Can you create when the kitchen floor needs ripping up?

Well the answer is no, obviously. A little long term leak from the washing machine tap, conveniently hidden up a dark corner behind the hideously weighty washing machine had soaked the boards under the kitchen floor. We didn’t know, it was that sneaky. Well obviously we did eventually when we started to notice rising water between the tiles.

So quite a lot of time recently has been given to ripping up the floor. It was hard work but our daughter was great at it. It’s not a huge floor but the resulting amount of soaked wood and old tiles was. I’m quite pleased actually as I hated the floor and underneath are quarry tiles, all rather lovely but in need of much scraping. They’ve been there for 90 years and are flat and perfect. I’ve always wanted them revealed, they were covered 40 years ago as they don’t fill the whole floor, due to walls being removed and so on, and in those days homogenous and poor solutions were those generally taken. I prefer a more creative approach these days.

So there’s building work to be done too as we also need a new sink and unit and worktop. All this does affect the creative flow, so there’s not a lot to show, except for half a scraped quarry tiled floor, which I haven’t yet photographed, so don’t get too excited. Perhaps the floor could start its own Instagram account.

So back to the clean and peaceful world of embroidery. This hoop is part of a sea series I’m working on, it’s the first finished piece.

Below is a work in progress from the same series.

Lots of little stitches.

And this is one below is called Sea Shrine. I may make more sea shrines, the concept is quite appealing.

It’s based upon sea urchins and will be well beaded. I’ve used Japanese silk, which you really have to watch as it unravels before your eyes, and my own digitally printed cotton.

For the first time in absolutely ages I had a trip to London in September. We went to the Summer Show at the RA, and I must say it was great to be back there. I did a little dance, I love the place that much. Great hotel and company too.

Here are a few general images of the show. There was a good amount of textile art this year; Yinka Shonibare was the co – ordinator, so that’s probably why.

We also saw the David Hockney exhibition of his iPad French lockdown pieces, which I must say I did enjoy. He doesn’t mind a bit of bright colour, and isn’t afraid to just celebrate what he sees and enjoys. Really refreshing.

Back soon I hope with possibly one more finished piece and a lovely kitchen floor…

Square to circle.

I decided, last time I made a large piece of work, that I had had enough of big.

I have done a fair amount of big work, wrestling awkward and unwilling layers of fabric through the sewing machine. I’ve also made large work from hanging individual components together. And I’ve made some hefty artists’ books. That’s another story, ideal for weight training though.

I was always so enthusiastic, ideas spread over a large substrate are always exciting to explore and develop, , and the effort was worth it. The pieces earned their keep in shows and in gaining me employment, bless them. They are a bit of a pain now though as I face that artists’ conundrum of what to do with rather a lot of large stored work. Small pieces aren’t so much the problem, they generally move along given a show or whatever, but when it comes to pieces up to 2.5 x 2.5m I don’t think there would be many people able to give them a home.

If anyone out there has any ideas, please let’s start a help page, or whatever! It’s a common problem with painters, but textiles are more difficult to deal with, particularly ones that are XXXXXL.

So it was with fairly typical inattentiveness I recently started another big piece. It’s in the post before this one. It’s not huge by some standards, but when I finished the laying down I rolled it up and had no enthusiasm for stitching it. It’s on linen, which I love, but even with some test stitching using the machine I didn’t like the creasing. I do love flat and tidy. I love a wiggle, frayed edge and crease in other peoples’ work, just not mine.

Then I decided to use the naughty linen once again for some smaller pieces; they were about 40cm square. Once again I wasn’t happy, I didn’t like the machined look they seemed to demand, and hand stitch didn’t suit them.

So, it was back to the hoop. I have developed such love for the hoop. Stretched fabric looks excellent, linen can be well sorted, and as I really only want to do hand stitch at the moment, it looks at home in the hoops whereas on the flat pieces it just looked wrong.

I recently took part in my first exhibition for around two years. It was great to get back to it, and I chose to hang a number of hoops. Well, that was fabulous, they all fitted into a small box, they weighed nothing, they didn’t need levelling up and hung on a neat little tack. They were well received, undulating as they did across the wall.

Before and after images…

Some materials: digitally printed fabric from images of my collages, silk, thread and a bird I liked.

Above are some multiple images from the three laid down pieces of work in their square format. There was a fourth, and may the fourth not be with you because alas I cut it up, to be seen at a later date, I disliked it that much.

I do like a couple of these square lays though and may recreate them as stitched collages on paper, since I’ve photographed them all.

Below, after. Hoops! Fun at last. These are the first four.

I’ve used the three birds that I had already cut out, and it’s likely that following hoops will be a little more esoteric.

I’m finding I’m very sea orientated at the moment as I haven’t been to the coast for so long, it’s too sad. Really I should live there, I’ve always wanted to, but seem to be stuck in the middle of England!

Collage and pattern.

I’ve been using collage as an idea and a design tool for a very long time. I find it an excellent way to freely and vigorously create and develop images, often producing great surprises.

I have recently sorted out my collage paper collection. There didn’t seem to be that much, but many sheets and snippets of paper can fit into quite a small space, and it was a mess. Here is some of it below.

I used some to put together some tiny collages to stitch as cards. I really enjoy making these. Here is the pile of cut out and assembled cards ready to be finished with stitch and beads, and mounted onto card stock.

I culled a few papers I didn’t much like and then made a series of small collages. They are about A5, 8 x 5.5 inches. I layered and photographed them with various pieces from my small natural history collection, drift wood, shells, a wasp nest, dried leaves. I must make a note to try some with fresh flowers.

Here are some of those below.

Some were simply collages constructed for a photograph then deconstructed.

I printed a selection of the images onto cotton and silk inkjet fabrics.

Although it was my intention to make only relatively small pieces of work for a while, these images demanded a bigger canvas. Well it’s linen actually, just over a metre by a metre, around 40 x 40 inches.

I didn’t want to cut into the collage images too much, I mostly just sliced and separated them and placed them on the fabric.

I drew and selected pattern shapes for the birds, trees and so on and cut them out of more digitally printed fabric, along with some plain cottons, laying them across the linen. This is always my favourite part of making work.

I need a bigger table.

After pinning the piece to some calico craftily hung from the wardrobe doors I was able to add finishing touches.

I’ve bonded it to a calico backing before stitching as I like a firm piece to work on. I intend to hand stitch it, which should slow things down to say the least.

I have more collages and photo/collage combinations that are suggesting more new work. I should, I know, finish this one before I start another but that’s never been my way. I always think if the enthusiasm is there just go with it.

The Moon remains.

I’ve finished The Moon remains, a piece I’ve made for the Festival of Quilts to be held at the NEC, BirminghamUK, from July 29 until August 1.

It’s 1m x 70cm, made from collaged mixed fabrics, some printed and painted using acrylic paints, some digitally printed, some plain commercial fabrics, and printed Khadi paper, on black felt. It’s densely quilted by machine with metallic thread. It took a while!

The felt is a wonderful surface to quilt, resulting in a great texture. I’ll be using this combination of materials again, undoubtedly.

It’s mounted on canvas as it’s embellished with some porcelain pieces.

The piece is based upon some words I’ve written.

The night bird steps 

into the silvered  day,

and stars prepare their 

dance, unseen.

Through the lattice of 


the Sun becomes invisible,

the Moon remains.

Below, the work in various stages, and finished, ending with some details of the finished piece.

Thank you!


As promised, and I’m sure you’ve all been waiting breathlessly, here are all eight pieces from my now finished series called Gift. Based on some words I’ve written, in my own small way it’s a celebration of our planet, via the medium of mixed media and textiles.

All in 30 cm/12 inch hoops.



I’m working on a new series of work at the moment, with the hope that it will go to the Festival of Quilts at the NEC, Birmingham, later this year. Hopefully the Festival will run, but if not they do a wonderful online show, with many things on offer including excellent courses.

‘Gift’ is a group of stitched pieces in hoops, based upon some words I’ve written. I imagine it could be called a poem.

It’s basically about appreciating and being amazed by the Earth, its immense history, its place in the Universe and so on. These themes inform much of my work. It delves into my love of living natural history, and natural history collections, and in using mixed media; the pieces are all made from appliquéd fabrics, a mix of plain, printed and hand painted, and paper, printed with my digital images.

The pieces are hand stitched and porcelain pieces and beads are used throughout. The hoops are 12 inches/30 cm, which I find a good size. There’s a good amount of space to work with, and although the stitching and beading take time, the end is always in sight since the pieces aren’t huge! I’ve been through that stage of making large scale work and I don’t think I want to re visit it soon.

The drum like and contained approach of stitching in a hoop really works for me. And they can carry a good amount of heavier media should you wish; I still want to stitch lots of pebbles onto a piece, those lovely flat ones. And sea glass too.

Here we are, above, working on the first piece, which is of course actually the 5th piece in the series. Why start at the beginning? The ideas for the other pieces evolved from this first hoop.

Below, some more materials lined up for possible inclusion. These are digitally printed papers and silk, except for that zebra stripy piece of fabric, which is a commercial fabric and I love it.

Above and below, in no particular order, as they say, more pieces in progress.

So, that’s seven so far, some more finished than others. There’s one more to go, which I’m planning to lay down later.

I’ll be painting the hoops white. When they are all done I’ll post them, in order…

It must be spring.

Since the botanical world has decided it’s time to get going, and the days are longer, it must indeed be spring. But watching our magnolias through the rather beautiful snow storms yesterday reminded me of the fickleness of this season. I love that it is, too.

However, I am also very fond of the magnolias, both of which are blooming profusely this year, so I don’t want to see the flowers shrivelled and browned. Amazingly they look ok so far; they’ve certainly stood up to those winds whipping down from the Arctic.

Our small but complex suburban garden is rather full as a result of years of my enthusiastic plant buying. It’s been taking up a lot of my time recently too, having had quite a sort out. It was good to be out in the fresh air so much; there are times when I am grateful for a complicated garden.

So creative work has been fitted in around the garden tasks, and I must admit I am so dragging my feet when it comes to finishing some bigger pieces. This week, yes this week, this one, below, will definitely be done and mounted.

It’s about 65 x 40 cm, so not that large really, but it is absorbing a lot of stitch and beading.

This piece, above, is actually finished now. Here it is in its early stages, just laid down and ready to stitch.

And all done, above. Both pieces are on felt backgrounds.

Above and below, two details. The birds are based upon Java sparrows, beautiful little birds.

I have started some new pieces that I’m hoping will go into the Festival of Quilts this year. The Festival is all set to go ahead, but if it doesn’t they will undoubtedly be holding the digital exhibition again.

I’ll write about the new work when it has progressed a little more. The artist’s book I posted about last time has had its finishing postponed. I like my books to be looked at properly and I doubt that people will be encouraged to touch. So next year perhaps.

Last week I needed some small, in front of the tv work, so quickly assembled some pieces from various squares and half – done felt experiments. The felt is purchased wool felt, I didn’t make it. Felt, as you know, is lovely and soft to stitch. My usual work is difficult to stitch by hand, yet I keep on doing it, so the felt is a wonderful relief. One day the hands will decide enough is enough!

So, as relaxing noodling along pieces, these are great to work on. The first piece started as a square but then developed onto a pebble, and others followed. I’m not sure what will happen next, I’m just working my way through them, adding hand stitch and beads. They’ll be around for a while I should think, filling in gaps between other projects.

Keep well, back soon.

More Stories.

There’s a project that I’ve been working on for some time, which existed for quite a while in one or two uncompleted forms, and last year was realised in a series of embroidered work in hoops. This is called Stories of the Lost and the Found, and was due to be shown last year at the Festival of Quilts and other venues afterwards. The pieces are based on various pieces of my writing; an autobiographical wander through the seasons, observations, and life with its attendant complexities.

I wanted to also use the images together with the text, in some way, but hadn’t moved on with the idea. But recently I decided it needed to be done, and started to make an artist’s book, with the writing and the hoop embroideries as the foundation.

I started by thinking the book would consist of collaged papers, prints and perhaps fabric, but it quickly evolved into a digital experience, using images from the hoops, other embroidered work, text, drawings, lino cuts, screen prints, other images I’ve taken, [ two of which I haven’t, credit below ] and Photoshop. I’m no wizz at Photoshop, I must point out! But I am happy with the results, and the way the pages relate to each other since I decided on just using digital techniques. The pages are designed, though, to incorporate some stitch. Not a lot, but enough to add a human, non digital touch.

Also, although I keep banging on about the book being digital, that’s just about the construction of the pages, which were then all printed out onto a mix of papers. I like paper so much, I could just collect it. The pages are A3 size, but will have to be mounted onto larger sheets of Khadi paper when I construct the book. This is to protect the more delicate papers, and so that people can actually turn the pages and look at the book. I’ll have to buy some biodegradable disposable gloves too, should the book be exhibited, to protect people, just in case, not the book. You know the way things are these days.

Here are a few of the hoops. There are 16 in the first original series, and 9 in a later series of black and white hoop pieces. The latter group wouldn’t have been at the Festival anyway, since I made them late last year, and neither of course would this book. If the festival goes ahead this year, hopefully they will all be there.

Here’s a couple of images of a few of the original ideas and materials for the pages. I eventually incorporated them digitally.


Below, a selection of pages put together with Photoshop, and ready to be finished with stitch before being bound.


The moth image above is one of two images that are not mine. This was a photograph taken by a friend of an Emperor moth in her garden. An amazing creature. Also, three above, the sea/beach image is my daughter’s. It’s in Wales, Tywyn or Barmouth.


Thanks folks, more soon, hopefully of the finished book…

Moon in the blue sky.

I love to see the beauty of a translucent Moon floating in the blue sky, it’s always a gift. I’ve wanted to use this title for some time; I tend to store up and keep titles until they find a home. This piece was conceived after the first heavy-ish fall of snow we had at the start of the year and as I made it it became apparent that the title Moon in the blue sky had a destination.

I took some images of the snowy trees and garden, it was relatively early so the colours were quite dark and dramatic. I later printed them after a brief edit onto some fairly unpleasant bright white stiff silk. I have no idea where it came from, disconcertingly, but the prints were beautiful, so I think its found its purpose, at least. Typically I don’t have that much left and now wouldn’t mind some more. I used my inkjet printer, after ironing the silk onto Bondaweb, and putting sellotape along the feed edge.

We have jays visiting our winter garden, not so many lately, but in the past we’ve had a visiting pair and one, many years ago, who would take peanuts from your hand.

So I decided this piece needed a jay, especially as I had a drawing ready to go of a jay that I had never used, and I sorted out some other references too. Yes, this image was in the last post, but I thought I’d pop it into this one too, for a bit of continuity.

Above you can see the A4 sized snowy garden prints, with some thread and bead inspiration too. The little images of arches are a hedge from a garden visit, I can’t remember where, and what I think is a little stone altar, on a wall in Venice. I didn’t use these references eventually, they are saved for another day. I’ve always liked an arch.

Above, the finished piece, mixed materials on felt, 45 x 67 cm, 18 x 26 inches. I hand stitched it which did take a while, but when a piece is this sort of size manoeuvering it through the machine is unpleasantly difficult and can damage it, I’ve found.

A close up, above. The sky is indigo dyed silk. And below, a slightly closer view.

The stitching wasn’t particularly mindful or relaxing, as is the current fashion, but I didn’t think it would be. I use quite a few layers in some parts of my work and the needle doesn’t go through them with much grace. I use a sharpened bradawl to help. I’ve been doing this for years, one day I hope I will make something that is easy to hand stitch…I’m not holding my breath.

Below, an even closer view.

I have another five pieces waiting to be stitched, and no reason not to get on with them, so I’d better be off.

Thanks for reading! Look after yourselves.

The birds are back part two.

One of my intentions this year is to use materials I already have, and although my stash is small compared to many, there’s still enough to make a lot of work. I did actually decide this late last year, and although I wasn’t supposed to be buying anything new, I had a notion to use felt for some new work ideas, so naturally I had to buy some, albeit far too much. After buying it I decided it wasn’t for me, or at least the ideas weren’t for me.

It turns out that I was quite wrong. I had started to plan and make some new work, and found myself choosing the felt as the background. It’s lovely heather wool felt, and of course doesn’t fray, which makes edging really easy. I hate thinking of solutions for edging, so felt may be the chosen way for quite a while.

I am a member of Eclectica Artists, and we have regular Zoom meetings. We decided a project of sorts would be a good idea to keep us going, share developments at meetings and eventually hopefully exhibit the results. Naturally we didn’t pick a theme of any kind, as we never do, we are fully into each of us going our individual ways; we just decided to use recently taken images to work from.

I chose some images of a rose I had photographed, and did a fair amount of collage work, and some drawn ideas for applique and needlepoint pieces. I love a stripy flower.


When I started to choose fabrics and felt, the palette reverted to was one that is basically more my normal toned down approach, except for the brighter pink I still wanted to include, below. I had wanted to use full on bright pink and acid green, but they are making a guest appearance rather than being the leading participants.

Then the subject matter veered away from roses and butterflies, and landed once again on birds. Here are three pieces, all laid down and ready to stitch. They are around 65 45 cm/26 x 18 inches.



So these pieces were distinctly unplanned, but I believe in making what comes naturally. It may be that the more vivid pieces happen at some point, I hope so.

The recent snow inspired me to take a few photographs, and print some images on some silk. The silk was fairly horrible, very stiff, shiny and bright white. I have no idea why I bought it, but I’m glad I did, as it produced some snowy lovely tree prints. The two small images of arches were a possible idea for inclusion, which didn’t happen, but like the pink and green, may do in another piece.

Inspired by the previous flying hoopoe I wanted to do another flying bird. They both seem to flying in the same direction, so they must know something. This time I chose a jay as we often have one or occasionally two in our garden during the winter. I wanted the pink, black and white against the winter colours, and I’ll use beads to introduce the bright blue on the wings.

Now I must stop putting pieces together and actually finish them, so let’s see if that’s what the next blog is about. I have five to finish in the queue, but I may need to lay down a nice tropical bird using some of those bright colours first…

Greetings everyone.

Have the very best Christmas, Yule, winter break you possibly can folks.

Thank you too for looking at this blog throughout the year, and for all your lovely comments.

Look after yourselves, let’s all keep creating and supporting each other.


The birds are back, part one…

Periodically I declare to myself that I’ve made enough work featuring birds. I generally then make a few pieces with no avians, then, without actually being invited, they’re back, flying in, perching about the place, posing under the sun, or looking at the Moon.

I’d been mulling over some autumn coloured fabrics I’ve had for ages, and also some lovely textured silks that I was convinced I would never use. You know, the sort of thing you get out, stroke a bit, and put away again.

This time I didn’t put them away. Having a little experiment with them was the start, and I was convinced that I was going to make some pattern based pieces.


This was the first piece. Boring. So naturally I took the scissors to it and then the birds arrived. Painting some calico with Indian ink for the background seemed to get it all going, and these are the two pieces, below, that happened.

I’d like to make a third, I have enough silk and so on left, and having found a context to actually use it in that I like, I’m enthusiastic about making a third piece. With a bird, probably.


Here’s one of them, below, pinned up, waiting to be stitched. It’s between two other bird pieces that have a slightly more convoluted story, which undoubtedly I will post about at some point.

Keep well, and keep making, everyone. x

Work in progress, black and white.

I didn’t deliberately set out to make a number of black and white pieces. I had some hoops, and some nice bits of painted black and white fabric, and some thick silk and so on, and they started to come together.

I sorted out a few drawings for some promts, and got going with the scissors. Hoops suit me these days. They’re easy to handle, the piece is all laid down and easy to stitch [up to a point, some of my textured painted fabric is like rock] and I can explore lots of ideas without wrestling with billowing large amounts of fabric. They’re my version of illustrated manuscripts, small detailed and contained worlds.

The start of a sea piece.

A fern piece on the go.

A somewhat exuberant starfish.

And another one.

An arch, based on topiary.

Painting some calico and the hoop with some Indian ink, lazy but an effective way of getting black fabric and doing the hoop at the same time.

Adding some white acrylic paint to another piece to make an active painterly background for the piece below.

Feeling a sudden need for a touch of colour, I added some orange to this piece and the two below.

And below, the last one, number nine, which will be absolutely covered in silver beads. I feel it needs the bling.

To follow, some close ups of some of the finished pieces. When they are all done I’ll put them on my website. They may be going to the Festival of Quilts next year, all paws crossed.

Moving across media.

I fully endorse using whatever medium inspires you for whatever project you are developing. Conversely a medium and materials frequently inspire the creative process, so although I’m fully into using what you own as much as possible, new materials coming into the studio can really spark some fresh ideas.

I like to use needlepoint a lot these days to interpret ideas, but I still enjoy collage, drawing, using coloured pencils and paints, and appliquéd stitched fabrics and mixed media. I don’t force myself stick to one medium, the aim is keeping things totally enjoyable and as relaxed as creativity can ever be.

I had some hoops left over from previous projects, and thought about moving them along, but I’m glad I didn’t, because I’m stitching some small pieces in them at the moment with great enjoyment. They are fabulous for working on quite rapid pieces, and because they are so drum – like when stretched I can indulge myself with much beading and addition of other materials, like my porcelain pieces, and the odd pebble or bit of wood.

Above and below, sorting out some materials.

The materials in the image above inspired me to start a series of mostly white and black pieces, with the addition as necessary of small amounts of colour. This idea basically came from just going through my fabrics and grouping them together.

For the moment, back to the the two original pieces, shown here in progress.

And below, two white pieces in progress. I’m not sure if the sea theme will continue, we’ll see.

These are mixed painted fabrics and an ink drawing [on the first image] on silk. They are now being stitched.

Below, two finished pieces.

This one is accurately called Fishy.

And this is Pink Forest.

Both are 26 cm/10 inch hoops, painted white.

Collage edition.

Collage is my go to idea and design tool. I like a few simple line drawings to get down a selection of composition ideas, but collage adds in the shapes, colour, pattern and texture. It’s definitely a make it up as you go along and let’s see what happens medium. I find from this approach the best and freshest composition ideas emerge; it’s as if those simple childhood tools of scissors, paper and glue banish reserve and inhibition, and also simplify, which is something I always aim for in my work.

A mix of collage papers made from digitally manipulated images and overlays of papers photographed and printed out. To these papers I add paint, coloured pencil, screen print and mixed media.

Gathering together some materials to start working on some collages in a new A4 zig zag book, below.

Below, some pages from the book, simple shapes and blocks of complex imagery, open to interpretation in a variety of ways.

Above and below, collaged papers and screen printing over the collage.

Above, ink and cut out digitally manipulated prints from a drawing I made.

Above, a mix of printed digitally manipulated images, painted paper, gold leaf and screen print over the top.

The image above is a combination of digital and cut out paper collage photographed, fiddled with in Photoshop, and printed.

A few pages of the zig zag book. It’s great to work in and stores a lot of ideas for potential work.

More pages and some on going design ideas.

Above, an older collage that inspired the needlepoint below, almost finished, in great need of blocking, so please excuse its parallelogram nature.

I started this one with the intention of it being mostly whites, greys and black, but autumn crept in. It’s a mix of Rowan wool, bamboo yarn and tapestry wool.

Take care everyone.


I particularly like looking at peoples’ workshops and studios online and occasionally in real life. Naturally there is a lot to see, from amazing huge spaces to tiny corners and work stations in cupboards.

It seems this is a shared interest as when I posted an image of my little fabric trolley some time ago I had quite a few emails asking more about my workspace, small and less than amazing as it is.

I think people struggle with too much stuff, much of which is quite nice and may come in useful some day [if we lived to 250 or longer that is] and want a magic solution. I do too.

My main room is compact, now there’s a description, about 240 x 190 cm, approximately 8 x 6 feet. There’s a lot in it but I do pare down some of my materials for various reasons, which is probably a good idea, given the lack of space. I do however feel more creative with less stuff, and to move forward editing out ancient materials that seem to demand I use them even though it’s never going to happen, seems to be the way.

Some people love their stuff though and that’s fabulous.

The little trolley isn’t in use at the moment, he may come back soon, but I thought it would be fun to show a few images of the studio/workroom, and my plan chest, and my other work station downstairs [basically not far from the tv.]

I took these images after I had tidied up, I am a tidy person but don’t mind a mess when working, obviously. Well I say obviously but really only up to a point. I do have to be careful though as I fear I wouldn’t be able to get into, or worse, out of the room, if I didn’t keep an eye on things.

I love my chair, but it is seriously too big for the space…
Cabinet drawers.
More contents of cabinet drawers, try not to get too excited now.
Fabric, some paper, and collage materials stored under the table.
The ever useful plan chest, which is downstairs, not in the little room, and two lots of needlepoint in progress in the living room.
The drawers of the plan chest, with finished work, paper etc, and yarns. I do have quite a lot of yarn, and don’t feel a need to reduce the amount except by making work. I’m trying not to buy anymore though.

And to round off, some tomatoes. Well why not, they’ve done really well this year. I haven’t grown them for many years and it’s nice to be back.


Creativity is an interesting beast, being both a joy and a challenge. I have recently found myself being increasingly challenged by feeling creative but somehow managing to block it by demanding of myself that I work at something new, different, a complete change: all the usual stuff which can stop you in your tracks.

About five years ago at a birthday lunch with some friends we were chatting about our work, and when asked what I was working on, I admitted a need to try out some needlepoint, which had been on my mind for a while. I was reticent to admit it, to be honest, as I think it has a fairly middle of the road and staid image, although I had researched some exciting practitioners of the process. 

Wonderfully, they were, as good artists and friends, very enthusiastic, almost thrilled, and this was emboldening. I have made several pieces over the years alongside my other textile practice, but find that stitched tapestry is increasingly becoming the way. Above and below, a few examples of my needlepoint.

So, I’ve concluded that overnight changes don’t work for me. I’m a slow burner, less exciting but going with the way I am is the only path that works for me. You may be different, and can boldly go, at warp factor 9, no less, and completely change tack, with huge enjoyment.

Whatever sort of artist you are, some assessment of your creative personality and, most importantly, acceptance of your make up will pay dividends. I think for me in the past this came naturally, but time can force us to be over analytical, question to the point of extinguishing an idea, and prevent us from any sort of progression.

So, to move on from a recent block, instead of demanding the shock of the new from myself, I responded to some recent advice and decided that doing things that came easily to me is fine, using inspiration that is an old friend is fine, and working with these rather than against them is more than fine, it’s the way for me. This creates a flow rather than a block, and with flow comes enjoyment, and I’m the sort of artist that likes enjoyment in my work.

Then, with that flow comes new ideas and creative directions, almost without trying. They may be slow in arriving but that’s fine. Don’t force it, just get something chilled going.

With all the above in mind, podcasts on, I got out my images folder, and picked out a few pictures that spoke to me. What I really love is collage, with some drawing and paint thrown in, a sort of loose playing around with shapes and patterns, scissors to hand, some nice pieces of printed paper to work with.

In its very early stages, above, a collage of mixed media. Coloured pencils, paint, fine liner pen, papers to be added, quite a lot of work to be done. This is heading in the direction of a design for a largish needlepoint, part of a series, but also, I hope, a piece of work in its own right.

Of the series of needlepoints, one is finished but not photographed properly yet, one is partly done, and this one, still at this stage. I know that the collage will be more complex than the needlepoint, as I tend to like a marginally simpler look with the stitched pieces.

So basically I get the spontaneity of collage and mixed media, and the interpretation into another, very different medium, something considerably slower to make, in which I can still make creative decisions as I go along, and one that will, believe it or indeed not, still surprise as it gently evolves.

Finished and almost wrapped.

I’ve finished some work which is waiting now to be wrapped in cellophane. I like the wrapping, it shows the job is done and that’s that, into the drawer, onto the next thing. Simple pleasures.

So here are a few finished pieces, and if browsers are actually allowed they will be in one at my show at the RBSA Gallery in Birmingham in November. If they’re not I’ll be sad, but there we are. I tend not to frame a lot these days; that was the plan a few posts back, but sensibly I’ve found people like to choose their own frames, and, if the work doesn’t go to a new home it comes back here, and frames are tedious to store. I am short of space and they do like to damage themselves.

Fossil sun 40 x 35 cm

Moth night 45 x 40 cm

Fossil Moon 35 x 35 cm

Gold Moon, moth forest 45 x 20 cm

Dragonfly forest 30 x 28 cm

White tree 30 x 25 cm

Blue forest 48 x 48 cm

And to finish, two jolly hoops.

Tropical night 30 cm diameter

Tropical Moon 30 cm diameter

I’m writing this on a very wet dull day, that definitely calls out for more colour. Time to get the paints out, let’s see what happens…

Recycle, reuse, regenerate…

I seem to be on a mission at the moment to use up what I have when making work. This practice has been ticking over for a while but has gained momentum recently.

I have bought some new materials this year, some paints and new coloured pencils, some threads and fabric to experiment with something new. This last purchase was probably not wise, but you have these ideas…

I have a pile of old embroideries, work that has been to a few shows, work that’s been in my browser for sale for a while, work that just went nowhere, started but unfinished work. I’ve been sorting through it and basically cutting it up, repurposing it, and hopefully regenerating it into new pieces. It’s quite a relief to be rid of the accusing pile of old work. I thought I’d finished going through it but found another couple of pieces stored away, so they are for the chop next. It’s difficult sometimes as the work is quite nice, but I seriously don’t need any more stuff hanging around; that’s the problem when you have been somewhat productive.

I’ve mostly made smaller pieces from the materials, which will be machine and hand stitched, and mounted for framing. I have a show at the RBSA Gallery in Birmingham in November, so it’s good to have a destination for some work, at last.

Here are some of the materials either waiting to be regenerated or having gone under the scissors. There are about 15 pieces in all, probably more to follow.

These pieces, above, were one big piece, laid down but not stitched. They are now 4 pieces. I made a nice new useful fabric from lots of painted silk scraps bonded onto some silk gauze, bottom left, and this will be cut up and added to the jungly pieces. I spent ages cutting those leaves out and I’m not wasting all that effort!

This piece of printed fabric, below, has been around for some time. It only needed some simple applique, as the images are too nice to cover up. That’s what I love about printing, the beautiful surprises and crunchy visual texture. It’s metallic screen printed acrylic paint on cotton, over dyed with indigo.

Any useful bits and pieces left over go into my collage folder. There’s s a lot of useful stuff in here, lots of potential for cutting and sticking. I still find collage one of the best design tools.

So, next, some hoop action. I had some hoops I wanted to use up, and these ended up featuring some recycled older work too. The first three are 30cm/12 inch hoops, the other two are 25cm/10 inches.

Working at these and in the garden, with some outdoor outings and meet ups, are mainly what I am doing these days. I’ve taken up Qigong again too. I used to really enjoy it when I went to Tai Chi, where we did series of Qigong exercises before the Tai Chi part of the class. I didn’t really enjoy Tai Chi at all, but loved Qigong. After a couple of weeks of short daily practice my frozen shoulder was healed. This wasn’t t the intention of going to the classes, it just happened.

There’s a great chap on YouTube, Jeffrey Chand.

So, a few garden images, yes I know everyone is putting up garden and plant images, but let’s celebrate the plant world, we wouldn’t be here without it.

The vegetable patch, mostly in pots around the garden. Things are a bit slow, but no too bad for a north facing semi shaded garden.

A bit more sun and the tomatoes will ripen. Above is a very mini Turk’s turban squash, which I don’t think is going to be very big, but I didn’t expect anything at all and love the way the plant is rambling everywhere, using any plant it passes to hold itself up. I have a fairly random approach to vegetable growing, fully appreciating the daily pickings. Salad leaves and courgettes seem to be the stars this year.

Hopefully, next time, some finished regenerated pieces. Have safe fun everyone!

Midsummer series.

I’m continuing with my minor obsession of stitching in hoops; actually I could do quite happily do all my work in hoops, I love a circle.

These are part of my Midsummer series, named after the subject matter and the rich dense colours in the pieces. The first three are 36 cm/10 inch hoops, the last three are 15 cm/6 inch hoops. More may follow…