18 August 2017

Surfacing in the studio

What, I wondered, would make my studio more welcoming? It is bright and spacious, and contains a treasure trove of mixed-media materials and an arsenal of art tools, but I'm not enjoying being in there. 

Basically this is because I'd rather be out of the house altogether, but some deadlines are almost upon us and I need to spend time in the studio.

So, for now, let's blame everything on the mottled brown lino floor ... fortunately there's a spare rug and it's now in place -
Not very practical for dropping ink on (inadvertently) or losing pins in, but it's mad the room look much more cheerful. And it's led to a bit of going-through-bags and putting-things-away, so perhaps it's a magic carpet?

Various things were found in the bags -
Silky start for a cushion cover? Early 2000s - I'd planned to embroider
four chinese characters in the centre, and free-machine the outside

Painting from a class in 2013 or so, done from a photo
I took in an unmemorable seaside town; size is A2-ish

Inky squiggles, done on the Extended Drawing course a couple of years ago
 And then there was the cardboard box full of these, packed up before the renovation - I hadn't missed them in the intervening couple of years, but each item has its memories ....
Still, none have much use so they may well be on their way to the charity shop soon.

17 August 2017

Poetry Thursday - inkwell Daybreak by Jean Valentine

Drawing by Vija Celmins (via)

Inkwell    daybreak

Inkwell          daybreak


Dear girls and boys,
would you go with me and tell me
back to the beginning
--so we can understand!
the journey of our lives
where we met with cruelty
but kindness, too,
and nosed up out
of the cold dark water,
and walked on our fins...

I heard this on the Poetry Foundation's Poem of the Day podcast - listen to it online here, or - along with many other of her poems - on her own website.

Jean Valentine was born in Chicago in 1934 and published her first book of poems in 1965; it won the Yale Younger Poets award, and another dozen books have followed. "Her lyric poems" says the Poetry Foundation site,
 delve into dream lives with glimpses of the personal and political. In the New York Times Book Review, David Kalstone said of her work, “Valentine has a gift for tough strangeness, but also a dreamlike syntax and manner of arranging the lines of ... short poems so as to draw us into the doubleness and fluency of feelings.”

16 August 2017

Fabulously felted

When Jill Hutton started combining wire and wool, one idea led to another and she found herself with a menagerie of felted animals ... and some "characters" to keep the wee beasties in order -

Now she's plunged heart and soul into felting people - and what characters - they remind me of characters out of Posy Simmons 

 She's also made more animals -
 And she's exhibiting at Painswick Valley Arts Festival, 19/28 August, so if you live out Gloucestershire way, do go along.

15 August 2017

Drawing Tuesday - Docklands

I was early, the sun was shining, and there was a sunny bench just behind the Change Please coffee van 
 So I sat with my coffee and - emboldened by the sketchbook course the previous weekend - had a go at the van, and the building (but not the trees, thanks) -
Soluble graphite, and coffee wash
And then what? I wandered through the Crossrail gardens ...
 and looked at ever so much architecture, especially those wonderful cranes, remnants of the days of Britain's empire, when goods flooded through London from all around the world -
 But now we have offices, and intangibles. Ah well ...

I find that if you start with a small point of interest, the rest can grow outward. The turquoise rope caught my eye, and as I got into position, the two birds deflected my attention. So I started with the one standing on the convenient rudder, and both soon moved out of sight ... not to mention he's now in the wrong place AND too large. The architecture of the boat took over, and I felt very bold using wash over such large areas with the small waterbrush on a quick-drying day -
Grey Posca pen, indigo Inktense pencil
I deliberately took along only water-soluble materials, in order "to boldly go".

 As we sat outside with our sandwiches, this machine was grinding and thumping at the building site across the water; what a relief when it stopped! Jo had the fortitude to sit with it long enough to catch its image -
 Judith had been making order from chaos in the gardens -
 And Sue perched on a bench to get this multifaceted under-bridge view -

Janet B found a chair -
and also brought along her work from last week, when she went to the Design Museum -
Add caption

14 August 2017

Blast from the past - actually, two of them

19 August 2007

A metaphor for blogging?

Could be ... lots of little flashes as various people visit the blog, or as topics for posts appear briefly in the blogger's mind - and behind those, the great vast untapped universe....

Technical details: this, from the Astronomy Picture of the Day website, is the result of combining a series of 30-second images of the night sky during the annual August Perseid meteor shower - comet dust burns up as it enters the atmosphere, and on a clear and moonless night, it's great to see - usually one flash at a time.

Marion commented that it looked like a cosmic sneeze!

This year the meteor shower was supposed to be especially good - and sure enough, I missed it again, either because of cloudy skies or because of simply forgetting. There's a very short timelapse video here (and probably elsewhere).  Hopefully that article (in The Telegraph, can nothing be trusted?) is the only one that confuses those two "astro" occupations:

"The Perseid meteor shower, one of the best-known among astrologists, " - tsk, tsk, Telegraph....

The second "blast from the past" goes back many years, to 1971, when ex-hubby and I were living with kind friends Jim and Betty in the small beach town of White Rock BC, in the month before going to England for ex-h's MA studies. We all took chairs and blankets outside and kept our eyes on the heavens. Perhaps we even saw a meteor or two; perhaps a bottle of wine was involved. After a while it got quite chilly and we gave up and went in.

Decades later I learn that the shower is best seen, in the northern hemisphere, in the hours before dawn. I doubt we would have got up that early....

Note to self: be in a dark-sky area next year ... and do something about getting decent glasses before then. You never know, the clouds might not get in the way. I'd love to see a shooting star - and/or a planet (Saturn?) through a telescope. 

Meanwhile the Astronomy Picture of the Day site continues to provide astro...y photos of wonder and interest - just look at this solar corona, it could be something (celestial phenomenon? he did a few of those) drawn by William Blake -

13 August 2017

Another wonderful day of garden-making

The plants waited patiently in the back garden -
 Just after 11, full of croissants and coffee, we were ready to continue planting -
The bags, emptied of compost and topsoil, are used for rubble and for pea gravel - rubble goes to the dump eventually, and the pea gravel might get used next to the house, for better drainage.

Once the other tree (lilacs as topiary - who knew!) was in, Gemma was roped in to plant the window boxes - we ended up with six -
 The morning sun turned to shade, and the shade later gave way to sun again, and after some hours of sifting soil I started with the actual planting. Removed from pots and sunk into the ground, the plants were not so tall....
Lavender, astilbe, Miscanthus sinensis 'Red Chief', hydrangea paniculata, japanese anenome,
between those lillipop lilacs that make me smile
 Only a few plants are left lingering in the back garden -
 I took some time off to go to the cinema, a 1-minute walk away - the film was Howard's End, a 1992 Merchant/Ivory film for which Emma Thompson won an Oscar as Best Actress. I've not read the book (published in 1910), despite being an E.M. Forster fan, but might be tempted to.
Screen 4, Crouch End Picturehouse, on a aunny Sunday afternoon
Back at the flat, the garden was (ignore the bags!) looking good, and the windowboxes were in place.  Gemma and I kept working till the street lights came on -
The soil-sifting-and-reconstitution has almost reached the fence now. It's full of so much gravel here - to be replaced with "compost" from those bags.

It's a very happy-making thing, is making a garden. I shall be quite sad when this is done, but it will give a chance to pay some attention to my own little patch of ground, in which self-seeded nasturtiums are taking over.

12 August 2017

Happy gardening

The weedy patch outside the living room of Tom and Gemma's flat is gradually being transformed. For years it had been waist-high in weeds, and at one point had suffered an incursion of pea gravel, in an attempt to control those weeds. For the past couple of weeks I've been digging up and sifting the soil to get out the rubble and the pea gravel, and now the area between the old wall and the new paving is just about completely sifted.

This is "the vision" - though the garden is not so large, nor so enclosed

First the long taproots to the alkanet were dug out, the in came the same and and "the machine" -
 After which the paving slabs were laid out, and rejigged ...
...until there was a template, and they could gradually be bedded in. As soon as possible, even before the layout was finished, I started on the "earthworks" - the removal of extra sand, and the reconditioning of the soil, including the removal of a few more of those tap roots, and of the not-yet-rotted roots of a sizeable tree, cut down some years ago.

 All slabs in place, and soil work is moving along -
 Much rubble and pea gravel was removed, and compost and topsoil added -
 And finally it was time to go to the garden centre - a 30-minute drive to Crews Hill - and get a few plants  -
 They fit into the car - just -
 and it was thrilling to see them set out on the wall -

 Even though we'd bought more soil, it wasn't enough, and it quickly became obvious that not all the plants would go into the ground today -
 But we worked till dark, planting one of the "lollipop" lilac trees and making progress with the window boxes -
 Work continues tomorrow; meanwhile the plants are spending the night in the safety of the back garden.
Two sides haven't yet had their soil work, but progress is noticeable, and we get a lot of nice comments from passers-by, who've seen nothing but weeds for years.

Possibly not all plants were wise choices ... verbena, salvia, syringia, astilbe, japanese anenome, delphinium, lavender, hydrangea, a grass, fuchsia, and a small yew ("Can grow more quickly than anticipated") for that shady corner....

11 August 2017

Colourful covers for little books

Again this year, Contemporary Quilt will be raising funds for the group by selling "little notebooks" at Festival of Quilts. In the past week I've made a few dozen little blank books - what pleasure it was to paint and stamp the covers, and to choose threads for the pamphlet stitch that holds the books together.

The decorative covers start as a messy piece of cartridge paper, slathered and splashed with acrylic paints until it's plasticised -
 Then I find some stamps, either purchased or cut from lino in years past - they get painted with acrylic paint, sometimes two colours at a time -
 Stamping candidates include the odd kitchen tool - and tubes such as toilet rolls are excellent, used sparingly in a contrasting colour -
 An entire sheet (A2 size) - this will make 16 little books -
 A detail - it looks so much better when there's less of it! -

Entire sheet, almost densely patterned enough
Once it's cut to size, there's about this much on an individual book

Needs a bit more on the left

...or does it?

Love those spirals! 

Some of the collection have patterns inside the covers too
(others will be sewn on the train to FOQ)