Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A break from print work

This summer weather heats up the print kitchen too much for comfortable work, and so I spend my time mostly in the sewing room which stays cool.  One summer task I embarked on yesterday was stripping the lavender.  I had forgotten what a long job that is!  Thank goodness for Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra which accompany what might otherwise become somewhat tedious.  Yesterday I spent too long on the stripping, so I shall break up the work a bit more today.  The idea is to make some more lavender bags as the clothes moths seem to have increased of late - so the smell of lavender will pervade the sewing room for some time; definitely better than that of naphthalene which I remember from the huge chests and wardrobes in my grandmothers' houses! 
I take tremendous delight in choosing threads, and love rummaging through my bowls for the right ones.  This ceramic bowl (a present, made at the Cley pottery in Norfolk) holds my Stef Francis fine silk threads which I use not only on silk pieces, but also on fine cotton lawn. (Note the lavender heads around the bowl - they get everywhere!)
This piece, with temporary titles until now, suddenly named itself Salad days.  It can now be added to my evening stitching pile.
I have also got round to resuming work on Patched Pastime 2.  It is a warm fabric to handle, but this stage is mostly machine work.  The final quilting will be done once the weather turns.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Dream-like drift

Matisse: Studio Interior (image from here)
I have just finished reading The Cupboard by Rose Tremain.  I thoroughly enjoyed it and the journey it takes.  The story is of the life of a young Suffolk farm girl, Erica Marsh, told when she is old and looking back.  It moves through extraordinary times and economic situations, two world wars, fascinating characters - almost unbelievably, and yet like a dream it grips with its own reality.  And in contrast to the experience are the extracts from Erica's novels: allegorical, magical: another deeper level of dreamland.  Harsh reality is there too both in Erica's life and in the experiences of the young partly drawn journalist to whom she is telling her history.
Rose Tremain is one of those storytellers who grips me right from the beginning, and takes me on wondrous journeys through time and space.  The first book of hers I read was The way I found her, set in Paris when we were on a long stay in Paris.  I was immersing myself in books set in or about the city, and this novel hooked me.
Again set in France, in a part of the South that I know, the next Rose Tremain novel I read was Trespass.  From there I have gone on to enjoy two collections of short stories Evangelista's Fan and The Colonel's Daughter, and the wonderful The Colour, a novel set in the New Zealand gold rush.
I've got The Road Home to try next, after reading Death and the Seaside by Alison Moore - I very much enjoyed Moore's first novel The Lighthouse - about a man who for a large part of the story is on a walking holiday in Germany.  It is not just the stories both these writers tell, but the wondrous pictures they conjure, and especially the characters they present which entrance me.
Vuillard: Young woman at a linen cupboard (image from here)

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A couple of hot days

Summer seems to have returned to us, and for a couple of days it has been too hot to work in the kitchen print studio until the afternoon.  I have been carving five images to go together, and want now to proof them to see if further cutting is needed.
As I look out of the open french window in the sewing room I see that I will soon have lavender to harvest for bags,
but meantime I am preparing some of my putterings for stitching.  I've added a new post to my work blog.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Further stripes

Continuing the wandering ponder, yesterday's post thoughts reminded me of work by a printmaker whose work I admire: Ellen Heck, and in particular her Color Wheels.  Of course, after looking at them again I puddled through the rest of her archive.  I do so enjoy her relaxed people, the lives they show, the reality of it, especially in the Plus a Century group -
where I encountered stripes which further reminded me of clothing ...
as distinctively depicted by Mary Cassatt, (image above from here)
and the lovely Watteau drawing in the British Museum,
and of course the dramatic drawings of Egon Schiele, which were not far from my memory because of Eirene's recent post.
Further, I found two interesting posts on stripes in Lucy Vivante's blog, here and here.  Strangely enough, stripes are not a particular aspect I have pursued in my own work - except in rows of stitch/quilting, of course.  I do have one recent lino print on which I tried out striped clothing of a sort, but I'm not sure I'm happy with that either.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Intriguing coincidence

A happy wanderer I, continuing to potter around the web, I encountered stitching on paper/book by Pat Badt which intrigued me (image above from here). 
Looking further - and I particularly like the page called Market Day (above) - I found that the work reminds me strongly of the dictionary colour work done by Margaret Cooter - for example,
here and
I do so enjoy the simple and yet complex and powerful effects that coloured lines can have.  I prefer Margaret Cooter's freshness, but I am intrigued by the use of added stitch which first drew me in.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Another wander round the web

I prod the possibilities for distant future projects like probing a sore area to try to define it better.  Thoughts of three dimensions recur, and accompanying visions of armatures and coverings, ... but with no clarity as yet.  Which usually leads to research, the most immediate of which is the library on my laptop: googling.
(Image above from here)
This almost never fails to provide more fuel for my thinking, and today yielded a sculptor from my half home town of Thessaloniki in northern Greece:  Vally Nomithou.
(Image above from here)
I have been completely blown away with her pieces from the exhibition Let it Bleed, and feel both inspired and excited.  Two more views of the same piece are from Vally Nomithou's website, and for those of you who understand Greek, here is a short film.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Looking at lines

Today I went on an online journey inspired by Margaret Cooter's post, and her mention of Rosemary Burton's collages (see above). Intrigued, I remembered a splendid large collage I'd seen years ago, and tried to remember the name of the artist.  I googled all sorts of clues and looked at the images, and on the way was distracted by a photo of the work of Brenda Holzke.
Looking in detail at her work, which attracts me - most especially the Indigenous Baskets (see below), and the Mixed Media pieces (see above). 
Furtling around further pursuing Holzke online I also found an interesting blog: Pattern Prints Journal, with not only a post on Holzke, but also images of Louise Bourgeois' work currently (as shown below).
Two interesting finds - thanks to Margaret and my lack of memory - which later redeemed itself by popping the elusive name of Mariza Colonna into my brain at an appropriately idle moment. (image below from here)

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

The way ahead

The green chair
I enjoy continuing the work strategy I had during my publishing career: detailed work on current projects, doing preparatory work on different stages of upcoming projects, and also looking ahead to proposals for future projects.  At present I find myself happily engaged in work current and upcoming; but for the first time I feel a gaping hole in the future.
Over the years my work has progressed steadily, piece by piece, always looking forward and trying to learn that it is one's own opinion that counts most.  I have been making what I'm happy to call work rather than play, samples, or experiments since 2001 when I started my photo album of the oeuvre - my catalogue raisonné

Today I added the latest batch, and see I'm just four photo slots away from filling this thick album.  I am pleasantly surprised still to be satisfied with most of the work.  I do have another similar album ready to take records of work in the pipeline of which there's enough to make quite an inroad,
but I seem to have reached a point when I cannot see further than the immediate and the already developing.  The way beyond that is not yet even vague.  I feel the need for the challenge of growth, to move on somehow, but I must be wary of not pushing myself too far in any particular direction.  (I went down all sorts of inappropriate alleys with my knitwear design - which in itself was quite the wrong direction!)  It's a delicate balance between turning thoughts over for size, trying things that could initially feel alien, following enthusiasm while tempering fantasy.  The purpose of the pondering is to be ready to recognise and distinguish the solution when it appears.
Quiet blue
It's lucky that my present work aids meditation and thought, and that these are occupations along with problem solving which I thoroughly enjoy.

Wednesday, August 03, 2016

Puttering along

Although I am fully occupied, there is not much to tell.  I am working through various things, progress being made, and puttering on the sidelines.
The puttering consists of making small versions of designs or parts of designs.  I always want to have stitching to hand when I need it, and don't ever want to feel pushed to produce make-work stuff.  So I've printed up a few pieces on cotton, two of which I've quickly snapped here with a pencil to show size.
I am also progressing happily through my relief printmaking, with another session of first proofing today.  Here below is a snap of some of the proofs before they went onto the rack.
My reading is print-oriented too, having moved on from Degas to Kiefer, after which I shall continue with another couple of books on relief work: Michael Rothenstein's Frontiers of Printmaking: new aspects of relief printing - published in 1966, so not quite so new!  And the not-yet-published Peter Green - The Workmanship of Uncertainty which is due to arrive at the end of the month.