A very few of my experiments are for sale on my website very cheaply if you're interested, as I hate to throw things away. However, selling is not what this blog is about - I'd have starved to death years ago if it was - it would make me happy if you just enjoy the processes.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Well, it's a start!

You have a plan. It's all set for go. Then Life seems to get in the way!!  Not that I'm complaining or anything, as it's all good stuff.

 The guerrillering has taken off a bit just lately and for the last couple of days, I've been at the computer answering emails and grabbing the saw and secateurs to rush out and do stuff.

 Today I have the lovely task of showing the park and it's plants off to tiny people from a local school.  They want to come and draw, and eat biscuits, and learn about insects.  I shall take my sketchbook too and join them although probably better stay away from the biccies.

Back to the big plan for the next fortnight in textile land.  I did manage to tidy up the studio a bit, which is always a good start. I do like to clear the decks between projects, and stuff everything back into a variety of cupboards.
 This is the view that is my backdrop.  Usually the door is wide open in the summer, but we've had so much rain lately, that I've forgotten what it's like to sit  and work in the fresh air.
 I decided to start with dragonflies. After downloading some images from google and a couple of pages from wikipedia (not only useful information, but to cut up and stick in my sketchbook for backgrounds) I began work on a new altered book.

They are a brilliant way of collecting useful bits in one place, and for me, just jotting things down as they occur.  I'm not trying to make anything spectacular or beautiful, just playing with whatever comes to mind.
 The pages of a book make a better base if they are stuck together or in my case, because I was in a hurry, sewn in threes or fours with the sewing machine.
 A bit of doodling. Already I can see a problem with my choice - legs!  They are so thin and long that cutting and sticking is going to be a problem.
 Preparing the pages of the book with gesso and/or gel medium.  You need to do this to stop the paper absorbing all your paint straight away.  You get much more texture and exciting paint effects if you do this.
 Watery paint in several dragonfly shades painted onto the page.  I then went over it all with a layer of white acrylic to intensify the contrast, as the dragonflies are small and were getting lost in all that vibrancy.
 Why not tell people what you're doing?!! Spell it out.

I found some interesting interference acrylic in my stash. This is the blue one on top of blue dye paint.      Also there is some hand stitching with a metallic thread, but it doesn't show up very well.  I was after a shimmer.

Below, a bit of splodging with a sponge square, and some sticking of some bits left over from an old quilt in the corner. (It's not fabric btw, but scrumpled brown paper, gessoed, gelled, painted, and then waxed)

I put a bit of wax on the wing to bring in another colour. Voila, I have deep strong blue and bronze.  Now there's a combination I didn't plan but like a lot. That's some success isn't it!

Monday, 25 June 2012

First, choose your subject!

 Having just finished Life 4, I thought I'd give myself a fortnight off before starting the next piece. Not to do anything rash, like have a holiday, or slob out for a few days; oh no, I mean to have a couple of weeks just playing around with printing and dyeing to see what happens.

I'm a great fan, as you know, of DMTV (Linda and Laura Kemshall's on line videos of techniques and ideas)
 There is no affiliation, but a genuine admiration for what they achieve.  I really enjoy spending time with them in their studio!!

Anyhoo, I've decided to follow their recommendation, and build a quantity of "stuff" relating to a particular theme of my choice.

And there's the rub!  The hardest thing is choosing the theme.

Above is one of my coffee table specials.  I collect little things of interest to display under glass in my coffee table, and this little chap comes all the way from Oz.  I especially like the shape of scarabs, and can see great potential for colouring etc. However, Laura has already done something similar with beetles and I don't want to end up copying!!

 So I went for a walk in the garden to see if anything there inspired me.  Ferns are a possibility.  Lovely shapes.

I also have a love affair with hogweed and the shapes of this flower on the left are similar.  But I need to get away from hogweed for a while, not least because it seems such a popular shape amongst quilters!
 I looked in the fish pond and saw all these fish on the right.  (No I didn't, I'm pulling your leg)  Our goldfish died 3 weeks ago, after 25 years of dedicated service. We think the magpies took it. It was left skewered at the side of the pond. One of my DD;s won it at the fairground and unusually it survived everything life threw at it, until then.

But fish have an interesting shape don't they? Lots of potential for playing around.
 As do dragonflies.  As you can see all the following photos are from a nature book of English wildlife, although we do get some odd things in the garden, we don't have masses.

I jumped a mile last year on discovering a grass snake slivering towards me at speed. We also have kingfishers, nuthatches, newts, frogs and toads (or we did have before the snake moved in) Not massively exciting I suppose, but we are in the middle of a town, so find it delightful.
Back to beetles again, but I love their shapes.
And finally limpets and snaily type things.

I'm torn between the fish, dragonfly and limpet, but you'll have to tune in again to see which one makes it!

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Life 4 - Hello Dear, What Did You Do Today?

Update: Oct 2012. For details of finished size,  price, and other quilts in the series,please visit website on www.annabelrainbow.co.uk

Life 4 - Hello Dear, What Did You Do Today?

53" x 38" (without binding)

Quilt over chair - English piecing over papers, applique, stitch, paint.

The words on the body of the lady say:

"Well dear, I worried. I had coffee this morning. Coffee is the second most valuable legal commodity after oil but is largely grown by subsistence farmers and I forgot to buy Fair Trade.

Then I took our grandchildren to school. Did you know that 90% of all childcare still rests on women’s backs.

On the way to the hated supermarket to buy food, I saw that lady from the house by the park in her burkha who everyone says is lonely and abused but can’t tell the police in case her family is deported, and thought about the veiling and seclusion of women and the cult of virginity and the death penalty for women’s adultery, and tried to imagine what it was like to be killed with stones.  I thought of rape and how under Shar’ia law a rape victim needs four male witnesses to substantiate her testimony. In the west we might just say she’s making the whole thing up. I thought how rape could end if men just stopped doing it.

Then I had my hair done and looked in the mirror and saw how old I was. When you get old you cease to exist, people just don’t seem to see you any more. Perhaps I should lose weight or wear high heels to make me taller and show off my legs. Perhaps my nose needs altering or I could get my ears pierced or my teeth whitened. This made me think of trying to look nice and how odd this was when 140 million women have been circumcised and cruelly mutilated because it reduces libido and prevents promiscuity.   No, I’ll just bleach and perm my hair and put on false eyelashes and shave my legs and pad my bra, and file and paint my toenails. I’d best skip lunch or I’ll get fat.

I pottered about the garden and planted some lettuce. I thought of the women who make up over 50% of the world’s population yet only hold the title to 1% of the land, and produce more than half it’s food.  They work 2/3rd of the worlds working hours but receive 10% of the world’s income.

Then I paid a visit to that frail neighbour who The Meals On Wheels lady told me about. She’s seems sad and alone because her family have had to move to search for work and she’s frightened and doesn’t want to go into residential care but she’s in the system and she thinks no one is listening.

Then I collected the grandchildren from school and took them to cubs and ballet and thought of childbearing and the way fertility can be controlled, and the 35% of all Puerto Rican women that were sterilized by the US Agency for Development.

Then I came home to do the cleaning and the cooking, sort out the clothes and do the washing, and remembered what the Ladybird books taught me in school. 

“Here we are at home says Daddy.
Peter helps Daddy with the car, and Jane helps Mummy get the tea. 
Good girl, says Mummy to Jane. You are a good girl to help me like this.”

When I had our children I worked part time for 20 years without sick pay or a pension and tried to nurture everyone in sickness and life, and help keep them fed and educated.  If an Englishman’s home is his castle why doesn’t he clean it. Only 3% of PLC directors in Britain are women and only 4% of judges. 78% of all clerical workers are women, but only 11% are managers.

Then I started to work on my quilt, and you’re reading it now. Women artists only earn 1/3 of male artists. So I stopped and made your tea.  That’s how I spent my day, dear, how about you?"

A bit of sketching

 I haven't done much pen and ink drawing, but quite like the process as it's similar to doodling, and crosshatching is easier.

I have in mind to do two larger pieces for the Orientation exhibition as it moves on to new venues after Redditch Needle Museum in September.  I understand that the space at Minerva Arts Centre is larger, which is lovely.

I'm trying for another Life Quilt (it'll be number 6 I think by then) loosely based on life as a Geisha, and will be called "Shall I be Mother" and will involve a western style tea ceremony with cup cakes and a china teapot!

The second piece I'd like to have a go at is a still life.
 I've been collecting images of bronze teapots and jugs and thought they could all come together on a cloth covered table, with some Chinese lanterns, and other bits and bobs if I can find some.  It'd be a chance to do something a bit different and will be a huge challenge and should be great fun.

If anyone out there has anything "Oriental" that they'd like to see immortalized in a quilt, do let me know!!!
Just a sketchbook page.  I love the bright unctuous red next to the bluey greens on this one.  A combination that may surface elsewhere pretty soon.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Sewing a sewing machine and giggling.

I painted the sewing machine on this quilt last week, and I kept looking at it.  Something wasn't right. Eventually I unpicked it, re-sewed, and then painted it.  It still wasn't right, so I went through the whole process again - and ended up re-sewing 3 times before I was happy!!!   Lots of pencil marks put on and rubbed out, lots of holes to disguise; I just couldn't see where I was going wrong. A bit more paint and I'm there with it I think.

I've had a funny day.  It was our 38th wedding anniversary today and, dear reader, I'm ashamed to say I forgot. DH bought me a lovely card and a very special mug which made me feel ashamed and small.  So while he was in the shower I thought I'd be clever and nip to the shops and buy a special bottle of whisky, getting back before he knew any different.  But although I ran most of the way, I was doomed to failure; Smiths couldn't find an envelope to go with my anniversary card, and the lady in the grog shop forgot to take off the security tag and I was caught running from the shop whilst alarms were going off. More haste less speed.

We had a lovely lunch, at Compton Verney Art Gallery, and then went to collect the tiles for the new bathroom  (which are piled up in my studio, and putting me off doing anything!) So why the giggling?

Well, full as we were DH - who has hollow legs - was hungry when he got home and decided to have some pate on toast.  I was in the living room with a cuppa when he walked in and took the metal tape measure out of the drawer.  A couple of minutes afterwards I followed him into the kitchen to return my cup, and found him measuring out the pate with the steel ruler.
"What on earth are you doing" I asked.
"Measuring the pate" he said as if I was daft.
"But why?"
"Because the back of the packet says 1 serving is 50gms, which is a fifth of the packet"

Well, seeing someone measuring pate with a steel ruler before cutting off a slab, is deep down, stomach wobblingly funny, and is why I've spent at least the last hour giggling!

We don't eat pizza in our house; no one can do the maths.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Behind the scenes on Life 4

Possibly, this will make you smile; I hope so!  If you look at the bits of book titles, the three tucked behind my lady are "No" "Sex" and "Much ado about nothing".  This is in response to my latest book purchase of poems by Carol Ann Duffy, and I couldn't help myself.  I quote......

Mrs Rip Van Winkle
from The World's Wife by Carol Ann Duffy

I sank like a stone into the still, deep waters of late middle age,
aching from head to foot.
I took up food and gave up exercise. It did me good.
And while he slept
I found some hobbies for myself.
Painting. Seeing the sights I'd always dreamed about:
The Leaning Tower.
The Pyramids. The Taj Mahal.
I made a little watercolour of them all.
But what was best,
what hands-down beat the rest,
was saying a non-too-fond-farewell to sex.
Until the day
I came home with this pastel of Niagara
and he was sitting up in bed rattling Viagra.

Saturday, 16 June 2012

First coat of paint on Life 4

Life Story 4 "Hello dear, what did you do today?"

I'm a bit reluctant to show you this as it's the first coat of paint and the balance isn't anywhere near right yet!

At the moment everything is competing with everything else for your attention.

I've blocked in the basic colours but will now have to bring the body to the fore and make the background slip away. I might do this by heightening the colours of the things I want in front, or I might just give a wash of, perhaps grey, to take everything else back a bit.

Lots of detail to do on just about everything;  I'm looking forward to tackling the plate of biscuits under the table!

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Stitching finished - next step is to paint

 I've finished stitching, except for two book titles which I just can't decide about. (I've recently discovered our Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, whose book you see below. It's called The Worlds Wife, and is perceptive and funny.)

The trickiest part of the sewing on this quilt, Life 4, was the quilt within the quilt, you see pictured in the photo on the right.

What you can see stitched, is Life 2, which is draped over my sewing extension table and over my lady's knees.  Getting the flow of curves right to show this was tricky and I put it off until last as I wasn't sure quite how to tackle it.  I think it does look as if it's got movement, which is the wonderous thing about the "washboard" free machining - it can be used to show direction very effectively.  I love it. It's my fave pattern. 

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Me and the Guerrillas

 OK, if you read the lovely comment by Linda on the last posting, you will know she said something about coming clean.  I'm coming clean now and letting you know why I especially enjoyed all the Diamond Jubilee celebrations this year!!

One of the things I love to do besides sewing and painting, is gardening.  6 years ago I met 3 ladies whilst we were all working on the station gardens in Leamington Spa.  We were able to make a real difference and transform the station terraces from wild undergrowth into a beautiful garden.

None of us are experts, but we do like a good whop around with the spade and secateurs!!

And, well, after the Station we just decided that we liked gardening together and we'd carry on.  There were lots of little bits of land around the town that were scruffy, strewn with litter (and needles and all sorts of grebby things) and needed a little tlc.  So we set about tidying up one or two of them, and it just grew, and grew, and as we didn't necessarily have permission from landowners to do all that we did, we became guerrilla gardeners.
That means we swooped (that is as swoopy as 4 mature ladies can be) on places, cleaned, dug, replanted and maintained.

6 years ago, a local Councillor put us in touch with a pressure group who had been trying to get the local council to spend some money on their nearby park, the Dell. Sadly it was in a poor state overgrown with brambles and bindweed and was a bit of a no-go area. ( blog here)

We decided to guerrilla on a very large scale!!  And here we are 6 years later and with over 4,000 hours under our belt, and with what I hope you'll agree, is a pretty park.
Of course we have permission from the council to do all this. Initially they were very sceptical, but are now supportive.

We have been to the Houses of Parliament to discuss what we've done with MP's and Peers, we have been in the Daily Telegraph, supporting the Gardening Against the Odds awards, received medals and certificates from the RHS, and had our photos blown up to over 6 foot tall to appear at the BBC Gardeners World Live show 2 years in succession.

We recycle as much as possible, raiding skips and compost heaps.  Although we had some money from various grants, most of these flowers have been provided on a shoestring or have been donated from our own gardens and those of local residents.

So, can you imagine the honour we felt this year when the local Town Council nominated us for the Queen Award For Voluntary Service (The MBE for Groups), and how nearly a year later we were flabbagasted to find out that we were one of a hundred groups in the UK that had received the award in this very special Jubilee Year. 

This is why I've been celebrating, and why we all went to Buckingham Palace on the 22nd for a Garden Party.

So, thank you to any residents of Leamington Spa that might be reading this.  It's a pleasure to do what we do and try and help make the environment a better place, and we're so glad you like the results and we are delighted that all the plants and flowers give you such joy.  

If you'd like to help us you'd be most welcome to come along at any time to help in our projects.  If we can get help, we can expand and do more.

Happy Jubilee and a bit of sketching

I hope everyone who wanted to, had a wonderful
celebration and didn't get too wet in what must have been one of the most dire June weekends for weather in recent history.  Non stop rain and so cold.  We had a wonderful time chez Rainbow and sank many bottles of champers. I confess to being a bit merry. Apparently I sang. Great stuff.

I noticed that I haven't blogged for a few days and hope you'll forgive me being so tardy, but I've had such a lot of stuff to do with the guerrilla gardening lark. 

However, I did spare a couple of hours this morning for a spot of sketching.  I used an 8b pencil which was very interesting and I loved the really dark darks I was able to get.  I timed out, or would have done a lot more smoothing and blending to take away some of the hard edges.  Still at least I've got something done!!  Back to normal in a couple of days I hope.