Sunday, 31 May 2015

The next round!

I had been wondering about suggesting this idea when Hilary's Nicholson piece confirmed that it can work so here is something to consider for our next round  - how about we each suggest an artwork, 2D or 3D, to use as a starting point?

White ferns

Phew, managed to get my piece finished, and it's still the 31st!

After nearly three months in New Zealand, followed by a nasty virus for two weeks, then two weeks in France, followed by a pair of blocked ears and a bad back, I haven't had the inclination to do any sewing for a long while.  This challenge was a good push to get me back to creating.

I wanted to use some of the images I had got from NZ, particularly the ferns.  All sorts of ferns grew wherever we went , and I built up quite a library of photographs of them.  For this piece I started with a piece of silk, sort of white coloured (in the right light it looks gold and white, but normally it just seems to look rather sandy), then used the simplified image of an uncurling tree fern tendril.  I added some crayon to give it a bit of depth, then decided the whole piece was too pale.  I took another of my ferns and used a technique I had wanted to try for a while - stitching a shape then painting inside it.  Using this method I added more ferns around the edge of the tree fern, then closely quilted between the ferns using a deliberately wobbly 'straight' stitch.  Finally I felt a normal binding would too too heavy, so added a simple edging using a piece of frayed white silk, simply stitched over the edge.

I don't think the photo shows the colours well, but the light was fading when I took the photo this evening.  On the whole I am pleased with it, and also very thankful I've started sewing again.


   When I chose this colour I had no idea what I was going to do. It was a last minute choice as I realized that the colour that I had originally chosen was too close to one that had been done before I joined the group. Finally I decided to try out an idea that had been lying dusty in the corners of my mind. I used to make bobbin lace and had a bagful of twirly threads that had been taken off the bobbins after I had finished  pieces of lace. It reminded me of foaming water and for twenty years I have thought of using it for the foam at the bottom of a waterfall. So here is my waterfall made with scraps of white and off-white cottons, man-made fabrics, crystal organza, net and cotton threads. I was quite pleased with it until I added the foam and realised that it is too white, with not enough contrast to make an interesting design, and that it is in fact no more than a sample that could be useful for something in the future. I am glad I finally tried it out though. It was difficult to photograph and does look slightly better in reality than in  the photograph.

Oscar in black and white

This is my grandson Oscar at age 4 months, a few weeks ago. It's amazing how much it looks like him despite its simplicity. Here is the photo it was taken from....


I had enormous difficulty in dealing with our latest colour.  In Africa we are bombarded with colour.  Wherever you look  it is there everywhere you look, whether it be in our landscape from the bushveld, the semi-tropical coast in Kwa-Zulu Natal, or the Cape Winelands and everything inbetween.  Snow – sometimes in the mountains but it does not stay long as the sun is sure to be evident within the next day or so.  Everywhere you go whether it is to the markets with the array of the different peoples of our land dressed in bright and vivid colour in the latest fashion, African prints, or the beautiful Indian Sari’s.  An amazing vibrancy in sound and colour, and added to that, the spices in heaps from Saffron to Red Hot Chilli. 

Our light from an artist’s point of view is spectacular and very different from the light in the Northern climes.

Thanks go to my son, the Engineer, who came up with this idea for me, and from which comes the title of my piece.

The dictionary definition of a prism is that it is a solid whose ends are similar, equal and parallel …. a triangular prism of glass or the like for resolving “white” light into separate colours.  This causes light of different colours to be refracted differently and to leave the prism at different angles, creating an effect similar to a rainbow.  This can be used to separate a beam of white light into its constituent spectrum of colour.

Therefore without the beam of white light I have used, the colour would not be visible.

This is a different take on the colour we were given but I had fun and it did allow me to use the seven colours of the rainbow to illustrate this idea.  After all we are called “The Rainbow Nation”.


White Challenge

White lilies in the garden in the spring remind me of the waxy sheen found on many flowers like lilly of the valley or white orchids. I have used a book of samples that included natural and grey linens, and for contrast, a white silk and an embroidered organza. White can often look blue so the orange was a tempting addition and silk always has an unexpected texture when using the embellisher. This piece could use a few simple lines of stitching.

Getting the right white ... Or not!

This challenge was really interesting - I thought that I knew my blue whites from my yellow whites but using those whites in combination with other colours is a completely different thing. It's something I knew about in theory but testing out fabrics proved to be a really good exercise. I thought that I'd succeeded but when I looked at the photograph of this piece I'm having second thoughts. I shouldn't have left the photography until the last minute, I'm dependent on the weather for my light and we are currently going through a particularly dull spell here!
I can't explain this piece, it just happened. My starting point was the idea of using two colour blocks, the white and the yellow, the rest just grew around those two pieces of fabric!

The White Saucer

I have an ongoing admiration for the art of Ben Nicholson and at first I thought of revisiting my earlier homage to his plain white pieces with circles and squares/rectangles.  My piece below is a whole cloth and 8" square.  I was experimenting with trying to achieve the impression of the different layers by how spaced my stitching was.  The strange thing is that the camera turns the layers round: the stitched areas are 'lower' than the unstitched area.  Two more pieces can be seen here

Homage to Ben Nicholson 01
My next idea was a piece where I was going to use white paint on top of a collaged background inspired by another of his pieces. But what I ended up doing is this piece.
The White Saucer
It is a mixture of piecing and appliqué.  What I learn from his art is mostly composition but also tonal value.  There are commercial cottons, hand-dyes and the wonderful grey/white stripy fabric was a gift from a friend, Margaret, and is a printed version of her journeys on the London Underground where she allowed her pen to jiggle along in her notebook between stations. Really quite pleased with this piece.


Greek Village

Greek Village, 11 x 8.5

I find it difficult to work with white. Perhaps if I used more texture in my work I could make white more interesting. In nature, white often seems to reflect the colours around it, and then when white is shaded it becomes another colour entirely, like blue or violet or grey.

photo found on-line, unattributed

I've always loved the jumble of squares, rectangles and triangles presented by densely-packed villages, and when I found this image on the internet, I knew I had my subject.

Santa Cruz-de-Tenerife, 11 x 8.5

My first attempt at meeting the Lily White challenge, shown at left, was completed several weeks ago. Something of a departure from my usual Cityscape, it too was based on a "found" photo.  Which do you prefer?

MEMORIES OF ........


Gosh this challenge took a while before I had a light bulb moment.  Why memories  ..... we had a tree which I do not know the name of (not even sure it was indigenous) which was attacked by ants unbeknown to us which came down the other day .It had very long fragile branches which produced the most amazing show of white flowers every year after it had dropped its leaves.  It should have been in bloom now. 

The light bulb moment hit me when I was making sheets of wet felting for a friend and I thought ...... make a 'white' sheet for yourself and embellish it with stitchery.  I did attach the 'tree' first using a very thick loose stranded cord with my embellisher.

Many hours later .... one very tender top of my middle finger I finished it last night.  Finished is the operative word.  I will need to leave it for a while and see if it grows on me.  

To stitch I laid the felt sheet onto a very thin layer or lutradur (to stabilise and give me a decent work surface) and then backed it with a piece of fabric so it is three layers and stitched all the way thru .... however ... it is a bit of a birds next at the back because of the technique used so once I am satisfied I may just add another back to it.

Fun but definitely the hardest challenge for me.

Windmills and Tulips

We had a very interesting and enjoyable biking trip through a small part of the Netherlands a few weeks ago and were lucky enough to see lots of tulip fields in bloom.  Although not from this angle!

We also visited quite a few wonderful museums and saw the late Rembrandt exhibit at the Rijksmuseum and the Vermeer museum in Delft amongst others.  With white in mind I spent a lot of time looking at light, how it controlled the way the eye focused on the painting and how it travelled through the piece.  Rembrandt is fairly blunt with his approach - lots of lacy white collars on his subjects but then the eye travelled up to the face with it's light and then to the eyes with the little dot to make them sparkle.  Vermeer not only had the light shining into the room and onto a face he actually used dots of white on the pearls and in the eyes.  I had grandiose ideas of doing something with pearls or eyes and white dots, but my skill level isn't quite up to it yet.

So here is my white.  And yes, it's probably the first thing you focused on.

Keepsake Envelope

My daughter announced her engagement in April and will be married in early September of this year. Our white challenge naturally called for a white whole cloth from a machine quilter so with the wedding talk I felt compelled to make something for her. A keepsake envelope will be a special place for the treasures of their special day.

Saturday, 30 May 2015


Well, I realised earlier today that I hadn't finished my piece, and tomorrow is the big reveal day.  Mick and I have been building large raised vegetable beds in the garden, and today it was good weather so we just got on with it - all day.  I had expected to be able to finish tomorrow morning, but forgot we have to go out for a car club event tomorrow, which Mick is organising.  Hopefully I'll be able to post late tomorrow, or possibly Monday morning.  Meanwhile apologises to all, and I'm looking forward to seeing everyone else's pieces.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

White Theme

As usual my piece has been left to the last minute, but with all the excitement going on in my life I am tickled pink to say -it's finished!  Not what I had originally in mind but I'm pleased with it.

Our third grandchild is due tomorrow - I can be specific as Ruth is being induced.  Great excitement.
On top of that some of you may be aware of my latest mad cap idea which will be at the Festival of Quilts in the UK in August: 

I am also hoping to submit a piece in the Art Category at the Festival...  The majority of the piece is done I just need to work out the assembly.

Looking forward to Monday - thanks for choosing the next person for a colour inspiration, Jinnie. Good luck, Phillida - what will you come up with?


Monday, 25 May 2015


I've just been informed that it's my turn to choose the next person to select a colour for our next challenge... Phyllida it's your turn

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Colour challenges on display

I have taken advantage of an unexpected opening in the exhibition schedule of our local community centre to hang 21 of my Cityscapes.

Eight of these pieces were made in response to our 12 by the dozen colour challenges, and are shown below. Measuring 8.5" x 11", they are mounted on 10" x 12" gallery canvas, painted black.

Another four colour challenges will be included in the upcoming Hudson Artist Spring show, June 5 - 7, also at the Hudson Community Centre.

My solo show will run for the month of May, at 394 Main Road in Hudson, Quebec. Thanks to Michele Meredith for help with the mounting of the show!

Colour Compositions in Silk
 This series that I call Fields of Gold has come about by wanting to work with materials already in my studio and using my embellisher to make colour texture blends to continue to learn about composition. They are becoming more abstract  over time and are somewhat like saturated google earth snippits.
As the needles are blending the first layer down another one emerges from underneath which is a fascinating and beautiful thing to watch happening . This occurs when the underlying colour in the thread emerges and it will continue to blend on the surface creating a tapestry like effect.

At a recent painting demo the artist told us to  use 5 key words to describe a concept for a piece before starting and to retain them through to the completion of a project. I found it can be a good way to clarify intention.
I will be in the process of moving my studio soon and so was prompted to finally work with a beautiful selection of silks that my good friend ( and yours) Heather had passed my way, some time ago upon her switch to using only hand dyes in her work. Thank you Heather!