New directions

Lately I have been exploring handmade recycled paper construction – that is, deconstructing old papers ( we seem to have so much these days) by shredding them and then converting them to pulp in my dedicated blender (purpose bought for $35 from Coles – I see they are now on special for $25!! so one wonders how long it will last!) This all began when my husband, in clearing out some space in his shed, found and presented me with some old screens we found that had been used to make papers with the offspring when they were in primary school – not very taut, and not very big, and no deckle! haha. I decided to try it out again from that hazy long ago memory of doing this once before… clearly not very successfully because a) the adult children have no memory of it and b) I didn’t make any more…. I made a few papers with one of these screens, and well, the edges were super thin, and the middles were thick, fairly horrible…. I thought at this stage it would be worth finding out how to actually do this properly…. so I invested in a book. This was a revelation! I enlisted the help of my husband to make me a mould and deckle, and then a plywood press. I have two sizes of mould and deckle: one 5″ x 7″ (made from a couple of old stretched 8″ x 10″ canvases) and the other is A4 size.

Once I have made the papers, they spend some time in the press to remove the water, and are then laid out to dry….. follow that with sizing, allow to dry again, press again to flatten; a quick iron will make the papers nice and crisp, and the outcome should be some lovely textured and mottled papers ready for watercolour or gouache. Some of the sheets are rather more cardboard-like, and some so thin they are super fragile in the drying process (that creates interesting wrinkles and gaps….). It’s all about getting the solution the correct balance in the vat, and that I am afraid is impossible for me to do in any kind of precise scientific way…. but maybe I will get better at judging what it feels like to be the correct weight for what I want…. Such a process! There may be quicker ways, but then I am a novice.

Following on from the paper making, what to do with the papers? The first batch of papers made on the original deckle-less mould were not to be wasted (invested a bit of time already in this process) and I wanted to experiment with painting on them. So this little series of kingfishers was born. What if I add some stitch? and some batting, and sandwich them, and then how to put them together? Found some inspiration on Pinterest, and here is the result…. I think this is not yet finished….

Watch this space, I plan to make more! Maybe some monoprinting, more stitch, and other elements! So looking forward to exploring this ….. and guess what, I am awaiting the arrival of another book which will tell me how to convert my weeds to paper… oh and garden plants too…. Not that I have many actual plants… just weeds……….

‘Til next time, happy creating!

Benefit Auctions

Being a member of Studio Art Quilt Associates, I decided this year I would submit a couple of small pieces for auction, to help in a small way to raise funds for the SAQA exhibition programmes, and I guess it is another platform where people will see my humble work….. These are the two pieces  – the first,   postcard sized, is an Eastern Yellow Robin  for the Spotlight Auction, and the second, Silver Gulls, is for the Benefit Auction. I had fun making them. The postcard is already on it’s way to America, if it hasn’t already arrived, and the other will be soon winging it’s way to Lisa Walton , vice president of SAQA who has kindly offered to take the Oceania Membership Group’s donated quilts to the USA.

The past 10 days have also seen me quilt and bind a charity quilt top  – one of the Linus quilts – made by another Queensland Quilters member, so I will be handing that back this coming Tuesday at the QQ Inc March gathering. Just a teeny contribution…. and it keeps my hand in just a bit with the machine quilting…

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Then there were a couple of tiny miniature pieces I did for fun, that were not birds for once!!! I have had these tiny frames in my stash for years so with a bit of the old crackle medium and acrylic paint I dressed them up a little and made these wee gifts…. 2″ x 2″ and 2″ x 2.5″ respectively!

I have a mind to have a go at the Coastal Threads Art Prize, “Coastal Fringe” if I can get my act together… I have yet to finalise my subject, but with a March 30 deadline I will be on to it this week! Next on the list following that is a commission! Exciting times.

 

 

Just for fun

Today I went back to persevering – for a couple of hours – with the watercolour experience! It’s all pretty horrible. Haha I don’t know, if I get hooked on it, I might improve…. giving it a bash with some free online lessons from Www.ArtTutor.com which I tell myself will help me in my art practice – and even if it doesn’t, I don’t suppose it’ll do any harm!

The main textile work I am currently busy with is a group challenge which was set by the members of our Textile Group (Reddy Arts). I have to run with it, and the criteria are: 60cm square, start with a white fabric, (e.g. a bed sheet) and all commercially purchased prints and hand dyes are forbidden. I am not convinced that challenges are a good thing.

For this I have opted to  use a very old painted and stencilled piece made several years ago and which has been languishing in the cupboard ever since… It started way back in the days of experimentation with new techniques… there were so many possibilities, so many to try, and thus we gave ourselves permission to play which resulted in giving everything a go! Until eventually we ran the risk of becoming technique junkies without a clue where to go from there… that is a trap, BEWARE! (I still get sucked in….. viz: the watercolour painting) So this piece of original painted and stencilled (with various texture media – eg glass beads and structure gel – mixed in with acrylic paints) now altered with cutting and reinvented with stitching, both hand and machine, is planned to feature a couple of birds… (Surprise!)  but is so far from my usual style of work, I believe it will not be recognisable as mine at all…..  but isn’t that what challenges are all about? Exploring new directions?

So onward, I need to go get stitching, painting and whatever!

 

Art as a full time occupation

 

October 2016 was a heady month. That was when I won the Best of Show at Queensland Quilters Inc.s annual Quilt Show, with my art quilt Cudgera Creek.

cudgera-creek-montage-finished

I had spent the previous few months, and much of October and November, trying to perfect my ruler quilting ( a whole different thing altogether) because I pretty much suck at traditional quilting, both by hand and machine. Oh, I can do it, just not very well, and there are some amazing amazing quilters out there who make it look easy. (It isn’t). But after pulling off the big event with my art quilt, well, that’s clearly the direction I really ought to head in!

Besides, I LOVE making my art quilts. Thus, it’s been head down and tail up for the past 4 weeks (already!) since the holidays ended, and we all headed back to town and commitments….and I’ve so far loved every minute! This year, I said to myself, will be a year of ART. The thing is,  if I want to be an artist, then art has to be my new full time occupation.

Recent work:  a selection of drawings – I have a long way to go.

Textile pieces below: I have more, but I can’t reveal them yet… soon though! I have so far completed 3 textile pieces this year. The main one is this work in progress below, (35″ x 35″) which I intend to enter in an upcoming local art competition…. the Rosella in “Good Morning” is my donation piece for the planned Queensland Quilters Silent Auction – keep an eye on their website for further details. QQ website Dimensions are 8″ x 10″ and it is ready to hang, mounted on an art canvas.

There are more in my head! Also, I intend to take some classes…. I need more skills with composition, water colours, and landscape painting…what to put in, what to leave out, what to move  where, etc! Not to mention getting the bird shapes right.  If I can master these, I think they will be invaluable assets to have when designing my textile art pieces. I plan to immerse myself in art practice.

 

Melbourne interlude: art, architecture and nature.. plus some artist links

Inspirational weekend – three of the Reddy Arts Textile Group got together and embarked on a trip to Melbourne for the specific purpose of seeing some of the amazing work of renowned Australian textile art pioneer Annemeike Mein at an afternoon tea on Saturday. Annemeike was born in Holland but moved to Australia as a child with her family, to Sale, Victoria. She was influenced by the Australian wildlife and her work depicts many Australian species: birds, butterflies, dragonflies, fish, frogs, flora…. you can learn about her and see her work here.

After checking into our hotel on Friday, we set out to find Chloe, and explored the city a bit – visited the famous Hosier Lane of course! and saw cathedrals, and an eclectic mix of old facades contrasting with concrete and glass skyscrapers, dodged taxis and cars to catch trams – and the people – everywhere…  buskers and street vendors of sweets and nut… tourists and locals… We visited the chocolatiers and over the duration of the weekend, tried a few different cuisines – Italian, French, Greek, British…. we discovered a random Japanese style art exhibition by local artists, and some button supply stores, one in downtown Melbourne and the other out in Malvern…

On Saturday we were fortunate to enjoy afternoon tea with Annemeike and to view not only her exhibition “Habitat” (at the Bayside Arts and Cultural Centre  at Brighton Vic. – click here for the address. this exhibition runs until Nov 6th 2016.  ) but also several videos on her work process. We also were able to speak with her which was a great privilege. This was the highlight of the weekend! with-annemeike-mein

Prior to the afternoon tea, we were able to fill the morning with art! We visited an exhibition of David Hinchliffe’s work at Manyung Gallery in Malvern – amazing inspirational work. Mainly cityscapes, with rain and night views, truly awe inspiring!

Following the Manyung Gallery we took a tram to the Malvern Town Hall viewed another exhibition which was only on over that weekend. There are four of these exhibitions each year. Visit Kevin Hill’s Top Ten Australian Artists for more information. I could not resist purchasing a painting but which one? In the end I settled for a small James Hough, as it was an easily transportable size (we had more trains and trams to catch and I was already toting my camera gear! just in case! Mad really, didn’t use it much that day! ) but mainly because I loved the subject, an Eastern Yellow Robin. (my photo doesn’t do it justice though!) I bought a 2017 calendar from Werner Filipich and a book by Paul Margocsy which also needed to be carried but that was OK! Spent too much time here, talking to the artists, and could have stayed longer, but we had an afternoon tea to get to….

Sunday was down time, and whilst the other two went shopping, I (having spent my spending money on the painting!) immersed myself in nature for a few hours at Fitzroy Gardens – walked past St Peters Cathedral and visited the fountains – the river god and the dolphins- communed with the birds – ducks with ducklings, blackbirds and the old sulphur crested cockatoo up in his tree… very pleasant and the rain held off – I visited the so called Cook’s Cottage reputed to have been owned by James Cook’s parents although he never lived in it. It was a cute little stone cottage and had a great garden out the back full of butterflies and bugs… I visited the model Tudor village and the fairy tree…. and the conservatorium.