A quick post to catch up after three weeks away charging my creative batteries in Spain, and I’m now thinking of my next series of machine embroideries. This year both the wonderful landscape of the meseta and the Cantabrian sea at Isla have offered me ideas. I have used Spanish landscape on many an occasion, but this year dramatic changes in the weather on the northern coast produced some wonderfully contrasting sunrises. I hope to start a series of small images that explore sky and sea as well as land. Here are just some of the sunrises and also an amazing red field seen in Castille, with a drawing also from this area near Covarrubias, so look out for future developments. Light and shadow, sol y sombra so difficult to capture but what most of my work is really about. The final image is called “Sol y Sombra” that is sun and shadow and is from an earlier series. It found a new home this summer
This post features not just my textiles, but life drawing and painting by my husband Albert, so do take a look! With several exhibitions coming up, I’ve been making new pieces to tie in with my current themes of light and shadow, especially looking at the different seasons. The first show is Chichester Art Trail in May, which I’ll be doing here in my home with Albert, who is showcasing a series of new life drawings alongside some of his paintings. The mix of paintings, drawings and textiles makes it more interesting for visitors who can see how differently we both interpret the same subjects. The textile and painting here are both inspired by the same area of Spain.
The trail is on the following days, May 2/3/4 and 9/10. All details from http://www.chichesterarttrail.org
and here are a few images to whet your appetite!
The tools of the trade-my sewing machine, threads and sketchbook
Gold and Silver Light-memories of Spanish evenings in Castille
Life drawing by Albert Naylor
One of Albert’s abstract Spanish landscapes from Castille
I published a post in 2014 about a series of small textiles I’d made from a visit to local lavender fields in West Sussex, UK. I’ve recently been working on a series of drawings and new pieces for exhibitions and galleries coming up in 2015. Drawing for me is an essential part of the process, allowing me to moderate ideas, record, change and translate. All the drawings are from my sketch book, my current “visual diary”
My textiles are not about imitation, but about experience. Walking through the fields, the heady smells and the rich colour palette provided by the environment was unforgettable, and I hope my work says something about it. My next post will give details of forthcoming exhibitions, venues and times.
Drawing no 1, inktense, pastels pencil, pen
Drawing no 2 gouache, pastels, pen,
Drawing no3, inktense, pencil, pastels, pen
Stitched Textiles, threads nos 6/12/15/30 weights by Madeira and Natesh, rayon, cotton and metallic ranges
Textile ” Lavender Panorama” 23cm x34cm
Stitched Textiles, threads nos 6/12/15/30 weights by Madeira and Natesh, rayon, cotton and metallic ranges, with some merino wool fibres added
” Lavender Flow” 21cm x21cm
I’ve recently been re-visiting some of my earlier work and am surprised how much my techniques have developed and changed. Up to around 2004 my work was quite vigorous and gestural, but as my fascination for landscape took over, I began to work more regularly on a less dramatic scale, concentrating on building up line upon line. This allowed me to really draw more with the needle rather than making sweeps of colour. In the images here, you can see how the very heavily textured earlier pieces contrast with the more recent ones. THe first image is a detail from a series I made based on rivers. This was a trial piece for a much larger hanging. (1999)
I used a very loose top tension which was dragged over the heavier threads in the bobbin ( I do most of my work this way!) I’ve spent today repairing and re-working a larger hanging from this series and hope to show it at a later date.
The next image is a hanging called Harbour. One metre in width, it included ideas taken from aerial photography. I was happy with the ebb and flow of the watery section and the overlaid white highlights. I made a companion piece to this which found a new home last year! (2004)
Finally a more recent piece that shows the way in which I try to now build layers through over stitching with many different threads. This is a detail of a piece I made for a textiles challenge on facebook. I’ll write more about this next time! (2014)
After a hectic summer of exhibiting and teaching, not to mention family occasions, we leave soon for our annual pilgrimage to Spain. Certain places and areas have always offered inspiration. The changing light, the colours, the different crops each year, when sunflowers previously grown turn into fields of lavender, distant mountain ranges that are blue, grey, rose, depending on the weather conditions are all things I look for. I make drawings, never quite sure which ones will lead to a textile, and often return to earlier sketchbooks which are like diaries for me. Here are some images from a previous visit taken from the wonderful landscape of the central plateau, the Meseta
This is near Covarrubias in Castille, one of our favourite places. Lavender grows next to the burnt sierra soil and golden wheatfields
This is a drawing taken from here,
. As you can see the farmhouse doesnt get into my drawing on this occasion!
–and here is a machine embroidery that found a new home last week! The end result is never the same as the starting point, as once I’m on my sewing machine anything can happen, but it wouldn’t take shape without the knowledge gained from looking and drawing
My last post was about the way in which the poetry of Robert Frost had influenced my approach to making textiles. This entry shows you a few ideas and pieces that have come from other sources. “Oh the opal and the sapphire of that wandering western sea” These words are from “On Beeny Cliff” by Thomas Hardy. I actually studied him many years ago at school and this poem and its description of sea, cliff, love and life never left me. The sea has always played a part in my life, living by or near it, watching its moods and colours, crossing it, drawing it.
The following textiles are from a series I made a few years ago. The little drawings are from a visit to Cromer in Norfolk (eastern UK) last week. My sketchbook always goes with me, it is my diary and I never know whether I will use my drawings or whether they simply serve as a reminder of places visited and observed.
Charmouth Bay 2008 (found a home in Ireland!)
Oddicombe Bay 2008, currently on view at Primavera Gallery, Cambridge. A departure in terms of colour for me, inspired by the amazing red cliffs and sands there.
Little seascape, Cromer, Norfolk, 2014
Cromer, seascape,rain in the air 2014
Drawing has always been a vital part of my life. Sketchbooks go with me when I travel, I record things I see and they act as a visual diary. I don’t always draw with stitching in mind, but often when I see a particular landscape for example, I find myself selecting forms, colours, textures and so on that link to my passion for threads. My way of drawing has changed over the years, often quite free and bold some years ago it is now quite tightly controlled.
My mantra is ” I look, I draw, I select and I translate” It’s often what you leave out rather than what you put in that makes starting a textile easier. I use pencil, colours applied with watercolour, ink tense pens or gouache, then frequently add pastels, and final lines in pen, biro, or pencil.
Some sketchbook drawings follow for you to look at.
This drawing is from Goodwood in the South Downs UK and links directly to the small works I’ve been making since the beginning of the year
“Strata 2” looks at the landscape around Covarrubias in Central Spain, an area that has influenced my work greatly in recent years
“Near Cepeda” is taken from the landscape in the Sierra Salmantina in Spain, distant mountains are patchworked with fields and vines
This sketch detail in particular shows my use of pastels over wash.
We are off to France shortly so maybe other ideas will start to infiltrate what I make, you never know.
For me, being there, where-ever I am is vital. I can’t stitch what I haven’t seen!