Sunday, 24 May 2015

Holiday, what holiday?

It's a long weekend here in the UK and I guess lots of people are enjoying the opportunity to be out and about. We never go anywhere on a public holiday because we prefer to avoid the crowds. Instead of taking a break we probably work even harder than usual. The garden is calling quite seriously at the moment and I'm writing this post with a twinge in my back after too much bending and kneeling today. Never mind, it'll mend and it is so satisfying to see some new veggies in the ground.

Here we've got spinach, beetroot and chard. I know they don't look like much at the moment but the plants will soon fill out. Pity we have to resort to the protective wire but rabbits are a constant problem. Much as I love to encourage wildlife in the garden I'd rather eat the produce than let them have it all.

Our broad beans are looking promising but we've no idea where that rogue purple one came from. Wonder if the beans will be purple too?

He who gardens always grows hundreds of marigolds. I think they're a bit vulgar but they do provide a colour hit when we plant them in the blue glazed pots. Just have to wait a bit longer for the risk of frost to pass.

As soon as we've got all the vegetables planted we'll deal with this lovely geranium. After all the exertions of the morning I've been wandering round the garden this afternoon looking for a space for this new purchase.

Ironically, a lot of the colour we have at the moment comes from things we haven't planted at all. Even when they've spread like this we're too soft hearted to pull the Forget-me-nots out until they've finished flowering and the Honesty will stay put till the seedheads form even though that purply pink clash with the red Acer really offends my eye!

This beautiful clematis is doing well this year. Pity it's in the hedge where no one sees it unless they go round the back of my workroom to turn the hoses on.

These favourite giant alliums are just on the point of opening. They'll soon look gorgeous in front of the dark Ligularia and will happily be just colourless seed heads by the time the orange and rust day lilies appear!

To relax after gardening I've been doing a bit of sketching. The shells and crabs we found on the beach at Aberdovey recently were perfect subjects to try out my new watercolour  pencils.

Who knew crabs were such complicated creatures? I made the drawings using a waterproof artist's pen then coloured them in with the pencils before adding a wash of water to blend the colours.

The Faber Castell pencils are described as ideal for older children but I don't know why they should have all the fun - they worked well for me too!

Tomorrow means planting brassicas - if the back and knees cooperate. Wish me luck!

Thanks for dropping by - hope you're having a lovely weekend.
Linda x

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Off to the seaside

We escaped the office at the weekend to make a flying visit to the seaside. Laura and I love nothing more than walking on a beach looking for treasure - seems it's a genetic trait. I've never seen Amelie so excited!

She loved the sand so much she didn't know whether to dig, paddle, collect shells or cycle - or try to do them all at the same time. Riding the bike into the sea was probably not her best idea yet!

I have enough shells and bits of driftwood at home but somehow couldn't resist adding to the collection.

Especially after seeing the watercolour paintings of Louise Young in the Moma gallery in Machynlleth. I love her formal arrangement of shells and feathers and came home very inspired to paint. Sorry about the jaunty angle of the photo but I was trying to avoid the reflective glare on the glass.

Moma is a beautiful exhibition space.

And C Alun Evans powerful acrylic landscapes were in complete contrast to Louise's delicate watercolours.

Philip Huckin's Welsh landscapes had a strong narrative quality.

And we appreciated how well he had observed the natural elements of the landscape when we spent a magical afternoon exploring the nearby RSPB reserve where slate walls with moss covered tops gave shelter to masses of unfurling ferns.

All in all a lovely three days. Rest, relaxation and a bit of culture - what more could anyone ask for? Just what we needed in the run up to our Through Our Hands exhibition opening next Saturday. Hope to see some of you there! 

Bye for now,
PS If you'd like to see more, Laura has posted lots more photos of the beach at Aberdovey on her blog. She's had a workshop since we got home so you'll need to scroll down past the student images  to find the pics!

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Ready or not!

We've enjoyed a long weekend with family to celebrate May Day this week but pleasant as that was, there's now no time for day dreaming - it's time to get back to the priorities of the day! Our work is packaged and labelled for its trip to Bilston Craft Gallery tomorrow morning. The talisman pockets which we've called, 'This is Everything That We Are' don't look too impressive squeezed into their boxes but I'm sure they'll be fine when they are displayed on the gallery wall. The secret thoughts and wishes sent in by my blog readers and Laura's workshop students can just be seen peeping out of some of the pockets.

All the work is destined for 'The Liberated Quilt' a really international exhibit involving 24 artists. Organising the logistics has involved Annabel and Laura in a lot of work but I'm sure it will be worth all their efforts. You can check out the details of the exhibition on the Through Our Hands website.

Back in the studio - as soon as one deadline is met it's time to focus on the next. With a vague idea for a quilt, (yet to be tested!) my preliminary swallow studies are multiplying!

For what we have in mind we'll need a whole flock of birds. I'm trying out different media - the drawing above used water soluble Graphitint pencils made by Derwent.

This one is watercolour.

This one combines collage elements with watercolour on a gesso ground. We'll be able to combine all the different birds in Photoshop to create the final composition before we print to cotton fabric.

Although we've been busy as usual we did manage to fit in a visit to the local auction house again. Just because I loved them I came home with these silver thimbles.

I won't be using these for quilting you understand. None of them have the recessed top I like when I'm sewing so they will just have to sit looking pretty on my print tray!

Thanks for reading today. The Liberated Quilt exhibition will be on in Bilston until 25th July so there's loads of time to make a visit. If you can come and say hello on May 16th when several of us will be there we'd love to see you!

Bye for now!
Linda x

Thursday, 23 April 2015


Don't you just love April? This is my favourite time of the year. The sun is shining but it's not so hot that you feel like doing nothing all day. The hedges in the lanes are full of blossom and the fields full of new life. The days are longer again and it feels like anything you set your mind to is possible!

I had an email this week from someone I taught a long time ago. She tells me it's been 18 years which is quite horrifying. Pam did a lot of work with bleach all those years ago and last week's DMTV video inspired her to pick up her Quink Ink and have another go!

This pumpkin bleach drawing with its text is intriguing isn't it? Great work Pam! I've been enjoying using bleach in my 'Finish Me' art journal too.

This is mimicking the mono print on the facing page. I've also found time this morning for a few quick paintings in my sketchbook.

After so much acrylic painting lately it's lovely to get back to my favourite watercolours.

Not sure where these might lead at the moment but drawing and painting help me get to know swallows a little better.

I haven't featured swallows before as they are really Laura's territory. Have to make sure mine look completely different to hers!

Hope you're enjoying the spring weather and feeling creative too!
Love Linda x

Monday, 13 April 2015

Make do and make better

It's always lovely to hear from people who have been inspired by DMTV. This week Marilyn wrote to say how much fun she'd had making paper bowls after watching a recent video workshop. You may remember one of my bowls from the video.........

I confess I got a bit carried away with the spots!

But probably not as carried away as Marilyn who tells me she plans to make lots more than the eight she's shown me here - I love her enthusiasm!

So, the bowls were made from old envelopes and paper scraps while the decorative spots I added were the punched leftovers from the hanging devices of the talisman pockets.

Which in turn were made from old photos and scraps of original artwork. Just shows how I can never bear to throw anything away.

But my hoarding instincts are vindicated when old bits and pieces are just what're called for in a project! I get a lot of satisfaction from creating something out of next to nothing.

My latest recycling challenge comes in the form of these less than lovely pieces of wood. It's my own fault I suppose - I had mentioned to Laura how much I'd loved some paintings on driftwood I'd seen recently. It's dangerous to say anything like that to her because, quick as a flash, these wooden panels were thrust into my hand. The top one looks like an apprentice piece from someone learning to carve, the other two were salvaged from an Edwardian wardrobe door, all complete with dust and cobwebs as you can see. My task, should I wish to accept it, is to make something of beauty from each - we'll have to see what can be done!

Thanks for reading today - Love Linda x

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Secrets and dreams

To all the lovely people out there who were kind enough to send messages for us to include in the Talisman pockets I would like to say a huge thank you. The messages were heartfelt and obviously sincere. We've had very personal expressions of hope for specific individuals, quotes from favourite poems, uplifting phrases to help people through difficult times and more general wishes for a kinder and safer world. I hope that expressing your hopes and dreams has had a cathartic effect and that you are pleased to be an important part of this work.

If you're wondering what's happened to the messages right now, here is the first batch. They've been handwritten onto red paper and the papers folded and closed with stitch so they will remain forever secret. As each is transcribed to paper the emails have been deleted so the secrets now only exist in their allotted pockets. It's been quite an emotional experience to read your thoughts and hopes. Although no one else will ever have the opportunity to see everything you've sent, just knowing these secret wishes exist will make a powerful contribution to the overall meaning of the exhibit. For us, it's also important to see that a trace of the black ink is visible through the paper.  It shows there are messages contained within but from the outside the words are illegible and the sentiments remain hidden. Secret and powerful but invisible - gives me goosebumps just to think about it!

The preparation of the messages might progress more quickly if the studio assistant had a better understanding of the process. Apparently rectangles aren't as creative as confetti - good job we have a plentiful supply of red paper.

On a less cerebral note, it's the weekend and time for our usual visit to the local market. Who'd have suspected when we left home this morning that we'd come home with this........?

Strange the things that tempt when all you planned for was a bit of fruit and veg! It's called a Kalimba and basically it's half a gourd with a flat wooden top and a few fingers of metal. He who gardens often demonstrates a taste for the exotic when it comes to musical instruments!

It was only fair that I deserved a treat too don't you think?  Couldn't resist this Irish pot!

Something about the drippy glaze reminds me so much of my sketchbook pages. Another small pleasure in a troubled world. Looking at the glorious colours makes me very happy.

Hope your weekend is filled with sunshine, positive thoughts and the odd self indulgence.

Love Linda x
PS There's till time to send in your contributions for the talisman pockets if you want to be included!

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Quilting for fun on the PowerQuilter and a blustery day out.

DMTV viewers will be familiar with my recent iris piece. I've really enjoyed adding the details that bring it all to life on the Pfaff PowerQuilter this week. I can't praise the big machine table enough - makes free motion quilting an absolute pleasure and so quick!

On the same subject I was happy to receive this lovely image yesterday........

One of our DMTV members, Mary, tells me she had great fun stencilling the iris design too. Thanks for allowing me to share your photo Mary and good luck with the quilting. Hopefully this week's video will give you some ideas to inspire!

We've been anticipating it for so long so it was very exciting to see wonderful work materialising in Laura's first two classes last week. The pavilion had seemed so pristine and almost clinical until the place started to gradually fill with the buzz of creative people and their colourful output. I was itching to join in too but had to content myself with providing snacks and lunch! There are lots more photos of both days over on Laura's blog. We've decide summer is upon us so it won't be wholesome vegetable soup and homemade bread next time - we're moving on to salads. Of course there will still be home baked cake and shortbread. You need to keep the engine stoked!

On the day of the second class we voted to leave Laura in peace with her students and entertain Amelie at a local hands-on farm. There were new lambs and goat kids only a day or two old as well as chickens which roam free and peck at your shoes as you sit eating your lunch! It was a wild and windy day with horizontal sleet from time to time but what made my day was meeting a lovely lady who cares for rescued owls. The Tawny owls above had all been involved in car accidents but were obviously recovering well under her tender care. She had a complete parliament of owls for us to admire and even stroke.

You probably know how much I love birds and I really feel I need to paint some of these gorgeous characters even if this little fellow looks more like a stuffed toy than a living and breathing creature!

Hope you're being creative and feeling optimistic for the coming months. There is so much trouble and horror in the world right now we all need to find solace in small pleasures. Be thankful that we have our passion for art and stitch!

Talk again soon,
Linda x