Friday, 26 April 2013

More hours in the day please

Are you like me I wonder? As the days grow longer I get more energetic and want to fit so much more into every day.  As I write this the birds are singing, the sun is shining and it feels like all things are possible. It's 6 o'clock in the evening - only a few weeks ago, at the same time of day I'd already be curled up in my armchair in front of the TV feeling like the day was over. Now that the light is better for my old eyes I've resolved to do more drawing and painting. I did make a start on the Amaryllis as you can see but I've decided painting flowers that are mostly white is not easy!

Laura bought me some granulation fluid a while ago and I've been giving it a whirl but I'm not convinced it's doing anything different to plain old water. Maybe I'm not doing it right!

I've not been drawing much lately and it really shows. I tried a pencil study of a leaf - took quite a bit of time over it but it still looked rubbish. It's practise I need so tonight I've made sure all my pencils are sharpened and ready to go. Surprising how delaying tactics like sharpening pencils suddenly seems so attractive. Anything to put off the dreadful moment of actually making a start on a blank sketchbook page! People wouldn't believe it still makes me nervous even though I've been doing it forever. Once I get going it's fine it's just the starting that's the problem.

On the quilting front I've had Jamie at fingerprint print one of my gouache and Indian ink paintings onto cotton poplin. I need to keep this one a bit secret so I won't show the whole thing yet, just a sneaky detail.

I think you can see how faithfully the digital print process reproduces the texture of the watercolour paper. This is the printed fabric, not the original painting!!

Some of our Creative Sketchbook students have also been busy drawing and painting. Thanks go to Wendy for letting us show a couple of her pages here:

Love love love that pastel and resist technique!

And to Rosemary for these:

We all seem to have a floral theme going don't we? Such gorgeous foxgloves!

My word, these students keep us on our toes!!

Thank you for dropping by - I appreciate your company! Linda

Friday, 19 April 2013

Has spring finally sprung?

It's been a long hard winter and I'm not sure we're out of it yet but the wildlife is certainly active now. There are chirruping birds in every tree and hedge in the garden and they're a delight. It's not all so good though - these pesky critters have been chased off our garden pond more times than I care to mention.

It's rather bizarre to see some of them perched on the roof of the house just waiting to fly back down to the pond the minute we turn our backs. I know they look pretty with the sun gleaming on their irridescent feathers but they decimate the tadpoles and make a muddy mess if we let them stay. I prefer not to think what would happen if they set up home and laid eggs -  ducklings would just be too tempting for our Bengal cat.

A little while ago I showed a selection of work made by our online Creative Sketchbook students. I've had lots of emails asking to see more so here are a few pages from Anne.

And a few from Janice.

Gorgeous work ladies - thank you both for agreeing to show it here. It's funny - Laura and I are supposed to be the ones inspiring the students but it works both ways. Seeing such beautiful sketchbook pages prompts me to get my paintbrushes out right away! I even have a suitable candidate for a still life - here's a lovely white and lime green Amaryllis just begging to be painted before it fades.

If it turns out OK I'll let you see it soon. Fingers crossed!

Thanks for dropping by - Linda

Thursday, 11 April 2013

What to do first?

I feel like a child at Christmas - I have so many new toys I don't know what to play with first!

Laura and Jamie delivered my waterlily fabric prints. You can see how well they have translated from the original artwork on the right to the cotton poplin on the left.

The flowers were stencilled using soft pastels onto watercolour paper and I'm really pleased to see how faithfully the quality of the paper's texture has reproduced.

There was room across the width of the fabric for an extra panel so we inverted the original colours of one of the paintings to come up with this version. I now have four of these panels plus a larger version of one. The bigger one will form the middle section of the triptych I'm making for our SiX and Friends' exhibition this summer. It's a LOT of quilting but I expect I'll be OK once I get started. In the meantime I'll work on something smaller to give me some thinking time to plan how I'm going to quilt the waterlilies.

Laura's been looking back through some of her sketchbooks to develop new designs for Fingerprint. This is one of the panels she's chosen - it looks a bit odd here as it's draped over the back of a chair awaiting my attention!

This is another of her designs and it's the one I've decided to work with first. I've just been out to my workroom and layered it up ready for quilting. I'm intending to hand quilt in the evenings while I watch TV so it won't be ready to show you for a while. I want to take time and enjoy the stitching!

I'll let you see how it goes soon. Thanks for dropping by - Linda

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Fair exchange I'd say!

OK, may as well face it, I'll never be thin! Made cherry, raisin and lemon muffins today and unless someone comes to visit very soon (10 minutes or less!) I may resort to eating the lot! Already tried one and yes, with that lemon glaze on the top they are as good as they look!

Amelie and I have been left to our own devices for a few hours while Laura gets her hair done. She of course is too young to eat cake but she watched my every mouthful like a hawk. Made me feel rather guilty which is probably why I stopped at just the one!

It's not all baby sitting - enjoyable as that is. Over the last few days I've been trying out Derwent Inktense blocks in an altered book. Laura bought me a box from the show a couple of weeks ago when I stayed home because of the snow and she felt bad about me missing all the fun. She knows how much I like the pencils and thought the blocks would be a treat. I've only just started to work with them but already I see the potential - I love the way the colour sits in the grooves of the gesso. We've recorded a video for DMTV so if you're a member you'll get to see the whole process very soon.

I wanted to prepare a few more pages ready for painting so I popped Amelie in her carrier and took her out to my workroom. It's not easy painting with gesso while you have a wriggling baby strapped to your chest but, you have my word for it, it can be done. I had to stand at a peculiar sideways angle to the table but she watched the painting almost as intently as the muffin eating and liked the brush washing even more.

As you can see she's very happy in the carrier. It's done my back a power of good - all that weight training must be rather like preparing for an arduous expedition or the Olympics!

I've had several comments about the lack of baby pics of late so here's another one for her fans.

The pay off for all the grandmotherly duties is I get my latest waterlily designs printed in super quick time. Here they are still on the printer. Jamie is steaming the panels as I write this and, once fixed they'll be washed, ironed and delivered to me in the morning. Not a bad exchange I'd say!!

Really, really, really can't wait to start quilting these - I'll let you see how they turn out.  Bye for now - Linda

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Home from Nottingham

We're just back from the Quilters Guild Conference and AGM in Nottingham. We arrived just before our lecture this morning and had to leave soon after so sadly we didn't get to see much of what went on all weekend but we did spot our friend Hilary Beattie demonstrating like a demon. Here she is in full flow with a rapt audience. The room was so full we couldn't get in and had to take this picture from the doorway. When we bumped into her a bit later she had possibly more paint on her hands than on the fabric but looked as though she was having a great time!

And another friend, Jackie Taylor of White Cottage, was one of the traders. Must be fun to take your shop to a captive audience. Everyone is there for 3 whole days with nothing on their minds other than quilting. OK, let's be honest, maybe there's a little eating, drinking, talking and general merriment going on too!

Generous souls had contributed beautiful items to raise funds for the Guild. There was a lovely tulip and jug composition from Hilary in front of a gorgeous quilt from Annabel Rainbow. Some lucky individuals are going home with these beauties tonight. How lucky is that!

At 10.30 the Gail Lawther lecture finishes and the audience begin to take their seats for our talk which we called 'What Makes a Quilt?'

It's a huge auditorium and just look at the size of that enormous screen. At this point no one was aware the laptop was in a sulk and refusing to talk to the projector. You might just be able to make out Laura next to our tech support guy in the picture below - they are on the phone googling to find out what the problem may be. Not a great situation when there are only 15 minutes turnaround between lectures and it's about 5 minutes before we are due to start. This is the kind of nightmare that keeps us awake at night. I get so anxious I have sometimes dreamt that we turn up with no slideshow and no quilts either. Neither of us can sing or dance so what would we do? With the worse case scenario in mind I'd filled the boot of the car with a stack of quilts just in case the presentation didn't work, there was a powercut, the world ceased turning or some other such disaster occurred. We call it the belt and braces approach to public speaking!

With great calm the technician proceeded to take the furniture apart and fiddled with a mass of cables.

Despite all the fiddling and twiddling still nothing happened. Of course, true professionals that we are, Laura had a back up plan. She inserted the memory stick, the images magically appeared and we started exactly on time. The 'just in case of disaster' quilts remained in the boot of the car and all was well. Phew - why do we do these things? I'm ready for a sit down and a gin and tonic!

Bye for now - Linda

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Creative Sketchbook Course

I expect many of you know that Laura and I have offered a variety of online courses for the last 13 years. A little while ago I received a request from one of the students who had recently finished our online Creative Sketchbooks - she was wondering how fellow students were interpreting the course. We have students all over the world and for many it is a welcome opportunity to take a course that would otherwise be unavailable to them. While some love the independence and freedom of working from home I guess the downside is not being able to see how your own work compares. A very recent graduate (just this morning!) has kindly allowed me to show you a selection of her work. Berit lives in Norway and tells me she has really enjoyed her time with us! Here in no particular order are a few of her pages.

Some of the first activities are inspired by the kitchen!!

Students are encouraged to introduce their own favourite themes. On this page Berit used stencils and pastel to create these lovely positive and negative shapes of dragonfly.

How about this for high drama with a few well chosen pots on a table!

What is it about colourful, patterned jugs? Irresistible shapes aren't they - I can't be the only one who loves them!

Paper cutting and folding reveals the page below. Think children's' pop-up book and you'll get the idea!

Combining print techniques with a limited colour palette for graphic effect.

Making your own sketchbooks is fun and the perfect place to show off your printing skills.

Stitched spine bindings work beautifully for simple book construction.

Hope you've enjoyed seeing just a small selection of work Berit produced for the course. I'll prevail upon other unsuspecting students to share more pages with you soon.

Thanks for dropping by today! Talk to you soon - Linda