Monday, 29 December 2014

Jane's Quilt

My latest commission was a quilt for a lady's 70th birthday on 21st December.  I didn't get chance to meet Jane as it was going to be a surprise for her birthday from Shocka one of her daughters but from making the quilt and creating the design I felt I got to know her quite well.  Shocka asked me to  include the names and nicknames of her mother's six children - Val (Shocka), Robert (Dennis), Etus (Junior), Amos (Tony), Verna (Vee) and Carmen (Gloria) and to also include a palm tree to reflect Jane's Jamaican roots.  Jane loves her garden and is particularly fond of roses so I made the background from six fat quarters of Tanya Whelan Barefoot Roses from The Cotton Patch in Hall Green.  I liked the idea of juxtaposing the two diverse cultures of Jane's Jamaican upbringing with her English rose garden.

Note the slipper socks are not part of the design! 

The trunk of the palm tree was made up from various batik fabrics from my stash.

The coconuts in the centre of the tree were made from the Tanya Whelan rose fabrics to which I added embroidered text.

 Shocka asked me to include some of her mother's favourite sayings.

I then embroidered the names of the siblings on the leaves of the tree adding a bit of bling with diamond buttons.  Their nicknames were embroidered down the trunk of the tree and a border added using the same green marble fabric used for the leaves to bring the design together and to create a narrow frame.

And here is the finished quilt with a framed photograph of Shocka fastened onto the base of the tree with more diamond buttons .

Happy 70th Birthday Jane! 

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Not So Daily Drawing # 16 My Not So Paul Hollywood Kitchen Santa

One of my favourite Christmas decorations is a ceramic Santa Chef who sits on my kitchen window sill over the festive season. He is not exactly Paul Hollywood but he oversees all the cooking at Christmas keeping a watchful eye on the proceedings and I always remember to thank him by raising my glass to him. I always feel quite sad when it is time to put him away for another year so here he is recreated in a variety of pencils and markers so I can see him all year round.  Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! x 

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Bespoke Gifts & Cards @ Ikon Gallery Shop

On Thursday 4th December and Saturday 6th December, 11am - 5pm I will be demonstrating free-machine embroidery techniques at Ikon Shop @ Ikon Gallery, Brindleyplace, Birmingham.

I will be embroidering your special message, design or dedication onto cards and wall hangings, making a unique Christmas gift, prices from £2.95. 

Ikon Shop, as well as being Birmingham's only specialist art book shop is a great place to find cards, magazines, jewellery, books and music by local authors and bands and gifts that are just that little bit more interesting and different than those you would find on the high street.

There are lots of other events happening too this week at Ikon.  On Wednesday 3rd December in the evening, its the Art Bus  when you can travel for free and visit six Birmingham art galleries – Ikon, The Barber Institute of Fine Arts, RBSA Gallery, mac Birmingham and Eastside Projects and Parkside Gallery. Each gallery stays open late for Christmas shopping, free gallery tours and festive refreshments.

On Thursday 4th December there is afternoon tea with a tour of the current Imran Qureshi exhibition, followed by festive tea and cake courtesy of ChangeKitchen.  Then on Saturday 6th December it's Family Saturday which is open to all ages (families and adults alike) to drop in between 1 - 4pm and be inspired by the current exhibition to make some original artwork.

 In fact a really busy week all round at Ikon so come along and join in all the festive fun.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Daily Drawing # 15 Markal Paintstiks

Continuing with the autumn leaves theme I spotted a beatifully coloured leaf lying on the pavement on my way to work just waiting to be picked up, photographed and drawn. I scanned the leaf then printed it twice onto paper and cut around the leaf.  Then using Markal Artists Paintstiks I applied the paint to the very edge of the cut out paper leaf, placed it on a sketchbook page and then using my finger dragged the paint off the paper leaf onto the page.  

The cut out leaf acts as a stencil so that a crisp outline of the leaf is left behind on the page when the leaf is taken away giving a subtle graduation of colour.   Markal Paintstiks  are artists oil paint in stick form. I love them because they are so easy to use by applying the paint directly from the stick like a crayon and on almost any surface such as paper, card, canvas, natural or synthetic fabrics, wood. unglazed terracotta and plaster.  I keep all my old toothbrushes to use with my Markal sticks, dragging the paint onto paper and fabric and blending colours together. They are also ideal to use as a rubbing stick by placing a textured surface under the fabric or paper.

The paintstiks are great to use on fabric as can be made permanent by leaving to dry and cure for 48 hours, then ironing as hot as the fabric will allow.

There is also a large colour range with 52 Professionals (non-iridescents) and 14 iridescents. You can see here the scanned image of the leaf too which I have attached to the page showing all those wonderful vibrant autumnal colours. I used Alizarine Crimson, Yellow Ochre, and Burnt Siena.

Friday, 14 November 2014

What happens if.....

I am taking part in a group exhibition at Solihull Arts Complex with three other artists. We call ourselves ‘Four Seconds’ because we all graduated from Solihull College with Second Class Honours degrees in Fine Art.  This is our first collaborative exhibition bringing together a diverse collection of sculpture, painting and textiles.  What happens if…. sets out to explore themes of bereavement, personal emotions, observations and social comment.

My work is titled Fag Break. I got the idea because each morning from when I get off the train at Snow Hill Station and walk up to Ikon Gallery where I work my path is littered with smokers, banished from the warmth and comfort of their offices and forced out on to the streets.  Fag Break is a stitched narrative of my journey.  They stand huddled together sheltering from the rain or enjoying the early morning sunshine. They are perhaps chatting about last night’s TV or complaining about their new boss brought in to reduce headcount.   

For the lone smoker too it’s a chance to chat on Facebook, email or text, to maybe ring their other half to discuss whose turn it is to cook dinner.  For them their mobile is as much of a habit as their cigarettes.

The fag break is a by-product of the smoking ban, a necessary part of today’s changing office culture and the water cooler of today for smokers. 

Most of my resource material was from photographs I took on my way to work of the smokers standing around which was difficult without them knowing they were being photographed. However,  I found this chef having a crafty fag break sat outside the fire exit of the restaurant where he worked and he seemed quite happy after I told him what it was for, to pose while I snapped away. As an aside why is it that so many chefs are smokers as I so often see them and their kitchen staff hanging around out back of their pubs and restaurants in their chefs whites and chequered trousers. 

This is the work of Pamela Gregg whose personal experience of bereavement informed her work. 

Amanda Elliott's work focuses on personal emotions and her amazing sculpture made of layered plywood explores feelings of vulnerability and exposure.

Gareth Jones is a painter who draws on his own observations of the landscape.

Here Gareth has created a very textural abstract interpration of a waterfall.

Last night was our private view and thanks to family and many friends for coming along to see our work. The exhibition continues until 15 November.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Daily Drawing # 14 Fag Break

This is a stitched drawing and also a sneak preview of a group exhibition I am taking part in with three other artists at Solihull Arts Complex called What happens if.....   We call ourselves 'Four Seconds' because we all graduated from Solihull College with second class honours degrees in Fine Art.

My work is called Fag Break and is a stitched narrative of my walk to work from Snow Hill Station where I get off the train, up to Ikon Gallery in Brindleyplace, Birmingham focussing on the many smokers littering my path along the way.  The fag break is a by-product of the smoking ban, a necessary part of today's changing office culture.    The exhibition runs from 11 - 15 November with a private view on the evening of 13 November 6 - 8pm.  Please come along if you can.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Daily Drawing # 13 Colouring In with Koh-i-noor pencils

So it has been a while since I posted a daily drawing. Like to think it's because I have been busy doing lots more drawings.  Truth be told I have been busy with the minutiae of everyday life, chores, work etc. However, I took the time last evening to try out my brand new pencils. (On a completely different tangent but still on the subject of pencils I once worked with someone who knew someone called Adrian Pencil - we all thought it an odd name - not Adrian but Pencil, or maybe the two combined. I digress!)  Anyhow while in Prague I came across the Koh-i-noor Hardtmuth shop, home to my favourite brand of pencils. 

There now follows a brief history of pencils. Koh-i-noor is one of the world's largest producers and distributors of pencils, pens, and art supplies. The company was formed in Austria in 1790 by Joseph Hardtmuth and named after the famous Indian Koh-i-noor diamond. In 1802 they patented the first lead pencil made from clay and graphite and then in 1848 Joseph's sons Karl and Ludwig took over the family business, and the production was relocated to the Bohemian town of Budwis which is now part of the Czech Republic. I had no idea about this so imagine my surprise while walking round  Prague to stumble across this veritable pencil and art supply heaven.  I love their palette of watercolours which are highly pigmented giving really bold colours normally not associated with watercolour.  Needless to say when in Prague.... and I treated myself to a stash of graphite pencils and sticks,  watercolours, woodless water soluble pencils, automatic pencils - you name it and they were a fraction of the price I would have paid in the UK.  Enough to keep me going for a few weeks at any rate.

Something new I did discover in the shop was this automatic pencil with multicoloured leads which were really soft and give a lovely effect when colouring.   At the moment, as its Autumn there is an array of wonderful colours in the garden to replicate. I took this photo of a lonely leaf waiting to drop while walking down my road and thought it would be an ideal thing to draw.

I just really used the shape of the leaf, drawing in the veins and then colouring in with my new Koh-i-noor pencil, trying to get as much variagation with the colours as possible.  It was just nice to do a bit of colouring and reminded me of the colouring books I had as a child when I tried my best not to go over the lines. 

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Daily Drawing # 12 Prague Castle & Cathedral

Another daily drawing from Prague. This time a magnificient view of Prague Castle & Cathedral  from across the river. Something to while away the time while sitting at a table at the Cafe Manes with a refreshing Pilsner.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Daily Drawing # 11 The View from Where I'm Sitting

So another drawing here from Prague last week while taking a well earned rest in a bar with a beer after an overload of sight seeing.  There is nothing quite like people watching when relaxing over a drink and soaking in the hustle and bustle of city life in a foreign country. I like sketching people and observing the way they stand or sit. I am not that brilliant at drawing faces so chose to sketch this couple who had their back to me.


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Daily Drawing # 10 Pencil Rubbing

Something a little different for this drawing.  This was a pencil rubbing done in St Vitus Cathedral in Prague.  Haven't a clue what it says but the lettering looked interesting and using the side of the pencil hardly took me any time at all.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Daily Drawing # 9 Beermoth

So the reason for a lack of daily drawings of late is because I have been in Prague but I didn't abandon my drawing.  In fact far from it. I had plenty of time to fit in some sketching, usually done sat in a bar and sipping a delicious glass of what the Czech Republic has become famous for which is their excellent beer or pilsner lager to be precise and when I say lager I mean the real unpasteurised stuff meaning it's unfiltered and served direct from oak barrels with no CO2 added to make it gassy and tasteless like the stuff that most pubs over here pass off as lager.  Yes, I am in fact a 'beermoth' in that I love beer, and as a fully paid up member of CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) enjoy and champion real unadulterated beer so for me visiting Prague was a real treat.  Beer in Prague was originally brewed in various monasteries throughout the city hence why so many of the bars are vast beer halls with long tables and benches rather like the beer halls in Munich in Bavaria, Germany, another brewing capital of the world. 

I took my sketchbook and pencils with me of course and my plan was to sketch the various sights and landmarks throughout Prague but on the first day this glass of Pilsner Urquell (unfiltered of course) seemed a splendid enough sight for me to draw.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Daily Drawing # 8 A Damn Fine Latte

OK I know my daily drawings aren't always daily but I aim to practice when time allows and am aiming to make time when time allows if that makes sense.  Anyway after work yesterday evening had plenty of time to kill before meeting up with friends for an evening out so an ideal opportunity then to do my daily drawing.  Therefore whiled away a lovely tranquil hour reading and sketching in my favourite Caffe Nero in Brindleyplace, Birmingham.  In the words of artist Paul Klee who famously said "Drawing is taking a line for a walk" I did literally that and drew without taking my  pen off the paper which is more difficult than it sounds.  I just drew things that I saw from where I was sitting  with no particular regard for perspective or proportion.  Some might say its a bad drawing but I had a lot of fun doing it and makes for a more quirky style of drawing which I prefer to an accurate representation of the subject matter...and also Caffe Nero serve a damn fine Latte. 

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Daily Drawing # 7 The End of a Busy Day

Sunday was a really hectic and quite emotional day taking Darling Daughter up to the University of York and installing her in her halls of residence lock, stock and barrel. How all her things fitted into the car I shall never know.  Talk about trying to fit a quart into a pint pot!  Surprisingly too it all fitted into her room.  A quiet few moments then at the end of the day just before bedtime when I picked up my sketchbook to reflect on the day and unwind with my daily drawing and a cheeky glass of Sauvignon Blanc. The end of a busy day!

I used a favourite method - pen and wash.

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Daily Drawing # 6 Eyes Wide Shut

On Saturday taking part in the Solihull Art Trail I took along my sketchbook thinking I would have plenty of opportunity to do some sketching in Kathryn's beautiful garden for my Daily Drawing. Fat chance!  We were so busy with visitors I did not have chance to get my sketchbook out at all. However, I was determined I was going to draw something before I left so with 5 minutes to spare before I had to leave I spied a lovely vintage water spray for plants.  Quite a challenge then to draw it in a hurry and to make it more interesting I decided to draw it with out looking at the paper.  This is another popular drawing exercise I practised on my Foundation Course helping to develop hand-eye communication. It forces you to only look at the subject matter and to use a continuous line without lifting the pencil off the paper.  

It's so very tempting to peek while drawing with this method and I didn't but I do admit to just adding a line on the right hand side, when I looked at the paper, to make the bowl part of the spray look more in perspective as I was way off course.  I then added some tonal value which I did looking at the paper.

And here is a photo of the real thing. 

Monday, 29 September 2014

Solihull Art Trail 2014

Another successful Solihull Art Trail this year held this weekend and organised by Solihull Artists' Forum. I took part and was at Venue 6 with fellow artists Kathryn Pettitt and Paula Hamilton. I could only be there on the Saturday as taking Darling Daughter up to York University so rather a busy weekend for me. Thanks go to  friends and keen art enthusiasts for dropping by and also Kathryn and Mike for hosting in Knowle and  sharing their beautiful garden.  Here are some photos I took on Saturday...

My work in the dining room.

Paula's work in the conservatory

Kathryn's studio at the bottom of the garden..

Kathryn did a mosaic demonstration to visitors.

Here is one she did earlier

And here are some random shots taken throughout the day... 

Kathryn's homemade Coffee & Walnut cake and Paula's home made Chocolate Brownies went down a treat. 


And Rocky and Molly kept us company throughout the day.

Here is Rocky snacking on raspberries. 

PS. Having trouble with my scanner but normal service will be resumed as possible with the daily drawings.