Guild Trip, it has been exciting!

I have been really thrilled and honoured to be selected as a Guild Trip Artisan, and if you have not taken a look a this wonderful website do take some time to wander and linger. I have not had time to update my blog for a while as have been so busy making sure all has been loaded up to my Guild Trip page!  Most of my art textile work can be purchased from this site and I hope to hear from collectors and people who are interested in my work. A few pieces lend themselves to being commissioned as personal works with stories and memories stitched into the layers.  an example of the work that can be done in this was is the piece I have pictured below. The day I began this I really needed to bring some joy into my mind. It was an exercse in pushing away sadness and losing myself in some small bits of happiness. 


Start of a Joyful Day

Start of a Joyful Day

I have used a base of heavy firm weave natural cotton and backed with two layers of cotton sheeting which then makes the process similar to working an art quilt. The background is painted using a textile medium and acrylic paint and small pieces of vintage fabrics, vintage lace curtain, some vintage embroidery cut from an old napkin, and strips cut from music sheets these are all layered under pale blue vintage tulle. The prices is then free motion embroidered, flowers and leaves added  to extend the vintage fabric scraps. Often these scarps are saved pieces of Liberty fabric and I treat these with respect as to me beautifully designed fabric deserves to be acknowledged. The delightful pieces of fine brushed cotton in the sky have a tiny bird print all over it and are remnants for the first baby angel top I made over 40 years ago. They contribute a feeling of birds flying in the sky which gives this illustration some movement. Once the free motion embroidery is completed I have cut away the tulle over the body of the bird as I wanted it to stand out to really look full of joy, make the work sing. This style is suited to adapting to a dog, cat, chicken, native animal such as a kangaroo or a wombat. It looks wonderful in a kitchen to remind you to be happy or in a children's room or baby's nursery. I could even see this on a laundry wall! It is mounted over stretched canvas and framed in a lime washed shadow box style wrapped timber frame ready to hang or stand up on a shelf. I loved making this it was such a change from my more serious work, everyone needs a fun day of work occasionally, a day to lighten up and just let the mind wander. It is a bit like spending the day with  one of those colouring books which have become so popular! This work was my day of having some fun, I hope you enjoy it too. I will try to keep my blog posts coming weekly, there is so much going on in the Old Vine Studio! Meanwhile if you want to see what I am doing in the studio I do post on my Face Book page most days. Love to meet more of you over there!

Sketchbook Experiments with Chinese Ink Part Three

I have had a very busy two weeks and had almost completed this draft intending to get it posted but have many interruptions and so will post this as it is and load more during the next day.  In this post I wanted to show what I do with some of the images I take of still life settings. In this example I have changed the image to black and white and then cut away large section and then I have worked this into collage and compositions ideas,

It does not mean that I will always use every still life I have taken an image of in this particular way, but doing this can lead me to think more 'What if I tried this out'  experimentation.

This drawing is a good example of what I often do. Just playing around with the image and allowing the ink drawing to be brushed over with water and gesso. Adding some detail in ink on the back and white image section. I know I am sharing this page of my sketchbook with you, and I am being a bit brave in doing so me there is no such thing as bad drawing, all mark making has value, I got over that when I went to see Matisse exhibition of mainly his drawings, and this taught me some huge lessons about what constitutes drawing.  The point of me doing this originally was not about showing this to anyone, I do these for me, it helps me to experiment with materials and media, explore stories develop new ideas and it is fundamental to my personal development as an artist. 


Last week I called into our local bookshop, I always find it hard to walk by with out wandering around and I noticed a really good book of Brett Whiteley drawings and it is again a reminder to me that these exercises are so valuable for any artist's development and that nothing should be thrown away! If you get an opportunity to take a look as his drawings I am sure you will feel differently about producing the most 'perfect' line work. I have a number of books on my  Christmas list now just wish they were not always so expensive! I love researching artists drawings because they tell me so much about their processes and their explorations and how they take their lines and markings for a walk! 

So no matter what you may think of this drawing in my sketchbook, it has been one that I have used and it is valuable to me. It was a worthwhile  exercise and has added to my series of ink experiments in this sketch book. I hope I encourage others to keep on drawing no matter what you may think go your ability  that is not what is important. Every time I do this I learn more about myself and the stories I hope to build upon through my completed artwork. I learn more about pushing the boundaries on my work and that is important. 

Sketchbook Experiments with Chinese Ink, PartTwo

Apart from drawing, I have also taken images of my objects in various compositions, and then work these images using Photoshop because often doing this reveals new ideas for textile work. Using a cutout filter is particularly good for testing out ideas and abstracting images. It can help me to rethink the directions I was taking, or it can confirm that what I had planned will work. I use my computer as if it was another tool, and I get very annoyed by people who think somehow the magic created is automatic and is just generated  by a computer, because this work often takes me longer than drawing and it can be a lot more complex. It requires another set of skills and knowledge to be able to create good work using Photoshop or similar programs. I have been using Photoshop for 16 years and I still keep learning more about it. 

The base of the stitched book in my sketch book with one image copy I have overworked using gesso. I really like how on each of the old diary pages the ink is 'rusting' through and the drawing can be seen as an alternative work. 

The base of the stitched book in my sketch book with one image copy I have overworked using gesso. I really like how on each of the old diary pages the ink is 'rusting' through and the drawing can be seen as an alternative work. 

I do try out many ideas with printed out images. I now only use good quality copy paper (I stopped using that super cheap city paper because it would cause me so much grief, either by not holding up to my treatment or it would jam up the printer, and then I waste so much time! I give my printer a hard time as it is using all kinds of materials and various mediums. In this image above I have used gesso over the print out. The small glass has a lot of potential in this image to me. There is a lot I like about it.  It is a very tiny antique glass I found years ago while poking around second and and antique shops in Burra. I often do that gathering bit snap pieces I might like to use as props. 

The 'rusting' of the ink on the back of the drawing is wonderful and so interesting. It was one reason why I wanted to stitch them in rather than use PVA or tape. 

Experiments with Chinese Ink in my Sketchbook, Part One

I'm not really that precious with my sketch books, although I do have pages that look as if I have taken a lot of time to some people who have seen them, and that can be true if I am trying to resolve something or if I am trying to see how far I can take a technique, a material, or a medium.  I thought I would share a few pages in one sketchbook of a still life I had been drawing and then I played around, thinking what would happened if I tried this or that? sometimes I just end up with a big mess and the only constructive thing about it was that I learnt not to go with this again!

I found a bottle of Chinese Ink I wanted to try and did a few quick brush drawings of a still life using some items I had around. I just like the objects, there is not a theme intended, it is all about the shape and the contrast which attracted me to select them. This one was done on a page of a second hand book shop find .. a lonely encyclopaedia in a sale basket (it cost me $2, I had flicked through and found some sayings I liked with my thoughts being that I could use them in my work and that by me buying a throw out book like this one it might help overcome my fear of cutting up or painting in good books.)

I framed it using paper I had painted black over a page in my sketch book I had first used water soluble crayons to create a background ( I love working with these, they always go into my art travel kit)  and have used PVA to adhere this as one page. Doing exercises like this are wonderful to do and they free my ideas, creating new directions, including ideas about embroidery and textile work. In this exercise I am also thinking about how the ink responds and  I love the way it flows and how I can direct it like a flowing river with my brush. 

Ink drawings still life sketch book.jpg

The next quick ink drawing I did has been done on pages of an old diary which has not been  used, the note section at the back. I kept going with these and made a little book of the drawings once they were dry, then stitched  this into my sketchbook page so I can flick through the different ways I have used the ink on the same still life. 

In this drawing above I have used a nib and then sprayed  over sections using a small cosmetic applicator filled with water. I like this drawing, it may look like a mess to some but to me there is so much potential in it. Some of this drawing looks like machine embroidery. These drawings have been done quickly and by hardly looking at my page until completed, I like how spontaneous this drawing feels and the way I can still see the scratching from the nib. It is a great mark making exciercies as well.  

   I then tried the still life using a brush a lot of water and once it had dried I have then drawn over this using a brush and gesso. I like the chalkiness it adds.  Gesso is a great medium to draw with and I use a lot of it in all my sketchbooks. 


I then tried the still life using a brush a lot of water and once it had dried I have then drawn over this using a brush and gesso. I like the chalkiness it adds.  Gesso is a great medium to draw with and I use a lot of it in all my sketchbooks. 

sketchbook drawings .jpg

In this image you can see that I have machine stitched the booklet of drawings onto the left hand side of this large sketchbook and there is another drawing completed  in pen and wash on the right hand side. The space left is for me to jot down some notes, brainstorming ideas that have surfaced while doing these drawings.  ( I also use a lot of washi tape!)

A bit of history about my Studio and some outside work to do.

My studio now occupies the front two offices which were used by my husband when his business employed quite a few people. When he first added on this section in front of his workshop I insisted that he build with some character that was complimentary to the historic cottage which is next door but still on our property.  (this is heritage listed and not safe to use unless we completely rebuild it, it was always in our plans but the more we look into it the more it is stays in the too hard basket, but who knows?)  A few years ago he really had to rethink how he worked and decided that after so many years of having staff, he only wanted to work by himself again and he is a lot happier about this. It meant that we had too much of everything. I think we have enough paperclips for me to make up panels for an entire wire fence!  Enough filing cabinets (who even uses more than one these days anyway?) to archive a lifetime of documents and none of them are those wonderful full drawer ones which I might have adapted, they are all the ones designed for offices files, just a front, some racks on a slide, most annoying because otherwise these could be filled with supplies for me!  I know a garage sale must be on our urgent to do list! 

As my art work became an everyday activity of the last year, and I tried to juggle this around our home and the housework, and became more frustrated, my husband suggested these front offices as my dedicated studio space. I did not wait for him to change his mind it all seemed perfect, not only for the space, but also as this meant I could feel like I was going to work,a real job and my art would be taken seriously.  (plus the washing machine and ironing would not be arguing with me about what I was spending my time doing.. why does everything now have to have buzzers?) 

 We have both worked very hard to transform the two rooms for me to move in during August so that my studio could be open for SALA (South Australian Living Artists) We still have more work to do in my textile room, such as mounting a design board on the wall and moving in another large storage shelf. Overall though, I am very comfortable in these two rooms for now. We do have plans for him to downsize his office space to a smaller room which has a door  from his workshop.  I will then be able to use the large office at the back of the rooms I have now as my wet studio and I cannot wait for this to happen! There is generally a lot of paint, fabric mediums, gesso, dyes, wax and more being used almost every day as well as fabric stretched on frames to be printed or painted, a wet canvas or more around, all messy stuff and I need the space to cope with all the techniques I use.  But most of all I want to make the front just a bit more interesting, It has such good light as it faces North (this would be the opposite to those above the Equator when  facing South is preferred) There is a compact garden with native trees and a few shrubs and plants which attract many birds and help keep the textile room cooler in Summer. This only needs a bit of a trim and new layer of compost and mulch. 

Old Vine Studio faces North towards vineyards. 

Old Vine Studio faces North towards vineyards. 

The work I have planned to complete in the next few weeks includes getting the side trellis up to plant the vine cuttings from one of our Old Vines (we have two one with fruit and one is an ornamental but also very old) One will go on the side near the entrance and provide protection from the west and the other will be planted on a side screening wall to the old cottage. I have big pots of plants to go around  the verandah and several inviting chairs and some wall pieces I will mount to make the front look more like an art studio! I might scatter a few empty oak wine casks cut in half in the garden to plant a bit of extra colour. The  gravel gets raked every few weeks. (I did take this last weekend when it had been windy and before it was raked) I will take more images and upload them after I have done some of these jobs and show you how it looks. I have gathered a few bits and pieces to audition around the verandah and feel really excited about getting most of this done over the weekend.

Thoughts tonight about what I will make with a few old cow bells picked up in Switzerland years ago. We bought them because my husband did not believe our children when they yelled out with huge excitement from the back seat of our car, and with the windows wound down, that all the animals had bells around their necks and they could hear them. We were driving into Switzerland from France and to Australian children this was so strange and they had thought it was just a fairy tale out of Heidi books. (so did their Dad)  I think they could be a lot of fun used here they are not making good sue dod themselves inside our  home (they used to be fantastic dinner bells to get children to come inside ... our garden is very large ....but now they are grown up and gone) 

I think it will look very inviting and I can have a picnic lunch and coffee breaks (or a glass of local chilled wine) and enjoy the beautiful view over the vines. Do some sketching or stitching too.......... 

Working away building my new website

Building my new website is taking me such a long time as there are so many things to consider. What template to use to start with. I've tried several and the first two I began to use just did not look like me, they did not feel right, I just could not connect to their more formal looking layouts. They were beautiful designs but so organised, too architectural and too minimalist. I love colour and I love my creating art and it is very eclectic. I just get into the story that begins in my head and develop my work as the story rambles on.  Tonight because I was just not making my site look how I wanted it I took another look at more templates and did some research to see what other artists were using and found this one. The best thing is I can keep posting the image of my art work however and whenever I want to and rearrange them as I feel like it. Much like my studio walls really. I hope people do not mind as I know some love categories, such as all the abstract acrylic work in one gallery and all the art textiles in another, the watercolours or collage in separate files and all the landscape in a grid. I love how this portfolio allows me to mix it all up and then you can click on one and up will come the story about that work (once I add it in) this is the thing though that is so important to me about my work, every piece I create has a story. Even my photography is trying to capture a story.