I am doing quite well at the moment finishing work. I must say this is my least favourite part of the whole process, so I tend to have a pile of pieces of work in various stages of incompleteness always in the periphery of my vision, making feel guilty about starting anything new.
But I think it’s necessary to keep new ideas flowing and developing, and not at all good to dam them up until all the more tedious tasks are done. It’s also very good to move work along, and that’s what’s happening with these three pieces, they’re off to the framer. So shall I ignore the ‘to be finished’ pile this afternoon, or start something new?
From top to bottom, Morning Moon, Three Leaves, and Forest Flowers.
I started this needlepoint in December 2015, and have just finished it. Phew.
It did rest for a while, as I have the habit of starting other needlepoints, [ this is not a good idea ] and also making my fabric and mixed media pieces, which move along more quickly. Needlepoints go into a different time continuum as they approach their completion, just to really irritate you. Those last few rows will not let themselves be hurried.
This one started like this, as a collage; the bird image is a screen print from one of my drawings. You will see the blue was edited out in the final piece.
Below, the drawing on the canvas.
And the finished piece with some close ups. It’s about 55 x 55 cm, 21.5 x 21.5 inches. I used a variety of yarns, including linen, wool and cotton.
It’s vaguely skewiff and needs blocking.
Optimistic as always, I will say now that I’ll be back soon with yet another finished needlepoint…
I’ve had a burst of creative energy lately, and have made some decisions too in terms of various pieces of work and how I want them to develop. This is a relief, particularly as I’ve been pondering over work based on some stories and words I’ve written.
Previous blog posts show how I have started to make them into artist’s books, but, typically, I’ve changed my mind.
They are now going to be small format framed pieces.
This piece is called ‘The light through the trees’, and will feature five haiku. I may not use all the pieces as I want to include text too.
This piece, above, has been stitched, with the addition of some wonderful chunky gemstone chips. All the components will be finished in this way before construction.
Another piece of work being put together here, from pieces I made earlier. The birds were finished examples for a pattern I produced, and the trees are cut out of a finished fabric piece which works better cut up! This is now finished too, happily.
I’ve been working away at another piece, below, using some more of those cut up pieces of discarded embroidery. I liked them so much reduced into components I had to make something else, and this is a mostly paper collage with those fabric additions. It’s a design exercise for what will most probably be a needlepoint.
It’s largish, 75 x 58 cm. I was intending to keep it to around 30cm each way; failed.
I’ll show the whole of it when it’s done, which if all goes to plan will be later today.
And this chap, below, has been around for a while, and has but a few more stitches to go. This is just the top of it, it’s quite large. The pieces will need blocking, which I know I will hate doing, so they may have to be sent to finishing school, if I can find someone willing to take them on.
Although the image below……was my main inspiration for some new work, clearly my creative brain had other ideas. Getting some fabrics out to play around with lead me along another, considerably more muted path with two of the pieces, and the poor old bird I’d added to one of the pieces, shown in my last post, was banished altogether.
Not that it matters of course, it just takes time to realise you are not going to make what you thought you were going to, and to stop wasting time trying to make what you obviously don’t feel at ease with. There will perhaps be another time and place for those colours and images to make an appearance.
Here is the finished piece below, Forest Flowers. It’s hand stitched, and is around 50 x 35 cm/21 x 16 inches, but will be trimmed a little more to be framed, and ironed, as it’s on linen which as we know loves nothing more than to crease alarmingly.
All three have become landscape pieces, which is interesting, I had no plans for that. The piece below once included the jolly bird but I wanted it to be more contemplative and serious than he was allowing. It’s not stitched yet.
The third piece, below, is awaiting a good iron, and stitch.
So there we are. Those vivid greens and pinks are still haunting me though. The theme for the Art Textiles: Made in Britain group’s exhibitions next year is Wild, so I hope those colours will make an appearance in some new work then. Failing that I may just buy a pink jumper.
Using colour, either bright, muted or in between, is one of the things I most enjoy about textiles. When I made ceramics, strong colour was something that happened after a series of processes. Using fabric, fibre and paper with their immediate colour hit was a joy when I changed my media, and it still is.
A recent walk in our suburban streets and a brief forage in the garden turned up some inspiring leaves, in terms of both colour and shape. The ginkgo leaf is from one of several ginkgo biloba trees planted by Birmingham City Council, who whilst cutting costs in every way seem to be keeping up their tree planting programme. Perfect, as they look good and mop up pollution and prevent flooding. I am sort of obsessed with trees, they seem to appear automatically in much of my work.
A lovely group of fresh bright greens and a fuchsia bud, with a few materials sorted, to provide more inspiration for some new work.
The colours were making me feel that it’s time to explore one of my favourite topics, the rainforest, so out came this little gem of a book picked up second hand ages ago. It has supplied me with quite a few subjects over the last few years.
I do like to use my own source material and images as much as possible, but since these birds don’t seem to visit our garden, and I don’t visit theirs, books like this are invaluable.
Above, some collage papers and fabrics, ready to experiment with. I use these to make actual work or just to try out ideas.
Of course, the first piece I made completely ignores those luscious greens and pinks. I painted the yellow and black watercolour composition at the bottom a couple of years ago, just as an experiment in loosening up and not aiming to produce anything in particular. As is the way with these things, I produced several painted pieces that I liked more than the more considered work that one slaves over for ages.
So, here it is used in this mixed media piece, in fact it made all the decisions about which direction the work went in. The piece is mostly paper, with some fabrics, and I will add some stitch for texture and definition, but not too much. It’s 65 x 38 cm, 26 x 15 inches. I was hoping to work small, but failed.
The work below is entirely fabric, and once again the original colour inspirations have been waylaid. I don’t mind this, it’s just the way new work goes. You choose the materials that you like best and work with them, even though that fuchsia pink and those bright greens seemed to be the whole purpose of the exercise. I liked this quiet linen as a background, and also used some recycled pieces of an unfinished embroidery made using painted fabrics, for the trees.
The image goes with some words I have written about the Moon and the rainforest, and that has dictated the colour scheme too. It’s 50 x 35 cm, 19.5 x 14 inches.
Above, three shots of work in progress.
And below, a small pattern piece, in which those greens and pinks make an appearance at last, in the form of giant floating fuchsia buds and ginkgo leaves.
They have all yet to be stitched.
And to finish off, below, a little drawing to remind me of a design idea for a future piece of work, medium as yet undecided.
I was in the happy position of neither having my own stand nor being involved in a stand at the Festival this year, my first year off for at least 10 years. It was wonderful to just visit the show for a change.
Here are a few of my favourites. There seemed to be a very healthy amount of quilts in the competitions, with a high standard of work throughout, and the professional galleries were mostly very good too. I particularly enjoy the non professional work; so much care and love has been put into some amazing pieces.
Without meaning to I managed to buy some fabric. I didn’t go too crazy, which is commendable, bearing in mind that buying fabric is very high on my list of things that I really like to do.
I’ll be back working at the show next year, on the Art Textiles: Made in Britain stand, and very much looking forward to it.
So here are a few favourites.
Elly van Steenbeek.
Helen McBride Richter.
Mary Palmer and Anne Kiely, above and below.
Below, several images of one of my favourite galleries, featuring the work of Diana Harrison.
Annabel Rainbow painting live and raising money for Save the Children, in another of my favourite galleries, Through Our Hands.
Above, admirers in Ineke Berlyn’s gallery, a friend and brilliant textile artist. Some of her wonderful dresses are below.
Anne Forgan. I loved this, it was called, I think, ‘My Ageing Face.’
Margaret Ramsay, winner of the Fine Art Textiles category.