Last Christmas, my son bought me a graphic drawing tablet. I mentioned it briefly in my 1st blog post in 2021, and I found that all the software programs are difficult to learn. I have had a version of Adobe Photoshop elements since the 2011 edition. I am currently using the 2018 edition. This year, I have learnt to use more than the essential functions, mainly because I took lessons with other quilters who use photography extensively. That has spurred my interest in exploring these mediums with more intent, as I could probably use them in my mixed media work.
My biggest issue is finding a way of learning. I work best with demonstration videos. I find reading text to explain a creative process counter-intuitive and a big turn off. Fortunately, with the advent of Youtube and Vimeo, there are a lot of choices for most craft base arts (that includes painting as it’s a craft, after all). However, I have found that it is often difficult to find a competent video with photography and digital painting programs. They go too fast and assume that the viewer is more knowledgeable than they are. I have sat through a lot of videos to find the right one. Also, the content is often a turn off as I am not into anime or cartoons, which is a lot of digital content.
Krita has a good Youtube channel, but it’s primarily aimed at people knowledgeable about the subject and very enthusiastic. I can’t say I am that inclined towards digital painting. I see it more as a means to an end. I would rather see an actual artwork made with a brush, rag, etc., paint, clay or other materials. They have a list of beginner videos that are OK but don’t go far enough. I need step by step guidance, and I found it on a channel hosted by “Age of Asparagus”. Over 18 videos, he goes through with a lot of detail on how to create a digital painting in a similar style as the TV artist Bob Ross.
I saw episodes of Bob Ross in the UK and I thought of him as the USA’s Rolf Harris without the humour and other less fortunate foibles. But, instead, he has a very mellow voice that apparently was a deliberate choice after spending years in the army shouting at recruits. I never thought of emulating his work before but it was perfect for this digital painting lesson. In the classes, I learnt how to create new brushes, make new layers and generally a lot of functions that you need to know to develop as a digital artist. So I wouldn’t say I was confident yet but I am willing to try with a different image. Unfortunately, there are no other videos to practise with on this Youtube channel, so I am on the hunt for more tutorials that are as in-depth and easy-going as these were. I saw a copy of this class by another person on Youtube which was condensed down to one video and basically sped through the whole exercise. It was terrible! So I think I might be searching for a while. I am very particular when I am researching something. Sometimes, a person voice will upset me! I am a demanding customer!
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.
The end of the year is looming and it time to list the things that have got me through this year of crisis. To be honest, I would normally be doing these activities anyway but over this past 9 months, they have been more important.
At the beginning of the year, I was listening to a few political podcasts as both this country and my home country, were going through a bit of a crisis (understatement of the year). Then Covid struck and although, politics still remained important, my mental well being needed to escape from it all as it was so overwhelming. I still listened to the nightly news and if I was in the car, I would listen to KUT, the local PBS news channel but I felt powerless to do anything. Taking care of my own mental health was something I could control.
No particular order as I listen to them when I am walking or either doing things in the art room and depending on my mood. I have discovered if I am trying to do something creative, I cannot listen to a podcast at the same time. Cutting fabric, cleaning up my space is fine.
The Graham Norton Podcast. a chat show with a agony aunt section with Maria McErlane. This is an easy on the ears shows with lots of laughter. I particularly like the agony aunt bit where Graham and Maria give advice on the issue chosen and always ends with remember “we are not professionals 😂😃🤣 I will miss him when he does his last podcast this week.
Something Rhymes with Purple. Susie Dent and Gyles Brandreth discuss the origins of words or phrases. Very light hearted and lots of laughter. I am noticing a theme here.
Desert Island Discs – A celebrity guest get to choose 8 musical track (sometimes vocal) , a book and a luxury. They can take the luxury and book plus one musical track with them when they are stranded on a deserted island. Sometimes I see the guest name, occupation and think, hmm, not that interesting but more often than not, they are.
The Lonely Palette – Tamar Avishai normally picks one painting from her place of work, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. She starts by asking visitors to the museum what they think about a particular painting, the one she is about to discuss. Her voice is so soothing and her narrative is very informative. Unfortunately since August 2019, episode 40, due to maternity leave and then Covid, the podcasts have be very infrequent. Now I am about to start listening to all 50 again.
Quilt and Tell. Traci, Lori and Ginger from Quilting daily have an easy conversation about……quilting. They also interview a celebrity quilter each episode and end the show with tips. Good for the experienced and novice quilter. Very easy going conversation between friends and guests. Lots of laughs.
Quilting Arts. Presented by Susan Brubaker Knapp and Vivika Hansen. This is a fairly new podcast and an off shoot of the PBS show of the same name. Its all about art quilts, which are different from the quilts people normally think of and are more akin to fine arts. Now they are on episode 14, they are beginning to relax a bit and enjoy themselves.
Stitchery Stories hosted by Susan Weeks, who describes herself as an embroidery enthusiast and textile art dabbler. She interviews people in the textile world that have sparked her interests via instagram or their blogs. She started off with UK artists but as her show has taken off in the US and Canada, more and more of the artists are international. Its just a friendly conversation about their art/craft and how they came about their practice. Very easy listening and lots of laughs.
I am always on the look out for interesting art podcasts. Most are way too serious and full of ART SPEAK 😴 that way of talking about art is just turgid and a put off. I soon get bored with it and the podcast. So I was delighted when I came across
Talk Art. Presented by actor Russell Tovey and gallerist Robert Diament, 2 guys who are great friends and both avid art collectors. Robert has a art history back ground but he doesn’t claim to be an expert at all. He started off in a little know UK rock band before moving into the art world. He is now the director for the Carl Freedman Gallery, Margate UK. Robert is the shy one and I think, sometimes surprises himself with his observations in his conversations with their artist of the week. Russell, on the other hand, is fully into all the psycho babble that surrounds art these days. Its hilarious sometimes, when the artist comes back and says, really? in so many words. Of course, then there are artists that swallow it whole. I love both of them! In their 1st few episodes, they would normally talk for about for an hour but now they can go on an hour and 30 mins or more. That can be a bit wearing, so it probably not my favourite podcast now but I still listen to it regularly. I also find American artists for some reason, irritating even if I like their work. Through this show, I am now more aware of lot more modern living artists than I have been. Even become a fan of Tracey Emin😮
My most recent find and delight has been
Waldy and Bendy – hosted by Waldemar Januszczak and Bendor Grosvenor. I could listen to these 2 of hours, I will be honest. Their dynamic is not unlike Tovey and Diament but both of them are professional art historians.
Once of my favourite podcasts use to the Jealous curator but it became a sort of a collective and with that became very insular and cliquey. Also like Art Talk, they became very long. I think its mainly because the presenter is now concentrating on her own work. These podcasts take up a lot of time and energy to make. However, looking at the new episodes that are posted , it looks like back to just Danielle Krysa and the artist. I will give it another try.
I have plenty of others podcasts I listen to but these ones I will listen to a new episode as soon as it appears.
As Covid as gone on and on, youtube has been become my refuge from nothing on TV.
My favourite theme is art History or history.
In the past 9 months, I think I have seen most of the Waldemar Januszczak documentaries that are available and that is a lot of video time!
His documentary of Gauguin Gauguin: The Full Story has to be the best so far.
I need to find another entertaining but informative art historian!
Lucy Worsley is another of my favourite historians She has a strange lisp (I think or it might be my hearing) but somehow it makes her more engaging.
Fit to Rule, Tudor to Stuarts from Gods to men
I have watched too many craft and painting videos to list but I have learnt a lot from them. I have long list of subscriptions but I find after a few videos that I get bored with them. Or they post videos that are too short, like the Royal Academy of Art. I don’t want to watch a 5 min video, I need at least 10 mins! I love the National gallery in London’s curator presentations. They can be as short as 10 mins or as long as 30 mins but each packs in a lot information. The National gallery happens to be my favourite museum.
According to Spotify
my top decade was 1970’s
My top artist was David Bowie
I listened to 1241 artists
Top Genre was Rock
Top song was Wacht op Mij which I apparently listened to more than a dozen time
During the day I will tend to listen to vibrant music and yes, I do like older music rather than todays but I think that is because I don’t listen to music radio anymore. If I am needing to get up and move, like I do now, I chose a dance option. In the evening when I am trying to wind down I will put on some music for mediation.
Back to Christmas now and the run down to the New Year. Hopefully 2021 will be better but I suspect it will be long hard journey. In the meantime, I will continue with my Youtube watching, Spotify listening and podcast explorations.
Just a quick post to say I will be back in the New Year after an 18 month break.
My plans for the blog are that I will continue to add what I am working on as I do them but in the main it will become focused on my life as as artist, beginning with my first embroidery which, in a sense, makes a full circle of my work so far. A biography in other words as no one else is going to write it. I will be honest, its only recently that I have used the word ‘artist’ for myself as I make no attempt to sell my work or show my work other than via this blog and Instagram. It seemed too grand a title for what has been a rather stop start stop approach to my work. There were years, especially when my kids were younger that I didn’t do anything creative other than paint kids faces or make birthday cakes. Art has always been part of my life though, so I thought I should record its progress from its earliest days when I didn’t even know that being an artist was possible, through the college years, etc to present day. Turning 60 in August 2017, really was a turning point, although life does intrude, as it always will. Now though, I am accepting that and hoping I can get another good 20 yr or so, just enjoying what I do.
2018 was productive in the sense I realised that I needed to stop putting on pressure on myself for not being ‘productive’. ie not painting. I took an almost complete break from painting and plein air painting. Instead I focused on what I enjoyed doing which at the moment,is learning to quilt and free motion quilting. I am sure it will eventually tie in with my other creative practices. Until I actually learn how to do it properly though, quilting is what I am focused on. I am also going to do a class (with actual people) on how to dye my own fabric in March. I did a bit of that when I attempted the online course in 2016 and did some mono printing. From that I learnt online courses are not really my ‘thing’ and that I enjoyed making my own cloth. Youtube, however, is a great way of learning all sorts of stuff! I am also going to do a couple of quilting classes from the experts at one of the local quilting stores.
Keep tuned. Hoping to make this a regular thing this year.
learning to free motion quilt via Leah Day’s Building Blocks Quilt-As-You-Go Sampler Quilt which you can find on Youtube.