Wednesday, 31 December 2014

A moments introspection - and what went wrong!

I do hope everyone reading this will have enjoyed the Christmas festivities if that's something you do, and if not, you spent a happy and healthy few days not overdoing it! Myself, well, I'm looking at another 3lbs on the girth - and that's being optimistic!

A more universal celebration is perhaps New Year. Happy New Year everyone! It's a time to make new resolutions, and possibly forget them again by next week. I'm reminded of the words of Joseph Connolly:

How you elect to spend New Year's Eve, will depend on your:
1)   Age
2)   Remaining levels of optimism
3)   Threshold of pain

I shall be popping off to bed for a well earned rest with a cup of something that warms (cocoa)

However, I do like to spend a moment reflecting on the past year and thinking about what the next one will hold.







Things that could have gone better:

 

1) Not have worn my trousers inside out for a whole morning without realising. Rendered especially attractive by the large label which stuck out from behind my bum saying XL.

2) Complained about the lack of time I have to do things, but waste my time faffing on the interweb.

3) I really should try and not to be so forgetful.  Still, did you know that Einstein forgot his address and had to ask a cabbie to take him to "Einstein's Home".  There's hope.

4) Take the giblets out of the chicken before cooking it especially if they're in a plastic bag.

5) When standing on a bucket, not lean too far to the left even if you need to.

6) Also, when standing on a very steep slope which is made of clay and is wet, don't garden, or if you do, use the fork for grip. Moving slowly backwards inexorably towards the ground is a recipe for a bumped bum.

7) Not doing the housework doesn't mean that the fairies will come and magically do it for you.

8) Failing to travel successfully by train anywhere and permanently lost and needing help is pityful. Here's an excerpt from another blog.....

It's such a pain to catch trains to London and then have to battle with the underground.  Generally speaking I have no sense of direction and I have no idea where I'm going most of the time. I blindly follow G like a faithful old dog trying to please.

 Apart from needing help to get into and out of all the stations because the ticket machine wouldnt read the ticket it was fine.  NB I was told politely by one station manager, that I should try using my train ticket in the machine and not the seat reservation ticket which really couldn't be expected to work.  I told him that's what happens when cousins marry.  He fell over.

We had oodles of time to spare so went for a bite to eat and spend an hour at the Tate.  This involves a walk along the south bank, next to the river.  I hadn't twigged that it was called the South Bank because it was on the South Bank of the Thames. But then I only recently found out that Banoffee pie was a mix of the words banana and toffee. What can I say?

9) I could also have man-ned up a bit when it came to worms.

This gardening lark can be quite alarming and I did have a bit of a shock - ghastly goings on in the compost.  Eeeeeyouuu.

I lifted the lid of the black bin in which DH stores the leftover raw veg and trimmings, expecting it to be empty.  No, no snakes or toads, but there were worms.  Not just say, a hundred, but a thick layer almost 2 inches deep of small red wriggly things. 

Well, dear reader, I confess to a muffled scream. The lid was flung upwards in my haste to escape. Sadly, I failed to notice the thick lining of worms on said lid, which soon parted company from the plastic once the correct velocity was reached.  Unfortunately for me, most of them landed on my arm and head.   I confess, I ran. Pointless of course, as worms are not known for giving chase but there you go. I shook my head until my ears rang and tore off my clothes doing a passable impression of a Life quilt as I hastened to the shower and a slug of gin. Phew and yuck.

 

Things that were just Ace

 

1) Family.  I especially adored my granddaughter this year.  I hope it's mutual. Bless them all and I love you lots xx

2) Work-wise, I had enormous fun, with probably the height of arty-pleasantness in March.  I don't think I'll ever better it to be honest. I went to the opening of an exhibition at the Oxo Tower in London where my work was hanging alongside Tracy Emin and others.  I was taken in hand by Cherie Blair, who put her arm through mine, and who was simply wonderfully nice to me. We had a really long chat about the quilt, left, Life 4, and how I did it and the thinking behind it. Rather immodestly, I'll admit I was in heaven.

At the time I was pleased to sell the quilt, but part of me was sad to see it go. It took me so long to do, think about, write etc. However, I also learned that I never would have had that opportunity if I hadn't have kept plugging away and kept doing my own thing. You need to do that people. I still doubt myself but some self-doubt is healthy.  There's more odd quilts to come and I'm learning to be brave.

My thanks also go to those 2 fabulously talented and kind quilt artists Laura and Linda Kemshall, who have been so wonderful to me, and to Through Our Hands.  We jointly write a free quarterly magazine for everyone to enjoy. It's hard work at times - and just the sheer number of emails makes me pale; it's all done for free with goodwill and endless energy.  Thanks also to Margaret Cooter and Helen Cobby for writing for us, and to all those who've contributed so far.

Laura and I also jointly run a free website with a platform for artists to advertise their work, and take part in exhibitions we organize on their behalf.  It's all about getting art quilts out there and helping to raise their status; we have 2 exhibitions in 2015 at Wolverhampton in May/July and Festival of Quilts in August.  Again, as ever, all done for free with hours devoted to the cause.  Thank you Laura.

So lots to look forward to and be grateful for.  Brilliant stuff. Onwards!

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Life 16 - a blank canvas

Life 16 - Poisonous Plant


The first thing that happens with a quilt is usually an idea caused by random thought or conversation.

I let it simmer in the old brain for a bit - maybe up to a year - whilst I slowly digest the premise of it.

Life 16 started a few months ago and you can see I've just made a start by deciding on the orientation of the cloth and it's size.  I don't know - which may be unusual,  - how the completed piece will look yet, though I do know which direction I'm heading in!

I put the cloth over my easel a few days ago, but since then have been searching for the right words to go onto the two bodies that will feature in the piece.  Needless to say I can't find any!!

There's plenty of poetry about love and death, but not much about jealousy, or paranoia which is the theme for this one.

Some words I've found which I like:

 Moral indignation is jealousy with a halo.

Strong minds discuss ideas,
Average minds discuss events,
Weak minds discuss people  (Socrates)

No matter what you do, someone always knew you would.

Oh, beware my lord of jealousy. It is the green eyed monster which doth mock The meat it feeds on.

Jealousy is no more than feeling alone against smiling enemies.

Gossip is a sort of smoke that comes from the dirty tobacco pipes of those who diffuse it: it proves nothing but the bad taste of the smoker.

But that's all very bleak, and so my favourite so far, which you may think odd at this stage, is by Shakespeare : 

 

I know a bank whereon the wild thyme blows
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine
With sweet musk-roses, and with eglantine

Monday, 22 December 2014

Poison bottle

I had a few moments to spare this afternoon so had a go at the poison bottle I mentioned yesterday.  Always tricky to do glass, but old glass is especially hard as it's different thicknesses and wobbly shapes mean the light reflects in odd ways.  However, I liked doing it.

Apologies for all the marks on it - they've been left on the scanner, by some numpty who's got red acrylic paint all over the plate from lino print Christmas cards. Mmmm will have to have words.

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Life 16, 17 and 18

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone! Hope you all have a good one.

The Mitochondrial Roots quilt is now finished except for the frame.  I've put it to one side so that I can prepare for Christmas and have a bit of a switch-off before starting again in January.

Trouble is, I itch to get on and do more!!  I don't want to stop, but daren't get out the paints and the sewing machine as there's too much to do around here, a lot of people, and not much space.


Life 16 - Poisonous Plant is next on the agenda.  M'mate Laura has given me a photo of a poison bottle she bought recently (empty, I'm sure) which I could make a start on by drawing.

Life 17 - The Life of Time is Motion (that's probably the title) is, I think anyway, hilarious and drawn out.

Life 18 - Interactive Woman involves portraits and self-disillusionment.

All of these quilts will be at Festival of Quilts in 2015 as part of the Through Our Hands stand, but I'm not saying too much more about that just now, except that I'm really looking forward to it and it will be quite challenging!  Hope you'll be intrigued over the coming months, and then visit us in the Main Hall to see what's going on.  ?????

I'm getting awfully close to that 20 quilt limit I set myself 2/3 years ago.  Mmmm that all needs a serious think or two as well. 

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Life 15 - Mitochondrial Roots finished. The image, story, reasoning, and text.


Life 15 - Mitrochondrial Roots
60" x 54" when frame complete

The “story” is about male primogeniture.  It was only 2 years ago that the UK government agreed that a first born, even if it was female, could succeed to the throne. It’s only 2014 and we are supposed to be civilised and living in a country with equal opportunities legislation! Throughout history male primogeniture has meant “keeping it in the family”, but recent discoveries about mitochondrial dna, mean that we can all trace ourselves back to one ancestor…who was female.  To “keep it in the family” perhaps we should have had female primogeniture.

I started getting a bit cross about all this a few months ago.  I have a Tesco Clubcard, and Bank Accounts and DH and I decided it would be easier for us in the event of catastrophe, to have all such things in joint names. To start with companies began sending information in joint names, then they started deleting my name and sending only to DH.  This means that my details, savings etc now go to him rather than me.  I don't know what you think about that, but I find it offensive...and unnecessary.


Anyway, the quilt says:



No matter what colour our skin is, or our language, or our culture, we all share ancestors from the people who built Stonehenge, or who rode with Genghis Khan, or set sail across the oceans in canoes, or who planted papyrus on the banks of the Nile. Everyone alive today can trace their lineage back over 2 hundred thousand years to one woman, Mitochondrial Eve.

The following female names are stitched onto the roots shown above.

Artimisia Gentileschi, Catalina de Erauso, Catherine de Medici, Flora Sandes, Judith Leyster, Laura Bassi, Lucrezia Borgia, Madam de Staet, Maria Montessori, Maria Theresa, Properzia Ross, Mary Queen of Scots, Barbara Hepworth, Indira Gandhi, George Eliot, Lady Jane Grey, Jenny Joseph, Wendy Cope Anne Bronte, Sappho, Clepatra, Hildegard of Bingen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Joan of Arc, Mirabai, Elizabeth 1, Catherine the Great, Margaret Fuller, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Florence Nightingale, Susan B Anthony, Emily Dickinson, Marie Curie, Emily Murphy, Helen Keller, Annie Besant, Simone de Beauvioir, Mother Teresa, Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Seacole, Rosalind Franklin, Jocelyn Bell Burnett, Esther Lederberg, Chien-Shiung Wu, Lise Meitner, Nettie Stevens, Emmeline Pankhurst, Boudicca, Nancy Astor, Dorothy Hodgkin,Millicent Fawcett, Billie Holiday, Eva Peron, Betty Friedon, Marie Stopes, Anne Frank, Germaine Greer, Wangari Maathai, Shirin Ebadi, Malala Yousafzai, Marie Antoinette, Amelia Earhart, Amy Johnson, Aung San Suu Kyi, Emily Bronte, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Caroline Norton, Elizabeth Gaskell, Virginia Woolf, Edith Cavell,Elsie Inglis, Ellen Isabel Jones, Grace Kimmins, Lady Constance Lytton, Christabel Pankhurst, Sylvia Pankhurst, Queen Isabella of Spain, Pocahontas, Frances E Willard, Lucy Stone, Dorothea Dix, Sojourner Truth, Edith Cavell, Virginia Apgar, Christine de Pizan, Hrotsvitha, Theodora, Maria Agnesi, Mary Anning, Florence Merriam Bailey,Laura Maria Caterina Bassi, Ruth Benedit, Elizabeth Gaskell, Elizabeth Blackwell, Annie Jump Cannon, Emilie du Chatelet, Cleopatra the Alchemist, Gerty T Cori, Eva Crane, Artemesia, Gertrude Bell Elion, Alice Evans, Sophie Germain, Maria Geoppert-Mayor, Elena Conrnaro Piscopia, Mary Fairfax Somerville, Ada Lovelace, Sofia Kovalevskaya, Alicia Stott, Amalie Emmy Noether, Anna Maria Von Schurman, Anne of Austria, Tanni Grey Thompson, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Naomi Anderson, Annie Arniel, Gertrude Ansell, Olympe de Gouge, Mary Sophie Allen, Louisa Garrett Anderson, Frances Balfour, Mary Gawthorpe, Lydia Becker, Ethel Bentham, Teresa Billington Greig, Margaret Bondfield, Mary Crudelius, Emily Davison, Nellie Hall, Mrs Beeton, Rosa Parks, Lady Caroline Lamb, Irene Sendler, Ealizabeth Eames, Alexandra Kollantai, Julia Bentley, Abigail Adams, Eudora Welty, Ada Lovelance, Margaret Macdonald, Queen Victoria, Mrs Siddons, Elizabeth 2, and Anne Boleyn.  (pardon any typing errors – they’re all ok on the quilt!)

Monday, 8 December 2014

Someone asked me....

........for all the names that appear on Life 15 - Mitochondrial Roots. Here's an explanation and a list.  I'm still adding, so if you have any suggestions, let me know!



We've all grown up with male primogeniture.  It still exists of course.  It was only a couple of years ago that the UK government agreed that a first born - even if it was female - could rule. This makes them equal in standing to male siblings.  But hey, it is only 2014 after all.  Did you know that you don't have to change your name when you marry and could carry on the family name to your children if you wish?  Did you know, that we can all trace our families, all our ancestors, back to one woman?  Every single person alive on this planet today is related to one woman, Mitochondrial Eve.  So really,  to keep things in the family, we should have had female primogeniture.  Just saying!!  Here's the words:

No matter what colour our skin is, or our language, or our culture, we all share ancestors from the people who built Stonehenge, or who rode with Genghis Khan, or set sail across the oceans in canoes, or who planted papyrus on the banks of the Nile. Everyone alive today can trace their lineage back over 2 hundred thousand years to one woman, Mitochondrial Eve.
Names on the quilt

Artimisia Gentileschi, Catalina de Erauso, Catherine de Medici, Flora Sandes, Judith Leyster, Laura Bassi, Lucrezia Borgia, Madam de Staet, Maria Montessori, Maria Theresa, Properzia Ross, Mary Queen of Scots, Barbara Hepworth, Indira Gandhi, George Eliot, Lady Jane Grey, Jenny Joseph, Wendy Cope Anne Bronte, Sappho, Clepatra, Hildegard of Bingen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Joan of Arc, Mirabai, Elizabeth 1, Catherine the Great, Margaret Fuller, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Florence Nightingale, Susan B Anthony, Emily Dickinson, Marie Curie, Emily Murphy, Helen Keller, Annie Besant, Simone de Beauvioir, Mother Teresa, Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Seacole, Rosalind Franklin, Jocelyn Bell Burnett, Esther Lederberg, Chien-Shiung Wu, Lise Meitner, Nettie Stevens, Emmeline Pankhurst, Boudicca, Nancy Astor, Dorothy Hodgkin,Millicent Fawcett, Billie Holiday, Eva Peron, Betty Friedon, Marie Stopes, Anne Frank, Germaine Greer, Wangari Maathai, Shirin Ebadi, Malala Yousafzai, Marie Antoinette, Amelia Earhart, Amy Johnson, Aung San Suu Kyi, Emily Bronte, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, Caroline Norton, Elizabeth Gaskell, Virginia Woolf, Edith Cavell,Elsie Inglis, Ellen Isabel Jones, Grace Kimmins, Lady Constance Lytton, Christabel Pankhurst, Sylvia Pankhurst, Queen Isabella of Spain, Pocahontas, Frances E Willard, Lucy Stone, Dorothea Dix, Sojourner Truth, Edith Cavell, Virginia Apgar, Christine de Pizan, Hrotsvitha, Theodora, Maria Agnesi, Mary Anning, Florence Merriam Bailey,Laura Maria Caterina Bassi, Ruth Benedit, Elizabeth Gaskell, Elizabeth Blackwell, Annie Jump Cannon, Emilie du Chatelet, Cleopatra the Alchemist, Gerty T Cori, Eva Crane, Artemesia, Gertrude Bell Elion, Alice Evans, Sophie Germain, Maria Geoppert-Mayor, Elena Conrnaro Piscopia, Mary Fairfax Somerville, Ada Lovelace, Sofia Kovalevskaya, Alicia Stott, Amalie Emmy Noether, Anna Maria Von Schurman, Anne of Austria, Tanni Grey Thompson, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Naomi Anderson, Annie Arniel, Gertrude Ansell, Olympe de Gouge, Mary Sophie Allen, Louisa Garrett Anderson, Frances Balfour, Mary Gawthorpe, Lydia Becker, Ethel Bentham, Teresa Billington Greig, Margaret Bondfield, Mary Crudelius, Emily Davison, Nellie Hall.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Life 15 - Mitochondrial Roots, coming along.

 On the offchance that you're not bored with seeing lots of roots, I thought I'd post some progress pictures.  The body below isn't finished yet, as the portrait has to be done and she has to sit in the trees a bit more.



Friday, 5 December 2014

What a (Christmas) pudding!

There are those in life who can easily write backwards and upside down, and there are those who are a bit more special. I guess it's what you get for trying to do lino cutting on an old Argos catalogue in front of the TV whilst planning the Christmas dinner.

Ah well. We all need a laugh as we slip down that razor blade of life.













 Footnote:  Here's the amended versions!







Sunday, 30 November 2014

Beginning to paint a bit too

I decided to split the stitching with the painting, just to vary things a bit.  I'm beginning to build up the roots which is quite fun now I've sorted out what I'm doing and how I'm going to do it!  I was really worried about this one coming together, but then just after lunch I looked at it and smiled, knowing the plan was possible.

Friday, 28 November 2014

Still stitching!

I'm still stitching names on the roots. Probably will be for some time! The photo shows the reverse which is plain white cotton.


Thursday, 27 November 2014

Apple cake

I thought, to start off with, that I was very excited because of the new work I've got planned and the ideas running through my head for the 2 exhibitions Through Our Hands are having next year. But, I realize now, that although that's treeeeemendous fun, the rush of good feeling is caused by an overdose of Apple Cake.

DH not being around yesterday - off to Highgate to eat pies (nothing to do with the cemetery) - I was alone for the day and being relaxed about such things, decided to make cake for my dinner instead of sensible vegetables.   I ate half for my tea and another great wodge just now, (it's better cold I think).

Here's the simple recipe if you'd like it, with a few Rainbow additions.

Apple cake (8" round cake tin) 180C, 160C fan, Gas 4

7oz sr flour
3oz caster sugar
5oz soft marg/butter
1 egg

Filling
1 large cooking apple - peeled cored and sliced
2 spoons sugar
mixed spice
handful of sultanas.

Line the bottom of the tin (gets squishy in there)  Put flour, sugar, marg and egg in a bowl or food processor and mix until combined.

Use 2/3rd mix in the bottom of the tin.  Add sliced apple on top. Add sugar and sultanas.  You could add lemon if you like.  Give a good dusing of mixed spice if you like it, or perhaps cinnamon.

Dot the remaining mix on top. Don't try and spread. Fill the gaps with apricot jam or a spot of marmalade. Maybe even strawberry jam?  Cook for 1 hour (about 45 mins for fan) until golden and firm.  If you have trouble spreading the mix in the bottom of the tin, lift out the lining paper onto your worktop to spread, then pop it back when done.

Delicious hot; soft and moist the next day when cold.


Tuesday, 25 November 2014

A small charity shop challenge

I found this in a charity shop yesterday.  I like the idea of altering an altered book!

I'm not sure how to alter it to take best advantage of the already folded pages.  I've thinned it out a bit, so it folds flat, although I may need to take out more pages as I go along.

When it's shut there are interesting spaces left and I'm considering filling them with something.

Nothing dynamic has come to mind yet.What would you do?

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Having fun with Life 15 - Mitrochondrial Roots

 Things in massive closeups aren't flattering for the stitcher, but it's necessary to increase the scale to show you the names I'm stitching on the roots of the woodland.  I've had enormous fun choosing them.

There are controversial names as well as the worthy.  I'm not sure how many I need so only have 50ish so far.  Of course Jane Austen has to be in there as does Malala Yousafzai. I was amazed at how many female scientists there are/were that have made really important discoveries, yet I'd not heard of....not just because of my ignorance either, but because they haven't had their work acknowledged properly.  I hope you'll have fun reading them all to see if there's any you know, or might want to find out about.


Also making a panel advent calendar.  I didn't have time to do anything spectacularly inventive but there we go.  Perhaps Laura can print me off some stockings or similar for future advent calendars!!

Friday, 21 November 2014

A final canter around some portraits

I loved this one.  Obviously Judi Dench!

A white coat and grey hair against a large white background - which has absolutely nothing else in it.
It's a massive painting, and the bare space focuses your eye on the victim sitter.
 A complete contrast.  Flattened people stuck to the wall.  They do have individual features though. They're all lavishly dressed with halos around their head (but placed so it doesn't interfere with the features I noticed)  Does this mean that what you look like is more important than your role in the church.  Probably not!! 



Isn't this stonking?  Again a neutral background but not empty.  Cups of tea float around out of perspective and with the tea remaining in the cups!  
 I liked this one for the excessive amount of pink.  My own feeling is that apoplexy is just around the corner. 


This one was part of a larger picture featuring Queen Victoria. I just thought it was beautifully done, and I loved the glow of light on dark skin.


 Just beautifully painted - like porcelain.



Very dramatic and loose paintwork.  I liked the use of red and green (opposites on the colour wheel)


Finally my favourite for today. Part of a much larger picture.  I loved the green in the face, the intense look in the eyes, and the use of text mixed in.  I shall remember this one!

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

5 more portrait styles to consider

A few more interesting styles of portrait and painting.  I will try and do something more abstract as an experiment, but I imagine I'll find it difficult to forego the likeness part of making a portrait!

 By Tom Phillips (1985ish) of Brian Eno.


Apparently Tom Phillips is also a composer and taught Brian Eno.

I like the mark making of red lines which lift the turquoise colours.

Could you recognize Eno? Does it matter?

A slightly easier one to understand. By Duncan Grant in 1912. Oil on panel.  It's of George Mallory who was a mountaineer and a friend of the Bloomsbury writers and artists.  He made 3 expeditions to Mount Everest, and died on the last one trying to reach the summit.  His body was recovered in 1999.

 By Robert Bevan,  Oil on Canvas 1920.

It's a portrait of Stanislawa Bevan. Also an artist, she painted landscapes and still lifes, concentrating on colour and form, and throwing in a bit of folk art.

She's exhibited in England, and is in lots of collections now, but didn't sell much during her lifetime....probably a bit overshadowed by her husband, Robert Bevan.

 By Michael Ayrton. Oil on canvas 1948.

The painting is set in Capri, where the subject, Sir William Walton went to recover from jaundice. Ayrton accompanied him.

 By Patrick Heron.  Oil on canvas 1949

It's of T S Eliot, and was painted in the year after he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Heron and Eliot had a lot in common and enjoyed being a bit radical and were concerned with abstration.

Apparently it's the meeting lines and interactions between the blocks of colour that's important.



Monday, 17 November 2014

Continuing the stroll around portraits

As well as the Portrait Gallery,  I paid a short visit to the National Gallery too.  It's just amazing the amount and quality of work you can see for free at both of them. I'm mixing the images from both together. The first one blew my socks off for sheer technical ability - no idea how glue on linen works though! 

Andrea Mantegna (1430-1506)

The Introlduction of the Cult of Cybele to Rome  (Glue on Linen) 

In 204 BC the Romans brought the cult of Cybele, the eastern goddess of victory, from Asia Minor to Rome. Cybele is represented by a round stone and a bust with a mural crown. The painting was designed as a frieze - hence the imitation of sculpture, used in antiquity for friezes.



And by complete contrast!

Sir Edwin Landseer (1802-73)

Oil on millboard

Landseer was friends with Callcott and they collaborated on many pictures.  The 6th Duke of Devonshire commissioned Landseer to paint the Scene in Olden Times at Bolton Abbey, and Landseer persuaded Callcott to pose for the head of the abbot.

The label said this was painted and finiished in a sitting of 3 or 4 hours.  Sorry, but I just don't believe that!
And finally for today -and to add a modern one into the mix,- this was not at any of the galleries but one I came across on the interweb and is by Nick Gentry.  Can you guess what he's made it from? Possibilities there for patchwork fans!








Sunday, 16 November 2014

2nd portrait - Girl with Bananas On Her Head

Today's experiment was to use a thick brush and work quickly again.  Meh.

Very interesting though.  I've learned a lot even though I've had to fight against the urge to add detail. 

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Here's today's experiment

This morning I said I was off to have a play with a portrait following my visit to the Portrait Gallery yesterday.

So I timed myself.  This took 2 hours and 20 mins.  Of course, I can see bits I need to alter already (putting stuff on the screen does that - very useful)

Quite enjoyed my experiment but am not sure if it's a style I like.

Colours: Blood red, raw umber, white, indigo and oxide green. Acrylics on canvas.

To the Portrait Gallery

Yesterday was one of those occasions when your directionally dyslexic author does battle with the vagaries of public transport and fights her way to London.

A bit of research on portraits was needed. I thought I'd share some images with you interspersed with other postings in the next few weeks.  Left: Apparently Her Maj was expecting me and very touchingly thought to send out the army to do a 21 gun salute.  How kind.  I don't quite know how to tell her really, but her chaps were awful shots.  3 great cannons at almost point blank range and not one single shot hit home on the buildings opposite- not even a window was broken.  Apparently it was also Charles' birthday, so she's asked that we pretend this was all for him - he'll only sulk otherwise.

The poppies are being removed from the Tower - a huge job.  Between 9 and 15 million people were killed in the 1st World War, and of course this display doesn't cover all of them, just the deaths in the British forces. Spectacular to look at en masse, but I didn't need to see how many 888,246 dead bodies were in poppy equivalents, I can imagine that all by myself without too much problem. DH wasn't overly impessed but as an art installation I thought it was striking and glorious!
one for every death in the British forces in the First World War. - See more at: http://www.hrp.org.uk/TowerOfLondon/VisitUs/Topthingstoseeanddo/Poppies/RollofHonour#sthash.gvug1dMQ.dpuf

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, marking the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War. Created by ceramic artist Paul Cummins, with setting by stage designer Tom Piper, 888,246 ceramic poppies fill the Tower’s famous moat.


 So to portraits at the Portrait Gallery:

Left is Arthur Scargill with a suitably red palette.  I was looking at technique/brush work on my visit and this is the first one that struck me. Not only the colour but the energy of the brush work fills the painting with movement and fire.




A complete contrast to this one of Diana.  Calm, pretty colours, elegant.




Chris Ofili - one of Britains leading artists.  .  It's a self portrait when Ofili was a student in 1991 and is oil on canvas (although his work often contains collage, resin, glitter and multiple layers of paint)


Another painting with bags of energy.
Self portrait by RB Kitaj called Hockney Pillow.

The artist is in bed. He has darkened features and reddened eyes which gives an intense emotional charge..........  could be he had man-flu?!!

All of the portraits are likenesses of course but they are conveying something else too about the sitter and their character or where they are in life.  I really need to try and be more expressive in my brush work.  We are what we are and it comes out in the way we paint, but it's always worth a try or you'll never know!

Finally can I leave you with my favourite paintings in the whole world - at the moment anyway.  Such wonderful colours. I'm sure you can guess that it's by Vincent Van Gogh.  We were listening to a free concert (piano and violin) in the National Gallery and were sat staring at his work. Truly moving.





Friday, 14 November 2014

There are many types of portrait


Back in the day, it was about getting a likeness down in paint or pastels etc.  The closer it looked to the sitter or the better the technique was all that mattered.  Making someone look good, perhaps being honest about what you saw, making religious illustrations for those who couldn't read were some of the reasons.

Today we have photographs for exact likenessess, and  although we still, of course, appreciate the skill involved in accurately portraying someone, and there's nothing to me as gorgeous as a clever bit of paintwork, we are free to play with the idea of a portrait. We can bring in different ways of painting, or extend the meaning behind a piece.



What I love most is juxtaposition.  In my quilt work, I enjoy making something which has many layers of meaning.  You look once and see one thing, but you can look again and again and see different things.  It's enormous fun to do and something I shall be exploring a bit more in the future.

I don't especially like the pre-raphaelites, but they have sparked off some thoughts about painting and quilting and how one can make a painting better by adding to it with stitch.  It's something I'll be thinking about over the coming months.

The two images you see here were painted by me a few years ago and they were the only ones I've ever done using oils, but I found them easier and more effective than acrylics, for tthis type of painting.  You can't really use oils on fabric because over time they will rot the fibres, but we now have a way around this, by painting first and printing onto fabric. Something I shall also explore.  The point to me of doing this would be to then add to the portrait, or indeed take away from it, adding layers of stitch etc to make the quilt more than the painting.

Quilting/textiles can be so much more than a painting!

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Bit of a rant - Marks and Spencers

What has happened to M&S? 

In an effort to make a huge profit in a difficult market, you have to look at your business strategies, and think about shaving costs a wee bit.  OK I get that.

BUT if their wretched loaves get any smaller they'll have to start calling them rolls. We've watched them shrink from big enough for two for toast and some sandwiches to just enough for one  - if you're a midget with a stomach upset.

And their clothes?  It used to be - in the day - that M&S sizes were so generous you could get away with a size smaller.  I wasn't always a large lady (see left, pre menopause!!) and could quite often squeeze into a size 6. but my expansion aside, their trouser sizes are apparently now some of the smallest on the market, so it's not just me denying the facts of life.

Why don't people buy from you anymore M&S?  Why are you struggling? Because - a bit like me - you're not what you used to be.  

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Blocking in the first roots.

Mitochondrial Roots - I've begun to block in some roots with a wash of paint. I'm just trying to decide the directions etc and am doing this as I go along.  As with all paintings and even my quilts, I don't know exactly how this is going to turn out or even if it'll be any good when it's done.

The roots, which grow out of women, around women, and through women, will be machined with the names of women throughout history who we've remembered for some reason or other.  Not all good of course - that just wouldn't be right.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

The beginning of November already.

Progress on Life 15 - Mitochondrial Roots is unfortunately slow, but I think about it often. In my mind, this counts! Here's a sculpture that I saw recently at Gloucester Cathedral called Mitochondrial Woman echoing similar themes I think. I shall do a posting with photos of the other sculptures on show in the Cathedral shortly. IMG_1034   Progress photo update of Life 15. Working on it has had to be fitted around other things, some fun, others not so and I'm frustrated at my progress. After all, can you take yourself seriously, and can others, if you only manage a couple of hours a week? No, I don't think so! IMG_1074-001 I've been enjoying some time with the family and travelling around during this mild Indian summer. No doubt we will soon have to batten down the hatches against winter's onslaught, but for now, it's very silly not to be outside when you can be. We've also been considering moving to a new location, but are still in the musing stages. My granddaughter is a gorgeous little thing and it would be nice to be a little nearer to her. Like all small children she's highly amusing and has me in fits. Recently, she was at a Christening, and all was serious and full of quiet contemplation. The candles had been lit, handed around, and a silent prayer was said. My darling grandaughter, having seen the candles and noticed the quiet, decided that they were all waiting for her to sing "Happy Birthday To You". So she obliged with several full volumn renditions. I also wanted to take the opportunity to tell you again about the new edition of Through our Hands, The Magazine, which is due out in the next few days. It's really the last chance to sign up for the free copy delivered with a newsletter directly into your inbox. Here's the cover photo which is an amazing installation by Susan Lenz, who is the newest artist to join us at Through our Hands. She tells us all about her work in an article she's written for us. (Us, being me, Laura Kemshall and Linda Kemshall)mag3

Portrait in parts

For this portrait I'm starting off by using some stencils and stamps to make a background. I especially like the stencil with the jumble...