April’s progress.

I’m not going to bang on too much about the passing of time, as I seem to usually, but I have noticed that these monthly blogs roll around increasingly quickly…

At the moment I am concentrating on stitched illustrations for a book project, Stories of the Lost and the Found. Most of the illustrations are in hoop format. I am enjoying this, a lot; they are easy to handle and I don’t have that sense of needing to rush them in any way, as they don’t overwhelm.

They also seem to have provided a vehicle, at last, for my interest in illustrated manuscripts. I’ve been admiring these for many years in books and exhibitions, their detail, colours, and richness, but I’ve never really worked out a way to involve their influence in my work. Then it just sort of happens; the smaller format undoubtedly is a bonus, enabling the exploration of making of many smaller pieces using a variety of colours and media.

So here are a few more in the series. It divides mainly into four seasons, although I’m not proceeding through the year in an orderly manner, as you will see.

The Paths to Trees, a spring piece.

A summer illustration, He moves through his world.

The Bluebirds and the Moon, spring.

In the Blue Forest, summer.

A summer day, summer, predictably.

A walk in winter, winter. The same bird as above, that one is a thermofax print, this one is a screen print. He’s one of my favourite birds.

Rowan I and II, autumn.

A piece in progress, A narrow indigo cloud; autumn.

And some of the latest porcelain pieces I’ve made, for mixed media work. I’m pleased that some of these are finding their way into this series of work, the hoops make a good firm support for them. I will use those above in some fossil related work too.

I’m planning and very much looking forward to a couple of printmaking sessions at the RBSA Gallery in Birmingham with a couple of friends. We aim  then to do a day long demonstration one Saturday early next year, at the gallery, followed by a joint exhibition in the lower gallery. So I’m digging out the lino cut tools, and starting to put together some collagraphs too. I’m not certain but I may be using Venice as a subject, probably in combination with flora and fauna, knowing myself as far as I do.

Below, a few earlier lino cuts. I may print a few of these off too. They are quite well used, having been printed on paper and fabric, and used with clay too, over the last few years. Plenty to get on with then!

New work and blossom, it must be spring.

March nearly at an end, what’s going on. Time, you move too fast. It’s great to have the blossom and spring flowers back again; I love a cherry tree and magnolias, particularly when they are in in bud. And there have been even more sunny days this week during which I find myself tidying the garden instead of working. Also the thing is with flowers, inside and out, is that I just can’t stop looking at them; better though than obsessively staring at screens.

So, a little update, featuring some new work, the recent Fashion and Embroidery show at the NEC in Birmingham, and some images from a couple of days in London.

First of all, a couple of images, above and below, of a piece of work called Fossil I, in progress. This was shown, when finished, in the Eclectica Textile Artists gallery at the Fashion and Embroidery Show at the NEC Birmingham, earlier this month. I’m a member of Eclectica and I also had a stand which I shared with my friend, textile artist Sue Bibby.

When finished it was strung together vertically. I forgot to photograph it…       It features some of my new porcelain pieces, which are finding their way into quite a few new pieces now.

Below are some of them. These are part of my new large piece of work called Stories of the Lost and the Found. Each piece will illustrate some of my words or poems; there are quite a few more in the pipeline.

Starting the first piece. This illustrates a spring poem called The Bridge of Branches. The text will be displayed next to each finished hoop. Below, the finished piece. It is 26cm/10 inches in diameter.

The piece below illustrates a poem about spring called A Radiance.

And below, a work in progress, a piece with no definite words as yet, I just wanted to use the porcelain moths.

Below, a hoop in its early stages, which will illustrate some words entitled Nest. All the pieces are a mix of fabric, paper, porcelain pieces, and other media, with hand stitch.

To round off the work section, here’s an image of our stand at Fashion and Embroidery earlier this month. It was a very enjoyable show, not least because we met and talked to so many people, old friends and hopefully new ones too. The two big pieces on the right are older chaps I decided to get out for an airing; it was nice to hang them again.

And now, a couple of days in London, looking at art and design and relaxing.

Firstly, the Dior show at the V&A, Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams, which was fabulous. It’s very, very popular, in fact fully booked until its very end in September. Here are a few images; I took a lot.

I want this one, and quite a few others too please, but this one first. Wonderful embroidery and surfaces throughout the show ensured there was something for every textile obsessive.

Below, part of the ceiling in one of the galleries, endless paper leaves and flowers, ephemeral and luscious.

We also went to see the Bonnard exhibition at Tate Modern. Loved the garden and landscape pieces, and the colours, and the to me collaged look of the work.

Whilst at Tate Modern we looked in at the Franz West exhibition, which is really interesting, covering the work of an artist who worked in a very wide variety of media, including these giant painted steel sculptures, and rather wonderful heads.

Below, I don’t usually post images of myself,  but I love this coat. Not Dior though, more M&S…


February news.

Phew, just in time for February news. Actually I’ve not a lot to show, having spent time getting work, fabric packs and patterns ready for an upcoming show at the NEC, Birmingham. This is Embroidery and Fashion, part of the Creative Craft Show which also includes Sewing for Pleasure. It runs from 14 – 17 March, and is a really good show, with a strong mix of textile artists, workshops, fashion shows and commercial stands. I am sharing the stand once again with my friend textile artist Sue Bibby.

So, here’s what’s been happening. I have almost completed another pattern, which will go into my Etsy shop. Here it is, below, in progress.

I’ve also been making some porcelain pieces in a ceramics class I go to weekly. I was a ceramist for over 20 years and it’s good to get back to some work with clay. Porcelain is glorious, not the kindest clay body to work with but the most beautiful, and the strongest when fired.

I’m making small pieces to incorporate with textile work at the moment, but some vessels may happen at some point. Below is some work in progress; these are black and white pieces, which should be exciting to work with when they are fired.

I’ve used some of my print blocks to print black porcelain and to impress the clay. I’m hoping to make some tiger pieces next, in orange, yellow and black.

And here are some of the finished fired pieces, a range of leaves, moths, fossil shapes, sticks, and the plain pieces at the bottom which may eventually have words written onto them. These pieces are between 2.5cm/1 inch and 10cm/4 inches.

The works in which I will use these pieces will mainly be my series Stories of the Lost and the Found, which I have started to plan and work on properly at long last. So, below is the start of the first piece, which will be stitched in a hoop, I think, as I really enjoy hoops at the moment; actually it may be that the whole piece will made and shown in 30cm/12 inch hoops.

And to celebrate the amazing last few days of sun and warmth here are a couple of images taken on a walk in a nearby country park. It’s sadly back to rain and grey now, of course, which I suppose is at least better weather for getting down to some work.


January news.

These days a lot of blogs generally seem to have been superseded by Instagram, but those of us who like a bit of a woffle tend to plod on regardless with the blog format as well as all the rest. I seriously think I did more actual work in the past, before all these sharing platforms took over. I do enjoy using them but think that one day I will simply stop and grow my own veg instead.

So, let’s woffle on. For the last couple of months I have been working on some patterns to sell as instant downloads from my rejuvenated Etsy shop; better not duck off social media just yet then. I really enjoy the design and the making up of the patterns, having also done this in the past and in various articles I have written for magazines.

I have spent some time recently weighing up my work and deciding whether to go completely arty or completely commercial. Many hours were taken up with these musings, until I came to the conclusion that as I enjoy and want to follow both paths, that’s what I’ll do. It is generally one thing at a time though, and the patterns have taken over while I get the shop up and running. Here are the first four, below, all designed to stitch and stay in their hoops if the maker so wishes, or to be used as framed pictures, quilt blocks, or indeed whatever the maker wants to use them for. They are nothing if not versatile little chaps.

My other work is following, in direct contrast to these jolly patterns, the usual convoluted path. I am working on a collection of mixed media work called Stories of the Lost and the Found.

This work has been featured previously on my blog, but has moved away from the original book format I was contemplating. I’m using a mix of digital print, collage, needlepoint and stitched textiles combined with porcelain in these pieces. Yes, I have managed to make it as complicated a project as I possibly could, but in my new attitude of acceptance, well, that’s the way it is.

The needlepoint part of it is great as it sits around waiting for the evening when I work away at it, completing a very small amount in a not ungenerous amount of time. The project needs to be done for summer 2020, which sounds as if I have ages, but things are at the moment very very slow moving. I think I need a few lists to clarify what I need to be up to, but, until I can present a logical and coherent statement of intent, here are a couple of images of the needlepoint that is on the go at the mo.

Below, the design and drawing out stages.

And some early stitching, below.

This piece is an autumn piece, and there is text to accompany it. In the image below you will notice that it’s been through a change or two, those giant floating berries weren’t quite right. As usual at this stage there is serious veering to the left. I love tent stitch but it’s naughty. It will look fine when blocked. It’s around 50 x 35 cm, 20.5 x 14 inches.

Lastly, I’m teaching a course, Beautiful Birds, at the RBSA Gallery in Birmingham on February 21. It’s my favourite place to teach, and the students seem to like it too!  Contact the gallery if you fancy coming, it starts at 11am and runs until 4.30pm.       www.rbsa.org.uk 



Art, nature and stitch.

That’s quite a grand title for what is basically a round up of some recent activities.

I’ve been finishing some work and starting to design, make and produce patterns and step by step instructions for some new appliqué patterns which will be available soon. I’ve been thinking about doing this for ages, having done something similar for various magazines in the past, and of course there are some projects in my book. I enjoy devising these patterns so have decided to make more. They take time though, so won’t be appearing just yet.

So no images for those yet, but here are a few images from a recent trip to London, followed by some tapestry inspiration from Coughton Court, a Tudor house in Warwickshire. Then there’s a new needlepoint, and some images from a visit to Packwood House, also in Warwickshire.

Below, the view from the London hotel room window onto Tavistock Square, followed by four images from the fantastic Oceania exhibition at the Royal Academy.

The stick charts, above, were both beautiful and useful, being accurate navigational aids made from canes and shells.

A black headed gull who posed on these railings by the Thames for some time, obviously determined to be photographed.

Next, some images from the Anni Albers exhibition at Tate Modern. Weaving is something I love and admire, but I certainly don’t think I could ever do it. This was a most inspiring exhibition.

The centre image above was my favourite piece in the show.

One of my favourite textile activities is needlepoint, and I am much inspired not only by modern weaving but also considerably older tapestries. I am lucky enough to be able to see quite a lot of these in the various National Trust houses I visit. I spend a lot of time peering at them like Mr. Magoo, and I like to photograph areas of them which then look like wonderful abstract patterns, with the obvious subject matter removed.

One day I may incorporate some of them into a needlepoint piece, but ideas for needlepoint run faster than the actual making! I need larger holes and bigger stitches, obviously.

The faded yet rich colours of these tapestries are wonderful. Pinks and blues aren’t my usual go to colours but that may change.

And now some images of my latest piece. I hope to make a series of pieces for a show in 2020. To be honest things are not moving on as quickly as they should be. Perhaps the Christmas break will afford some more hours.

And this, below, is how far I’ve managed to get after a couple of weeks. My excuse is I only work in the evening on the needlepoints. I need longer evenings. It measures 42 x 36 cm, 21 x 14 inches. No more excuses, I just need to get on with it.

Below, winter sun at Packwood House, and one of the gorgeous oak windows there, elegantly decorated by nature with rosehips.
















Something colourful.

I’ve been making and finishing some fairly colourful pieces lately, using some newly purchased fabrics, and a mix of my own painted and printed fabrics. I have an urge every so often to break out and use a lot of colour; I’m not colour shy but have tended mostly in the past to use it more circumspectly on black or white backgrounds.

I must say it’s been fun, but, I’m ready for a bit of subtlety now! My brain keeps presenting me with white textured surfaces and esoteric subject matter, so I’d better listen I suppose.

Talking of colour, it has been a wonderfully coloured and long lasting autumn this year; todays grim rain may put an end to that, but as I write this the holly tree in our garden is as heavily berried as it’s ever been. Lots to eat for the birds, who generally strip it well before Christmas, so when I bring some holly indoors I have to augment it with some fake berries on twigs.

I do however have a new project to work on that may demand less white and more colour, one that I’m quite exited about, so that will undoubtedly appear in these pages. The esoteric white pieces may have to wait.

So, some finished pieces. These are around 45 x 45 cm.

And the piece below in progress, which is now finished but I didn’t photograph it, unfortunately. I add painted papers to the pages of the black concertina book on a regular basis. I like the act of simplifying a shape and collage is the best tool for that, I find. The shapes then find their way into other pieces of work, but I do love the way the book looks too.

I’ve also started to make some individual pieces based, vaguely, on log cabin blocks. Some are less obviously vaguely log cabin than others. These are quite colourful but I imagine I will tone them down by stitching across them with off – white thread. I’m not sure yet, but they will be displayed together in some way. They are quite addictive to construct! There are 14 so far.

I’ve used digitally printed images, on fabric, of my own drawings, work and photographs, with a mix of other fabrics. They are each about 25 x 25 cm.

Lastly, some watercolour and collage work, with no particular destination, for the moment, at least…

Enjoy whatever you are working on at the moment!