Monday, 16 December 2019

Apologies and thanks

Hi everyone.
First, please accept my apologies for for being so late with responding to everyone's latest pieces. It's been a difficult time for my family for the past few months and I've not been able to keep up with all my commitments as I would have liked. 
Sorry too for causing confusion with posting my contribution à whole month too soon! You can probably tell, my head has not been in the best place and mixing up the months on the advanced posting led to the error. 😉
Thank you so much for the kind words of support and condolence I received. It means a lot to me and my family and is very much appreciated.

I trust you will all have a very happy Christmas, wherever you may be! 
Love Claire 

Sunday, 15 December 2019

An introduction and a thank you

I am surprised at how challenging I have found making this introduction to be. It has made me stop and think long and hard about who am I in the creative sense, what it is I do, where I see my creative journey taking me and what are my motivations for accepting the invitation to join your group - 12 By the Dozen.

The fact that I am posting as 'creativitylifestyle' gives me a starting point. I had forgotten I had set up with that name years ago. Seeing it now feels strangely reassuring. It tells me that, despite living a life characterised by change, there is one constant and that is, my working towards a lifestyle that is informed by creativity in some form or another. It is no surprise that I had forgotten 'creativitylifestyle' as I am forever having new ideas, trying to set some structure and direction to my life and then, well, getting distracted and, inevitably, heading off in another direction. This is reflected in the creative interests I have had - painting, pastels, weaving, painting on fabric, embroidery, bags, boro, clothing, quilting, applique, bojagi. Each time I learn something new I think, 'This is it! This is what I was put on this earth to do!' But then something else comes along. I'm not sorry about this because there is a benefit to not settling on one thing - learning different techniques and building up a good supply of all the necessary notions, equipment and fabric!

Other than a bit of sewing and art at school, I hadn't been really creative until I went to uni in my 30s and ended up doing my master's thesis in Social Anthropology focusing on a quilting group in Auckland. I was moved to do this because I had witnessed the transformative role that quilting had played in my mother's life. Spending a year with the group, I became a quilter myself for a time. That then lead to trying other arts and crafts, some mentioned above.

I live on the Gold Coast, Australia but I am selling my apartment and likely moving over the border to Lismore in northern NSW. This is a smaller town and has a very strong creative community that I am looking forward to becoming part of just as I am looking forward to becoming part of the 12 By the Dozen online community. I saw your works of textile art at the NZ Quilt Symposium in October and was very impressed and now, well, somewhat nervous about accepting your invitation. It is so easy to compare ourselves to others and feel that we fall short but I will resist doing that and instead, embrace the opportunity, look forward to being inspired by creative others and have some parameters to work within to force my creative self to flourish.

I can't promise that my work will be the most joyful - I am feeling overwhelmed by the decimation of our natural environment in Australia as a result of the drought, fires and 'development'. I love taking photos of flora and fauna with the intention of painting the image and then translating it into a textile form. I do this to celebrate nature but I now also want to use my art to draw attention to the ways in which we are affecting its beauty, abundance and ultimately, its survival. Let's see what I come up with.

I have set up a Facebook page and Instagram where I am, slowly but surely, recording work I have done both past and present. You can find me @artcraftsamanda.

Well, that is probably more than enough! It just remains for me to say a big thank you to Rosemary for putting my name forward and to the group for inviting me to join. I am looking forward to meeting you all in this forum and would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a wonderful 2020!


Monday, 9 December 2019

Happy Birthday 12 By The Dozen!

If our blog is correct we are 10 years old!   A group of us met at Houston Quilt Festival and one evening at 'show and tell' back at the hotel we decided to form the group.  Our first theme, based on Words, was Connections and the reveal day was in February 2010.  Haven't we come a long way?!  And what fun.

Happy Birthday everyone - old and new members!  🎂

And I am delighted to welcome a new member - Amanda Doyle who lives in Australia.  Amanda will be introducing herself  as soon as she is connected to the blog.


Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Poppies Galore

So sorry this is late but here goes.

Back this summer there were several wonderful fields of bright red poppies in our area.  This one was a few miles away and I took several photos - climbing over gates and fences and getting thoroughly covered in seeds and weeds!  All worth the hassle.  My piece is a combination of a couple of photos because I loved the Queen Anne's Lace in the foreground ere but in another I was in amongst the red poppies.

Now, I have done a silly thing (too many projects on my mind) and made my piece 20" x 16"!  I am 'fessing up'.  Here's the full piece...
Poppies Galore

And here's my submission...
Poppies Galore - square

I am  mostly happy with it and maybe after Christmas I will play some more with it to accentuate the QA Lace heads.  I did think of adding the plants using white acrylic paint on the edge of a credit card - very slightly smudged to create that van Rensburg look of his animal heads.  I will try this on a another piece.  The stems are cord couched down.


Sunday, 1 December 2019

First of a new series 

My choice for the first quilt of the new series is: windows

I am taking advantage of the fact that I already have an idea, which has  something that I have been wanting to make for the last ten years, and this will actually make me do it!


   We spent our summer holiday in a village at 900m (almost 3000ft) near Le Puy en Velay in Auvergne. Every morning as we went along the road, we had a clear view of the mountains receding in the distance, with a thick mist in the valleys. I loved the contrast of the soft greys and the white of the mist, blending into each other, and wanted to try to reproduce the atmosphere by using monoprint when I got home. These two photographs were taken at a different time of day, so the colours are not  right, but give an idea of the landscape.

   When I saw the hills in Derric van Rensberg's paintings, I thought that perhaps I could try to interpret the Auvergne mountains in a quilt. I love the bright colours used by the artist and I am particulary attracted to the  contrast of orange and blue, but these colours really are not so suited to our more northern climate, and definitely not for the image I had in mind. First of all I tried making several prints at a couple of monoprint workshops that I went to. The first one turned out too dark, but the ghost print, to which I tried to add a more interesting sky (didn't really work), was a bit better. At the second session I had some much better prints, but I still have to collect them, as I left them to dry at the studio.

   In the end I decided not to monoprint my quilts. Instead I used  a torn newspaper stencil, as I like the organic edge it gives, and which worked well for the hills. I did several, as I wasn't sure how well they would come out, intending to choose the best one. I got a little bit carried away, ending up with nine, of which only two were not satisfactory. It was difficult to choose which one to use, as I wasn't entirely satisfied with any of them: I preferred the composition of some, but there  wasn't enough contrast between the hills and the mist, but the others had good contrast, but the composition wasn't quite as pleasing. Finally I settled on three,and still have difficulty in choosing between them. I had originally intended to quilt  the hills and sky more intensely, but I found that the quilting introduced hard lines that distacted from the effect I wanted to achieve, so they are very sparsely quilted. They were not very easy to photograph. I will probably use the two unsatisfactory ones for freemotion quilting practice, and just have to decide what to do with the other four afterwards!

Saturday, 30 November 2019

St John river, NB

I enjoyed the colours in Derric's paintings so it was easy to use him as inspiration. 

At the end of September I went to New Brunswick, a province in eastern Canada, to take a week long course with Freeman Patterson and Andre Gallant.  Freeman's other "home" is in South Africa, in Namaqualand so some of you may have heard of him.  In fact it was during my time in SA that I did learn about him and his courses - a good 20 years ago! 

He has a property on Shamper's Bluff which overlooks the St John river and we spent a day roaming around taking pictures there. 

This is my original picture, and then the one I enhanced in Photoshop to resemble Derric's colours. 

and this is what I made but I haven't bound  it.  I can't decide whether to face it or bind it.  Always a dilemma. 

Gathering Storm

Derric Van Rensberg

Gathering Storm
A moment captured in this scene of wheat fields in the Western Cape where the still, drowsy, late afternoon is suddenly disturbed by distant thunder rumbling in the mountains. On cue, the day begins to cool and the sun bathes the surrounding country side in an eerie lingering brightness before it finally sinks into the crags on the horizon and the curtain slowly falls on another day in Africa.

Derric Van Reenen is a well known South African painter.
I was not familiar with his work until another artist I know, suggested Derric as my choice of artist for the 12 bythedozen blog. I looked up his paintings on the net, but it was when I visited a cousin in a distant town who had one of Derric’s paintings on his wall and a signed book of most of his paintings that I was really happy with my choice. Visiting a gallery in this town, I fortuitously came across an exhibition of a dozen paintings by Derric. I was then sure I had chosen the right artist!



South Island

I took a photo somewhere on South Island in New Zealand on our 2015 trip, but the colours were washed out and grey.  Interpreting the photo in the colours from Derric Van Rensburg's work seemed a way of bringing the subject to life.  So I looked at a number of images of his paintings, pulled various fabrics from my stash, then didn't look at his work again until I had finished. 

I tried doing fused applique slightly differently from normal, applying the Steam a Seam to the background, then gradually adding the fabrics.  I now know why this is not a good way of working,  as the Steam a Seam didn't reach the edges of all the pieces of fabric I had lots of problems with the edges fraying.  I tried it in an effort to be more improvisational in the placing of the fabrics, rather than having the entire picture meticulously drawn out beforehand. Back to the old way of working  I guess.

When I travelled over to the UK in September I had made my daughter a very big wall hanging depicting three elephants and bordered by an Ndbele (a South African African tribe who decorate and paint their homes with wonderful graphic designs) design.  So I guess you could say that at that time I was totally into elephants.  I must add that they are notoriously difficult to draw - they look so easy but this is not the case.  However I decided to use the idea of an elephant which is completely different to the ones I made for my daughter and tried to depict Derric's style and colours.  I used a lot of paint and very little stitching, which was a fun exercise for me.  I attach his works as well as my own.  I must say that initially I thought this would be a breeze but when I actually got down to it, it was not as easy as I thought it would be and I am not altogether happy with what I have produced.

The artist's work below.

My interpretation/inspiration.


Initially my thoughts were great, when I read who Allison had given us for this last challenge in the series. The bold, rich colours should suit those of use who live south of the equator. As the months, weeks and days past me by, I realized this was taking me into a colour palette that I was not too comfortable with, but, as you are told growing up and developing in the creative field, don't limit yourself by staying in your comfort zone!

Living in a household which has a love of birds and as Derric tends to hide a little white heron somewhere in his landscapes /animal pics I decided to use one of his landscapes as a painted whole cloth and then brought in our national bird, the blue crane, in silhouette  form.  

This was his landscape.

...... and this is the result.

Painted whole cloth and Machine embroidered/quilted.  This was not what my initial vision was and I found myself moving in a very different route with a very different result.  The large ratio of bold orange is definitely a first for me and overall I am quite pleased with the result. The binding  stumped me initially and then I remembered my small stash of local schwe schwe fabric and found two perfect options.

Dreamscape inspired by Derric Van Rensburg

As Hilary explained yesterday, this is my last posting as a member of 12 by the Dozen. It has been a wonderful adventure from the very start of the group, and it has been a joy (for the most part!), especially the opportunity to meet as a group in Birmingham a few years ago, and to spend time together in Shropshire. I feel that I can't devote enough time and energy to the group now, as I feel under the gun to prepare work for a solo show next year. And I have also started an intensive yoga teacher training program which I love! I may not become a teacher, but I am certainly learning a lot. And that is my intention.
So I wish you all well and will certainly keep a close eye on developments in the future as you all strive to interpret new architectural challenges. All the very best, Helena