Once again we are opening our doors to the general public as part of Chichester Art Trail, five days in May, May 3rd, 4th, 5th, 10th and 11th. There’s always much to do, but we are now almost ready. Any UK based followers who are not too far from us would be most welcome! I shall have my usual range of textiles, from hangings to small and larger framed or mounted works. Some of these have already been aired on this blog, but the following photos will give an idea of both the work and our home. Husband Albert has some lovely paintings, large and small, life drawings and prints and you’ll see some on the photos too. Open houses rae great experiences. You meet the general public who actually choose to visit you as well as family and friends who are loyal supporters. I hope you enjoy the snapshots that follow.
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!
Readers of this blog might like to know that I have an article in this month’s edition, on sale in WH Smiths from July 25th or available from the Stitch Magazine website.
Don’t be misled by the title though, as the only steamy thing in it is the weather!
In the article I look at how my work has been heavily influenced by the countryside surrounding a small medieval town in central Spain near Burgos, called Covarrubias. It includes starting points, drawings, and finished pieces. I always use my holidays as a time when I can think, draw and plan without pressure, and being married to a painter helps, we like doing the same things, though the results are never the same!
We’ll be back in Covarrubias in only two weeks time. The light, the varied terrain, the colours, the shapes are so different to the things I draw in the UK. I love the calm, soft quality of the South Downs with colours of blue, green, lilac and yellow and find central Spain’s strong light, golden wheat, terracotta earth and distant blue toned mountains are an amazing and equally inspiring contrast. So in geological terms I suppose it is new hills versus the older ones!
I’ve posted a couple of contrasting images for you, a drawing from Amberley in West Sussex and one from the sierra. The white chalk of the downs contrasts starkly with the iron red Spanish earth.
Those of you familiar with my work will know that much of it is done with with cable stitch. Heavy threads are wound onto the spool and I then turn my base fabric over having stitched in basic lines, to work on the reverse. This allows me to build up rich swathes of colour and long unbroken “couched” lines as opposed to the traditional stitched lines that occur with normal machine stitching. The spool runs out every three minutes so it’s quite labour intensive but there is the added element of surprise when I turn back to the front to see what’s happened!
Fine lines and details are then superimposed from the front over the stitched areas and it is usually this that makes or breaks the work. I use a combination of freely drawn stitched lines- rather like working with a pen or pencil to provide texture and contrast, and then precise, often darker lines are added to redefine forms that need re-drawing or have been lost during the stitching process.
The drawing is the beginning, but it never dominates the end result. Each piece evolves as I work. Movement is affected by fabric distortions which I have to try and control, or to work with, and colours can appear to change quite dramatically as I continue to add different threads. The following detail from a new piece should demonstrate what I’m saying
A really busy and successful first weekend on the Art Trail. The photos show some of my work and also from my husband Albert, who is exhibiting life drawing and painting. For those who have seen my earlier posts and exhibitions, I had some great sales, the diptych, Frost on the Downs and the small landscape posted last week amongst others. These trails are a great way to talk to the public and to introduce new techniques to them. so many are unfamiliar with machine embroidery so I did a lot of explaining!
I always draw before starting a major piece of work. A small piece can inspire a number of larger ones, and I never quite know where this will take me. I’m attaching a drawing of lavender fields observed near a small town called Covarrubias in central Spain. I have been continually drawn back to this landscape. This mixed media drawing uses pen, pencil, pastels and watercolours. I have an article hopefully coming out in Stitch magazine this summer which looks at this theme.The textile is just one response to a series of drawings including this one.