Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Bits and Pieces

In Circles, 2015. Currently on show at Upfront

We have made it through the first month of the year! Wind, snow and gale force winds have made it an interesting start but each day takes us closer to spring. I've had a good start to the new year with several new projects starting off, a piece of my work on show in the Upfront Gallery Open exhibition and a large textile piece finished. I've also been to two workshops and have been busy making, drawing and creating. I thought I'd do a little round up of some of the bits and pieces I've been up to...

My new spinning wheel!

Spinning (with helper)

Getting used to a different system

Having developed a new interest/obsession over the Christmas holidays I have spent the past few weeks trawling the interweb and ebay for a second hand spinning wheel. Having been outbid on several wheels I did eventually get one and it arrived this week. It's quite different to the wheel I learnt on as it is a double drive but I'm having fun figuring out how it all works. The spinning wheel was made by Haldane (who now make staircases, apparently) and is a lovely dark wood. I'm trying hard to get all my prep and planning work done quickly so I can get back to spinning!

My hand-spun, hand knitted cushion (front)


My hand-spun, hand knitted cushion (back)

My hand-spun, hand knitted cushion (detail)

I have also knitted up my first lot of hand-spun yarn. I've made a big cushion cover using plain old stocking stitch to show off the character of the yarn. I used all six skeins that I'd spun and it was interesting as I knitted them in order so that I could see the progression of my spinning. The first skein was very irregular with lots of odd lumps and bumps but by the time I reached the last skein it was much more even. It's lovely and squishy and it is very satisfying knowing that it's something I've not only knitted but have created the yarn for.

Daily Drawing

Daily Drawing

Daily Drawing

Most years one of my resolutions is to draw more and to keep up my daily drawing practice. I'm feeling quite pleased that, so far, I have actually managed to do that this year. I've been trying to spend a little bit of time in the studio each day. Even if it is only five or ten minutes I feel like it's a good habit to get into. I've also managed to finish a big textile piece that I'd been ignoring for some time, I'm now quite pleased with it and it's good to have it off my 'I really should work on that' list.

Circle scarf

Circle Scarf

Another of my resolutions is to use up some of my fabric stash before buying more. I'm doing less well with this as I went to a local fabric shop and ended up buying more fabric because they had such lovely prints. On the plus side I did then use this fabric plus some from my stash to make a couple of big circle scarves. They're made from fat quarters and are a nice way of mixing and matching prints. Plus, you can never have too many scarves...

Silk Painting

Silk Painting

Silk Painting

I've also had a go at weaving a hare from willow and silk painting (not at the same time.) But, I think that's enough for one post so I'm off to play with my spinning wheel...

Friday, 29 January 2016

Studio Arts: Leaf Exhibition

Exhibition View: Collages, prints and handmade paper

Sometime ago I wrote about some of the work I was doing with my Prism Arts group. We were looking at developing various visual arts skills and techniques, using leaves as a starting point. These sessions went really well, with the participants getting stuck into trying new techniques and starting to develop personal visual vocabularies. The sessions worked so well that the group has evolved form being the visual side of our Studio Theatre Company into becoming a separate visual arts group.

Exhibition view

Bunting made from lino prints on fabric

Lino prints on fabric

For me this is a very exciting development because whilst I love theatre my passion really lies in the visual arts. Altering this group to focus on the visual arts allows me to really use my skills and knowledge to enable the participants to develop theirs. The leaf workshops (as I like to call this block of work) showed that this was the best way for the group to develop and expand. We looked at a range of techniques including lino cuts, paper cuts, paper making and weaving. The positive responses from the participants were really encouraging and have also resulted in an impressive body of work.

Collages

Collage and print

Prints

To celebrate this we held an informal exhibition in our main studio space. This allowed us not only to see how much work had been done and to celebrate our achievements but also provided a good opportunity to start developing our critical thinking skills. Having the work up on display (and before that selecting particular pieces to go up on display) makes it easier to talk about what we like and why, what worked well, what didn't work so well and ideas to try out in the future. Having the work in front of us to refer to is very helpful during this process.

Leaf prints on fabric and lino plates

Lino plates

Leaf prints on fabric and handmade paper

I really enjoyed working with the participants to create this work and seeing it displayed in the studio space I felt so proud of what they'd achieved and excited to see how the work will develop. As often happens I was intrigued by how although we all had the same starting point and used the same techniques and materials everybody's work is very different. Our next big 'event' for the visual arts group will be C-Art in September and I'm really looking forward to seeing the work the group produces.

Weaving (done on a peg loom)

Weaving (on a frame)

Weaving (on a frame)

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Life Drawing 19.1.16

Continuous line drawing

I had to cancel the December Life Drawing session due to a flood at the Prism Arts studio so I was really ready to get back to Life Drawing, it's been a while (November.) However, good things come to those who wait (so they say) and it was an excellent session. In keeping with it being the first session of the New Year we had a new model and I was very pleased that we also had several new faces in the form of art students from the university.

Continuous line drawing

Continuous line drawing

Continuous line drawing

Our model for the session does a lot of modelling for magazines as well as for individual artists and she gave us some really lovely, dynamic poses. I find it endlessly interesting how all the different models have their own style and how even when they use the same poses they seem very different. I think this is one of the reasons Life Drawing is such good practice for any kind of artist, it really makes you focus on what's there rather than what you think is there.

Red pen, layered drawings

Continuous line drawing

Green pen, shading

I also found it interesting how having the students altered the atmosphere of the group, they all worked quickly and with a great deal of energy which radiated out to the rest of the us. It also meant that I had rivals for the 'Most Pieces of Paper Used in a Life Drawing Session' award...

Continuous line drawing

Continuous line drawing

Continuous line drawing

Since the start of the year I've been keeping up with my daily drawing practice so I felt ready and keen to get drawing for this session. I really enjoyed just drawing, not worrying too much about the outcome and just letting the lines flow. I had some interesting foreshortening for some of the poses and so some bits were quite challenging, some poses I got and others not so much.

Permanent Marker

Continuous line drawing

Continuous line drawing

I tend to make multiple drawings of each pose as I draw very quickly and as I was drawing I was thinking that with each drawing I learn something a little bit different about the pose. I can then take this little bit of information into the next drawing and so bit by bit build up a better picture, quite literally!

Permanent Marker

Continuous line drawing

Continuous line drawing

Last year I was challenging myself to get better at faces as a lot of my drawings feature headless bodies because I find faces quite difficult. I'm carrying on with this challenge and was pleased with some of the faces I drew tonight, like all things the only way to get better is to practice! All in all it was a good start to the life drawing year and I'm looking forward to the next session on 9th February (please contact me if you'd like to join the session.)








Saturday, 16 January 2016

Workshops and Websites

Embroidered Goose. Textile markers and hand embroidery on printed fabric, 2015

This week I've been busy making samples and worksheets for some of the workshops that I've got coming up. I've got several workshops coming up in different locations and I'm really looking forward to all of them! One of the things that I like about running workshops is that it gives me a good excuse to have a play about with materials and techniques. This helps keep my skills up to date and inspires me to try new things and expand my own skill set.

Sketches and notes for samples


Shadow Embroidery sample

Pin Stitch, shadow appliqué sample

I also often find that this 'playing' leads to new ideas and ways to resolve problems I've been facing in my work. In creating samples for an upcoming Shadow-work workshop I've been inspired to carry on with a large magpie piece I started and then sort of abandoned last year. I've now almost finished it and although it is quite different to how I originally envisaged the piece I think I'm quite pleased with it. It usually takes me a little while to decide I'm happy (or not) with a piece!

Shadow Work Magpie in progress

Shadow Work Magpie in progress

Similarly, in creating samples for an upcoming Hand Embroidery workshop at Tullie House I was inspired to work back into some fabric drawings I'd done last year, painting and stitching into them. I'm pleased with how this work is progressing and I can see how this might develop into new pieces.

Drawing on fabric: Painted and stitched

Drawing on fabric: Painted and stitched

I've also added a new 'Workshops' page to my website, which I've been meaning to do for a little while now. I love running workshops so I'm hoping that this might make me a bit more accessible!

Screen shot


Upcoming Workshops:

Saturday 20th February 2016
Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, Carlisle

Shadow Work
Saturday 27th February 2016
Cumberland Embroiderers Guild, Carlisle

An Introduction to Felt Making
Saturday 16th April 2016
Watchtree Nature Reserve
(Details TBC)

Saturday 23rd April 2016
Tullie House, Museum and Art Gallery

Folded Sketchbooks
Saturday 7th May 2016
Watchtree Nature Reserve
(Details TBC)