Saturday, 1 August 2015

Reasons to be cheerful

I know I've been uncharacteristically quiet on the blogging front for a while. The reason being that my mom has had a total knee replacement and visiting the hospital involved a 100 mile round trip each time. Since she came home from hospital, my sister and I have been vying for the title of 'nurse of the year'. I made soup and cake today so I've notched up a few points! It's a major operation at any age but undoubtably more so at 87. The wound is healing nicely but the colours and extent of the bruising are a sight to behold. Although she's not shy to let anyone and everyone have a look (whether they want to or not!) I decided not to subject you to any photos. Just imagine a beautiful red sunset with purple, blue and black clouds masking the yellow of the light and you'll be pretty close. Arrrgghh! Never mind - we're so glad it's over now and she's getting better each day.

This splendid fellow greeted us at the entrance to the hospital - how very surreal. I almost wondered who'd been on the morphine, me or mom, when I saw him. No one batted an eyelid - it was as though it was perfectly normal to have a peacock wandering about the grounds. In the interests of health and safety, flowers are forbidden in the wards - apparently wildfowl in the entrance to the foyer are OK.

I know I tried to spare your delicate feelings by not showing 'the leg' but then I go and let you see this moth with no warning at all!

You may not have realised he was such a mega moth till I let you see him next to the quilting ruler! My sister knows how fascinated I am by all flying creatures so she kindly saved me this monster who flew into her house in southern France. I usually envy her time spent in France but this looks like one good reason to stay nearer to home!

I always enjoy sharing images of work our members have created with inspiration from DMTV video workshops - here's a beautiful stencilled columbine quilt from Laura. A really sensitive interpretation of a delicate subject and lots of close quilting which I love - well done Laura!

And I love this glorious sketchbook page sent in by Frances. Thanks for letting everyone see your work ladies! (Coincidentally, Laura and Frances are the names of my two daughters).

And finally, not to be left out, here's a portrait Amelie made of me for my recent birthday. No body to speak of yet but notice the fingers. She's not yet 3 but very observant and obviously knows how important my hands are to me!

Thanks for reading - I promise to show more of my work next time. One good thing about being away from home while taking care of mom is there's more time for hand stitching and the latest quilt is coming along nicely!
Linda x

Monday, 20 July 2015

Jam, pomegranate painting and patchwork

In the very week that the official recommendations are that everyone in the UK should reduce their sugar intake by a half my sous chef and I are making jam like demons.

What can you do? When the raspberries are in full swing jamming is the obvious course! If I can salvage most of these before she eats them all we'll have enough to last all year and, in my defence, I do give quite a lot away. People seem to love a jar of homemade jam!

With such a generous crop we can afford to be extravagant. I soften the fruit and then sieve it before adding the sugar and boiling it up for a few minutes. That means we get a jewel-like jelly with none of the irritating seeds to stick in your teeth! Intense flavour and quite delicious.

Raspberries aren't the only fruit under consideration this week. Laura spotted an enormous pomegranate when she was grocery shopping and she thought it might be an interesting subject for me to paint.

I've just treated myself to a secondhand easel I discovered at the flea market. It holds my extra large drawing board much better than my old easel so I decided it was time to work on a bigger scale than of late.

I'm working with Liquitex acrylic paints and inks again but what you see is simply a beginning - after the initial blocking in of opaque colour there will be numerous layers of transparent inks to try to capture the richness and depth of colour I see in the fruit.

It's actually a miracle that I've managed to do any painting at all as I've spent a ridiculous amount of time filling the drawers of my new/old watchmaker's cabinet. You wouldn't believe how long it takes to sort all the buttons and beads into the same colours and sizes! Serves me right for mixing them up in the first place I suppose. I'm hoping that being able to see what I've got will mean I make better use of the treasures - we'll see if that happens.

And then, just when you decide life is too short to stuff a mushroom, I have a whim to start a hand pieced quilt for our super king sized bed. Laura thinks I must have been out in the sun too long over the weekend! DMTV members will get to see this very soon but don't hold your breath - it's a bit of a project!

Hope you're finding the time and inclination to be creative right now - remember, no matter how busy you are, making stuff is good for the soul.

Linda x

Monday, 13 July 2015

Look what I had for my birthday

Another year gone - how did that happen? I always say please don't make a fuss - I really don't need anything but my lovely family never take any notice.

I was rather pleased about that when I saw the cake. This is before the candles were added - apparently for health and safety reasons they could only appear at the last moment and under strict supervision.  So many candles would constitute a fire hazard!

And because I've been doing so much painting lately, although I said I didn't need anything, I MIGHT just have mentioned I was running out of some of my favourite colours of acrylic ink.

Look at all of these bottles - I confess I might have dropped hints to more than one person!

This wonderful cabinet though was a complete surprise.

Apparently it had a past life with a watchmaker but I'm going to have fun filling every drawer with precious buttons. With 8 drawers, each with 16 compartments, it sounds like a very good excuse to buy more buttons don't you think? I always love a mission!

I also had a new jam kettle and put it to use the very next day. Perfect timing for dealing with the raspberry explosion.

I was thrilled to get a book I've been hankering after for some time. It's truly inspirational and will keep me content for ages but I'll save all the details till I've had more time to absorb it. I don't want to mention the trousers that he who gardens bought me. They were sent back today because they didn't fit. How could a little bit of cake, a few glasses of bubbly and the odd spoonful of jam have such an instant effect? Only fruit after all!

Party fun's over - back to work now I promise! Linda x

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Off to New York

Well not me of course, just two of my quilts. They lead a more exciting life than I do most of the time! 'Some Day I'll Fly Away' and 'Ragged and Black' have been invited to the Earlville Opera House in Madison County, New York, as part of their Contemporary Art Quilt exhibit. I am excited to be included in a line up of renowned US quilt artists. If any of you get to visit the show I'd love to hear what you think.

The exhibition opens on July 11th. Just wish I could be there but it's not possible sadly.

Meanwhile, at home in my studio this week I've left gooseberries behind and moved onto strawberries. I've used Liquitex acrylic paints and inks onto a stretched box canvas which I've first painted with metallic gold. I tend to work very wet so there's always the frustrating time waiting for layers of colour to dry. Instead of sitting there tutting and getting irritated, panel 3 is already started - raspberries this time.

I'm picking our own every day now so I have plenty of examples to work from before they hit the jam pot. I'll let you see how the painting is looking next time.

It's not only raspberries that are ready. After the lean months of spring we have an embarrassment of crops in the veggie plot now. He who gardens has done us proud again and despite the unpredictable weather we've had so far this year we are now spoilt for choice.

Every evening I walk up the garden path to choose what we'll have for dinner. Today was especially interesting because the unidentifiable frozen, orange block I took out of the freezer this morning, once defrosted, turned out to be lamb curry rather than the spaghetti sauce I'd thought. Called for a last minute change of plan! Madhur Jaffrey came to the rescue with a recipe for spinach with onions, chilli and onion. We have all of those just ripe for the picking!

Served it all with mushroom pakora and cucumber and mint raita - delicious! With such lovely vegetables and herbs we didn't really need the curry if truth be told. We all know vegetables are good for us - probably not when they are deep fried in chana dal batter unfortunately!

Thanks for reading - Linda x

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Acrylic gooseberries next

Well, you know what I mean - gooseberries painted with acrylics not actually made of acrylic! Sometimes when you're working with a particular subject all you have to do is try another medium  to get quite different results.

So, after drawing gooseberries with Derwent Inktense pencils last week, I've moved onto acrylic paints and inks today. Instead of paper I'm working onto canvas panels. I love the layering of transparent washes of colour - makes the fruit look almost juicy. I'm going to try strawberries next if Amelie will let me photograph them before she picks all the ripe fruit and scoffs the lot.

I did manage to salvage this specimen before it disappeared. If I transfer my painting to fabric I can imagine every one of those little seeds being a glass bead!

Laura and Jamie have suggested I design a new set of panels for Fingerprint fabrics. Last year I did the garden bird series so fruit will be a nice change. I'm thinking it will be gooseberries, strawberries, raspberries and maybe grapes. We have all of those in the garden at various stages of ripeness - just have to wait a bit for the grapes to be ready. They're only tiny at the moment.

I will probably paint a flower series too once the fruit are finished. There are enough lovely poppies as inspiration in Laura's garden.

 I even love the swan necked buds before they open up.

Who said leaves are green? These poppy leaves are icy blue.

And these heart shaped leaves are a riot of colours with pink margins and stalks. Nature has all the inspiration I need for a long, long time.

Thanks for dropping by. I'll let you see the paintings as they happen.
Love Linda

Monday, 29 June 2015

More drawing and sewing this week

Laura and I produce a new video for DMTV every week. That's a pretty effective incentive to make best use of any creative time we can find. Sometimes we simply make a video about whatever project we happen to be involved with at the time but more often than not we devise a new idea just for our viewers. That may sound as though it would be a complete diversion from our own work but in practice it is a powerful stimulus and often leads us in unexpected directions we might not otherwise take.

If you'd have told me last week that I'd be drawing gooseberries in every spare minute I'd have been dubious but they're as good a subject as any I suppose. The gooseberries in our garden are not quite ready for picking yet but they'll soon be perfect for crumble and the inevitable custard. He who gardens loves his nursery puddings and it's a bonus if I can draw the ingredients (and make a video) before I cook them! I may even ask Laura and Jamie to print me some fabric from my drawings - they'd make very summery cushion panels for the conservatory.

As you know, I always love to see pieces inspired by our videos. I'd like to thank Liz for allowing me to share the photo of her recent work. These lovely panels were inspired by the recent DMTV video on transfer printing. Looks like she got a bit carried away with the technique but Liz intends to sell them in aid of the Linus project and I'm sure they'll be popular! Good luck with the sales Liz!

We've had lovely warm weather for a few days, and the garden has been demanding, but I had a couple of hours to myself this morning and rather than more planting or weeding (or obsessively drawing yet more goosegogs) I ran this top up for Laura.

She'd cut up a favourite old top to use as a pattern. Once again, the overlocker made short work of the sewing and it turned out quite well considering we had no proper pattern and just a couple of £1 remnants from the Rag Market! My favourite dress shop has its summer sale right now but even at sale prices they can't compete with that!

We're promised the hottest day of the year so far tomorrow. No doubt it will all end in tears and thunderstorms before the week is out. It's the English way after all.

Talk to you again soon - bye for now,

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Busy and productive day

Last time I posted I said that I'd be making that Marci Tilton top again - well I rummaged through my fabric stash and here's what I made this morning.

I made it a few inches longer than the pattern so it's more of a tunic shape and I used a plain navy jersey for one sleeve just for a bit of fun. I may add a navy pocket, and a striped cuff on the plain sleeve might also be good idea. I don't want anyone to think I simply ran out of the striped fabric!

On Sundays I usually make enough bread to keep us going for the week ahead. People seem to think you have to be patient with bread making because it takes so long. Well it's true it takes around 3 hours from start to finish but you don't have to watch it! I set the dough to prove and take my timer with me to the workroom. By the time it's ready to be turned out and shaped I've cut the fabric out and made a start overlocking the hems. I finish the sewing while the loaves have their second rise and try my new top on as the bread bakes and the kettle boils for a well earned cup of Lady Grey.

Sundays are also a day for gardening, especially at this time of year when there's so much to be done. It's very satisfying though when you enjoy the rewards of the hard work. I can barely move after weeding and planting most of today but as well as the sense of a job well done there are beautiful flowers to look at and fresh salad to put on our plates!

By mid afternoon, although the spirit is willing (and there are still plenty of weeds!) the body is weak and there comes a point when any more bending is out of the question. A gentler activity is required.

I was glad to sit in the warm sun and try out some new pens I've treated myself to. I usually draw in a very tonal way so it's a challenge for me to work in a more linear style. I'm working from a botanical illustration that has gorgeous depth of colour so I couldn't resist adding a wash over watercolour pencil. This is just a start, I'll be adding more drawing and colour if I get a few minutes tomorrow. It's helpful to see the photo - shows me just how much darker those shadows on the gooseberries need to be.

I also did this quick pen drawing with watercolour pencil and wash. I apologise if you're offended by it looking like a bottom - it's meant to be an innocent little nectarine!

Talk to you again soon
Linda x