I never did get back to the ‘finding your joy’ taster course. It wasn’t exactly a scam as the instructor was very upfront about this being a marketing exercise, but it felt like one. Reading the Facebook discussion which followed as she announced each practice exercise was very distressing. Lots of people became convinced they couldn’t paint as instructed, which made them feel like failures. Who wants to deliberately make an ugly painting, which is what the 2nd exercise was. However, I hung on to the bitter end as I wanted to see the last video call where Louise talked about the 10-week course. Of course, it was about money like anything these days, £895 or $1230 for an 8-week study with two catch up weeks. Last year she had more than 900 people sign up (that might be a marketing ploy, an exaggeration, but given the number of members of this group, it might be even more!). That would add up to a whooping £805,500 for eight weeks! No wonder she has managed to build a beautiful fancy studio in the few years since she started these courses. Since I did this taster course, my Facebook feed has (predictably) been filled with similar adverts, so now I wonder if it is a pyramid scheme like the make-up companies such as Younique or Fields and Rodan. Above is just my opinion. However, I did come across someone else who felt the same way. As I didn’t continue with that course, I worked with the Westalee rulers I have recently purchased. I signed up for a class on their University page at Sewsteady.com which featured just one ruler, the 12″ arc template. I will write a separate post about that next.
I haven’t done much in the past month, although I have watched numerous Youtube videos on Westalee template designs and reacquainted myself briefly with painting.
From having no Westalee templates for quilting at the beginning of May, I now have several! I have done several practice swatches with the first set I got on 6th May. The rulers themselves don’t come with many instructions, so Youtube is an excellent resource for teaching you how to use them.
My sewing machine was due for its tune-up and would be missing in action for what I thought it would be a while. It turned out to be just a couple of days. However, I invested in some ‘stitching’ discs made by the same company, Westalee. They enable you to draw out designs on paper with the required quarter-inch taken up by the sewing foot used for ruler work. Working on paper is also less expensive than just randomly quilting on a fabric sandwich. There is quite a learning curve like any form of quilting, but I am enjoying what I am doing so far. I am not gripping the template so much, and I can unclench my teeth occasionally.
Although my primary focus, at the moment, is quilting, I haven’t entirely given up on painting. Apart from watching mainly art history videos, I have also dipped in the videos by Louise Fletcher. As I was getting my sewing machine ready for the shop, I saw that she was doing a brief seven-day free taster course on Facebook. I thought, why not? So I joined up. It seems that was similar thought to a lot of people. There are 12,031 members in the group! It’s actually way too big to be instructive. The group is named ‘Find your joy taster 2021″ and is a very effective advertising plug for the 12-week course that follows, also led by Louise and her assistants.
I have no intentions of doing the following course, but the exercise I have done so far was OK. I didn’t quite get into my inner child. The 1st painting was very random, and I didn’t know what to make of it. You start by sectioning off the paper with tape, in this instance, into six. You begin to paint, using any medium you liked, over the whole sheet of paper (or whatever support you are using) and ignoring the sections. It was a timed piece, and although you could finish after five minutes, you must complete it in thirty minutes. Once you had finished, you removed the tape to reveal the six mini paintings. I didn’t feel any ‘joy’ in these small paintings. I did realise I am not fond of black. It was just too chaotic for my liking. It reminded me of some pictures I had seen in the Blanton museum by Joan Mitchell, which I never understood or liked!
I attempted the exercise again, and although I enjoyed the process more this time, I didn’t exactly keep within the exercise parameters. It was very obviously a flower painting, and on the reveal, it became a window with some flowers. I liked the individual sections more this time, and I enjoyed the marks made by the various tools I used.
I have yet to do the 2nd exercise. I keep putting it off. I have distracted myself by working with some new templates I received on Friday, made up a quilt sandwich to work on, and wrote this. I will admit I am a bit stuck. Fortunately, I didn’t pay for this ‘taster’; otherwise, I might have been a little disappointed, but hopefully, I will get something out of it. The instructor, Louise, is very good with her enthusiasm for playing with paint, which is why it has been so popular. Its a free week of painting exercises and for that I am grateful. I might or might not do the other exercises.
I must stop doing these courses and just trust my own instincts on where I am going.
This was the first drawing assignment given by Susan Shie for her Facebook drawing challenge group.
This is what I wrote about the drawing on the Facebook group, amended slightly:
I was nervous about this, like other newbies. It pretty much out of my comfort zone but that is why I joined the group. So I decided to put a confident face on it! The drawing just drew itself in the end. In September, I hope to fly to London and attend my niece’s wedding. 3 weeks later, my youngest daughter is getting married While I was in bed one day, I was looking at the accumulation of ornaments on the top of our bookcases. I thought its a shame, that unless I tell my family, their stories would be lost. Some of them, the story is already lost as I have forgotten. So I decided I will get back to still life painting but not like I have in the past with nice objects I have found but with objects that I can relate to and hopefully convey to a broader audience. Since lockdown, my husband and I have forgone our weekly visit to restaurants and going to the cinema. We haven’t even had a takeaway! At the beginning of lockdown, there was just myself and my husband plus my son in the house. In April my eldest daughter moved in with her daughter. They briefly went up to NM to see my grand-daughter’s Dad but since August, we have had a full house. My poor grand-daughter has basically been stuck in doors for most of the last 10.5 months as I have auto immune issues plus I am in just in age risk category . So I am looking forward to having the vaccine so life can get back to normal.
On Instagram I wrote, again amended for some spelling mistakes🤣:
Completed the Ist drawing of my drawing class. This is different from the way I normally work but I enjoying it. For a start the sketch pad is enormous! 11×14 and we are draw(ing) across the 2 page spread. I am use to doing tiny little reference sketches, if I sketch at all! Next up ‘let Freedom ring’ Have some ideas but still formulating them into some coherent
I had decided to join this drawing challenge (class) as I had seen a video on Youtube where Lisa Walton interview Susan Shie. I had seen Susan’s quilts and drawings in the past and thought it was amazing. So when she mentioned she runs these month long sessions on Facebook, I didn’t hesitate to join.
It has been a great experience and a big learning curve for me. Unlike my comment above, I am not sure that I will be doing the still life themes, at least not as paintings. I might make them as fabric collages. I am missing working on my sewing machine but that is also one of the reasons why I thought I would take part in this group as I am terrible at doing research and using a sketch book. As a student at Camberwell, I had a sketch book in my bag all the time and would draw as I was on the bus, waiting for a bus, in the bar etc. By the time I moved to Bath,(Corsham) I was trying my hand at more imaginative drawing , like you do as a child. I was never very successful at it. I don’t see pictures in my head as, I think, narrative artists do. I know it just a matter of freeing up the brain and retraining it. I think I am better with at doing narrative themes when I am working in textiles for some reason.
An example of one of my earlier textile pieces.
At the time, I basically responded to a question that keep popping up in my head at the time, “Why” I think it was in response to T***** and his supporters at the time. Part of the reason I don’t remember how I came about with this idea is because I didn’t use a sketchbook or write down what I was thinking. It was quite spontaneous and I used scraps of paper to work it out. They are now lost.
Well, this was going to be my last post of 2020 but it has taken so long, its now my 1st post of 2021. Happy New Year, everyone and good riddance to 2020. It got to be better this year, hasn’t it?
I have been quite active this year in my creative work. I have explored stitch mediation and various forms of quilting. I joined in with the first portrait artist of the week season. I painted a quilt! And I joined a zoom class for life drawing. It’s also been a year of heartbreak with the deaths of my Uncle in March from Covid, my ex daughter in law, Shelbie and my Dad in Oct. Also a world of heartbreak for so many reasons due to a virus that has felled so many as it thrives on our lack of respect for the world that is other than us.
There was no hint on the 1st Jan what lay ahead of us in the year to come.
Stitch Mediation Jan 17
I posted my 1st Instagram post for the year. I had been struggling to get back into my creativity after the holiday season. I usually find it difficult to find my rhythm after all the hectic pace of Christmas and New Year. Then I discovered a tag, #stitchmediation. So I gathered up a tote with odds and ends of scraps of material and thread. I posted my 1st one on 17th January and that got my year on the go.
I continued with these while doing other work up until April 19th when I couldn’t continue as it was too emotional. On 15th April, my ex daughter in law committed suicide in the most brutal of ways, by shooting herself in the head. I always knew she has issues but I never expected this. The torment she must had been feeling to do such a thing, is still incomprehensible to me. You would have never known the deep anguish she was suffering underneath her beautiful stunning eyes and amazing smile. Her death was the one that hurt the most this year and still does. She was so young, only 29.
Sunflower collage Jan 18
I took, what turned out to be my 1st and only class, at the Honeybees Fabric store. It wasn’t a success as it wasn’t what I expected. But I hate to give up something. I didn’t do much with it again until September 19th. It just didn’t resonate with me. I attached it to a painted background and tried some embroidery on it. Still nothing! Then I decided to clear some of stuff in my art room that I would never use again and came across some large hexies I had started probably about 2 yrs ago. I was never going to do anything with them. So I had the idea of attaching them to the cloth. There were about 8 of them and I used 6 in the end. I also added some tulle and some indigo dyed cotton at the top to cover the paint I had there. Then I stitched them all to the fabric. Still zilch! it was a disaster. That when I decided to chop it up randomly. I ended up with a very thick square that I quite liked. I tried to machine quilt it but that was a mistake as it was too thick even with a walking foot. By that point, the Christmas season was about to start, so it is still unquilted but I will hand quilt it in the New Year.
Finished Pat Sloan Winter Fun quilt top Jan 21
I finished this quilt top and that is exactly as it is now as I although I have a backing fabric, it was not yet been quilted. Another task to finish and I will do it early in the new Year.
Started quilting Happy Blocks Feb 2
I had made this quilt top in a class at Honeybees in June/July 2019. It was quite a daunting challenge to quilt as it was by the far the biggest I had quilted. I decided to used it as a sampler quilt so each block combination (12 x 2) had it own design and I was going to do it using a walking foot only. I even drew out some of the designs. Others were freeform. I finally finished it on July 3rd. I was very pleased with it.
Made 1st Mask Mar 21
News of a new contagious type of flu in China, started to filtered through to the world towards the end of Jan. By the end of February, it was apparent this was a very serious illness and I was getting worried about my trip to the UK, that I had been planning since before Christmas 2019. By now, people in Italy was were dying in ever increasing numbers and it was only a matter of time before it got here or the UK. Unbeknownst to us, it had been circulating around the world for several months before Christmas 2019. It is generally assumed that it came from China but who really knows. Yes, it was discovered in Wuhan when it became widespread but it had been out in the wild for several months by then, it will be difficult to trace the real origins of it. Much like the so called “Spanish” flu in 1918 which was attributed to Spain because they were 1st to identify the flu because they were not part of the war in 1917. Now they think it came from a farm in Kansas and soldiers from the USA spread it amongst the battle fields of WW1
The Chinese government had been monitoring pneumonia outbreaks with the help of the US for several years due to the SARS virus a few years back. The Trump government decided pull out of that agreement in July 2019. But the Chinese government kept up with their research which is why this virus was discovered. Yes, they tried to hide the fact, which they should be held accountable for but they shared the DNA fairly quickly which is why we now have several potentially successful vaccines. They also did what western countries couldn’t do, shut down a whole city full of millions of people.
I was due to fly to London with Juniper on 12th March. I was going to surprise my Dad for his 84th Birthday but nursing homes residents were already locked down by the beginning of March, so I wouldn’t have been able to see him. On March 7th, it was obvious, this was a bad idea with people dying worldwide by now of this new virus, so I cancelled my trip. The day I was due to arrived , London went into lockdown. Juniper finished school on 11th March and has never been back in person since. On the 26th March, my Uncle Lew passed away from Covid. He was 90 yrs old. On the 30th April, my eldest daughter was laid off from her State job due to cuts in government spending. Of course, this being TX the environmental groups and the agency that implements those rules, would be one of the first departments to be cut. She is still unemployed despite applying for too many jobs to count but fortunately she and Juniper are living with us, so she won’t become homeless like millions of others will in the coming months. This virus has been devastating in all respects of life.
I made a few masks at the beginning of the pandemic, mainly because I was asked by my future son-in-law, who works in the pharmacy of one of the bigger hospitals in Austin. I soon realised I was better off with the paper surgical masks as cloth masks in the Texas heat are unbearable. The paper ones are not much better but its better than dying.
Covid drawing April 14
My one and only covid drawing. It was done in my journal which has become sort of redundant since we have been stuck in the house of the last 9 months. I am looking forward to going to restaurants and going to the movies once its safe.
Finished “Why” an improv Quilt Aprl 19
I started in July 2019 and I finally put on a binding on it.
Joined an online Zoom Life drawing class April 23
In April I was invited by my friend to join a life drawing group run by Hackney Wick Life drawing group (Instagram @hwlifedrawing) which was doing zoom sessions for the duration of the pandemic. Little did they know it would be still be going right up to Christmas and probably well into 2021. I stopped around August as I get too flustered and anxiety ridden when I can’t move around a room and examine the model from different aspects. Its poor excuse I know.😥
Sky arts Started their Portrait of the week April 28
By the end of April, people were getting more inventive about ways of doing things that couldn’t be done in the normal way. Sky artist of the Year, had been due to start as their normal yearly contest but obviously with the continuing lockdown, that wasn’t possible. So they moved it to Facebook where one of the previous winners would paint a famous personality over a 4 hour period via a live stream. Viewers were invited to paint along and submit their paintings to be judged. They had additional 4 days when the Judges would chose the best ones submitted via Instagram. I was never picked😭, not even for their honourable mention wall and a top 3 were chosen by the judges. The standard of painting was amazing, to be honest. By the end of the 9 weeks, there were 1000’s of artists, professional, amateurs and children participating from all over the world. It must have been challenging to look at so many paintings of the same person! They did do another season but I decided not to take part this time around, I was busy doing the Quirky Creatures quilt by then. Maybe the next time, once my wounded pride has healed.😂🤣
Started Quirky Collections Quilt July 9
I had come across the work of Helen Godden on YouTube a while ago and I thought this would an easy project. No piecing, you simply paint the design with Lumiere paints and then quilt each block as you go. I really didn’t appreciate how big this quilt was. Not quite as big as the Building blocks but very large for a wall hanging! I am rapidly running out of wall space. But I really enjoyed this project and it made me look at fabric collage again. I finished in record time for me by Sept 2. But at the end of it, I resolved not to make any more large quilted pieces.
Made my first project using the project provided by Brother scan n cut
On July 16 I got my Brother scan and cut for my birthday which was not really until August but it was the last machine available locally. I had seen it in a local store just before the pandemic started and thought at the time, this would be great for future mixed media projects. I have not yet used it to its full potential but I am looking forward to experimenting with it in 2021.
My Dad died Oct 12
I had been due to see my Dad in March 2020 for his 84th birthday and for him to meet, Juniper, his great-grand-daughter. He has met her before but Juniper was too young to remember. I knew this would probably be my last chance to see him as he had deteriorated a lot since my Mum died in Sept 2018. He had lived with my sister for the past 3 yrs but he could no longer manage the stairs to get to his bedroom or toilet, so he moved into the nursing home in Jan 2020. After 5 months of being locked in his room due to Covid, his health had deteriorated even more quickly. So I wasn’t surprised when my sister let us know he had been taken to hospital with a chest infection which then turned in pneumonia. Fortunately he was surrounded by the love of my 2 sisters, Sarah and Julie as he passed away from this life, never ever gaining consciousness again. Of course, due to covid I wasn’t able to attend his funeral but I was able to watch and grieve with my sisters via video. He was 84, an age we never thought he would achieve as he retired with ill health on his 59th birthday. He was determined to be with my Mum right to the end after she was diagnosed with Multiple System Atrophy (MSA)and he was there for her all the time. I think seeing his youngest great grand-daughter Ava who was born just before my Mum died, was the factor that kept him going much longer than expected afterwards. Family was always very important to him. Losing that contact at the beginning of March was probably the last straw.
Started spiral collage Nov 5
I have seen Susan Carlson work on the Quilting Arts program which is show on PBS on Saturday morning and it was the sort of painterly way I wanted to approach fabric collage, not the applique way I had been shown in Feb. I also had the book where she has this exercise but I tend to work better if I see it in action. On her site, she had some short videos to guide you through the process. Going through my fabric stash, I realised I don’t have lot of textural fabrics or large flowery prints, so I was finding it hard to do the spiral when out of the blue, a friend offered me a huge bag of exactly those type of fabrics. It took longer than I expected but I loved the outcome, unlike the sunflower 😥 In the end it took me about 3 weeks although I still have to bind it yet. I plan to do another as you can never have enough spirals.
Started advent drawings Dec 2
For the past few years, I have counted down the days to Christmas by posting Christmas themed work on Instagram. The aim is post each day but I rarely managed that as I would try to do something that was too big or complex to finish in one day. At first I wasn’t going to do it this year, but then I came across one of drawings from a previous year. It was late on Dec 1, so rather than rush a drawing, I used that one (Santa with UK/USA flag). After that I decided to stick to one small sketch book and only use the materials on my drawing/sketch table. Also they had to very simple drawings. I managed to do 22.5 drawings. I ran out of time on Christmas eve, too many things to do. So I used a painting I did in 2010! The half done drawing is still on my table!
I think next year, I will do one for each Sunday of Advent
Christmas sacks and other things.
My scan n cut came into use in December when I decided to make Christmas sacks for everyone. First I practised on a t shirt for my grand-daughter as I hadn’t really used the heat transfer vinyl that much.
I got the idea from the software Brother provides. Instead of just using the symbols , I though I would place them down the t-shirt with the corresponding word beside. As you can see from the photo, I got the words the wrong way around. I don’t play the game, in my defence 😂🤣 Anyway it gave me practice of layering on top of my mistake. My grand-daughter was delighted with the result.
Then I got a request to make a stocking for a friend’s baby’s 1st Christmas. I had made one for her daughter when she was a baby but it was in the style I had made for year’s. This year I decided to change up the style as I could use HTV for his name for the name instead of cross stitch as I have done in the past. I was very happy with the result.
Finished all sacks on Dec 19
My final task before Christmas was to make Christmas sacks as the stockings, which are like the one’s above are just too small to cope with the ‘big’ small gifts we give to each other after Christmas dinner. Even with the sacks, there were 2 large gifts that were too big for the sacks. 🤨 I did some YouTube searching and adapted a couple of ideas to suit my needs. I even learn how to make boxed corners, some day I will be a sewer😉 I was very pleased with the end result!
1st Digital drawing 27th Dec
Finally Christmas arrived and my gift from my son was digital drawing tablet, a Gaomon M106K Pro with pen. I have tried out digital drawing several times over the years. My old Samsung tablet has a touch sensitive drawing pen but I found all the drawing software programs very daunting with all their brushes, icon etc. I even had one of the first Wacom tablet about 15 yrs ago. At that time, it seem to be directed many towards people who drew Manga type paintings which is definitely not my thing.
Anyway I am determine to crack this nut this year and have downloaded Krita which is a free open source program and recommended for beginners. If I get the hang of it, I might be tempted to try out Corel Paint again. Its still overwhelming when you first dive in. Fortunately, they have quite a few Youtube videos for beginners.
I am going to teach myself the digital drawing by daily practice, much like you would if you were using any other drawing/painting media.
I am starting a drawing class with quilt artist Susan Shie ( http://www.turtlemoon.com) called Lucky drawing 149 on Sunday. I want to get back into the habit of drawing but not from life necessarily. I want to spread my wings. The class description is :
Class format: Freehand drawing class, taught in a very radical style: guidance and inspiration without how-to’s, step-by-steps, or judgment. All assignments can be done, changed, or ignored. Positive feedback discussions of drawings posted by all. Drawings done in large, hardbound sketchbooks, with any freehand drawing supplies.
So I am not really sure what I am I letting myself in for but if it anything like her own work, it will be inspiring. I have been a fan of her work for a long long time so when I saw this class was available I decided throw caution to the wind and signed up.
I will continue my exploration of quilts but more small size art quilts like “Why” which I did in 2019 and the spiral collage in Nov. I am going to make a book or books of the stitch mediations I did early on in the year. At the moment, they are just in pile on my drawing table. I might get back to them at some point. Especially if I have an artistic block which I tend to suffer from a lot! It definitely kickstarted me back into action last year.
I might do some painting but its not a high priority at the moment, although I always enjoy painting when I do it. Basically I will be doing what I do best, go where the wind goes and trust my instincts.
<p value="<amp-fit-text layout="fixed-height" min-font-size="6" max-font-size="72" height="80">Apologies for such a long post. Apologies for such a long post.
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.
Just before I left Greycoats I started to go to the Saturday morning classes provided by Camberwell School of Art and Crafts. I began in the life drawing class and in the final 6 months, I did a sculpture class. Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of the portrait head I made but for years my parents proudly had it on display in their house. It really was not that good but at least my parents’ like it 😊
The above drawing is the one that made me decide I was good enough to try to get onto the foundation course at Camberwell, if I could somehow persuade my parents. By that point, I was already in a secure office job as a statistical clerk with Watneys. I was also doing my ‘A’ levels at night school after work. A new Principal had been appointed to the college, Ian Tregarthen Jenkins. He was doing a tour of the Saturday morning classes and he actually spoke to me. He asked me how I had decided to deal with the heater in front of the the model. I forget what I told him but he congratulated me on the way I dealt with it and hope I would apply to the foundation course in the future. Oh wow, to be singled out by the new Principal was amazing to me. My confidence soared!
Looking at it now, it wasn’t that great a drawing but it will always be special for just that reason.
The Saturday morning classes were great for me. I had never really considered a career in art before I started attending these. I was the eldest in the family and neither of my parents went to college, so they didn’t really know that much about college or university, other than it cost a lot of money, (not as much as now). Actually it was wasn’t that onerous, as the cost was nothing and I got a small grant to live on with the addition of £5 a week from my parents. Plus once I got to art college, I was entitle to a certain sum for materials. I would never have gone to art college if those things weren’t available.😒
I also started to sketch at home and my sister, Debra was a willing model for me.
I should have stopped going to the classes when I was made to leave school and start work but fortunately, for reasons I don’t remember, I was able to continue. When it came to the time to apply for the foundation course, my tutors at Camberwell came to my parents and persuaded them that I had a good chance of being accepted and going on for a degree. My parents quite rightly were worried that I would be forever unemployed if I went to Art college. My parents weren’t far off the mark to be honest as I never made a career out of my art but I am forever grateful that they listened to my tutors.
As promised I am posting some images from my earliest days which happens to be from when I was at secondary school in London.
I first started to become interested in art when I was at St Michael’s Church of England school. I joined the school in 1970 when we moved back to London from Ashford Kent. As I hadn’t passed the 11 plus exam, I had the choice of the brand new school, Pimlico Comprehensive or a much smaller school. Comprehensives weren’t getting any good publicity at the time so Mum chose the C of E school. Big mistake as it was one of the schools which were later referred to as a ‘sink school’, massively underachieving.
I had come from a really good secondary school in Kent (also brand new) where science and art were treated equally. Unfortunately, the lower ratings of school became which was the way St Michael’s was going, the less money was expended on it, so science went by the way. By the time I left in 1973, we had one science teacher for the whole school and his special subject was physics. To do physics, you need a good basic math background. Unfortunately, we ended up with a teacher who didn’t want to teach maths but torment kids, especially boys. So while he would humiliate them, we would chat, play and copy the answers from the back of the workbook. To be honest I would have preferred a career in science and even visited the lab at a hospital as I was interested in becoming a Medical Laboratory Assistant. It was not to be. I got a grade 5 in Physics and a 3 in Maths (if I remember correctly). There was no fail in CSEs (certificate in secondary education). Pointless piece of paper!
Instead I fell into art. Even then, as the school only offered CSE, the consolation prize in school exams, the standard wasn’t that high. Due to some timetable conflict, I ended up doing a class with lower year. So I was in a corner, quietly getting on with my work while the class was creating havoc with the art teacher who was an ex military person and had no idea how to control riotous teenagers. I remember him one time, getting so angry he threw something out of the school window. His basic standard was to yell at them as if they were soldiers.
At least, he just let me just get on with my work. My big project was about abortion and the sanctity of life. I created a Plasticine model of the lower part of a woman with the area where the baby was situated, craved out and then I created a fetus.
I was very confused at the time as I had just learnt my mother had another child before me and had him adopted. She made it clear she blamed me for that event. I would later learn the truth of the situation and it was somewhat different from the story I had been given. She had also revealed when she was pregnant with my sister, who is 13 months younger than me, she tried to abort her several times That was going to lead to years of anguish on my part and my sister. Now in reflection, I can see how much my mother suffered. 3 pregnancies in 3 yrs, she was must have been going out of her mind. My Dad was in the navy and his family was not very supportive at the time, although they later became very close. This was well before the pill and her own Mother was going through her own issues with a husband who was suffering from PTSD although it wasn’t known as that then and terminal TB, so was of no help to her. If Mum had been born a decade later, I am not sure she would have gone on to have 2 more kids as she was much more career minded than I ever was. I suspect for most of her 20’s she was suffering from some form of post natal depression. Of course, yet again, that wasn’t known about for many years after that.
Abortion, although legal by 1973, was still a controversial option especially with the publication of photos of the fetus in the womb in the late 60’s. I am not sure what the art teacher thought of my ‘sculpture’ but he never stopped me. I am not sure what I was trying to convey now as I am not against abortion, far from it but maybe at that time I was. I definitely a confused 15 yr old. For my efforts I got a grade 2. So not a prodigy!😂🤣
I don’t have any pictures of my grand project but I do have these from that year.
Sewing was my nightmare subject at school plus music. Both for different reasons. Music lessons were just a period where everyone ignored the teacher, walked in and out at will and basically we did anything but music. The teacher in sewing however was no walkover and most of us were scared of her. Not sure why I never learnt to sew given it one of my passions now but I still cannot understand patterns or those diagrams we get in the instruction booklets. Just had to take my sewing machine to the repairs because I misread a diagram in the instruction booklet.😯 Much better with videos. I was also scared of the sewing machine. Most machines scare me, especially power tools, even now. Fortunately, I have got over my fear of the sewing machine.
However, I did learn to embroider in her class. I had seen a magazine with the design and that was my project in my last year of sewing which was 1972 as I didn’t do the CSE in that. As the rest of the class got on with making various useful items like a blouse or a skirt, I concentrated on my embroidery. I must have been proud of it as I still have have it in the bottom of my stash.
Never thought 47 yrs later, one of my passions would be embroidery.
In August 1973, I started at Greycoats Hospital, the local grammar school in the hope I would get my O levels and maybe A levels. It was obvious from day one, my previous education had been woefully inadequate. As as consequent, no math or science classes as I was so far behind in even the basics. English was a struggle as grammar was not taught at St Michaels , my spelling was appalling (still is) and I suspect I was the first person in the school to fail my oral exam! However the English teacher, Miss Lloyd had great faith in me and encouraged my ramblings, a couple of which I still have in one of my many boxes.
I was put in the secretarial class, so at least I learnt to type properly however as I had no idea how phonetics worked, Pittman’s shorthand was a non starter for me. I was also put in the sewing class. I was useless at it! Art was my one bright spot. 😊😍
The art department had an arrangement with Camberwell school of art where promising students could attend classes on Saturday morning. That was the beginning of my life in art. In the next blog I will post work from the Saturday morning classes and my some of my work from my Foundation year at Camberwell.
In the meantime, some of the work from Greycoats.
I was a huge David Bowie fan at the time and this was the based on a poster I had. My sister was a T Rex fan. I thought they were rubbish at the time. Now I like both.
I re-joined Instagram last year and posted a countdown to Christmas, a digital advent calendar. So I thought I would do a repeat performance this year. I was going to try to do an original piece of art for each day but I failed on the first day. The simple felt angel expanded into a piece that was at least 3 times bigger, sparkling with sequins, lace and beads. In my mind’s eye, I would have liked to have made it huge but in practice, a lap size was achievable. The 2nd piece was simpler but just as big. I did find out that my ability with the sewing machine was seriously lacking with not a single non wiggling line. With the third and last piece, I just went overboard with the sequins, beads and collage. In my head, I saw a Christmas tree competing with the stars of the Universe as I remembered my feelings from childhood. Again I would love to have made it HUGE but even this size took several days to complete. The Christmas tree and the Angels WERE Christmas to me plus the nativity scene at the school play. I always wanted to be an angel but alas it was never to be. I was going to do a nativity scene but failed miserably but I know what I want to achieve so maybe that will be big one next year! Below are the pictures I posted each day. It was surprisingly hard to post every day.
In the end, December wasn’t as productive as I would have like it. October and November flew by in haze of non activity or nearly. I managed to attend 4 paint out events and 1 open competition in San Angelo. I wasn’t planning to paint at San Angelo as I am not really in the competitions as I know I am unlikely to win anything. I realised quite late in life that one of the reasons I fail to do a lot of things is because I hate being a loser. I know you should just enjoy joining in but doesn’t help with the disappointment as you are passed over again 😦 I will do it again next year.
There was an entry submitted competition which lasted a week and an open quick draw competition on the closing Saturday for other artists. It was really interesting to see the work of the accepted artists and the quick draw contestants which made me realise how far I have to go with plein air painting. The only issue I had with the competition is that it was judged by one artist, rather than a panel. Also after a morning of painting the lure of cooked food was torture as it was only for the accepted competition artists, not us lowly plebs (we had paid $10, so it not as if we just turned up). We had to wait for the lone judge to make up his mind before we could eat, so it was the middle of the afternoon before we ate. I was starving!
Apart from my Advent project and the plein air I haven’t really done much. I had started a still life (which I mentioned in my last post) but quickly abandoned it. Currently I am working on and hoping to complete the following still life painting I found the hand-made rag doll in a junk shop in San Angelo.
This will be the last painting for a while as I decided to sign up for an online embroidery course organised by The Embroiderers’ Guild UK. I am going to start with the beginners course as although I have embroidered and beaded for several years, I am basically working in the dark as I do it (much as I am with painting to be honest, not a lot of teaching done in college in the late 70’s). I thought going through a structured course I might be able to extend my range to fuller extend. Life is a little distracting at home at the moment but come 6th Jan, my time is pretty much going to be working full-time in this new direction.
I also got 2 books from Gordon this Christmas which I might work through as it should complement the embroidery course.
I already read Liz Steel’s blog ( my husband didn’t know this 🙂 )
Well this is my last post of this year. I hope I will be more frequent next year with regular updates on my progress on the new course.
This is not going to be long post as basically I have not done much in the 2 month since I last wrote – exactly 2 months wow!
There is a paint out today in Austin but there is no way I am facing rush hour traffic plus my allergies have been really bad recently. However, apart from the allergies problem, which has plaguing me about 4 weeks now, I seem to have entered one of my depression periods where nothing interests me.
So I am glad we have these paint outs as I generally push myself to go along even I don’t feel that creative. I also try to find other ways to work my way through these periods as I recognise they are part of my life and they are not going away. This time I have rediscovered crocheting and I am currently on block 18 of a 63 block blanket. I am also still attending the lace making group even though I have not really laced for weeks, as one of my issues is a total lack of social interaction. Nothing like being on your own 15 hrs of a day to feed this introspection/depression.
It might never get finished (I have tried it before and got to 9 squares) as I am also working getting out of this inaction. I am again trying mediation and I am already feeling more positive. I am also rereading Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales and stories. Its a massive book! I don’t plan to actually depict any of the stories but when I was training as art therapist, I had a series of children’s story tapes which I used to get clients to describe by drawing or painting how the story affected them.I didn’t want a literal interpretation of the story.
I am also sort of working on a still life painting except I haven’t worked on it for a few weeks which probably indicates that I should reconsider or start over with a different set up.
Depression is a routine part of my life but I don’t want to be painting about it! So hopefully the light begins to rise above the dark soon.
I am struggling at the moment. Ever since returning from London which is about 5 weeks now, I have been dithering.
In the hope things would begin to gel in my mind with some reflection as I made stitches, I restarted an embroidery I began a few years ago which was part of the TAST challenge where a single embroidery stitch was explore on a weekly basis. To be honest the reason it was not finished in the first place was because I was not happy with it as it had no direction. So do a directionless piece to find a direction was probably not a good move.
I have done a couple of paint outs with the Austin Plein Air Group over the past month which I have really enjoyed. It helps the weather has been not be hot so far this year, staying in the high 70’s and low 80’s (25c -29c).The more I paint on the spot, the easier it gets but I have still got a long way to go before I will feel confident doing it. I really need to go out and draw more, like I did last year.
As I have somewhat arbitrarily decided to go back to the fiber side of my art, I decided I have to learn more about the process. So I purchased 3 dvds by 2 great fiber artists, In Motion, In Stitches and In Motion where Jan Beany and Jean Littlejohn guide viewers through various ways of using new modern products with traditional and non traditional embroidery methods. Their sketch books were amazing and I would love to just see a DVD of them sketching.
I made the following piece using one of their methods.
At the moment I have no idea what to with it but I love the fragile lace like quality of the fabric I made.
So that brings me up to date. In the meantime I have rearranged my art room yet again. I do this when I am struggling with my creativity. It is now very well organised for a few more months. I have also taken down all the old painting I had on my walls I read somewhere that having old work around stifle your creativity. We will see
Daisy the cat exploring her new space
The fabric in the picture is what I am toying with at the moment. I am considering going way back to to my beaded dolls but this one would be more sculptural and my other line of thinking is clowns. All whirling around in my head at the moment and no firm ideas.
the desk where I am currently sitting. No horrible drop sheet on the floor anymore.
This year has started out very well so far. I have ensconced myself in the studio most days and have happily dabbled in lots of different things. This morning I actually managed to move myself and get down to LadyBird Lake in Austin where the Plein Air Austin group was meeting up. I was only there for an hour as my eldest daughter was visiting later in the morning with my grand-daughter. Normally, I would have skipped out but this year, I am trying to break my habits of lifetime and make an effort! I took along my Sennelier Oil Pastels to draw with, rather than paint, given the time constraints. Also I want to become looser with my work as a lot of times I get stuck in a mudpile of detail. Using chunky pastels stops this as you cannot get detail on a small drawing if your drawing instrument is big. I did use a pencil for some details but on the whole I manage to do what I set out to do.
LadyBird lake between Congress and the Longhorn dam.
I am finally on last beaded journal page from 2010. I finished the November page in the first week of Jan 2016. So it only took 6 years to complete!
This was a lot of hard work but worth it as it has got me back into the swing of beading, embroidery and basically being adventurous, even if it doesn’t actually work out. I had a slight panic when I tried out something with the blue sea-line using my felting machine and then singeing it. Just didn’t work. So it was time to just pull it out and start over again.
I have started December but have only got as far as the felting as I got sucked into another project.
Its looking very raw and bright at the moment.
In the mean time I am working on doodling with a punch needle. I went to a bead/quilt show a few years back and came across a lady working on a piece in her stall. Couldn’t resist buying a kit with materials and tool. It’s a very simple process but very satisfying as it works up very quickly. I can see lots of possibilities with it.
So February will continue in a similar vein I hope as I explore all the options I have. I am also going to start my running program again as I am going to enter the annual Deutschen Pfest Pfun Run/Walk 5K after I have posted this.
and although I have been working on my painting for the last week, I did not finish as I planned. I have been working on this painting off and on since October and it has been through many changes. The latest occurred today. The day I thought I would be finished but the Buddha was just not working. So I scrapped away the paint, I start again, scrap again and again. Problem was I was just repeating my previous mistakes, so this last time I decided on a radical change and I think it might just work.
this is how it looked at the end of the day on Saturday
this is how it looked at the end of today.
By the end of tomorrow who know where it will stand. I will not say it will be finished tomorrow but I think it’s closer than it ever has been.
This year has been much more successful than normal for me. I decided right at the beginning of the year, I would focus on painting and drawing, no bead embroidery.
I attended several life drawing classes which in the end I decided was not the direction I wanted to go. Having spend my formative years at Camberwell, I have this need for the model to be placed properly after breaks, not the haphazard way they seem to do here. Also the room was too dark (no natural light whatsoever) and relied too much on artificial light (usually one or 2 spotlights). That is something else I realised I need, natural light or at least good light. My work is progressing away from the purely observational stance I was trying as I realise I am not a ‘tidy’ artist, smudges abound in my drawing and paintings and to be honest, I am just not that talented in that way, much as I wish I was. However, the one thing I still need is good light as the colours just go haywire otherwise. Next year, I need to investigate into getting better light for my studio, as sometimes I do think about working up in the studio in the evening, then I go up to be confronted with the dullness and orangeness of the lighting which just saps any energy or enthusiasm I have.
I have also worked in oils, water-soluble oils and acrylics. My favourite medium is acrylics but oils weren’t as difficult as I remembered. I am not so sure about the water-soluble oils but that might be more to with the brand I am using which seems to have a very limited colour range and very tacky to handle. I have also worked a little on my understanding on how to mix colours. That might seem like an obvious issue and how in decades of mixing colours, have I not worked that one out. Simple, I guessed and hoped for the best!
So next year, I hope to continue with the progress I have been making this year and not give into the depression I get about my work. I have no excuses but myself.
and not very well. In fact it would be more like working on avoiding this painting. I am just not happy with it but I am loath to give up on it. I will give it another week and see what develops as I think I have found a solution.
I have worked on it since this image and the little daisy flowers and stars have gone. In the original form, it was just a green ground in the front but it just seem too much. But the small daisies and beads I had in my stash, seemed too small so I scrapped them.
To be honest I placed the Buddha too centrally and the green cloth too high up. So on Friday, I went to the local Hobby Lobby and looked for inspiration which I found in the scrap-book aisles. Paper flowers. It seems to work but will my painting skills be up to it. I have been working in the water solvable oil paints I got a few months back. I am not keen on them. I think I will stick to acrylics from now on.
Once I have finished this painting, I am going to stop doing the fixed still life format and draw things around the house that inspire my interest and then translate them into a painted image. This will give me more flexibility to maneuver the objects and create a more dynamic image. I am looking forward to shaking things up and hopefully I will not be avoiding the studio so much.
Any regular visitors will see I have completely revamped this blog. I decided this year I was going to devoted my time to relearning how to create using paint and brush. Well it taken me until about 1/3rd of the way through the year, to get started on this but now I have actually gotten there, I decided it was time to devote this blog to it, rather than create yet another blog. So in preparation I got all my old posts printed into a book from, via Blog2print . I have had the book for a few weeks now but it didn’t include all the lovely comments from other readers, so I had print them out. Fortunately WordPress have a handy view comments by page, so I manage to print all the comments a page at a time, rather than each comment which would have been very time consuming. So today was the day, to delete all the old posts and start afresh.
To anyone who didn’t know, I started out as a painter, beginning with Saturday Morning classes at Camberwell school of art and crafts at the age of 16 (almost 17) and ended up with a degree in painting from Bath Academy of Art (now sadly defunct) Unfortunately, my time at Bath was not the most productive time spend and as soon as I left, that was my painting career finished before it had even started. Since then I have struggled to continue to paint but due to family commitments, space and general lack of effort, I have never worked on painting full time. In the meantime, I have continued to be creative in other ways with my kids and latterly my beading. However, in the last year, with the kids gone from the house, I realised that beading wasn’t challenging me as much as drawing and painting does.
I have no great plans about what I am going to paint or any great theories. I have no interest in all this art speak crap that pervades the modern art world and never have done. My biggest challenge to convey what I see onto the canvas in the way I see it. Basically I am starting from the beginning, going back to the challenges I met at Camberwell when I first started painting and drawing.
I have been painting for some months now but basically very unsatisfied with what I was achieving. Then looking a good friend’s website, Drawing my way around London and another favourite, Hobbs Blog, I realised I needed to get back to basics and that is observing and drawing. So for the next few weeks I will concentrate on that aspect while continuing with my current painting.
Below is the first painting I produced October 2009 and then my most current finished piece.