Thursday 26 January 2017

Life Drawing 17.1.17

Pen, continuous line

I didn't run a Life Drawing session in December last year (too many other things on) so it seemed like a very long time since the last one. As often happens I didn't really feel like heading out to run a session but as always I ended up really enjoying it once I got there. It was lovely to see everyone after the break and to catch up; I've got a really supportive and friendly group of artists now who regularly attend so it feels like a social event as much as an art session sometimes. Similarly some of the models, including tonight's model, have been with me for a long time so it's always good to see them and hear their news.

Pen, continuous line

Pen, simple lines

Pen, continuous line

Nick has been modelling for my sessions since I first started running them four or five years ago and he's one of my favourites to draw. He has a very solid presence and creates some great monumental poses. I find my drawings of Nick often have a slightly 'Soviet Realism' feel to them; strong confident poses and clean lines.

Graphite stick

Graphite stick

Pen, continuous line

I'm always trying to improve my drawing and try new things and one of the things I've been looking at in my daily drawing is working with shading a bit more. I love working with line but I want to push myself and try different ways of working so I used a graphite stick for some of my drawings in this session. Interestingly I still ended up with what was predominantly a line drawing, but there were some interesting variations in line quality that are difficult to achieve with a pen.

Pen, continuous line

Pen, continuous line (and I got the whole body on one page!)

Blind drawing

I started the session with a blue pen, I like the softer lines this produces but it doesn't photograph well! I also worked with my trusty black pen, I love the strong confident line of this pen and the feel of it as it glides over the paper. Drawing is a very sensory experience, the looking at what you're drawing, the feel of the paper and the pen's movement, the sound of the pen across the paper all impact on the experience. I think this is one of the reasons that drawing is so good for well being, it's easy to become absorbed and 'in the moment' with drawing because it engages so many physical senses as well as using more cerebral senses (thinking about colour, composition etc.)

Pen, continuous line

Pen, continuous line

I always come away form the life drawing sessions with more energy than I started with, the drawing and sharing with other artists is a really important aspect of the sessions as it can sometimes be a bit lonely and frustrating working in isolation. It helps to share experiences and ideas and the little achievements made each session; this time I managed to fit a whole body on one piece of paper! Roll on February!

Tuesday 24 January 2017

Colours of Lewis: Knitted Rug

Hebrides Rug

Way back in May 2016 we went on holiday to Lewis and Harris. I love the Hebrides, the colours, the landscape, how friendly the people are and of course the textiles. I couldn't visit such an important centre of textile production without coming away with a couple of small mementos. One of these not so small mementos was a huge ball of wool made from waste threads from the production of Harris Tweed, which I got in the amazing Lewis Loom Centre.

Lewis yarn

Starting off

Moss stitch border

When I bought it I wasn't sure what I'd use it for but the colours sang to me and I knew I'd find a good use for it! The colours in the yarn are so beautiful that I didn't want to knit anything too fancy but rather I wanted something that would show them off. As both myself, Mr. Stitches and our cat are quite messy and we have a cream carpet (poor choice) I decided a small rug might be a good idea as the wool itself is quite rough so will hopefully be hard wearing. Now every time I look at the floor I'll be reminded of our lovely holidays instead of the fact that I need to vacuum!

Mega balls of yarn at Lewis Loom Centre

Inside Lewis Loom Centre

Harris coastline

If you'd like to have a go at making something similar I'm including the pattern on this post for you. It's very simple, a plain stocking stitch centre with a moss stitch border knitted on fairly chunky needles to showcase the colours of the yarn. The yarn I used is made up of 8 fine yarns spun together to make a chunky weight yarn. As exact size isn't crucial you could substitute any hard wearing chunky yarn for this project. It would also be able to make the rug bigger or smaller by adding or subtracting stitches. My rug measures around 70 cm x 50 cm and was knitted on 9 mm needles.




Cast on 70 sts

Rows 1,3,5,7,9: K1, P1, rep. to end

Rows 2,4,6,8,10: P1, K1, rep. to end

Row 11: K1, P1 5 times, K to last 10 sts, K1,P1 5 times

Row 12: P1, K1 5 times, P to last 10 sts P1, K1 5 times

Repeat rows 11 and 12 until you have 40 rows (or there about) of stocking stitch, ending with a row 12

Repeat rows 1-10

Cast off



Monday 2 January 2017

Ready to Fly

Ready to Fly, 2017

I wrote in my last post that my aims for this year included prioritising creativity. To that end I have started the year off with a small submission project. I have taken part in Surface Gallery's International Postcard Show three times before (2013,14 and 15) but didn't take part last year for reasons I can't really recall. I really like this project as it is small enough to fit in around even a busy schedule but there is still the satisfaction of making a piece of work and knowing it will be on show.

Ready to stitch

Layering Fabrics

Last year I really enjoyed working on my feather and textile pieces so I decided to continue working in this way for my postcard. I feel like I'm starting to really develop a personal vocabulary working in this way, with particular colours, stitches and fabrics signifying specific things. It doesn't matter whether or not this vocabulary is understood by other people, it is part of my creative process and way of exploring my ideas.



In my recent work birds (and feathers) have become a symbol of transcendence, a belief found in many cultural systems across the world due to their ability to fly into the heavens. In this piece and in other recent pieces the blues represent the sky and freedom, the feather symbolises the soul and the red symbolises life. For me this piece is about spreading your wings and rising up to meet life's challenges.



I used a piece of felted wool blanket as a base and layered it up with pieces of silk organza. All the fabrics I used were ones that I'd dyed with indigo. I used a combination of fly stitch, running stitch, seeding stitch and beading to hold the layers together. I love the way the stitches sink into the felted wool, creating another layer of texture. I'm pleased with how this piece has worked out and it has got my new year off to a creative and positive start. If you're in Nottingham the show is on from 14th January to 11th February.