and colourful, unusually.

I have started a new piece of work which will feature in a future book, entitled Plant Life, and I think also in the Six and Friends Orientation show at Minerva Gallery, Llanidloes, Wales, this summer. I like to multi task my work, so it will hopefully gather a couple more part time jobs as it goes along.

I wanted this piece to be pale, off white in this case, but with some bright colour too, as a contrast to my other piece in the above book, Flowerpecker, which is a vigorous piece on black, undoubtedly my favourite colour as a starting point, particularly with white. So I had to work very hard indeed to keep black out of this piece; so far, I have succeeded. There is a little bit of black on the printed fabric but that can’t possibly count. I feel some lines of black stitching may appear though, just to create some visual tension.

It has no name as yet, hopefully something will suggest itself as I work on it.


I knew I wanted plant studies to work from, and I have a lot of drawings already, so decided to use something from my portfolio. As I was looking through I remembered the nasturtium thermofax screen I had made, and the fabrics I had printed using it, so I found my original drawings, and one or two other drawings I thought I would consider.


I delved through my drawers [ Hilary, do not say a thing ] and my over stuffed ideas book. I purposefully don’t keep this at all tidy, to aid serendipity. Excellent excuse, that one.


A few ideas and drawings put together; the nasturtium drawings, drawings of an iris, and photographs of other plants, stones, a hoverfly and a print of one of my book pages from an artist’s book I made called Mist and Grey, which I had also made into a screen.


I also found these quick sketches I had made ages ago, using nasturtium leaves and flowers. I have about 15 of these; I just drew each idea out quickly on scrap paper, and having been filed away they are now ready to be used as inspiration for this new piece. The original idea was that these would be made into individual pieces each about a metre long, to be hung as a frieze around a room. Not very practical, but interesting.

I decided against using anything but the nasturtium drawings, fabrics, and layout ideas at this point. I find I always work from having a lot of visual reference initially, and reducing and subtracting material before designing and laying down the piece. This applies to fabric and thread too; I always pull out piles of fabric to use, and end up with just a very small amount to eventually work with. I find it quite a relief these days to move from maximal to minimal. You can always make more work using your edited out materials.


Some of my nasturtium fabrics printed with acrylics using the nasturtium screen, and dyed with procion dyes.


Three pieces of gessoed calico to be used as the base of the piece.


I eventually chose two of the printed fabrics for use, this piece and a paler green fabric, together with some red acrylic painted calico.


One of the components and the original sketch. I made these on separate pieces of fabric and bondawebbed them on to the main pieces after a great deal of deliberation as to where they would look best.


The whole piece laid down and ready to go; machine stitching next. It’s about 1.5 x 1 metre.


During the laying down of the piece, I photographed this randomly placed arrangement for future reference. It was blockier than the style I had in mind for this particular work, but may have a use in another piece.


All my cuttings and scrap pieces gathered together to make some smaller pieces of work. I like to carry on a theme, making 2 or 3 smaller pieces with the materials I have been working with, whilst I am still enthusiastic about them. It’s a good way of building up your stock of small works too.

And here are two small pieces I made earlier.


This one is 40cm x 20cm.


And this is 25cm square. I’ll post it when it’s done, with some close ups.


8 thoughts on “Pale and colourful, unusually.

  1. Don’t be ridiculous Steph – you know I won’t be able to resist …. the trouble with your drawers is that they are so full of interesting things, I should think anyone would enjoy a good rummage in them. I love these detailed blow by blow accounts .. so interesting. And the work looks both prolific and quite gorgeous xx

  2. As ever I am absorbed by the process of elimination and auditioning that is going on almost subliminally as you work through your available materials. Love that phrase working from ‘maximal to minimal’ Sounds like a line from a song Steph that I think I know but can’t quite remember! I must make a note when you’re at the Minerva Centre as I’ve been there a few times and would enjoy a trip up to Llanidloes. A chance at last to see these wonderful things in close up.

    1. Thanks Lesley. I’m not sure if maximal is a word, I didn’t check I’m afraid, but the spell check seemed to like it so that was fine by me. Not that I would have removed it, I like it, and these spell checkers are far too bossy.
      I’ll post reminders about the Minerva exhibition, it’s on for a good length of time I think. We are having a meet the artists session I believe, but I don’t know when yet; it would be great to meet you.

Comments are closed.