Monday, 12 January 2015

New Year - something different ... some playtime!!

 Like most of us I suspect, I am forever saying I will make time to play and experiment, but then work that needs doing and has deadlines attached takes over, and it never happens. So this year I am determined to make some time to try out some new things and mess about. It is important for health and I am certain helps you grow as an artist. So ... I watched a DVD featuring collage artist Jane Davies last week,  and I was fascinated with one of her processes for making an abstract piece. She started with an under painting and then used both papers and paint to produce her work. I really fancied giving that a go, so yesterday afternoon, I made myself stop 'proper' work and have an hour or so to play.

Hadn't got time to wait for a canvas to dry, so I found one I had wiped some old yellow and green paint from a roller on to (very much like I do in my sketchbooks - blank canvas can be just as intimidating). Horrid colours, but I just filled in the gaps with some blue and white - which gave me this (below).

Then I chose a few painted and dyed papers and started collaging them down with matt medium.

 Typically for me I worked with rectangles, squares and line in a fairly grid-ish pattern 

 As per Jane's advice I simply tried to focus on values and contrasts and 'go with the flow' .. probably should have broken out the gin ... I am no more comfy with that kind of instruction than I imagine most of you are - but I was on my own, no-one could see and my materials were cheap and abundant - so I just tried to imagine being 5years old and got on with it

I also followed the movement of the under painting - which was very up and down in straight lines - very logical - so I threw both a couple of doughnuts and some high contrast black at things

Jane suggests getting the paint out before you finish the collage - so like a good girl I did. I chose colours already in the piece and filled in spaces a bit. Firstly deepening and brightening the blue at the bottom and covering some of that awful green

Covering the awful green seemed like a good plan - so I did some more of that top right and then got out some glorious red and splobbed it about

I wanted some pure white back - and my brushes were all contaminated .. so fingers in and some nice white fingerprints and rubbings

I liked the softening with my fingers - so did some more and then printed  a few red circles with the matt medium lid

dipped end of paintbrush in red paint and put a line of small dots top to bottom

thought I had reached some sort of stopping point .. so I stopped - here is the piece so far ..

Interestingly it looks different, but still OK in all four orientations ..

I put these images on to facebook yesterday and asked what (if anything) these collages suggested to others. By this stage - they were definitely suggesting something to me. I was fascinated by peoples thoughts - how they differed and yet I could see the germ of all of them in my mind on the day it was done. Some saw Paris/France - in the light of the weekends awful events there - not my intention or in my conscious mind - but like most, I was appalled by what occurred, so maybe my seemingly random choice of colours was not so random after all? Someone else suggested bustle and play .. not conscious but almost certainly ever present with me. Transport and trains was another suggestion - which I can see, although hadn't ... but I am very drawn to 1950's poster art and have a couple of books of transport posters - so maybe an influence there? City Life and a bicycle in the city - I can see both and love them .. although not what I found. What I love is all the different things seen. I have always felt a bit inadequate viewing abstract art, as I so often just don't see what the artist sees and feel I am letting them down by seeing something different. This has made me feel quite differently. I love that people all see what means something to them .. and as I had nothing in mind when I started - that's fine. If everyone saw it the same - then maybe I would have been veering back towards representational art? Interesting isn't it?

I saw boats - specifically fishing boats at Whitby- some glossy and new ... some peeling and battered.. maybe predictably as that theme is on my mind. Although I had determined in my mind that this would NOT be a coast piece - as that would add pressure and stop it being play ... it obviously felt differently.

I don't think it is finished yet - and I am intrigued with trying to work forwards with all four orientations ..

More about that another time - for now - this is the way up it was assembled ... with a nice clean mat surround. I hope I've encouraged some of you to do something similar - just have a go at something you fancy and see where it takes you. As long as you enjoy the time and process - you can;t lose  - Hilary xx

Monday, 5 January 2015

Happy New Year, Moving House and some more gelli printing from Harrogate

So firstly, a very Happy New Year ... 2014 shot past at a very scary, but frequently exciting pace .. I am hoping to hold 2015 back a little .. hmmmm. This piece (below) was made a couple of years ago for the CQ journal quilt challenge - but it is such a January and New Year quilt, I wanted to share it again. I really hope 2015 brings everything you hope for and let's all  make it one that counts shall we?

So - back to work. Funny Christmas break here, as we finally got confirmation about Stephens new job - which is going to be on the South Coast of Wales. To all you travelling bods, that won't seem too far - but for a home loving creature like me - that is another country and quite scary. Luckily many friends on face-book turn out to be from around there and have assured me it is not only safe, but stunningly beautiful. We will be based around Bridgend - which is close to the coast .. and that couldn't be better . I love the sea with a passion and simply can't believe I am going to be able to live so nearby a beautiful coastline. So we are all ready for Wales - I just hope poor Wales is ready for me!!

No doubt you will hear more on this subject(!) - but right now I wanted to share these prints done at Harrogate with you.I was demonstrating with my gelli plates (yes - I now have a few!) and promoting the new book. I was using leaves from a specially purchased (and transported all the way to the show) potted palm tree, in conjunction with some of my stencils.

The palm generously provided different leaf sizes, which together with different sized gelli plates (3 x 5; 6 x 6; 7 x 5 and 8 x 10) gave me a lovely selection of prints like these below

I was also using a variety of materials to print on: plain copy paper; deli paper; khadi paper and two thicknesses of fabric - giving even more variety for me


I've kept some prints with white backgrounds, but most got overdyed to produce this gloriousness ... if that doesn't inspire you to want to get creating .. you are a harder to please beast than me!!I want to eat them.

The smaller plates are also great as you can pick them up and apply them like a stamp to paper - which is what I have done here, on light weight khadi paper

It was a great show and I met many old and made many new friends. I am not sure how I will manage the shows once in Wales - especially one as far away as Harrogate  ... but I shall definitely try and find a way ... I just love them and Harrogate always has that special place in my heart, as I grew up there - and Jo and I need to live in Bettys again!. 

I will be at the NEC in March at ICHF 'Fashion, Embroidery and Stitch'. For those who don't come as they feel this is not a very textile arty show - do come and see. It has grown enormously and now has all your favourite names - Art van Go, Kim Thittachai, Stephanie Redfern, Colouriscious, Oliver Twists and many many more will be there. Fabulous galleries and displays and wonderful shopping opportunities. I am showing a new exhibition called 'Coast'. Poignantly, this will be a chance to celebrate the lovely north eastern coast I have loved, before moving to a new coastline. I'll tell you more about that next time - but please note it in your diary - 19th - 22nd March 2015. 

I'll leave you with a bit more colour!! - Hilary xx

Thursday, 25 December 2014

Wishing you all the happiest Christmas and and peaceful, healthy and happy 2015. Will try very hard to be a more regular blogger next year! - Hilary xx

Friday, 19 December 2014

Playing with other peoples toys

One of the bonuses of demonstrating at the big shows, is that sometimes other people ask you to see what you can do with their toys. This happened at Harrogate Knitting and Stitching show this last November. Jamie from Colouriscious has gorgeous wooden printing blocks in an extraordinary choice of designs. She handed me a few to have a play with on my gelli. So I did - I like playing


plain old positive and negatives .. always full of possibilities ... especially with all the texture the gelli plate adds

So I did the same onto thick khadi paper. This was the 6" x 6" gelli and I picked it up and applied it to the paper like a stamp. This allowed me to still get a good print on the thicker material

So then I  tried using the same block with my baby gelli .. I really like the partial print it makes

So I made some more of those

then I got out a couple of different blocks, another colour of paint and my 5" x 7" gelli as well - using them all picked up and applied to the thick khadi like a stamp

Another piece of khadi paper, stamped and then overdyed

Some fabric also stamped and overdyed. Some areas also have detail added with neocolour 1 crayons as I was showing someone that they do work on fabric (not machine washable though) and will resist the dye

then - whilst I had the crayons out, I did some rubbings from the blocks - neocolour 1 not 2 (the latter are water soluble)

and of course all the off prints had to go somewhere .. so here they are, also overdyed.

A very small play - but lots of possibilities for design here. I'm finding the combination of different size gellis very interesting  and especially love the ability ot pick up those small boys. 

I'll show you some more examples of printing done at Harrogate next time .. some of the materials shown below. I'm trying to keep posts a bit shorter, in the hope I might manage to get them done more often!

Talk soon -Hilary x

Saturday, 29 November 2014

out of time .. pics now, words Monday .. well OK Wednesday!

Totally run out of time but wanted to at least get these images put up. They are from session 6 of Make it Personal . I will add words and details on Monday xx
And here I am .. on Wednesday in fact ... not a bad effort really. Thank you for the lovely comments already left - I know the students will appreciate them. It is not so easy to be asked to work to access your own style and creativity, but without exception the girls have risen to that challenge and excelled. You would ever look at these images and assume they had all been on the same workshop would you? And that proves the point - each of them has gone out on that scary limp and resisted the temptation to work with my style .. and found their own. I am so proud of them.
First up is Alison - who I first met at the two day workshop 'Make it Personal' at Festival of Quilts 2013. Alison has a beautiful gentle way of making marks and pattern - quite unlike any one else. Very gestural and expressive, I also love her way of putting unusual colour combinations into her work. I really hope she will carry on and stitch into these pieces and continue to follow her won artists path 
Another student who has been with me all year is Dorothy. I shall not mention actual ages, but I know Dorothy would say herself she is into her '3rd age' and she constantly surprises and impresses me with her enthusiasm for new things and ideas, not to mention her technological capabilities, which far out weigh mine. Dorothy has a wicked collection of fabulous art journal type stencils and stamps, which are fabulous, but which she was banned from using in this particular course (she took this very well - on the chin!) - as I really wanted a more personal expression. She has kept to this, and produced these lovely pieces, which are also beautifully stitched (first two), plus some more ideas in her sketchbook to keep her going ... well done my 'duck head eater'!
Helen G has also been with me since January and I have loved watching her grow in both skill and confidence ... the last the hardest trip, but looking at these pieces, I reckon she should feel pretty pleased with herself. Helen started form a position of virtually no 'art quilting' knowledge and I know this has sometimes made her feel a little insecure alongside more experienced group members. Well firstly - well done for staying the course Helen - sticking with something that you find hard, when you feel unsure is not easy at all - it takes a person with tough mettle - and that is you. Secondly, it can actually be easier to develop your won style and processes when you are not already 'cluttered up' with lots of (often conflicting) knowledge. A good example would be that Helen told me in the last session that her favourite technique was screen printing, particularly breakdown printing (and she has stunning prints from her play days). Screen printing can be viewed with trepidation by even quite experienced contemporary quilters - and Helen only got two days of tuition - in which we did a dash through many many screen printing technique. But the point is - she never learnt that it could be complicated - so she doesn't think it is (and done in my rather irreverent way - it isn't). To me, that is perfect - and gives so much freedom. Anyway - I will stop shut up now and let you admire her work .. still to be stitched, but stunning
Another regular since the start of the year is Pat, who chose fruit and veg markets as her theme - which could last her for the rest of her life if she chooses - it is so rich in imagery and history. Pat does beautiful drawings and paintings and utilised many of these to work into images for linocuts. This is such a good way of moving from a beautiful set of vignettes .. such as these ..
to wonderful, vibrant cloth like this .. that is just begging to be made into work
some of these were worked into wonderful colourful collages (below) which may, or may not have the larger silhouette type images added
here Pat is playing with layering different sizes and chopped up images
and here with taking some crops out of those gorgeous sweet pea drawings. These are beautiful, both in colour and in B+W .. I so hope Pat goes on to make these as finished pieces - she did promise she would ..
Pat obviously loves her sketchbooks - we all ogled many of them over the year .. but this one, which is an altered book which she started in our re-cycling session is just stunning. Amazed she didn't get it snitched at some point.
I think Pat also had a canvas from the previous session, which she managed to sneak by me .. but I'll get it from last times photos for you to see in my next post.
Sitting opposite Pat for all six session was my other Helen - Helen M, who was working with a theme of flowers. Another sketchbook lover, she produced some beautiful pages over the course.
Many many possible designs here and Helen was planning to take some cropped portions of the above drawing for some more. Sadly she was poorly for one 'working into design' session - but still has plenty to go at .. and this is some of her beautiful pile of materials made - so plenty to go at it with too
And so the  last, but most definitely not least of my year long students, was Christine. What a glorious feel for colour and pattern she has. Working with w theme of rainforests and their foliage in particular, she printed, stamped and stencilled the most extraordinary collection of vibrant materials during the year. And lots - it was a real pleasure to watch her enthusiasm and joy in making patterns and colour. Christine wonders if she should tone it down a bit? add a bit of blanker space? Only she can know the answer to whether that is what she likes - but for me - it's a big NOOOOOOO ... we all need to celebrate who we are. Design principles are there to guide only - never be afraid to break them if that is what you like. A prolific worker - she made all of theses in the last two sessions ... many of which are fully stitched too. I can't wait to see where she goes in the future


That is true of all the girls who I have had with me since January .. I feel I know them now and they all have huge talent and potential - I so look forward to seeing where they travel from now on.
Bernice had to miss the last session (gadding off on holiday - tut), but in my next post I will go through all the stuff made at the last MIP session, which was also working into design - so you can see her beautiful work then.
Not all students are able to come to every class and some dropped in and out during the year. Brenda is one of those - my Brenda ... another far too modest girl who makes some gorgeous work. Brenda bought back some of the materials made in earlier sessions, plus some she had added to the stash. Born and bred in Wales, she wanted to work using an image form near where she lives (wait till you see it - you will be jealous - I was). First of all, she worked to interpret this in a collage in her sketchbook ...
and then went to make this beautiful atmospheric collage on felt ...

this is already stunning and I cant wait to see it with stitch added
Brenda travels over form Wales with her friend Linda .. another hugely talented girl. Like me, Linda struggles to actually focus on any one thing, as the ideas just keep popping up. This can be great (never short of ideas) but also frustrating sometimes, if you don't learn to control it and make sure you see things through before leaping to a new idea (well sometimes anyway!) Another one with sketchbooks to die for, Linda focussed on staying OUT of them, and into some pieces for the two days - including this wonderful collage on to paper - which she intends to back and stitch
beautiful silhouettes over collage
and this glorious piece - which actually ended up with a large pot of ferns, in colour over the top. Dixter was just posed to see how things were working in the background. I'm so cross I didn't get the final piece photographed, as it was amazing. Please send it to me Linda ....
Linda also bought some work done using materials made in the previous session she attended
Kath attended the first two workshops and then returned for the last one as well. ON her first sessions she made some beautiful printed and stencilled fabrics in a wonderful range of blues. This time, she bought a collage with her, made using some of those materials - so delicate ...
In the final session. Kath decided to work using an image of some puffins, to make a background with silhouette foreground. Again, I put my camera away before the puffins arrived (some had to leave early so we took photos before the end) ... it is beautiful without them though and I hope Kath will send me an image of the piece when completed
And this time, Kath bought her sister, Pat , who was staying with her to come and play with us. Very brave, as she had not been to any previous sessions, so was jumping right in at the deep end. Pat had bought some gorgeous fabrics dyed during a day with Edwina Mackinnon and with the addition of a few of my papers, decided to make a collage on khadi paper, loosely based on a log cabin block. Both her fabric and my paper had spiral shapes in them, so she used this for some foreground shapes. I think this is amazing .. well done Pat and is going to look even more amazing when stitched.

So that was the last session for this year. I still have images to show you form previous sessions and will do that soon. Until then - here are two of my very camera shy girls - caught unawares - I shall miss them all - Hilary xx