Thursday, 28 May 2009

Playing in May

I haven't posted much lately but this doesn't mean I haven't been busy, both out there in the real world and in the quiet of my workroom.

First, remember the flowerpot? I haven't touched it since I last posted about it here, but I've added a little more paint and I think one more painting session will bring it up to the point of stitching. At last! Here's how it looks now: Mostly I added highlights, and it just needs some shadows on the white flowers and a little more paint on the edge of the step.

My friend Tricia was working on a piece at Fibrecircle this week and it really confirmed for me that this needs hand stitching, not machine. The Jan- Irvine-Nealie style of stitching isn't what I have in mind but rather using seed stitch so suggest the roughness of the brickwork behind the flowers. The hard machine line will be too strong. Stay tuned!

I've also been making quite a lot of monoprints on fabric. I have always been interested in monotyping and monoprinting but I recently bought a book called "Monotype: mediums and methods for painterly printmaking" by Julia Ayres, which has made me quite excited about the process again. I mostly make this kind of print with fabric paint left over from whatever project I've been painting on, but I think perhaps the monotype may just be the main activity for a while! Here's some things I've begun lately: A simple monoprint pulled from a glass plate and then over-painted.
This is a straight monotype (not altered from the original print) made as a coffee mug insert.And here it is in the mug:
This one was the ghost of the first print, over-painted. The designs need to be quite bright to be visible and exciting under the thick plastic outer layer. In this one the plate was repainted, with the original image as a guide. It was inverted before printing, and then over-painted once it was dry. They are all very different, aren't they? That's the fun part about making monotypes and monoprints!

I've also begun painting another of my "paint rags". It's an odd shape - 21 1/2in x 8 1/2in. Originally it looked like this:
It immediately said "boats on the shore" to me so it was set aside. I envisage the larger ship as a hulk, dragged up on the shore and left to fall apart, with the smaller boat pulled into its lee. I was trying to capture the rust and rough texture of the old boat, but I still have some way to go.

I've been trying to organise my paint rags a little lately. I haven't been marking them in any way and sometimes it's hard to remember what each one looked like before it was painted or printed again, to keep my records straight. So I am giving each one a number (I'm up to 60 already, so St Peter better not call me too soon!)and that should allow me to track each one as it gets painted or embellished, until it finally ends up in a work of art (or in the bin!). I know, you can take the librarian out of the library....

Sunday, 3 May 2009

Oh, I forgot!

I also made some Artist's Trading Cards. I've been meaning to do some for ages and then a challenge from Helen at Fibrecircle got me going. We did a series of collaborative drawing exercises in March and Helen challenged us to use the drawings as the basis for ATCs. My drawing was supposedly imspired by Patrick Caulfield and, after it had gone round the table to everyone to add something, it looked like this: Not particularly like Caulfield's work, is it?

I decided to use the flower elements, so I drew them freehand with a black felt tip pen onto a piece of fabric I had coloured by monoprinting in an earlier Fibrecircle session. I monoprinted another fabric as the backing, and used Shapewell, a stiff woven interfacing, as the inner layer. I had originally planned to give the cards areas of flat acrylic, like Caulfield's work, but they seemed to need something more delicate. I added small areas of paint and stitched around them in black machine buttonhole stitch. They are much prettier than previous ATCs I've made.

Other things I've been working on

So much of what I've been doing lately can't be shown for a while yet, but I thought I'd put up these two things. The first is something I was working on throughout April, off and on. I wanted it to be a scene by moonlight. It started out with a monoprint, pulled off a glass plate: I really like monoprints, because they are so uncontrolled. They're a useful fabric to have around, because they look less obviously painted. I often use monoprinted fabrics as the basis for something else, but I also use them when I want a small amount of fabric of a specific colour, with some texture in it. So I often use up the leftover fabric paints from other projects by pulling a few monoprints off my glass cutting board, which is about A3 size, onto quilter's muslin. The fabrics go into my 'special fabrics' cupboard, along with all my samples and other play stuff.

I already had a rough idea of where I wanted to go, so this one didn't make it to the cupboard. With some painting it became this: A lot of the elements are roughed in here. It's very dark at this stage, because I hadn't added any light tones, except what was there as the pale blue background. After a couple more sessions of painting, it now looks like this: It was slow work because I was blending colours all the time on the leaves. It was a great exercise in tonal values. Often, the same paint reads dark in one place and light in another. It has a huge number of shades in it, because I was blending paints on the palette and often on the fabric as I went, to bring a shade up a little or darken it down. Heaps of fun! I think it's done now. The challenge for me with this piece was to make it look like a moonlit path, without making the garden look dark and scary and basically uninviting! I wanted it to look like a path you might actually go down, if you wanted a little adventure.

A second fun piece is this one: I was just playing around with paints, because I had them out anyway. I wanted to make a surreal landscape that didn't use traditional colours. I love the way it turned out. It's not anything earth-shattering, just a fun piece!