Monday, 25 November 2013

I sense a crack in the space time continuum

Sorry about the title. I suppose that's what happens when you watch too much Doctor Who. He/it's been going for 50 years believe it or not. I was but a slip of a girl when it started but I do remember my little brother hiding behind the sofa when the scary bits came on. I was 12 and grown up enough to help get the Christmas presents ready for the younger children who still ' believed'. My parents had bought a big, plastic dalek for my brother. It was big enough for him to get into and walk around the house, wiggling the sink plunger thingy at the front, talking in a strange alien voice and crashing into the furniture. He declared it his best present ever. In those distant days I thought my mom and dad knew everything there was to know. Whatever problem we children had they could sort it out. Whatever question I had they knew exactly what to say. I know now how lucky I was to have such a solid family around me. How comforting it was to have them to rely on. When did all that change? When did the balance shift? Mom, now 85, saves all her official letters for me these days. She gives me all the forms that need filling in, me who has hardly ever filled in a form in my life. I'm been married to an accountant for almost 40 years, why on earth would I fill forms in for goodness sake! I am torn between feeling flattered that she thinks I know what to do and bewildered that I'm the one supposed to have the answers these days. It's not just the older generation looking to me for answers either. I pity poor Laura when she asks me for advice about babies. I seem to have forgotten everything I ever knew. I can't remember when a baby gets their teeth, speaks their first words or begins to walk. Was it so long ago I can't recall or have I blanked it all from my memory because I was so useless at the time? I recently found the baby book you're supposed to keep all this information in. It was for my younger daughter and yes, there were a few entries. It records the dates of her immunisations and mentions that she had half a banana at 4 months. Beyond that momentous occasion there's nothing. Was I so overwhelmed by the responsibilities of motherhood that I had no time to write a brief note or didn't we feed her again after that? I don't think we were so neglectful that we left our children to forage for themselves but who knows? It's a miracle they have turned out as well as they have!

This all sounds very self obsessed. I suspect the introspection has been brought on because I'm now a grandmother. There's a new innocent and trusting little soul relying not just her mom and dad but her wider family too. She's the most precious gift and I can't begin to explain how much we love her but it's unsettling when you realise you are now the grown up and everyone expects you to act like one!

Sunday, 24 November 2013

My new favourite

I've spent a few happy hours painting in the studio today and I hoped you might like to see how my woodpecker is coming along. I'm toying with the idea of including a tasty looking beetle on the tree trunk but that might test my abilities too far!

One more session to work on the feet and add a few shadows then he'll be ready to be scanned and digitally printed to add to my range of bird panels at Fingerprint He's my current favourite but I suppose that's always the way isn't it? The latest one is always the best. Perhaps I have to believe practise is making, if not perfect, at least better!

Just a quick post this Sunday evening - have to get dinner on the table and out of the way before the Strictly results programme comes on!! That's Saturday and Sunday nights' viewing taken care of till Christmas. What a glamourous life I do lead!

Thanks for reading - talk to you again soon - Linda

Friday, 22 November 2013

Bright moments in the gloomy days of Autumn

I love it when I see how students interpret our Creative Sketchbooks course to create wonderful sketchbook pages of their own.

Pam kindly agreed to let me show you a few of her pages - aren't they great? Such painterly use of colour. It's a joy to see these on a dull November day.

And gorgeous cut outs Pam - thanks for sharing!

We also loved these from Chantal;

Wonderful combination of techniques.

And striking use of print!

Students often tell us that they've never done anything like this before so that makes their pages even more special. I've tried something for the first time this week too - I've downloaded a digital dress pattern.

Now I know that might sound easy but who'd have thought it would take 25 sheets of A4 to print out a simple dress and shrug?? I must be even bigger than I thought! Here they are like a giant zigsaw puzzle waiting to be taped together. It's supposed to be suitable for a novice dressmaker - I'll let you see if it turns out OK when I get it sewn up. I never quite trust the sizing but if I'm lucky it might fit somebody in the family!!

You may have seen in our newsletter this week that I've moved on to painting woodpeckers. This little fellow is in his very early stages but already I'm liking his sleek shape. Some of the red underpainting will remain on his head but I've yet to add the green, black and white of his body. The red band on the left will become the tree trunk he's clinging to so I'd better give him some feet pretty soon! I'll be adding the woodpecker and a starling to the range of prints that Jamie has made for me at Fingerprint fabrics. I'm having fun with these and can't wait to get back to the painting tomorrow. The bird pincushions have proved to be very popular as Christmas gifts and I've made so many over the past week I'll soon be able to make them up in my sleep!

Thanks for dropping by - I look forward to having you keep me company again soon. Bye for now, Linda

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

A passion for Pansy and all things red

I've been deciding what to paint next once I've finished with the garden bird theme. I've been a bit mad and ordered twenty new canvasses so I have to hope the painting bug won't abandon me just yet. I also bought two ridiculously small paintbrushes. I never thought I'd ever use anything so fiddly but they should be just what I need for all the fine feathery detail. Normally Laura and I paint with big brushes and always recommend students do likewise to free them up from the terror that grips when faced with a blank sheet of paper. Rules are there to be tested so I'll see what happens when I try them out!

There are four paintings already printed to fabric and made up as pincushions and another four in the pipeline. I had a message from someone who said she couldn't bear to stick pins in bird pincushions but you'll notice we couldn't either - we're such softies the pins only go around the birds!
Seeking a new theme to work with I've been looking at my photo collection and having realised that I take more photos of this Forest Pansy in our garden than of anything else I'm wondering if the garden could provide yet more inspiration. This time showing my obsessive passion for all things red.

We bought the tree after seeing lots of them in a fabulous garden in Brittany. It looks wonderful for much of the year but now that the cold weather has arrived these last few forlorn leaves hang like red silk handkerchiefs. I worry about it surviving through the winter and compared to other plants it's a late starter so I am always relieved to see the buds burst in May.

Even the fallen leaves stop me in my tracks. How's this for a beaded treasure? It's no wonder I am inspired by nature when I have all these beautiful things right outside my window.

I must have inherited this love of colour from my mother - she knew I'd love the Cotinus she gave me for my birthday. It's settled in well and glows like a beacon. He who gardens tells me I can't have everything red but it's always the colour that draws me. This is going to be spectacular when it gets bigger.

Despite my advancing years usually I don't 'do' purple like the other old ladies but on a shrub it looks good doesn't it? It's a variety of Callicarpa if you're interested. The berries are such a surprising colour against the bare twigs and it makes a change from red although I guess purple does belong to the red colour 'family'.

It's definitely a good year for berries. Decorating the house for Christmas should be easy this year.

Now for something completely different - I get lots of emails about my baking. The cold weather has driven me back into the warm kitchen - no hardship there then! Today's loaf is Paul Hollywood's easy white loaf and I have to admit, in the interests of research I've already sampled the crust and yes, it does taste as good as it looks. All we need now is the spicy pumpkin soup - roll on lunchtime!

Talk to you again soon - thanks for visiting. Linda

Thursday, 7 November 2013

All the birds

I'm really excited that the first of my garden bird paintings are now available as little pincushions in the boutique section at Fingerprint Fabric. They might be just the thing you're looking for to give a friend at Christmas. Or better still as a treat for yourself!

Larger cushions will also be added to the store just as soon as I can get them ready!

I'm not the only one who's been busy painting - after weeks of anticipation my painting from the PenPal painting challenge arrived this week. I had no idea what to expect but this certainly brought a smile to my face on a wintry English morning. The panel is only 4 inches square but it has great impact and you can almost feel the heat of the sun!

My thanks go to Derek in Australia. He tells me he likes my sparrow painting too - what a relief that is!

Now before I can allow myself to get back to my stitching I have to finish tackling the last of the chilli mountain.

It's salsa season here without a doubt and much as I'm a fan I'm not talking Strictly Come Dancing!

Amazingly for the first week of November we are still picking fresh coriander. We've not had a frost yet and the coriander has self sown making us almost self sufficient for the salsa recipe I found on the internet. I've made masses but luckily this stuff freezes so we'll have enough to keep us going all winter.

Thanks for dropping by. I really do appreciate you taking the time - Linda

Saturday, 2 November 2013

One thing leads to another.......

My design wall is starting to look like an aviary.

The bird panels I've painted have been digitized, given decorative borders and text, and printed onto cotton fabric by Laura and Jamie.

Each of the designs has been printed in three different sizes so they'll be perfect as large cushions, mini cushions and pincushions too. I've also asked for them to be printed onto gorgeous velvet - can't wait to see how they look! Of  course if I was sensible and had any sense of restraint I'd make these up before doing any more painting. Needless to say, patience isn't one of my virtues so here's the next bird almost finished. This time it's a starling and he just needs one more session to add all his lovely iridescent pattern.

I had no idea when I started painting all the birds I see in my garden that it would lead to a fabric range at Fingerprint but I'm loving these and hope they'll be very popular. I've been bitten by the bug and just ordered masses more panels and some new brushes!

Looks like I might be busy painting and quilting cushions for the rest of the weekend. Hope yours is productive too.

Bye for now,