Saturday, October 28, 2023


last week I went for a walk around the little lake, the one right in town, in search of interesting reflections

I've always found reflections to be such interesting things... there, but not real, at the mercy of light and movement


I had read recently that a good way to abstract something is to heavily edit a photograph of it... altering colour, definition, cropping and so on and I was keen to try it out

I wanted images of reflections because I've been doing a lot of work with water images lately and want to continue exploring it but also because I like the tension of trying to distort something beyond it's reality when it really has no foot in reality at all

below is the first original image, no editing at all and from this, I created the next one

I like how extreme cropping changes the texture of the branches, emphasising all the bumps, buds and knots

a "dramatic warm" filter flattened the background, lightened it, evening out some of the values and adding some interesting highlights

this next one is the original for the two that follow

again, heavily cropped, right through the horizontal middle

the same "dramatic warm" filter

 a heavy crop with just the left half remaining

it was interesting how just cropping it changed the value, darkening the branches and the background dramatically 

the final one

cropped, same filter

cropped agin

and then cropped the crop

love this last one - it's the one where I finally get closer to abstraction

it's not all the way there but the elements are distorted enough that I think the image would be understood to not be of the landscape as it was seen

the more I crop the more interesting things come to light - I suppose it's something to do with the magnification, isolation and/or distortion of various elements and components, the way colours get altered with the underlying tones coming forth

and with reflections, it's also the way things just aren't quite the way should be

I like that photographs that are not at all good can still yield very interesting images, with the simplest little digital editing in just minutes

I think I won't be quite so quick to hit the delete button from now on

Saturday, October 21, 2023

what if i... ?

experimenting with materials is just so darn interesting... 

a little over a year ago I experimented with gelli-plate printing on linen cloth using acrylic paints as well as inks with mixed results

a few pieces turned out rather well but most were a little less successful

last week I had a hankering to try again but before I could get the plate out a different idea wandered along

what if I did a kind of gathered resist dyeing with linen but instead of dye I would use the paint from last week's paper painting trials, a Schmincke Horadam super-granulating watercolour paint?

I cut several pieces of vintage linen in a variety of weights and set to work gathering a couple of them using a strong buttonhole thread

no research - no looking up ways to gather to make water-like effects, just going with what I thought I knew

once gathered I wetted the fabrics a bit by sprinkling water on them and letting it soak in for a few minutes and then I dabbed on the paint, letting it soak in, adding more, turning it over and over again until it seemed fairly well saturated

the next morning they were still rather wet so I spent the day turning them over regularly, noticing how the paint shifted, one side darker than the other as the paint moved back and forth with each turn

as it dried the movement became less and less noticeable and after about 24 hours they were dry enough to remove the gathers and press

the brown in the colour settled settled on the folds and in some places adding a wonderful effect, reminding me of the golden light that hits the water ripples under a darkened sky

the other side, a paler version with more of the brown

another one made the next day

in addition to water I also had wood on my mind

below is a cropped portion of the photo above, the colour digitally altered 

I love this image and have worked with it a lot and having a fabric version would be a wonderful thing so I pleated a piece of linen and stitched that tightly along the length of it

I don't have a photo of that first attempt - the "boards" were too far apart and the colour rather faint and uninspiring so I re-folded it, making narrower folds in the hopes of getting smaller boards and this time stitched the length twice

and this time I got exactly what I wanted

just like old, rough, weathered wood - maybe a bit more blue but I like that

I have more to gather, and to pleat and am also going to try it with some fine silk chiffon

I love working like this... thinking, trying, adjusting and trying again

not ready yet to think further down the road to how I'll use them though that won't be too far off

for now I'm happy where I am

Saturday, October 14, 2023

I Think I Know Now

I've been trying to puzzle something out for a while and I think I now know what the answer is... 

but I'm getting ahead of myself as I've not yet stated what the puzzling was all about

there's a lot of chatter online from people wanting to find their artistic voice and those who think they can provide assistance

I've never put much stock in any of that as I already know what I like and what I don't and I am fairly confident that there is a distinctive quality to my work that makes it mine and for people that are all familiar with me, easily recognizable

what I have struggled with is finding a process for my work, especially when it comes to anything conceptual

where to begin?
what to do next?
then what?

figuring that out has never come easy - there are tried and true ways of working through initial inspiration and ideas but I can get bogged down with them and they become the work

Sometimes I want sketchbooks to work in, not sketchbooks that are the work

and then there's all the thinking... I like thinking and I do a lot of it, every day, but again...  the ideas tumble in and through and around and sometimes that's fine but it's not always what I want

 sometimes I want to just do something!

 with my latest desire to explore the people and landscape of the Klondike GoldRush, I decided fairly quickly on that I didn't want to get bogged down with any of that

I just wanted to look at an image or two and do something spurred on by it

first with the mountain-inspired paper and cloth collages, then the clothing inspired small textile pieces and today it was images of water and trees

the image on the right is a heavily edited crop from a photo of the Yukon River taken in 2018, printed on clear acetate and on the left is a tracing paper print of trees at Marsh Lake taken in 2022

overlaid like this, the branches of one connecting with the other

I decided to do some small ink studies in the same kind of blackened blue as the trees, looking to get some similar lines and shapes as well

with a dip pen I scrawled lines from one of Robert Service's poems across Bristol board and then sprayed water onto the wet ink

the water droplets hit the ink and dots of colour exploded from the lines - they reminded me of the skinny trees in the photo above

a few squirts more, in an effort to create even more skinny tree-like shapes and I had ruined the whole effect with what were now large splotches of faded colour


round two would be on a better quality mixed media paper but I had the idea to paint some watercolour on first, to reference the water

once that was dry, more expressive words by Mr. Service with the same Payne's Grey ink and this time a gentler touch with the spray bottle

much better!

laid next to the images, the correlation is distinct and yet somewhat abstracted

exactly what I was hoping for

doing, not planning

rather than swatching the colours, making something with them

start with what I know and see what comes next

at any point along the way I can stop and do formal explorations and investigations but for now, just trying things out feels like a better way... almost like falling right in to the work rather than testing the waters first

these wise words I discovered today say it best:

"I am still thinking, and my thoughts are guiding my choices... But I am out of my head and thinking with my hands."

Helen Terry 

Saturday, October 7, 2023

some days, some weeks

some days can feel rather unproductive... this has been a full-on week of them

no particular reason why, just a whole series of small things that get in the way of doing any big things and at the end of it I feel as though I'm still in the place where I began

I haven't had much time for my work with the Gold Rush era of Yukon history but I have often thought of the clothes of the day... 

warmth and practicality to clothe the miners and travellers 

beautiful garments for the dance hall girls

silk, wool, velvet, lace, cotton duck, mackinaw
dresses from Paris, sturdy homespun

though how to use them?

wool appeared in the collages from the last few posts and I'm sure cloth and lace will factor in future ones but for now I just want to work with the cloth without it having to do or be anything other than itself

I cut random sized pieces from a variety of cloth in my stash, choosing textures, colours and patterns that appealed

looking through the stacks I discovered combinations that appealed and so I cut smaller pieces from them and began to layer and arrange them

this first one is a nod to the landscape but through the patterns of the cloth, not a pattern made by them

the uppermost layer is a dark green and black herringbone wool

trees - obvious, yes, but still...

the layer beneath that is off-white and black diamonds... mountain peaks?

also obvious but even so

I like the graphic nature of this and so regardless of any of how obvious it might or might not be,  I went with it

I have an idea for what comes next but there's been no time to act on it, nor will there be for a few days yet

the next one started with a scrap of heavy cotton, gathered by machine

cut from a sun dress I bought many years ago - the first of a few things I bought for the fabric and/or detail in the construction, not as something I would ever wear

 it was simply "fabric in a different form", not an article of clothing

and beneath thata scrap of wool and beneath that a dark greenish-grey linen, the same as in the piece above

these led me to remember some pieces I had begun several years ago using favourite scraps of cloth and lace

these have a "remains of the day" kind of feel to them

the linen for the base is 110+ years old, hand spun and hand woven in the Netherlands just after the turn of the twentieth century

vintage lace and homespun fabrics

as I said, there's a plan for the first two pieces shown here but as ever I'm not sure where rest are going and it may be they are kept just like this, folded and then bound into a book of sorts, snippets of imagined days and lives gone by

and if that's all they are it will be enough