Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Challenging expectations.

This was the view I had at the weekend looking over the vale of Evesham - it was beautiful.
I was at the fabulous Farncombe Estate in the Cotswolds for a weekend with The Textile Study Group. It was an illustrious line up of textile artists that read something like my book shelf!

We were tutored by two TSG members Sian Martin and Penny Burnfield. The idea throughout the weekend was to challenge conventional ideas of drawing and to consider alternative ways of getting ideas out of our heads.
We drew in the studio and outside, rapid 30 second sketches over and over again using different media, combining different media, using different hands... "getting to know our lines"

We layered drawings on top of drawings

and then back in the studio, looked at various different ways to make drawings.

It was an excellent weekend and lots of fun, challenging expectations.

For me, the weekend had another purpose as I, along with four others, had been invited to bring a portfolio of work to be considered for membership of the group. Unfortunately for me that wasn't quite so much fun and I heard yesterday that I would not be invited to join the group. My work was considered not to have enough variety or depth.

To say I am disappointed and deflated is a bit of an understatement, but mostly I'm disappointed in myself as I know I didn't present well. But now I'm starting to question whether I could have done better in the circumstances. Family life has not been always been easy over the past couple of years, but then that seems like making excuses... we all have hard times. At the end of the day, I'm just not up there with that illustrious group of names and that's a hard pill to swallow. It is one thing having lots of wonderful blog followers who leave me kind comments and lavish praise but the recognition of my peers was something I aspired to. It is making me seriously reconsider where I go from here.
However, in the grand scheme of things, especially considering the atrocities that are going on in the world at the moment this is all pretty meaningless. I'm not usually one to stay down for long and no doubt I'll bounce back before the week is out... but you can expect cake from me not fine art... mostly because we've a special family birthday at the weekend!

Friday, 12 September 2014

My week in drawings

I've continued with my daily drawings in September, joining in with Laura Kemshall
On Saturday, I stuck a printed page into my sketchbook. painted it with a light coat of gesso and then drew this goldfinch using Inktense pencils... as a reminder that I'm currently reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt. I was inspired by some work I had seen by Anne Kelly.

Sunday morning we walked to the neighbouring village to buy the newspaper and despite the glorious weather there were signs that autumn is definitely approaching... lots of conkers already on the ground.

On Monday I was preparing for my day teaching at Art Van Go and realised the canvases that I had planned to use as samples were in an exhibition in High Wycombe library... so I had to put together the one below in order that I had something to show the students. As a result, this is really my drawing for the day, done with the needle. But I put together a scrappy little sample to go in my sketchbook, just to mark the day.

On Tuesday I noticed the huge amount of work that needs to be done in my sadly neglected garden... but I didn't do anything about it. I just drew a Nigella seedhead instead!

And because there was a stitched square on the opposite side from where I'd stitched in my previous sample, I turned it into a frame and put in a different view of the seedhead. Two drawings for the price of one!

Wednesday, the weather was still glorious so I went for a three mile walk first thing... I was that mad woman going along at a pace singing along to Frankie Valli!

Thursday I thought about doing the housework... I really did. Think about it that is... I  never actually did any.

And Friday... well I've not done a drawing yet because I've been busy getting ready and travelling down for an exciting weekend away. I'm sat in a room overlooking the beautiful Vale of Evesham... more about that next week! So that's my week... I thought about the housework and the gardening, went for a couple of walks and had a day teaching!
I hope you have an exciting weekend too... anything good planned?

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

A Flying visit...

I've been teaching a class today at the wonderful Art Van Go. The class is called "Stitches and Doodles" and the idea is to get beginners to free machine embroidery, drawing and writing with their sewing machines, taking away the fear of free machining. I took photos of the finished work and promised to post them on my Facebook Page (which I've done) and then Jill asked "But what if we're not on Facebook?"... so I promised to put them on here too... just for you Jill! And if you are on Facebook... please go and like my page!
There was such a wonderful variety of work and such a high standard, especially considering the majority of the class were complete beginners. I'll let the work speak for itself...

This is the second time I've taught this class at Art Van Go and there has been a waiting list on both occasions so if you are interested get the date of the next one in your diary... 10th April 2015!
That's my flying visit.. Now I've got my feet up, cuppa poured and knitting out. After having August away from teaching I need to get back into the swing of working all day... I'm shattered!

Friday, 5 September 2014

Five on Friday

A round up of my week using the ever so convenient Five on Friday format....
I made just one cake this week - a Dorset Apple cake using windfalls from my neighbours garden. It looks pretty squished and sunken in the middle but it tasted okay... honest!

I finished the two bunnies, using Julie's pattern. It's the first time I've made the little boy bunny and I just loved knitting that tiny jumper!

They have now been delivered to their new owners.

I read three books in August.I finished my year in books choice - The Death of Lucy Kyte by Nicola Upson and really enjoyed it. I'm not sure I like the writing style enough to read any more by this author but it was a gripping story and a good mix of fact with fiction. I also read How to Build Girl by Caitlin Moran. It wasn't exactly bad and was even amusing at times but overall a bit of a disappointment... actually quite a big bit of a disappointment. I like Moran's writing as a journalist but somehow it doesn't really translate into a full length novel for me. All a bit samey and a tad boring. But the final novel I read in August was Peter May's Extraordinary People which I thought was an excellent fast paced thriller... and which I couldn't put down, reading it in just three days!

My September choice for the Year in Books is The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt which I am really enjoying... I'm already half way through!
Joining in with The Year in Books with  Laura at A Circle of Pine Trees

Another joining in thing... this time with Laura Kemshall for a daily drawing each day in September... and I have done another four drawings. I liked Laura's drawing of keys so much that I thought I would try a key on 2nd Sept...

Then Laura suggested going larger so I tried it with a different key on 3rd, but I was starting to get bored and could see me giving up...

Then on 4th as I was taking the bin to the bottom of the garden I noticed all the wonderful flowers on the Ivy and drew those and I was much happier. I also made a note that these were spotted when taking the bins out and it occured to me that making it almost like a diary of what is going on each day will be far more interesting to me than drawing random shiny objects

So this morning I made a quick sketch of a pretty little ceramic jam pot that I bought years ago. I'm not sure I have ever used it for jam but at least it is a record of all the jam making going on here this week. And I'm really enjoying the daily drawing again.

Which brings me neatly on to number five...

Because whilst out walking yesterday I managed to pick another five pounds of various plums and damsons just from the hedgerows... which will mean an awful lot more jam. Guess what I'm doing this weekend!
Hoping you all have a lovely weekend.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014


I love the fact that where I live there are literally dozens of wild plum trees lining the roads and pathways and at this time of year they are dripping with fruit. It seems a crime not to fill baskets full every time I go out... I hate to see them falling on the ground going to waste.
Which of course means that I end up making endless jars of jam. It always makes me think about a brilliant childrens' book called "Jam" by Margaret Mahy that my boys used to love when they were little. We used to read it over and over again and it always made them laugh.
 It tells the story of the Castle family who have a stay at home Dad. When their plum tree starts to drop fruit he discovers he has a talent for making jam and ends up making so much he fills every container in the house. They end up eating jam with absolutely everything to use it all up and they put on so much weight over the year he puts them all on a strict exercise regime... and just as they are getting back to normal, playing a healthy game of cricket in the garden and looking forward to eating something other than jam, they hear the thud of the first plum falling on the roof again! Not quite the story in our house as I've still not used all jam left over from last year...

But it doesn't stop me making more... and this year I've been experimenting with different flavours. A little vanilla in with the golden yellow Mirabelles and a splash of Amaretto liqueur with the red plums.... which proved to be very popular.

So much so, I made another seven jars on Monday... which Stewart re-christened "Plumaretto Jam"

It's a very pretty colour.

And now there are Damsons to deal with too. I might have to make Damson Gin with those... only so much jamaretto I can eat!

Monday, 1 September 2014

Feeling Brighter!

Thank you once again for all the kind comments... and as you can see, all it took was a couple of nice days out at the weekend and I'm starting to feel a bit more like my old self... and here I am blogging again. I can't stay away!
Yesterday Laura Kemshall wrote about how she seems to collect empty sketchbooks and she challenged herself to make a drawing a day, starting today on 1st September. She also asked if anyone would like to join in. Well, I have a ridiculous amount of empty sketchbooks... these are a mere fraction. I cannot resist those lovely empty pages and I'm constantly buying new ones, convincing myself this will be the one to make me draw every day. And I'm not even going to tell you how many there are with just one or two pages filled. It's a disgrace!

So I've decided to join in... just a quick 10 - 15 minute sketch each day. And then maybe by the end of the month drawing every day will be such a regular habit, I won't be able to stop

Today I drew my lunch (well - part of my lunch). Nothing wonderful, especially when you see Laura's fabulous drawing today,  but I've done it.... and I'll keep you updated with my progress. If I'm sharing on here I might actually do it!

I've also done a little more painting in my Frida Sketchbook

They are meant to be drawings of Mexican tin art, but I'm beginning to think I could have a new career as a tattoo artist!

I've also remembered that over two weeks ago I said I had some buttons to give away. With so much going on at home I had totally forgotten, so today I picked out a name and the buttons will soon be on their way to Marian.