Winter Blues finished…..

imageEarlier in the year I began this image, one in a series of four depicting this leaf design but using colour and pattern to express the season.  I began the thread painting but it got put aside for more pressing matters such as finding a home.  Recently, after a very wet spell of several weeks I picked it up again to finish. It seemed appropriate to call it Winter Blues because I find constant wet bleak days difficult.  However today it is complete…..and spring is all around us with colour and new life…..

Winter Blues 2 (347 x 600)Oh and check out my gallery pages -I have been spending a little time updating images into my portfolio…well past time!

‘Winter Leaves’

IMG_20160817_142935 (600 x 450)Work this week has seen the completion of a new thread painting and it is interesting to sit back and contemplate what conscious and subconscious influences have been at play while creating.  I was trying to use greens/pink/lemons as the colour scheme but kept being drawn to these burnt reds, browns and yellow colours – I wonder why?  The obvious conclusion is that I have been heavily influenced working on the 12′ x 12′ Yellow challenge, which saw me using the colour yellow as an autumn colour.  IMG_20160822_112607 (600 x 450)




However when I finished this thread painting I realised the colours aren’t neccessarily autumn colours but rather winter colours and I thought of the trees in my street that I drive or walk past everyday.  Although they are deciduous trees many of them still have many brown leaves attached – this is the subtle and subconscious influences at work.

IMG_20160823_082546 (450 x 600)So here is the finished ‘Winter Leaves’ thread painting…..Winter Leaves (257 x 600)I am not ordinarily a lover of the colour brown but I do really like the colour combinations in this thread painting.IMG_20160822_125706 (450 x 600)

My 12″ x 12″ answer to the ‘Yellow’ challenge….

My first answer to the yellow challenge was inspired by this absolutely stunning yellowing tree. 20160611_104911 (450 x 600) Yellow is not a colour I chose to use as the dominant colour, it can be overwhelming if surrounded by too much of it.  However I was surprised at how much yellow I had in my stash of threads!!IMG_20160812_150801 (600 x 450)





I began to start with experimenting and playing with options – free machine quilting the leaves and hand colouring before adding free machined embroidery. I have been playing with adding more 3D to my creative work and so I machine embroidered the leaves onto yellow fabric and cutting out the embroidered leaf shape.

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I wanted to be a bit more playful with the leaf shape and so instead of staying with the more realistic shading in the quilt leaf I created a line design within and hand coloured, before adding the cut out embroidered leaf shapes to the hand coloured image.  The image reminds me of the fallen and scattered leaves on the pavement.IMG_20160817_105629 (599 x 600)At the same time I wanted to push another design that I had been playing with, it wasn’t quite the yellow that was required for the challenge but I took the idea and re-created it with three autumn leaves.  After quilting I hand coloured the background and am happy with the result.quilted leaf (527 x 600)three leaves (571 x 600)

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Friday afternoon thoughts on inspiration…..

IMG_20160812_114409 (600 x 450)This is my next ambitious project, a sizeable art quilt combining all techniques that have been part of my repertoire for the past 3-4 years : raw edge applique, hand colouring/painting, and thread painting.  It was partly inspired by Michele Hill’s book “More William Morris Applique” and while it is very different to Michele Hill’s creative work in her book, the creating of beauty for the home with resonated for me. “Morris believed that beautiful surroundings in the home promoted creativity and happiness.” (Pg 5)

IMG_2269 (600 x 568)I have always been drawn to the ideas of the Arts and Craft movement; “with its emphasis on craftsmanship, quality materials and designs drawn from nature” (Charlotte Kelly, Living in the Arts & Crafts Style) to Art Nouveau; “a style of decorative art, architecture and design…characterized by intricate linear designs and flowing curves based on natural forms” (Google) and Art Deco;  the “distinguishing features of the style are simple, clean shapes, often with a streamlined look; ornament that is geometric or stylised from representational forms…” (Encyclopaedia Britannica).  The resonating theme for me with all of these movements are designs based on nature, stylised, and flowing or linear in character.

I also enjoy reading Historical fiction and am intrigued by the idea that British nobility would have many wall hangings – mostly embroidered – not only Changing Seasonsto add beauty but also warmth and often privacy.  These could be packed up easily(perhaps!) and moved to the next location, creating another space of beauty, warmth and privacy.  I have a fantasy that the textile arts were given great pride of place in the home, not only for their beauty, and practical application but because they also told a story of the makers.
Sometimes the rooms of the Arts and Crafts movement that I see in books, while they are beautiful, can feel a little over the top decorative and I was intrigued to read in Michele Hill’s book that “Morris preferred to whitewash the walls…and draped walls with carpets or tapestries…”(Pg 11)

The colour ‘yellow’….

Looking for inspiration for the Aotearoa Quilters 12 x 12″ Yellow challenge….thought I’d share a few of the ‘yellows’ I have photographed over the past weeks…Isn’t the little figurine in a yellow petal dress delightful – she belonged to my grandmother and I inherited her, she reminds me of my childhood -of the books I read of princesses….I wonder if I can incorporate her into an art work!!

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20160611_104911 (450 x 600)Yellow is a difficult colour to use as the predominate colour.  Joen Wolfrom, in her book on Adventures in Design, describes yellow as the most difficult colour for the eye to absorb. (Interestingly she also says people lose their tempers more often in yellow rooms.)  However I am working on a couple of 12 x 12″ pieces, I absolutely love the image of the mass of yellowing leaves, and this is a little experiment inspired by that photo.IMG_20160802_204337 (450 x 600)

Combining techniques….

IMG_20160726_111432One of the joys of moving into a new home is waiting and watching what grows in the garden at different times of the year.  I am watching bulbs and flowers grow that I wasn’t able to grow in my previous home because of the difference in climate.  Although I have been able to grow freesias previously, this is my first freesia flower of the season.  The other flowering plant is a Hellebore, which brings back memories of winter time garden in London.IMG_20160726_110443There are daffodils about to flower, and a variety of bulb plants which I haven’t identified but as yet haven’t seen any tulip plants, maybe it will be up to me to plant them next year!

However I have been re-inspired by the tulip shape to continue exploring them in my creative work.  This was initiated by the recent workshop I facilitated and I have continued to push and explore by combining a few techniques.  This image is of the samples I created for the workshop; raw edge applique, free machine quilting, and hand colouring. 20160630_092201 (450 x 600)

Next logical step is combining skills in thread painting, quilting and hand colouring.  The result is a semi 3D effect which I like and I am now working on a much larger piece…..IMG_20160726_115808 (528 x 600)Love those tulips!!

Visual literacy…….

IMG_0206Many years ago, while studying Art at University, I found a book called “Seeing”,by Gordon Andrews  and what he wrote resonated with my own way of observing the world around me. He wrote:

“To have the ability to see freely what surrounds us is a rare gift.

……We filter out an enormous segment of the visible world because either we consider it to be valueless information or believe it has no relevance to our current concerns…..In this way we become blind to the ‘ordinary’.

Visual literacy is uncommon in the sophisticated, technological Western world where the dollar sign is seen as of greater importance than a raindrop or a leaf in the forest. If people could be helped to see and understand the meanings of colour, form and structure as well as growth, flowering and decay perhaps we, the most intelligently capable creatures on this planet, could live in greater harmony.

If only we will open our eyes to experience a new dimension the song of seeing is ours to enjoy.”

Some 20+ years later this still makes sense to me and underpins my creative philosophy.  For example, to photograph an ordinary leaf and translate what20160702_084604

I ‘see’Autumn Leaves – what speaks to me at that moment about the shape, the colour, the pattern or the texture. Tomorrow I might see something very different and wish to explore another aspect of that leaf.  The bottom line is opening my eyes to enjoy what is around me.

“Finding the Extra-ordinary in the Ordinary” workshop…..

20160630_092201 (450 x 600)What was brewing in the studio last week?  Preparations for facilitating an Art Quilting workshop over two Saturdays at Bernina Sewing Centre, Tauranga – making samples and organising the finishing touches to the workshop.  I have been having lots of fun actually, but the challenge for me is that I always get side-tracked with ever more ideas!! …. Perhaps I could place it this way, maybe that way, change this or that, add another shape or line ……..


The workshop is called “Finding the Extra-ordinary in the Ordinary” and, since beginning this post the first of the two workshops has happened!  We had a very creative and productive morning exploring some simple shapes and how we can find the ‘extra-ordinary’ in those shapes in a personally satisfying way.  One aspect of teaching that I find incredibly enjoyable and satisfying is seeing the variety of creative work that comes out of the same workshop.  I’m looking forward to seeing the finished results this Saturday and spending another morning further exploring some art quilting techniques.



Shades of orange……

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Imagine my delight in discovering toadstools or ‘funghi’ (as my son likes to correct me, having been on a funghi field trip recently!), we looked high and low for the fairies but alas …. no fairies!  However the colours were stunning, the largest was the size of a small dinner plate, and we all took turns at photographing them. It was the beginning of an orange/yellow afternoon because several hours later I caught the sunset…..dramatic clouds highlighted by the setting sun framed by winter trees.

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When I arrived home (my new home!) this beautiful orange hibiscus was in bloom…..20160623_170813 (450 x 600)

Studio set up is underway……..

Last week we finally moved into our new home and after days of unpacking boxes I am enjoying my new studio.  Studio set up is by no means finished – it is in progress, but certainly workable. However…. in the middle of unpacking boxes I finished sewing on the label for “dancing Kangaroo Paws” so it could begin it’s journey to the States.  Bon voyage… is posted and I wish I could journey with it!20160622_115651 (600 x 450)

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