Category Archives: Working In Series

Getting into the swing

Kilns 2
(30 x 75cm)
£195

Two weeks in and my 100 (week) day challenge is working. I am a lot more enthusiastic about making small works and the ideas are really flowing. Kilns 2 is finished, albeit needs stretching over canvas. And, in between working at my print bench this weekend, I have completed the background stitching on a third piece. I thought that committing to finishing at least one piece each week would be a stretch but already I’m finding that I am quicker and more decisive when building backgrounds.

I didn’t manage my goal of a steady 2 hours every evening this week because I had an evening out …. a fairly rare occurance as it has to be something special to drag me away from the studio. So here is my week:

  • Day 6 – 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Day 7 – 2 hours
  • Day 8 – 1 hour (squeezed in between getting home from work and going to see The Oh Sees who were loud, brilliant and just what this (non-medical) doctor needed!)
  • Day 9 – 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Day 10 – 2 hours

I was just too tired on Friday to do the extra 30 minutes needed to hit my 10 hour goal but I am making good progess so decided to be kind to myself. Next week however I have no outings and no excuses!

Topsy-turvy week

Kilns 1
(30 x 75cm)
£195

I have completed the first week of my 100 (week) day challenge. My goal is a steady 2 hours every weekday evening focussed on making small art with a commitment to finish at least one piece each week.

So I got one part right albeit the piece still needs stretching over canvas. Kiln 1 is a small piece in my Ruins series. I want to make art that has some relation to my upcoming exhibition at The World of Glass in St Helens. The museum has a dramatic entrance through a really large renovated kiln and St Helens is dotted with the remains of kilns, both glass kilns and brick kilns. The current Pilkington Glass factory in St Helens has some interesting buildings but brick built kilns are a thing of the past … which fits in nicely with my Ruins series.

My hours this week though were not exactly steady. I nearly delayed starting my challenge because I knew I had an overnight trip with my day job this week. But then I thought what the heck … I am never going to get a 20 week period without interuption. I’ll be lucky to get a two week period. The import thing is that I work around interuptions. So here is my week:

  • Day 1 – 2 hours.
  • Day 2 – 40 minutes (I actually got out of bed early to work in the studio before heading off on my trip! This is a first for me).
  • Day 3 – 2 hours 20 minutes.
  • Day 4 – 3 hours (keeping busy until the election coverage started)
  • Day 5 – 2 hours

I’ll admit to finding the 2 hours on Friday evening rather hard going as I had about three hours sleep before getting up for work at 6.30am. That coupled with the fact my husband joined me in the studio to carry one talking about the results meant that some of my stitched lines were not quite a uniform as I would like. Still I really like the result and am all fired up for next week!

As messy as it gets!

I recently posted that I can’t created in chaos. And that messy in my studio is when there are snippets of thread and fabric on the floor. Well I got really, really messy (for me) over the long weekend we have just enjoyed in the UK. I also got sore feet from standing for hours. And my rotary cutter needed a long lie down in a dark room afterwards. But look what I got in return – trays of cut ‘bricks’ and bondaweb backed ‘brickettes’ ready to build backgrounds in my Ruins and my View series.

I love printing and it is so tempting to just keep on printing, especially on sunny days when breakdown screens dry quickly. But it is only by cutting up the fabrics that I can see if I have the right balance of colour and pattern. I can see that I have enough fabric to start making backgrounds. I use the bricks to piece backgrounds for my large quilts and I use the brickettes to fuse backgrounds for smaller works. But I can also see that I will need more of the darker fabrics in both series to complete the work I am planning for the rest of this year. Which means more printing. Happy days!

Quilt National ’17

The 20th bienniel Quilt National opens today at the Dairy Barn Arts Centre in Ohio, US. And I am incredibly proud that one of my quilts – Ruins 7 – is amongst the 85 quilts selected this year.

Ruins 7
(180 x 250cm)

Ruins 7 is part of my series that explores what happens to buildings when we stop using them, when we leave them behind. We stop using buildings for many reasons. This piece references buildings and cities destroyed by war.

It is the first time I have entered Quilt National and really didn’t think I stood a chance so never even considered making the journey to the US for the opening. Which is a shame because I hadn’t realised just how many activities are organised for the selected artists; opportunities to see behind the scenes, to meet fellow artists, to give workshops and to sell other works through the Dairy Barn shop. So there is my challenge for future Quilt National – get selected again AND find the time / money to attend the opening!

It takes all sorts

It’s a wet morning here in Dunure so time to stitch sleeves onto quilts, time to drink coffee and read the newspaper, and time to think. To think about the work I need to create for my exhibitions next year. And time to think about how I work.

One of the reasons that I’ve chosen to partner with Helen Conway is that we share the same professional, ‘get it done’ attitude to making our art and exhibiting our art. We plan our time and know that we will fill the galleries. We share out the administrative stuff and trust each others decisions. We will compromise where we need to.

But we are very different in the way we actually create. Helen is like a sponge – she sees inspiration pretty much everywhere and is constantly spinning new ideas. Not just about the subject of her work but also about the materials she uses. I know that she uses journaling to provide some order to her thoughts but mostly she goes into her studio and just starts. She works in a mess of materials, tools and books. To me it looks like chaos but to Helen it is where she finds creativity.

I am the opposite. The world is full of inspiration but I knew that I would not develop as an artist if I continued to hop from one idea to the next. Or if I continued to take workshops on different techniques. So I have chosen to work in series and to limit the number of techniques / materials I use. And I am very disciplined about it. The old me would have been busy trying to create something based on the beautiful sunsets here in Dunure but the current me enjoys the sunset then continues to stitch sleeves on quilts. I do most of my ‘designing’ in my head. I don’t just go into the studio and start. I occasionally write ideas down but mostly I let them brew and filter as I work in the studio. Yes I will spend lots of time getting the exact colours and textures I want but the experimenting and sampling is really just fine tuning the decisions I have already made in my head. And I can’t work in chaos. ‘Messy’ in my studio is when there are snippets of thread and fabric on the floor. I wash up and tidy as I go. I typically plan my activities for the week and go into the studio knowing exactly what to do first (even if that is to sweep the floor). I’m not at all good at spontaneity.

But I recognise my strengths and weaknesses and have chosen, for now at least, to work with a media – breakdown printing – that cannot be 100% controlled, that introduces unintentional marks into my work. Marks that will hopefully resonate with Helen’s work when we exhibit together in 2018.