Monday, April 27, 2015

unfinished business

seems i have unfinished business with the colour blue...

my "faith" piece features a soft grey-blue accent and that's the first colour i turned to when it came time to start colouring in some of my latest doodles

i even like how the old and the new look together - there is a sense of cohesion, that goes even beyond the colouring

painting this design sheet was a pain-staking procedure

my first try was too heavy-handed so i tried to lighten up the colours; delicacy as opposed to substance

leaving scratches of white here and there within the petal shapes helped a lot with that

experimenting with grey pearls and gold-toned ones

 the struggle now is to extend the shapes, change them a bit - a lot more difficult than i thought

i've used half an eraser so far and all i have is the bit below to show for it

i feel lukewarm about it - it's ok, but not really what i'm looking for

so today i consoled myself with playing around with some of my bits and pieces...

i may not know exactly where i'm going with any of this but i don't really care so much right now - while i wait for some bright ideas i'm having a great time laying little bits of cloth alongside the painting

adding, taking away, layering

 you know - even if i never did another thing with any of this, what i have right now would be enough


Sunday, April 19, 2015

starting somewhere...

just finished a crazy week - five days of work and one day of teaching with loads of prep in the evenings... last night i was beat

today i played...

we're doodling right now, garnering ideas, extending them

i started with a half-sketch of a piece of jewellery in my "Liberty" book...

i love jewellery, yet rarely wear it

it's entrancing just the same

the delicate petal shapes, as much like tear-drops as they are petals

little round pearls... or beads...

from that first simple sketch i have had such an amazing time!

repeat patterns

 the reverse petal shape line added within the point was my idea - i love it - love, love, love

it reminds me of a rosebud

 graduated pearls

the page below was the first one - i had a hard time getting going but once i did the first sketch the ideas came quickly and i just went with them - not trying to refine them much, just getting them down on paper - out of my head

but doing that just made room for more...

a border on the left

tiny tear-drop flowers

 i don't even mind the wobbly lines so much

sketching in pencil, now going over everything with ink

refining lines and shapes, rounding circles

ensuring graceful "swoops" with each stroke

i love that it's all hand-drawn 

revel in the irregularity of each shape yet marvel at how amazing it looks as a whole

how does that work????

i've done several more since taking these pictures and now have a pile of inspiration - myriad ideas to work with

painting comes tomorrow, and soon, very soon, stitching

the wheels are turning - it feels like a flood!

Monday, April 13, 2015

sunlight white

the truth of a colour...

when this idea struck me it seemed simple enough but as i delved into preparing for this first in the series i realized it really won't be that simple at all

-that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality... but so much of what we believe about colour is rooted in perception rather than in science - at least, for most of us that is...

the full spectrum of colour theory, scientific colour theory, can range from daunting to boring to fascinating - but colour is also emotional, full of meaning - cultural meaning, both present and past

 as in many things, to understand a colour is to take a trip into history - an interesting look at our own journey through the ages - what a colour meant and what it means today - what it is, and what it is not

far too big and broad a scope for what i intend so i hope you don't leave disappointed...

i'm beginning with what is called the colour that is an absence of colour...


 i always understood that to be the truth about white but it seems that is just too simple

i like this one better...

"white is the colour of sunlight"

the colour of truth, perfection, honour, cleanliness, purity

at one time also the colour of mourning

b5200 is the whitest of the dmc stranded cotton embroidery threads
 {viewed above and below}

whiter than "blanc" even

which itself looks pretty white, when viewed alone

 illustrating a perfect colour point - colour is relative, and what can be said about the colour of an object when viewed alone may change when it's placed alongside of another version of itself

colour is not absolute and so, you will find no absolute truths in these words

just a few things i have learned along the way

{above and below}

both colours above look white when viewed separately but when placed together, as you see below, there is a difference

 i suppose you might now say "white and off-white"?

vanilla, eggshell, ivory, soft-white, meringue, froth, on it goes
{and why do they say "vanilla" when vanilla itself is brown????}
{{i told you colour is complicated!}}

 then there's #3865
my favourite of the dmc whites

different again... perhaps a little yellower?

and then #3866, which is just slightly darker - viewed together you would most likely pick the top one if you were asked to point to the white one

when people come in to the store in search of white thread they choose one of these - oddly enough b5200 is chosen the least - not because it isn't thought to be the whitest, but because it's thought to be the harshest

when i'm working with vintage laces, they seem to range in colour in much the same manner as the skeins above... when i looked through my lace i found only two that were as white as b5200, all the rest were varying shades

white was not the colour i was going to begin with but last night i finished the cross-stitched piece you see below

on white silk, using waste canvas
{the layout of the letters is a mess as i'm going to cut it up and sew it back together but that's a different story for another day....}

i began the stitching with one white and somehow got mixed up and switched to another - as i was stitching on "white" waste canvas, in evening lamp-light, i couldn't tell until the whole thing was finished and the waste canvas removed... in the evening light the subtle differences were lost to these poor aging eyes

the piece below is made up of various strips of "white" cloth and "white" lace

the first image taken with the stitchery placed on a tan cloth for photographing, the one beneath on a white one

what's underneath definitely casts it's own shadow

 below is a sample made up of three layers  - white silk, white paper and white lace - all slightly different versions of white; layered, slashed and stitched, all melding together into a new white

 next is the same idea except instead of being layered and slashed, the lace and silk were cut into bits and stitched in place on top of the acrylic painting paper - here you can easily see the differences in shading, they haven't melded together so much - maintaining their differences, staying separate

clouds and snow appear white to us because when the sunlight enters them, very little of the colour spectrum which is contained in sunlight is absorbed, so ultimately, the sunlight is reflected back to us

thus snow and clouds are the colour of sunlight... the same effect is found with quartz or limestone beaches - they too are the colour of sunlight

and this is just the tip of the iceberg...

Saturday, April 11, 2015


bits of lace adrift on a patch of grey silk...

it's such a rough, slubby silk it reminds me of old weathered wood

the kind where the elements have completely stripped away any finish it might have once had, leaving the grain of the wood rough and raised

 the colour of this silk is to me reminiscent of driftwood - the oldest kind of driftwood, where the water and sun have bleached away all the brown and all you have left is a ghost-like remnant of what it once was

rummaging through boxes, bottles, and jars
{i did say that sometimes my creative junkets feel somewhat like science experiments!}

i found some special buttons and charms, gathered from travels here and there, safely tucked away in little labelled pouches and envelopes
{another storage system that could use a re-vamp - perhaps i should take the whole "science" thing further and catalogue it all - that actually might be kind of fun, now i think about it...}

along with all those shiny things, i decided to add some ribbon embroidery, in the form of a tiny rosebud on one section and an accordion rose on another

delicate french knots enhance a curve whilst a small rock adds a contrast of weight and substance... pretty and rough, delicate and heavy

 i really like it - love it actually

it took three hours to add these nine bits
all of 30 minutes to actually sew them in place - 2 1/2 hours to decide on them

the metal leaf charm is from a bracelet bought in a charity shop in stow-on-the-wold
i bought it for parts...

the little button, from a vintage button shop in sisters oregon

the lace bits?

some are very old, others rather new
some were already in tatters, some i had to tatter myself

as i worked on this i had the nagging feeling it reminded me of something, especially after i decided the silk reminded me of driftwood

thinking back, of flowers on driftwood, i remembered a trip we once took to visit my mom's parents who lived in rural alberta at the time

they owned a gift store in the tiny town of vauxhall, the front being the store and the back being their living quarters

i loved walking down the aisles, looking at all the lovely things, many made by my grandmother herself
my favourites were the flower arrangements - beautiful silk flowers and shells on interesting pieces of driftwood - the wood chosen for uniqueness of shape and colour, the flowers, perfectly nestled in the exact right place

on one of the days we drove to the old man river to collect more driftwood for grandma's supply
i was old enough to want to help, young enough to be told to stay away from the water, entranced enough to wish i could keep what i found -

i've thought of that day, those arrangements many times over the years and to this day i have a box full of driftwood in the spare closet

it's been used in flower arrangements, made into canes for elves, adorned with colourful threads and bells, fashioned into a crooked little fence for my herb garden - the list goes on

i think of my two grandmothers quite often - my dad's mom i knew very well, my mom's not very well at all
one gave to me what was precious to her - jewellery, wine glasses, pretty silver dishes, all lovely, all gratefully received, all treasured

but the other gave me what was precious to me...
money for my beloved sewing machine

and a life-long love for creativity

Thursday, April 9, 2015


 a week or two ago i was feeling bad about not posting enough on this poor, sad blog of mine

thinking about it while working on some simple handwork, i wondered if a series of posts on a particular subject might be a good motivator for me, and perhaps something interesting for you?

working with my favourite blue-grey thread, letting my mind drift away, i wondered if i was drawn to it because i hadn't yet understood the truth of it

"the truth of {a colour}"

"the truth of {a stitch}"

and finally,

"the truth of {a fabric}"

i liked it

before i could sort out a plan though, the busyness of everyday life crowded in again and short of a quick note on a random scrap of paper, nothing more was developed

and then last night i sat down to do one of the last meditations in the latest series by oprah and deepak chopra

i felt like the message for day 20 was written just for me

"finding your uniqueness, knowing your inner truth"

"release trying to be someone that you're not"

i've been casting about for years trying to find my own creative voice, getting distracted along the way by the amazing work of other people, but always learning, new techniques, new materials 

lately i'd found myself at a standstill, wondering which way to go
the longer i stood there, the more frustrated i got, the more it felt like i was at a roadblock rather than at a cross-roads

and last night, after the meditation was over, after listening to some awfully wise words and thinking about what not only what they meant, but what they meant for me, i found myself standing in my own truth

"standing in my own truth"

this morning i reacquainted myself with what that truth is, what it is i love to do, to work with, to create

 the fabrics, the textures, the colours

the surfaces that can be created, by hand, or by machine

 the ribbons, the lace, the threads

 swirling, flowing, neatly, lightly

 scraps of lace being tacked in place

 a sort of mosaic in the making

crinkled silk,  grey silk

even gold - quickly preparing a few bases on which to experiment

 i filled half a page with ideas for taking this further

and another half with using the same technique in a completely different way

feeling like i'm right back on top!

i want to thank all of you for such wise words on my last post - such good advice there and i am already making plans so i can get back to a structured daily practice of sketching and/or painting - nothing fancy, but something
meanwhile, i am working on the first post of the "truth" series which will begin on monday

i'm so excited!