Saturday, 26 February 2011

A Butterfly Break

Recently, while teaching at Farncombe Estates, I was told about a Butterfly Exhibition at Wisley Gardens and decided to pay a visit.  It had to be the best day this month and although cold, there were blue, cloudless skies. The glass houses were completed in 2007 and are beautiful. 
The tropical section was certainly a hot house - at least 30C+ and so humid it reminded me of Singapore.  The butterflies were magical and here are a few images I took that day - once my camera adjusted to the temperature.
Equally fascinating, another section of the glasshouse was the arid desert plants - cactus, palm trees and succulents.  I could see how they might inspire textures or graphic shapes in future work. More photos gave me a chance to experiment with my new camera.
I think I can see a sketchbook or two with the contrast of hard/soft, humid/dry, dark/light or green and browns

It has amazed me, looking at the photographs taken that day how, in under 2 hours, I had travelled between two very different climates - one with dark lush leaves, tropical flowers and butterflies - to spiky, hard, dry vegetation, as colourful, but in more subtle ways.  I know it isn't the same as being there in the real landscape, but it gave me a glimpse of what to expect.   My sister took these photos last week near Sedona, Arizona where she is on holiday at the moment..... a desert area that I would like to visit one day.  
More News.... 
Future Workshops 
Australia is my spring destination for teaching this year in Canberra, Ballarat (the FibreArts Forum), Hobart, Brisbane and Sydney.  It is always a real treat to visit this part of the world, everyone is so friendly and we all have a universal love of creativity with fabric and stitch.  My challenge at the moment is organising my one suitcase of 20kilos for that long haul flight.  On the way I will be touching down at Singapore, this time there will be no chance to see visit the Botanical Garden.  I no doubt will return in mid May after my travels with hundreds of inspiring photos.  Perhaps there is a series of work based on Australia  in the future?

The Fesitval of Quilts, Birmingham - August 11-14
I will also be teaching a one day class called 'Digital Imagery in Stitched Textiles' - which promises to be fun.  A review of Photoshop Elements, then with design and composition, one collage in paper is taken further to a transferred image on cloth.

Farncombe Estate Workshop - August 26-28  Creative Bound Stitched Sketchbooks
In two days we paint paper and stitch together sketchbooks.  Further collage and art exercises are introduced within those pages. See the Workshop and New Work pages for an idea of the sketchbook you could create on your own personal theme.
More workshops are posted on my website and again here in this site.  This doesn't include all entries in my diary but those that are open to anyone.  I will have more news in future posts about my teaching destinations later in the year.

And on a more serious note
Just to say that our thoughts are with everyone in Christchurch, New Zealand and as they continue to cope with the aftermath of the earthquake. I remember fondly a brief 3 day visit to this beautiful city a few years ago, especially the cathedral and park nearby.

Thanks for reading.....

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Mixed Messages

It never ceases to amaze me how we all view the world in such different ways.  Usually, every time I am taking a photo I am practising composition as well as looking in depth at detail, colour and textures.   There are exceptions........ There was no time for planning this image when I was on the  motorway travelling near Brussels back from teaching recently.... (no I wasn’t’ driving).  Photographs of wonderful ‘marks’ -  images in the night with colour and energy as the cars were racing past. -         I love when this happens.
The workshop in Maasbracht, in Southern Holland, was
‘Mixed Messages’, and we concentrated on words and messages on a personal theme.  One of the first exercises was a collage composition in black and white.  when colour is eliminated, we have a better chance of seeing simple design shapes, tonal values and the overall composition more easily.  When black and white photos are edited by  lightening and increasing the contrast, they will become more abstract.  New detail and information emerges.  This enhanced image can be easier to work with for drawing and sketching as you see more ‘design’ possibilities.  When colour does not get in the way, it is surprising how different the images will look.

       Don’t forget to isolate these areas further with a simple template or 'L' apertures to see the new design.... the essence of the original image will always be there.

       Any black and white images printed as photocopies can be creatively collaged together with interesting results. 
Subtle colour can be added to black and white paper with coloured pencil, or a light brusho or watercolour wash. Always include a bit of personal writing and words for added interest in the composition.  Later simple colour can be added with stitch by machine or by hand.  Perhaps a layer of lightly dyed sheer could be included.  These mixed media paper compositions, kept small are good practise for ‘free machine’quilting (stitching using a darning foot) -  it is only paper after all!!     
      Remember these collages are lightly glued together and backed with a thin wadding (batting) or a piece of interfacing with a backing fabric before machine stitching. 
      In the class, the students brought a variety of themes offering a wonderful array of subjects, colour inspiration and reference design material.  It is always exciting for me to be allowed to learn about these topics whether it is to do with local history, distant travels or the recent effects of the weather and flooding in many places both here and abroad.    Here are a few of the colour collages done in class.
For the workshop we worked with a variety of different compositions and the results were amazing. Here are just a small sample of some of the final stitched pieces. They also include disperse transfer dyed fabrics, dyed, stamped and painted fabrics, sheers and net.  This ' collage and stitch' approach could create a new way of 'looking' at a subject or prompt a change of direction in one's own work.
My thanks to the ladies for allowing me to show their creative and inspired work.   
....'Mixed media with a message.'  
Please remember that all images on this site are fully protected by international copyright law and cannot be reproduced in whole or in part without the permission of the artist. 

Thanks for reading.... watch this space.