Revamping my website

I decided to add some more pages to my website and change up the design. Unfortunately, it has proved more difficult than I anticipated! I have used WordPress for more years than I care to remember, and I have toyed with the idea of changing to Wix or Squarespace. Then I try them out and hate the thought of starting anew. My main driver in the quest for change is that we (my husband) will be downsizing our house in two years, and I look around my art room, sigh, and think, what am I going to do with all this stuff! I have no idea, but making a huge bonfire out of it might be one solution!

I was definitely in a funk after my disastrous venture with ‘finding my joy’ I did a lot of practising with the Westalee rulers. I watch a lot of their videos, and I would get excited about another template. They are expensive, though. More than paint and canvas! I signed up for one of their free classes for a set of placemat designs. I totted up the cost of the templates (I have a couple), and if I brought the whole lot, I would be out of pocket to the tune of $305. However, you are better off getting their sets with the complete size range, which would be a staggering $990. Fortunately, most of the instructors only use one or two rulers for each project

My 1st actual project after that debacle was a piece based on a NASA picture featuring the birth of a star. I started it while I was doing the painting practice:

  1. I used Mistyfuse to create a painterly collage of fabric.
  2. I used a couple of Westalee templates to enhance the spiral effect of the collage. After that, I embellished it with some thicker embroidery thread and bobbly yarn.
  3. I added some beads.

Solar

Once I finished that, I signed up for a free class from the grandly titled Westalee Design University. It is excellent, and the projects are well priced. The designer I chose to do a course with was Angela Attwood, and it was a templee quilt, a form of reverse applique. It used precisely one template, the 12″ Arc. It was a great practice piece, and I was pleased with the result.

Radiance design by Angela Attwood.

I also did some practising on paper with the templates. Because you are using a ruler foot ( designed to be used with templates) when you are quilting, you have to consider the quarter of an inch that the foot uses. To get around this, you used stitching discs designed for use with a variety of drawing implements. It seems simple enough, but they do tend to slip under the template at times!

Finally, I created another fabric collage with Mistyfuse. I got the idea from a photograph I had taken when we were in Scotland last of some small stones on a wall looking over the sea. It is the direction I am going to continue going forward. I used foil for the first time, plus some paint, beads, quilting, the whole gamut, in other words.

While I wait for a set of templates to arrive, I will continue to redesign this site with additional pages showcasing my past work.

The Pandemic ….continued

At the beginning of the covid isolation, I was working on my stitch mediations.
I had seen a post by another instagram poster which tagged stitch mediation and slow stitch. I had come across slow stitch before as I have a couple of books on it. With Slow stitch, you use all natural fabrics, wool or cotton. You use a limited number of types of stitches. Running or back stitch which can be used in numerous way like for darning.
Stitch mediation takes it a step further. There is no limit on the fabrics but generally there is a time limit. From the artist who is 1st attributed to the phrase, stitch mediation, the following:

We often use vintage fabrics and linens that we overdye to give them a new life. Then we add fibers, paper and other bits for fun.
There are just a few rules for your stitch meditation practice:
1. Do not take stitches out. Honor the perfection of imperfection.
2. Keep your stitches simple.
3. Don’t think about composition and design. Let your intuition lead you to your next stitch.
4. Feel free to cut or alter the fabrics in your kit and add other papers and fabrics.
5. Most importantly, remember to breathe.


Well, I don’t have vintage fabrics but I do have a lot of scraps. In the beginning I kept them simple and only used simple stitches. As I went along they became more complex and I introduced more types of stitches. I also began to use things like paper flowers or beads. I designated a time and put on music for meditation to aid the mindfulness of the exercise.

I finished in April as I was becoming overwhelmed by my response to the suicide of my ex daughter-in-law. She was only 29.

I have recently started doing them again. I saw as way to get back my creativeness as I have finished a project which wasn’t my design. It had sapped my energy although I enjoyed process.

The pandemic has seen a huge push by artists and organisations to get more people involved in the arts. I have already mentioned Youtube as galleries have introduced guided tours of exhibitions. These were ones that were due to open before the covid crisis. Production companies seem to be pushing out more documentaries on Youtube.

One of the best projects which Sky Arts TV produced. They make a programme called Sky Artist of the Year. Because of the pandemic, they had to put off filming this year’s contest. In place of the normal show, they came up with the idea of Sky Artist of the week. Using Facebook live, they invited famous people to sit via zoom. Each week a former winner from the show, then did a live portrait painting of the person. In turn, the viewers on Facebook live, would also paint a portrait. The viewers were then invited to submit their work via Instagram. The work was then judged by the show’s presenters. 3 paintings out of thousands were chosen and featured on the following week’s show.

I loved setting aside a few hours a week for this. Not sure I would make it as a portrait artist but I made a good stab at it. The standard of work on Instagram was amazing and made me feel inadequate. The main thing was that I enjoyed doing the paintings although one I gave up on one as I couldn’t get the likeness at all.

It must have been nerve wracking for all the sitters. Especially if they checked out Instagram with 1000’s of portraits of them. There were portraits done by professional artists, amateur painters and children.

Depression, anxiety and art

Many people seem to think that anxiety, depression and art go together as an artist and that aids the creative process. For me, that is not the case. My mind comes to a grinding halt! As a life long sufferer of depression and anxiety, I can now feel when a period like that is coming along and usually I can mange to side swerve the worse of it by doing very routine things by just plodding along. Not this time!  It has taken almost 8 months to get pass this stage and it is still a struggle but one that is getting better. Unfortunately, I am not yet back to painting.  For the last 2 weeks my body has also decided to rebel against me as I battle a vicious allergic reaction which has left me with nasty welts all over my body and clothing being my enemy. As we are also going through a heatwave at the moment,  so any movement causes sweating which in turns makes the itching even worse. So plenty of cool soothing baths, showers and just keeping still has been the order of the day. Today temperature is meant to top 105F/40c. the joys of living in central Texas!

However, I have finally been making process with the online embroidery course I decided to take in December. It took me 6 months to get the first stage complete!  I have almost finished the 2nd part in less than a month so signs of progress only stopped this week by incessant itching.

Below are some of  the work I have done on this.  Part one  exploring stem stitch , chain stitch and fern stitch beginning with mark making exercises.

Part 2 has been been exploring line though using cut, torn and folding paper.

Finally line in paint through mono printing which amazingly I have never tried before. Not sure I have achieved this so well but I enjoyed the playfulness of this method of working and can see using this again.

Unfortunately I think this is where I acquired up my current allergic reaction as I pick up some plant matter and I suspect I touched some poison ivy in the process, stupid me!

Next step is explore the composite stitches of whipped stem stitch, Pekinese stitch and raised chain band. I have completed the samples so they should come along quite quickly but we have a short stay in Mexico City to enjoy before then. Really looking forward to the Frida Kahlo Museum and obviously I will be looking at any needlework/textile work I get my greedy eyes on.

Painting is also on my agenda but not a priority as it will come along when it is needed but it has not been abandoned. It will always be part of my life in some form or another.

I have done one drawing in the past month or so. I got a sheet of A1 cartridge paper and painted it with acrylic  gesso with no real idea of what I was going to do with it, other than I didn’t want it to be the tight smaller drawings I was doing last year as I wanted to get rid of the inhibitions to drawing that I have developed. For the one drawing it worked out quite well and I planned to do more ( I already have several prepared with gesso) but then the embroidery came along. As I have about 500 or more sheets (send to me by mistake by the supplier and they let me keep them several years ago, nice  🙂 ) , it is definitely something to explore in the coming months.

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