Doing a Carole with Watercolours

I recently wrote a review of Carole Robson’s latest book Painting Expressive Landscapes

(Search Press, details at end of blog) As it was written for the website of the WOWbook, it wasn’t generally available. However lots of people asked me about it (after I posted on Facebook) so I decided to write about it here.

 

When I review a book that really grabs me, I tend to do a little workshop based on it for the WOWbook website – huge fun for me and a chance to see how something like a book on watercolour techniques can relate to textiles. As my current work has been an exploration of print techniques and image program designs on fabric, it’s a great chance to explore that aspect as well. The partly stitched piece shown here illustrates it.

 

 

Watercolour effects translate beautifully into textile designs, possibly using silk paints on fabrics. I like to use watercolour directly on paper and then scan and print on silk or cotton. This book on landscapes is ideal, as many of the finished pieces offer ideas for further embellishment. The suggestions and techniques may not be new to any of us from a City & Guilds or art-based background but I like the way that Carole combines them and her instructions are clear and helpful.

The book begins with the usual introduction to materials and basic techniques. We cover a lot of ground, moving swiftly from the absolute basics of mixing paint, dropping paint on wet paper, the infinite variety of pigments etc., then colour and tools (I love the spread on ‘painting without a brush’) and the techniques section where the action hots up. These range from some of our well-loved methods such as cling-film over wet paint, flicking paint from a brush and the use of salt. I loved the idea of drawing with a tube of paint, making use of the dried up stuff around the top. This gives a really bright pop of paint.

 

In the workshop I wrote based on Carole’s ideas, I was excited by the possibilities in manipulating the cling film to suggest elements of a landscape. This resulted in the sample shown below. A single colour was used (my favourite Nordic Blue) to produce a great interpretation of an overgrown forest. It was painted on heavy watercolour paper with quite a wet wash (see sample below).

 

 

This led to further experiments with additional colours. I outlined some of the shapes with a graphite stick.

 

 

How to incorporate the paper samples with stitch? I like inkjet printable fabrics by Jacquard and keep a small stock of the silk, cotton and organza packs. It’s not the cheapest method, but I fund it by filling the entire page with images and using any left-over bits for cards, which I sell at shows or use as birthday cards for stitchy mates. The resulting print is lightfast too, which is important if you sell work. In the pic below, you can see the original artworks, together with prints on both silk and organza.

 

 

I leave the prints overnight, before fixing them to a background fabric with fusible webbing, such as Bondaweb. I bonded the two stitched pieces shown onto felt, as I like the slightly quilted effect that this produces when stitched.

 

 

The tree was lightly free-machined with a few squiggles to suggest branches and a light outline of the trunk – it needs a bit more work as it looks a bit like a lollypop at the moment. I have begun to add more foliage with hand stitching in blue-green colours.

I always enjoy the experience of trying out ideas from books and appreciate the fact that Search Press are happy for me to do this. I took the book in to my stitchng group and everyone was impressed. We are going to have a ‘Messy day with Carole’ for our next meeting.

We have many extra workshops, by well known textile artists, in the WOWbook Members’ clubs on this website – so you don’t just buy the WOWbook but an ongoing experience.

Here’s the details about the book.

Carole Robson

Painting Expressive Landscapes

Carole Robson

ISBN: 978-1-78221-553-0

£14.99

Search Press www.searchpress.com

 

 

Here comes the next one…..

What an exciting time – WOWbook 04 should be with us next week and it is a real cracker. To keep the concept fresh, we introduced a guest editor, Lynda Monk, and she has discovered some truly innovative artists for us. Here are just a few of the exciting workshops:

Wendy Dolan knows a thing or two about keeping a sketchbook. In her workshop, she demonstrates just how to turn a quick sketch into an exciting piece of art. She shows us in detail how to transfer a design and then add texture and stitch to make a dynamic piece of art.

Many years ago, at the the now lost  (and much lamented) Art in Action show, I was introduced to the art of collagraph by one of the demonstrators – Sue Brown. I loved her work, she is mistress of so many techniques and she has remained one of my very favourite artists. She’s also had a big influence on my work. So what a coup by Lynda to have signed her up for a workshop, using gum arabic as a print device – see below. Genius.

 

Amanda Hislop is another featured artist and you’ll all love her ideas for building up a surface. These could be carried into all manner of textile and artworks.

 

Our interview is with Sandra Meech and, as you would expect, it is a fascinating account of how she approaches her work and what it means to her to be able to explore a ‘sense of place’, not only in her studies of the wild places of the world but also following a fairly recent move to Somerset in England’s West Country. Sandra has also written a very comprehensive workshop for the website that is free with the book. This will be waiting for you when you receive the book – where you will find all password details for our members’ club.

 

We also have articles from two famous Annes – both giving ideas for working in three dimensions. Anne Hellyer has introduced the concept of three-dimensional art with a piece that looks as good at the back as it does at the front. Her stand at shows is always packed with fascinated onlookers.

Our other Anne is Anne Kelly who has written some amazing books that we know you all love and she has, typically, been thinking outside the box for her workshop. Inside the box too, as she is converting a vintage workbox to a piece of high art, with some beautiful examples of stitch.

Then there is the ‘Inspired by’ feature and, on the website, the next instalment of my ‘Maggie Grey’ course – lots of experiments with texture and form in that. Tyvek, Lutradur, lots of mess and even lots of stitching this time.

To put your name on the ‘Let-me-know’ list for the book just email fiona.d4daisy@nullgmail.com

 

 

A Great Idea

I’ve just uploaded an article in the members’ club on the WOWbook site (www.wowbook.d4daisy.com)  about the fAB group of stitchers at Bicton College in Devon. This group members not only support each other in producing their own work but also mentor current students in many ways. Gill Burbidge is the tutor for a Level 3 (A-level equivalent) drawing, painting and fibrecraft course. She found that, when they finished the course, the students wanted more. Thus the fAB group came into being. The group donate money from exhibition sales at the college and this is used in many ways. Perhaps to sponsor stands for students at exhibitions, to purchase student work or to exhibit at shows, the purchase of props, lighting, end of year prizes, visiting speakers etc. The piece below is by former student Caley Bright.

 

There is also a shop where students can purchase all manner of stitchy needs at reduced prices. fAB members also help students at shows – doing anything from setting up the stand to paying for stand fees and display materials. This pic shows work from the recent Craft 4 Crafters exhibition.

 

 

This is such a good idea and a great way of encouraging young textile artists. Like-minded people can apply to become members of the fAB group. Contact Gillian for more details. Gillian.burbidge@nullbicton.ac.uk

feltmakersatbictoncollege.org.uk

 

A couple of things on my mind, one is the fact that the Gathering Memories project, which invited textile artists to submit work to be auctioned to raise funds for the Alzheimers Society, raised over £7,000. Such a great achievement and I know that a lot of people worked very hard to bring about this excellent result. This piece is by Sandra Meech.

 

 

I’ve just been reading an article from the Sunday Times magazine (yes, it often takes me a whole week to read the Sunday papers) about a very courageous woman with Alzheimers. She gives off the most upbeat vibes, while not belittling the difficulties, and has written a book. Sorry this is such a long link. https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/dementia-together-magazine/feb-march-2017/woman-alzheimers-who-wants-people-affected-dementia-fight

 

I dropped off my work for Ramster Embroidery Exhibition on Monday. having finally finished and framed ‘Raschida’, below. From what I could see from the work being unpacked, it all looks fantastic. I always do the eyes first these days – to see if I like how they look at me. I’ve worked a couple of ‘faces’ who have glared at me all through the stitching process.The exhibition starts on Saturday – here is a link with details www.ramsterevents.com/whatson

 

 

New Additions and Ancient Faces

I’ve decided that a good use of my blog would be to let folk who have purchased the WOWbook know when we put new workshops and videos on the site. We know that not everyone is able to look at our members’ only group on Facebook. The WOWbook members’ club on www.wowbook.d4daisy.com has some great recent additions. Articles by Nikki Parmenter, a workshop and review based on watercolours have recently been added. As part of my regular course, I have been making an altered book and having wonderful fun with it.

 

 

 

In the next couple of weeks there will be more on this, including combining water-soluble paper and Tyvek, ironed over a stamp. These can be embedded into the book pages for extra interest.

 

 

We recently enjoyed having a stand at Craft4Crafters, at the Exeter show. My goodness, this show has come on in leaps and bounds with some exciting demos going on and lots more for stitchers. We were right opposite West Country Embroiderers, who had a brilliant display, with great work on show. We saw some fabulous examples based on our kozo trees – extended way beyond the article, which is always good to see.

 

 

As I mentioned last time, In my own work I have returned to a favourite theme – Ancient Faces. I was inspired by a book of the same name and have been working on variations for many years. I always begin with a pastel drawing and my latest trials have been with Inkjet Printable Silk (after scanning the drawing). Playing with the Embellisher machine, I think I have found a way to ‘paint’ with silk on linen. Great fun – I expect it will turn up as a workshop on the WOWbook site soon. I’ll have a couple of pieces based on this theme at the Ramster Hall Embroidery Exhibition. This always a lovely event and it’s on from Saturday, 16 March 2019 to Saturday, 31 March 2019. More details from the website https://www.ramsterevents.com/

 

 

 

Faces, flowers and a dog

One minute it’s Christmas, then you look at the calendar and we are half way through January. How does that happen?

A lot of excitement has been going on here since my last blog – the major event being the launch of WOWbook 3. It was so amazingly busy with sales that I didn’t even get time to blog about it. Every time we say that we won’t be so busy this time – I’m glad to say that once again, we were wrong. The mix of book and ongoing online workshops seems to have great appeal. This pic from the Inspirations section is Party Lurcher by Mrs Bertimus.

We are already seeing the results of the workshop tutors’ inspirational instructions and the Facebook page has been very busy. You can see some of the results on our Gallery page at www.wowbook.d4daisy.com. Just look for the gallery on the top menu – you don’t have to be  member to view it. If you’ve bought the book and you would like us to include your work in the Gallery just send a pic to us fiona@nulld4daisy.com The Gallery pic below is a lovely shot of eco-dyed fabrics from Jane Rouse.

 

The Facebook page is such fun – lots of our members say that it’s the friendliest group on the web and, as it is a closed group, we don’t get any spammy stuff. I love to see the work that results from our online members’ club articles, as well as the book stuff. You may remember that, in a recent article, I wrote about my experiments with turning Brusho paintings into stitch and here is Wendy Burgess’ take on that process.

 

 

My last blog was about transferring paper designs to stitch – some techniques, like Brusho, only work well on paper. I’m expanding that to watercolours as part of a workshop I’m writing about Jane Betteridge’s new book. Dynamic Watercolours has some great ideas and not only covers watercolour but techniques such as stamping into your watercolour, using tissue paper and so on, that we use in our stitched work.

 

We have a fun deal going with Search Press where we pick a book to review and expand it with an interview with the author and then I have a bash with one or two techniques from the book. Now I know I can transfer the results to fabric, I’m even more keen. I used some masking fluid that I thought was the peel-off version and was so disappointed when it was non removable. However I then decided to draw into the painting and found that the mask that I’d splattered over the paper was great when I doodled into it – another technique to be printed on the inkjet fabric. Hooray.

 

I’ve also used the drawing to fabric technique for transferring some of my ‘Ancient Faces’ drawings to a more forgiving medium. The top one here has been transferred to Craft Vilene by ironing paper onto Bondaweb and then rubbing the top layer away.I am making these for the Ramster Exhibition. More info here www.ramsterevents.com

  

 

 

 

If you are in the south-west of England, do come and see us at C4C (Craft4Crafters) in Exeter. I’ll be demonstrating my Brusho and watercolour ‘splat’ techniques as well as the embellisher machine. In addition, Amo House will be showing some exciting methods of image transfer. Fiona will be keeping us in order (some hope). It would be lovely to see you there.

 

The Glories of Brusho

In the latest lesson of the multi-media course that I run for the WOWbook members’ club we are looking at techniques for backgrounds We do like to be a little on the messy side so I’ve been playing with Brusho. Everyone loves a good splodgy play with this versatile powdery colouring medium. Especially the black, which separates into many colours when sprinkled on a wet surface.

One inevitably winds up with a very messy page and it’s best to cut it into individual areas. I like to keep them in a sketch book and find that they often provide ideas for stitch.

 

This large messy page divided into many small cut-outs – I call them Brusho studies and I reproduce them on fabric to stitch.

Here you can see two ‘study’ pieces, taken from the pic above. Both of them look like landscapes to me. These small selected areas can be enhanced with drawing tools or a fine pen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next pics show the Brusho painting and the stitched piece that I made from it. These little studies are fun to produce and to stitch. I can see them as Christmas cards.

 

 

A Productive Getaway

I write in praise of the idea of a retreat. Three times a year I go away, with a group of friends to eat, drink and be merry but, most of all, to work uninterrupted on ideas or just to stitch. The place we have found is Kingcombe  in deepest Dorset and is run by the Dorset Wildlife Trust. The wildlife is useful, feathers being a case in point. From the design potential of a hen’s feathers to the donation of cast off bits of the resident Guinea Fowl’s tail, which featured in a recent piece of my work. Here, the work in progress with the gratefully accepted feathers, bottom right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apart from comfortable accommodation (and amazing food, thanks to Andy, the chef), wandering around the grounds with your camera is very rewarding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I found it interesting to note the difference that the light makes. You can see that the fungi here look quite different when the shot is taken from another angle, so that the top of the ‘pile’ catches the light. I couldn’t help wondering what Marion Jazmik would make of these. Her wonderful work, based on all forms of fungus. featured in the last WOWbook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A new boardwalk had been built since our last visit and the design was spectacular. What appeared to be randomly placed pieces of wood as you walked past, resolved onto a pattern as you looked back – now that is so clever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The boardwalk ends at the stream and the base of this tree trunk really caught my eye. I loved the ‘verdigris’ streak running down the trunk.

 

With a little jiggle in an imaging program it turned into a workable design.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Did I get any work done? Well I made a start on some ‘leaves’, using the embellisher machine – inspired by the sunflower photograph. I’ll be talking about the technique in the next WOWbook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Show and Tell

I can’t believe that it has been so long since I posted. I have two excuses. The main one is that we are deep in the busiest part of producing the next WOWbook and that is always frantic. Particularly so when I am writing a section of it, as I always get carried away and find myself with too many exciting paths to follow. While demonstrating the embellisher machine at the Dorset Arts and Crafts exhibition, I discovered a new idea that I hadn’t tried before and was delighted when I managed to replicate it using hand needle-felting tools. That’s the great thing about demos: time to play, usually with no particular outcome in mind

 

 

The exhibition was a retrospective and I ‘performed’ it as a life story, beginning with the first embroidery I ever did (a kit) and my City and Guilds work – see pic below.

 

 

I included our time racing round the world teaching and how the Batsford books began. It’s been a wonderful experience but I don’t think I could do all the travelling now. Below you can see a piece that was exhibited in an exhibition in the USA. The exhibition was about the joys of the internet so this piece, entitled Binary Humanity, was all about the fact that there are hands and faces involved in web interaction. I included comments from my blog around the edge of the work. Workshop on the Web and D4Daisy Books have probably been my best endeavours so it’s great to see them combined in the WOWbook.

 

 

It was lovely to see so many people, many of whom had come a long way to visit me and I am  humbled by that fact. The DACA summer show is a super event, with all branches of art and craft represented. The photography exhibition was excellent this year and there was also everything from textiles, painting and model-making on show. The ceramics of Rosemarie James are always a big draw for me. I managed to resist this delicious work of art but plan to get another of her pieces for my collection at the DACA Christmas fair. www.dorsetartsandcrafts.org

 

My other piece of news is that I have a website again. It took me ages to realise that when the old Workshop on the Web site went, so did my bit of it! Clive has made me another one – a bit of a work in progress but I’ve unearthed some new photos for the pic clicks and it’s good to be back in the pack again. The piece below, which is described on the website, was made with the embellisher machine – told you I was having a bit of a thing with it! My triumph was embellishing paper from my dropcloth (or drop paper in this case). Do have a look; the addy is www.greytech.org.uk/maggiegrey

 

 

The next WOWbook is coming along a treat. Our interview is with Cas Holmes and our Sam (Packer) has asked some searching questions. The really difficult part is choosing which of the great photos we use. At least with the WOWbook set up, we can overflow onto the website with a bonus extra. You can see some of the pics below.

 

 

 

 

Cas has a new book, ‘Textile Landscape’ and it is really good. I have just reviewed it for the WOWbook site.

 

However it’s not been all hard work – I took a whole weekend off and had a lovely time in Portsmouth with my cousins. As you can see it was a bit giggly – I wonder why?  We also had a surprise visit yesterday from granddaughter Lauren and her lovely cuddly rugby player. What a great guy.

 

 

 

Art and Eating

We’ve just been on a bit of an art safari in Devon and had a wonderful time. Started in our home county of Dorset, with a quick pop in to the Artwave Gallery in Morecombelake. They had a great mixed exhibition. We were very taken with the work of Rebecca Fontaine-Wolf and you can see an example below. The fantasy element was enriched by her use of colour and you felt that you needed to hear the story of this mysterious figure.

 

We were also taken with the lovely paintings of Donna Goold who uses oil bars on paper to wonderful effect in her dreamy landscapes. Her husband Martin had a way with pastels, working with  a geometric precision that brought to mind Kaffe Fassett’s needlepoint work.

Our art fix the next day was at the wonderful Devon Guild of Craftsmen’s gallery at Bovey Tracey. We were so lucky to find that the big exhibition space had been given over entirely to Anita Reynolds’ work and I have long been a fan of hers. The work was based on a year in Datmoor and her monoytpe prints portrayed this in a sensitive way that still managed to convey the massive and lovely tors and boulders. Here is a general view of the exhibition which was also a masterclass in hanging as it really made the most of the big space. The dynamic between large pieces and the smaller rectangles of her lovely concertina books worked very well.

Clive and I were unanimous in choosing the piece below, ‘Super Moon at Greator Rocks’, a monotype print (where the plate is cleared after printing, ensuring that only one copy is produced) as our ‘standout’ favourite. The technique used was monotype print with chine collé.

As I am very into concertina books at the moment having just produced one for the WOWclub members (coming next week, folk), I loved these books and there were quite a few in the exhibition.

There was a lot of extra information about the artist and her working methods and one idea that I loved was the ‘Bus Prints’ idea. These are made on her mobile press on location  – in the camper van on Dartmoor. Instant impressions – so immediate and satisfying. Must try that with the die cutter used as a press.

 

Finally, to show that it’s not all about colour, these monotone trees presented a powerful reminder that colour is not everything. Stark, yet flowing, they delighted the eye.

 

A final view of the gallery and then it was time for a lovely lunch in the gallery upstairs. Art watching makes you hungry and they do wonderful food!

 

Of course we did some silly holiday things, too. On the Golden Hind replica at Brixham, I made Clive walk the plank.

 

The ship was very interesting – much more than I expected. We had a lovely break.

 

 

WOW. What a week

We’ve had an amazing d4daisy week with the new book. We told ourselves that WOWbook 02 would be a quiet launch, as it’s summer-time and we didn’t think that we would match the Christmas launch of the first WOWbook. But it has overtaken it and it has been a frantic, yet wonderful week. Thank you everyone who has said such lovely things on our Facebook page. In addition to all the goodies in the book we have already got some offerings on the Members’ web site and one of them is this Kozo bark treescape that I made. I had such fun and Fiona is already responding to requests for a materials kit. Out very soon, folks.

 

While Fiona has been busy trundling her wheelbarrow to the post office, I have been slaving over my sewing machine making a concertina book. Some of you will recall that I had been moaning about the fact that my workroom has recently shrunk. This is, in fact, a well known phenomenon and several others have experienced shrinking workroom syndrome. Clive, in panic mode because he feared that his study (known as the growlery as he sits at his desk and growls at politicians on the radio) might be in danger, suggested that we get a new desk and set my machine up in the conservatory. It is lovely not to keep having to put the machine away and the light is so good in there – although it is a trifle warm, sometimes.

In fact, having finished the book, I got my embroidery unit out and found some designs on a USB stick. So that is tomorrow’s excitement. I’m not sure that any of our computers will run the old software so I might look out for an update. Watch this space.

 

 

Finally I just had to show you this piece by Lorraine Fitches. She made it from Angie Hughes’ instructions in the first WOWbook. Isn’t it wonderful? Our private Facebook Group is such fun and so inspiring.