Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Another try at painting quickly in a different style -not every one is a winner!!

By Tom Phillips (1985ish) of Brian Eno. Seen at the National Portrait Gallery, London.

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?

 Of course my rendition just about touches on the colourings, and I used some red paint graphically to show highlights, but it left me feeling uncomfortable and unsatisfied. There is quite a lot of skill in Tom Phillips painting even though it looks like random splodges, and I wasn't quite able to get that. I found it hard to let go of what I knew and what I felt I needed to put in in order to read a face. Phillips didn't put in Eno's left eye and the right is without a pupil or highlight to bring it to life, but he's managed to convey a sense of the sitters gaze and state of mind.

To be honest, it was only by painting this that I was able to look closely enough and register the beauty of it.  Still don't like my own version though. Yuck!! I will take that use of the red paint with me though - genius.

That just about completes the 3 month visual diary. I want to go back over one or two things, but I'll do a posting of all the pages when I've finished. It was good fun!

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Beginning a new quilt - looking at portrait styles

George Mallory, by Duncan Grant in 1912. Oil on panel.

George Mallory 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.

As my guests have now gone home :(( and I've cleared the decks of empty bottles and torn wrapping paper, I thought I'd spend half an hour seeing if I could do something in a different style to my usual, and chose the above painting as inspiration.

 I took a selfie on the iPad (note to self: try make up one day) which I then worked on in my sketchbook.

As the sketchbook is still part of my visual diary and includes Christmas, the result is accompanied by a few simple words which sum up this Christmas for me...."Champagne-like joy bubbles through her head."

It conveys all the essentials I suppose, and I've tried something new which is a fitting start to the new year and the new work I think.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Christmas Cheer

 I made this little Advent Calendar a couple of years ago with instructions from DMTV

I thought I'd go through it a day at a time on Facebook, if you'd care to join me!

This will be my last big family Christmas as the grandchildren will be inventing their own traditions in the coming years, and so I've been making an effort and getting ready to cater for 8 people for 5 days - no mean feat IMHO.

Although I have my moments, I'm not a great cook and have got decidedly lazy as I've aged! Thank goodness for the new freezer which is now bulging at the seams.

The creative textile genes are still ticking over although I'm on a go slow it seems, but I will be back in the New Year with renewed vigour and a new exhibition to work towards. I'm looking forward to it and don't worry too much about the fallow times as distancing yourself for a bit is always worthwhile. The trick is to come back at some point!!

So before I go to hang the bunting, and deck the halls, I just wanted to wish everyone a warm and happy Christmas with those they love - or at least like a bit - and a very joyous and happy New Year too. Thank you for sticking with me and reading the blog xx

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

FREE magazine for textile/art lovers. Links below

Fabulous FREE magazine to read for free on line - all links at bottom of posting!

Edition 7 of the brand new Through Our Hands magazine is out now and absolutely FREE to read on line (links below) It's jam packed with beautiful images, information and inspiration.

We have some fabulous articles for you this time around from well known Textile artists and some you may not be familiar with yet. We hear from Sandra Meech, Linda Barlow (who's marooned on our Desert Island), Judy Coates Perez, Gaye Lasher, Mathilde Renes, Rachel Wright, and Luke Haynes amongst many others. We hope you enjoy reading it! Do let us know what you think (we promise to read your comments from behind the sofa where we're all hiding!)

 Don't forget the new TOH book is available on line too for £10 p&p FREE to UK addresses until Christmas and £5 to anywhere in the world. Don't be put off by PayPal - you can use your credit and debit cards for one-off payments. 84 full colour pages featuring all the stars of TOH!

Please do share the magazine with all your friends, students, colleagues and any creative people you know. We'd love for this to be the most-read issue yet.

If you'd like a PDF copy of the magazine to download and keep then you can purchase one for £3. We do really appreciate this gesture of support. Creating a magazine like this takes many man-hours and naturally there are costs involved.

 PDF version is £3 (plus any of your own local taxes) Buy Now

 Read for free on line here: 

Saturday, 28 November 2015

We're having a Beige Saturday instead of a Black Friday!


FREE UK p&p on the TOH book until Christmas!!

This makes it £10 for 84 full colour pages of glorious images from all the artists here at Through Our Hands.

There's also lots of books and small items for sale in the website shop, that aren't available in book shops or anywhere else.

If you let us know when you order, you can often get the artists to sign their own books for you. Laura and I can also ship the TOH book to anywhere else in the world for just £5.

Why not send one to a textile friend as a gift - just let us have the address (there's space on the order form) and any message you want to add.  Or if you're perplexed email us at

Monday, 23 November 2015

Diary catch up

A couple of pages to share.
This page is in response to a visit to Alrewas - you may recognize the statue from an earlier posting. As it's been taken from a photo of it, you can sense the solidity of the stone in the folds of the fabric, that's come through because I've copied it.

As it's a black stone monument, I thought I'd try something I haven't done for years, which is to take a page or shape and completely blacken it with charcoal and use a rubber to remove the highlights.

Usually you use an ordinary rubber but because the image is so small in my book, I've used a battery powered eraser in order to get the fine lines. Not sure I like the fiddlyness of doing this particular image that way, but there's tremendous scope for something larger scale and more relaxed.

Here's the detail

We recently visited family in Dorset, and this monoprint is of the pier at Boscombe near Bournemouth. We arrived on a beautiful sunny day, but by evening the wind had started to whip up into a storm.

It was the tail end of storm Abigail and hit the coast during the afternoon of 14th November. The sky was dark and streaked with red. The sand blew into our faces and it was difficult to walk against the wind and the outlines of the pier were obscured. But we managed it and ended up in a very nice pub. This coloured and layered monoprint is how it felt to me.

And this was the pub!  I loved the atmosphere and wonderful drawings and photos of Chaplin dotted around the rooms, including this one of Einstein.  I used black and white acrylics to get this effect, and again, used a photo to copy - one that was in the pub.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

A beautiful day.

I've been spending a few days at the seaside. Granted, it's not to everyone's taste to battle with the wind, spray, rain and flying sand common on the beach in November, but I find a beautiful peace there. I think it's the endlessness of it - the opposite effect to claustrophobia! Of course, there aren't many people there either, so you get a sense of battling nature all on your own.

I made a start on the latest quilt, only to rethink it after a few hours work.  I need a huge roll of paper really to draw out what I want to do and clarify my thoughts, so I'm just waiting for that to arrive, along with some new acrylic open paints, which I want to try. They say they act in the same way as oil paints - I'll let you know!

Thursday, 12 November 2015

New Work

So, moving on from the last sad little posting, to new work.

The first thing I need to do is establish a working theme, which I think I already have in the proposed Life Story quilt, The Futility of Self Worth - or maybe the more humorous The Inexplicable Tide Of Dinner.  I then need to establish a size. Yep, odd that isn't it?! But about 150 x 300 cms perhaps. I'd like to go bigger but my house isn't large enough to work on anything bigger than that. I need to know at the beginning how much space I'll have to play with.

My inspirations for style are probably Hogarth (who I think is wonderful) and Grayson Perry (ditto) and my own collage above of some of the Life Story quilts.

I confounded a few people with my last posting about this, and that's probably because I'm not entirely clear myself and my new idea will evolve as I go along.

I shall be doing lots of paintings, collages, printing, etc  I'll be off to make a start soon.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015



I didn't expect to be moved but I was.

I didn't expect to shed a tear standing in front of the tiny seat in a Bofors gun, but I couldn't help myself.

The gun is called Bofors after a small town in Sweden where it was made, and was attached to ships - in this case during WW2.

Alrewas is full of monuments to the dead of war, to all the men, women and children who lost their lives when they shouldn't have done, and is there simply as a place to visit and remember them.

What was chilling was the enormity of the site. I was struck by the thousands and thousands of names on the Armed Forces Memorial, (above and right) which lists those killed since WW2, and even more chillingly, the amount of space left blank to be filled in at a later date.

Being an aboretum the site is surrounded by trees planted in memory, and in a few year's time they will be huge and provide shelter and silence.

I went because my family have discovered an uncle who died in 1942, when the petrol tanker he was on, the Narragansett, was sunk by torpedo fire. The link takes you to a blog where the full story is explained, but the sentence below is the one that made me cry when I looked at the gun. It is a record of what the UBoat captain said about the attack.

(The ship was a merchant ship carrying petrol back to the UK from the USA, and was torpedoed repeatedly before catching fire and sinking, and it would appear that my uncle - who was a gunner in the Royal Navy and who's job it was to defend the cargo ship - went down fighting.)

"He notes that on the afterdeck there are deck guns and also machine gun fire coming from the ship. Since he does not note any lifeboats leaving the tanker presumably they Allied merchant sailors and gunners decided to stick it out on their ship and fight it out or flee"

What a ghastly experience it must have been. The ship, carrying petrol and on fire, holed by several torpedoes and sinking. No help at hand or chance of rescue and no life boats. You can't jump ship as the petrol floating on the sea is bubbling with flames around you, so you go down fighting.

Stanley Dennis Gregory

Died 23rd March 1942 aged 20 years.

Rest In Peace.

Monday, 9 November 2015

Moving on

After such a hectic time with Through Our Hands last year, it was only natural to heave a sigh and take 5 minutes to regroup and rest the spirit if not the body.

 I have purposely given myself "time-off" from the Life Story quilts whilst I rethink my directions in creative life. I'd allowed myself pottering time until the end of November with the intention of switching off completely whilst I rethink.

I have no plans to abandon quilting of course and both the painting and stitching will go on and on I hope, but we all need to rethink directions now and then.

Fortunately for me, feeling inspired to do new work has never been a problem and I have lots of ideas in the pipeline for the Life series, but I feel the need to evolve and develop in order to be innovative and fresh.

Evolving for me is more about technique than it is subject matter.

Of course, getting quilts taken seriously by the established art world is still a problem. You are up against lots of prejudices before you even start. There are many reasons for this, one being that I'm quite possibly not a good enough artist!

Sure, I manage to get into Open Art Competitions in established galleries, but I do realize that I'm sometimes chosen to fulfil the judges need to show a rounded exhibition and there are not that many quilters interested in submitting.

Quilts can be wonderful, the problem is getting people outside the sphere to see that, and I am not discussing the merits here. Open competitions help of course, and Through Our Hands was established to help other artists overcome that little hurdle and is doing well with currently 27 Affiliate Artists and lots of ideas in the pipeline for exhibitions as well as our first book, the magazine, website with shop etc.

There's a challenge of sorts there for me though, and you have my premise for rethinking. And my solution?  Well I have an idea of presenting my work in a slightly different way.

Painting quilts remains a challenge in itself as it's quite difficult for me to get the effects I want.  I'm quite graphic out of necessity as a stitched line provides a boundary as well as an extra layer to a painting.

This can be a problem and I feel limited in the current way of working. Sure I could get loose and painterly within the stitched lines, but I'd like to move outside of those lines completely.  It sounds odd, and isn't really, being just a shift in structure for my work.

What am I on about?

Well, you know me.

 Please do stay and watch if you'd like to whilst I try!! 

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Monoprinting in coloured layers

My thanks to Laura for this intriguing technique, which I shall be adding to the repetoire! What larks. For most of these I've simply copied Laura's landscape idea to get the hang of how it works, and then I continued to use it to see how different products and papers compare. Monoprinting with acrylic paint means you have to work very quickly and I didn't feel up to adding any original designs at this stage!!

Acrylic paint, acrylic paper

Acrylic ink mixed with glazing medium, damp watercolour paper

Acrylic paint, damp watercolour paper (you can just see the paper texture)

Acrylic paint and cartridge paper

Acrylic paint and sketchbook page.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

A lovely little video - look for the Boys' Bedspread and think Christmas Tablecloth!


Fabric Painting and Printing... 60 years ago! :)
Posted by Art & Printmaking on Thursday, 22 October 2015

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Drawing of a small pumpkin

I drew this little pumpkin because I liked it's shape.  I bought several gourds yesterday and am thinking of doing a painting of them all in a long line.

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

19th October - making the Christmas puddings

I sat in front of the TV last night and did a pen and ink sketch for my diary/sketchbook. We made our Christmas puds a bit early (stir up Sunday isn't until the end of November) but I've always found puddings are better the longer they're kept. They should be perfect by next year! I like to mix my puds with stout, hence the bottle of Guinness.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Working on a page - In Remembrance

I'm working on a page in the diary/sketchbook about remembrance.

I've just discovered an uncle who was on a ship off the coast of Bermuda carrying petroleum in March 1942, when it was torpedoed, caught fire and sank with all hands. He was a gunner, and was just one of the 42 souls lost.

Until a couple of days ago, I didn't know about him, so have spent some time finding out, and am making a page in the diary as a memoriam.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Friday, 9 October 2015

Sketchbook/Diary pages - starting October

 In the last couple of days we've been to Hidecote Manor in the Cotswolds and Upton House - which holds the national collection of asters. They looked lovely and provide a beautiful splash of colour.  I hadn't realized how many varieties they were!

My sketchpad doesn't have the right sort of paper for watercolours which needs to be thick and have a slight tooth to the surface in order to add interest and allow you to pile the water on.  Cartridge paper isn't the same - but it's still a nice record of my visits.

I'll carry on working on it once it's dried.

I put wax on this bit of paper before putting the paint on, scraped the wax off and re-applied the paint. I just love the colour - a mix of Alizarin Crimson, and Windsor Blue.

We have a new shop opened in the town called Tiger. I'm fairly sure it's a chain of shops but I haven't come across it before. It sells really cheap art stuff - a cross between Ikea, Muji, and a Pound Shop!!  Do check it out if you have one as there are huge sketchbooks for £10 and wooden alphabet stamp sets for £4. I didn't buy the sketchbooks as I'm getting fussy in my old age, but the paper seems fine for mucking about in.

The box on the right was £9. I simply put some fabric in the back instead of the paper insert provided, and popped some bits and bobs in.  It hangs over the mantlepiece.  If I ever find a better quality box, I'll replace it, but as I change decor quite often it will do for now.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Sketchbook pages - finishing off September

The total lunar eclipse has to be in the sketch book even though I didn't stay up to see the moon turn orange. I did watch until late at night and it was so bright and so large, that of course it's earned a place in the book.

It took place on 27/28th September.

The gesso I put on this page has allowed the water paint to flow into shapes I couldn't have planned, which is lovely.

The original plan was to add red as well so that I had a home for this little bit of discharged and stitched fabric, but I think I prefer the page as it is - with a little something in the middle, just not sure what!!

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Life Story tea towels are back in stock - £12 plus a little p&p

The Life Story tea towels are back in stock here!! and can be bought on line. They cost £12 plus a bit towards p&p. There are 6 different designs.  Aprons are also available to order - please just ask.

Printed in beautiful full colour on high quality half panama fabric from the original quilt
Each tea towel measures 65cms x 46cms. (Cotton Half Panama has a single warp thread and a double weft thread. This heavy fabric is mostly used for interior designs, but is great for a tea towel!)