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