Thursday, March 30, 2006


Home late tonight after the lower school play ( year 7 and 8). It was however most enjoyable, it was the musical Wizard of Oz. The students loved performing and were very good. Another show tomorrow night, suspect the students will be very tired by time it gets to the weekend.

We are moving to a new school in the autumn thank goodness, and I have to say the stage curtains tonight were looking past their sell by date, ( and it did not help knowing that we had used the hot glue gun to keep them together! ) The flats were also looking a bit sad, despite the fact we had underpainted them quite liberally. However none of this detracted from the fantastic performance. It is nice to know that our next play/musical will be in a wonderful new setting. Some very proud parents and teachers tonight.

These Photos were taken whilst on holiday in the Sauerland in Germany, we found a commercial artist that creates these wonderful sculptures, I wish I could remember their names so I could find their website again. Not that I could afford to buy the work, it was very expensive, even though I would love to have one in my garden. Aren't they fantastic?

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Arts Evening - revisited

A friend had taken some pictures at the recent Arts evening we held. I know many of you mailed me and asked for close ups. So I hope these are OK and add to your enjoyment.

We have titled this sculpture the Devil of the South, this is in contrast to the famous Angel of the North at Gateshead. He is made from floristry wire, and then entwined with red sewing cotton. He stands about 2 feet tall.

As a complete contrast this is Year 7 paintings, using primitive man as an inspiration.

These are a variety of themes and years.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Art Exams

Today was exhausting, supervising the Year 11 art exam. The art exam is 10 hours long --- in other words -- two days of five hours each. Students manage to create a lot of work, but they do find it difficult as they usually experience art lessons in 50 minute bites! Today was the first five hour session, the next one is after Easter. We had 52 candidates in all, between two teachers.

We usually manage to create some wacky stuff......

This skeleton was fun, parts of him were replaced with X-rays, rubberbands, plastic bags filled with "blood" for intestines, and the Bones were painted with dots like Lichtensteins work.

The sketchbooks were small and placed on top of this "feely" box ( you put your hands into the black hole - to feel the squishy objects inside). The left over bones were used as decoration.

There is a macabre story goes with the skeleton. I was teaching a group of year 7 (11 year olds), and the skeleton was on the bench behind me. We were enduring very hot weather as it was a heat wave. The "blood" started to leak out of the intestines, and drip onto the floor during my talk and chalk. Some of the children went very pale and very quiet.......spooky but very effective.

A sample of the work a student creates over the course.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Arts Chatter

Went to a meeting tonight of the local arts network. The meeting was held at the National Trust headquarters, here in Swindon. Its a new building and has some wonderful weavings hanging from the ceiling, they were well above my head height, so I found it difficult to admire them properly.

Our meeting was in a side room and very pleasant too. Did my networking bit, there was a tour of the building on offer, but unfortunately it was getting late and my stomach was reminding me I hadn't eaten yet, so I had to give it a miss.

As the light was too poor to take good photos inside of the building at the National Trust, thought I would treat you to some photos of some constructed machining I did last summer. It was pieces of fabric stitched together, the reason it is on a washing line drying is because I sandwiched the layers beween cold water soluable fabric. Since i have done a lot aof handstitching through the layers.....all in neutral colours.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Mothers Joy

Went for a walk this morning in glorious sunshine, adolescent puppy loved it too. You have seen this view before, but not in brilliant sunshine. Its the view across to the Marlborough Downs. A beautiful part of the country.

These crocuses were in full bloom in a pot on the patio in the back garden, enjoying the morning sun.

Then these flowers arrived for Mothers! The rain arrived too, but we have had a lovely day.

More Mehendi

We played with henna yeasterday and created some mehendi patterns on hands.

Conveniently you can buy it in tubes, ready mixed now, so much easier than all that mixing with lemon juice!

Also managed to get some photos of the henna mix drying after we had played with the designs. We were pleased with the results. Takes ages to dry, and when you wash off the mix, the skin is stained a wonderful tan colour.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

More sketching

More sketching ..... This is a 5 minute coloured pencil sketch on fairly strong cartridge paper, which I have then stitched into with the machine, in straight lines also a quick process. Not sure where these pieces of work are going, at this point I do not think it matters. Just pleased to be creatively producing for myself.

Few more sketches, faces again! Also an Indian decorative quality to the sketches today , as a result of a tutorial I gave today to one of my Year 13 students about Mehndi patterns. These patterns are fascinating for their decorative qualities and we became quite enthused. I had just finished showing her the intricacies of silk painting, and her interest in Indian art is very strong. She is from Goa, however she is not Hindu, so had an intense interest in the Mehndi culture. We also talked and researched the origin of Paisley designs. Fascinating stuff.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Time for Hot Chocolate

Having lots of hot chocolate tonight, gas boiler has decided not to work, and DB (Mr fixit) has taken himself off to bed with the sickie bug. Have wrapped up warm, wearing 3 jumpers 2 cats and a dog, with the gas fire and oven on. However it's 1C outside...brrrrrrr..... the cold has restricted me a little tonight, have done a bit of drawing......

Did do a bit of machine Embroidery, I digitised it on the computer and then downloaded it onto the sewing machine, they are only samples. The machine can work on its own luckily, whilst I can sit by the fire to keep warm.

This next piece I assembled tonight before it got too cold, I had all the individual elements, but had not put them together. I was getting a bit cold, which is why I reverted to using the embroidery module which is happy to stitch on its own. As long as no threads break or run out, thats when it gets stressful!!

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Charcoal and Machine Stitching

These are a series of small charcoal sketches. I have taken sections of a machined embroidery wallhanging and scaled up the size, taken a portion, and then reproduced it in charcoal, paying particular attention to line and texture.

Then I have freely re-interpreted my charcoal sketches in Free machine embroidery. I have restricted the colour scheme to black, gold and for some a touch of blue.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Stitching choices

Played with backgrounds a bit more this evening. One of the drawings in colour from yesterday inspired the work. I rather like the way the colours merge together, and some of the colour exercises I have been doing with my students have been influential. Also an aura of Expressionism.

This one was completed using colour pencils, I do not think colour pencils give enough colour depth for my liking oil pastilles or paint is better.

This is densly machined using free machine embroidery, a technique I particularly enjoy. The fabric is neutral Calico ( USA muslin), which has been so heavily stitched that the fabric is invisible. Again is inspired by some of the drawing I have been doing. I have enjoyed doing these samples, maybe there will not be a "finished" piece, just a series of visible thoughts and inspirations ( if that makes sense?).

A bit of hand stitchery, very soothing to do whilst watching TV.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Uncertain? Then use Charcoal

Its been a weekend of recovery, and long overdue. Have definitely been feeling deprived of creativity lately. Not because I have not wanted to do it or not had inspiration, but not having enough waking hours in the day. I take some inspiration from Tom Phillips, who claims if you are unsure then get out the charcoal and large paper.

Here(above) is an example of some large charcoal work, straight out of the head, no thinking! Can you tell? I completed it a short while ago, whilst working with Julia Carpara, and I actually find it inspires me to start the creative journey again, if I put it up on the wall. It measures about 1 metre by 50 cms.

Once I have loosened up a bit today, I did some more drawing...... those wretched heads again..... pencil and colour.

I have left the collages for another day, I want to use the embellisher, machine embroidery and hand embroidery, as yet though do not have a clear picture in my head how it might look. So I thought I would just doodle around the theme and see what happens. Really just played and
enjoyed myself and thought I would share the outcomes with you..

Hope they are not too scary for you.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Art as Pleasure

Have been escaping into my art work today, after a frustrating few teaching days. I have been working with faces for a long time and despite trying to escape into other projects......they keep reappearing! I was lucky enough to acquire an embellisher sewing machine last Summer and completed some work using faces and scraps of fabric. It was a great delight to use as no visible stitching is needed. I felt however that my images needed improving and have allowed time to elapse hoping for inspiration. Of course - nothing happened. So today I decided to push the images further by creating some collages on paper. I am very pleased with the results, it is also a pleasure to be doing some art for myself for a change. Now of course I need to play again with the embellisher and the fabric to see if I can bring my ideas to fruition.

The images you see are the result of influences of Celtic Art , I love to research Illuminated Manuscripts and find the images used to be an inspiration. Also living so close to Oxford and in the past being allowed to see the Medieval Manuscripts held at the Bodlian Library has helped to fuel my interest.

Monday, March 13, 2006


Find it hard to believe I have not made an entry for a little while. Have been enjoying myself this weekend with burning with a soldering iron. The soldering iron has quite a fine point and is wonderful for mark making. The fabric is a selection of scrap fabrics, sandwiched between some synthetic fabric. The top fabric must be synthetic, and depending what you use for the scrap fabrics, some will burn through some will not.

As you can imagine you need to be aware of health and safety, such as wear a mask, work in good ventilation and have a bucket of water at the ready to throw the fabric into if it catches fire!

It is an incredibly satisfying way of using up some of the spare fabric stash. I have made this particular piece of burned fabric into a bag, which is lined with a delicious piece of silk. The strap is twisted fabric. I have not totally decided upon the closure yet, perhaps a button.

The day job has been very demanding, with exam coursework to mark and today interviewing for new staff. Cuts into time for creativity and also have to go for a moderation of exam work meeting later this week, that's quite tiring too, but most useful as we help to set the standards for marking of the exams..

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


Found some photos tonight from visits I have made to museums whilst on holiday. I do enjoy visiting museums in foreign lands, the family hate it, so generally I leave them to do their own thing while I make my tour. This particular museum has some wonderful domestic exhibits in the attic.

Some intriguing lace designs and patterns, have you noticed the Delft tiles in the background?

I suspect that every young lady had to know how to darn cloth decoratively, I could not stop looking at these, they were so fine. I was pleased they photographed through the glass so well.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Colour choices

After getting home this evening from a Parents evening, where I had to do a lot of chatting, I needed to relax, so started playing with colour ideas.

I have made a right mess of the studio but it has gaven me the chance to dig out some ideas I worked on a while ago in my sketchbook.

These colour combinations and ideas have been heavily influenced by Julia Carpara. I have been working with her at Urchfont Manor Adult Education College, in rural Wiltshire. I belong to a masterclass there and she is our mentor and tutor. I find it invaluable being able to talk to her about my work, and we identified the fact that I need to start to develop my colour work and try unusual combinations. So this is the start. really it is just playing, but very enjoyable playing.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

A travelling day

Recently I have been invited to join an exhibiting group of artists. I was overjoyed and excitingly accepted, the meeting today was at Penny's house which is in the heart of the Hampshire (UK) countryside. As I have a new camera, I decided to try it out on the way. These pictures were taken from a moving car on the motorway. It was a glorious bright late morning, as you can see from the sky.

When we headed south, we saw some WW2 flying spitfires overhead, but I was not quick enough to catch them on camera. Apparently today is the 70th birthday of the spitfires and they were having a celebratory flypast over Southampton.

The meeting was excellent and we discussed exhibition venues etc. over a fabulous lunch. When it was time to come home, the clouds started rolling in and it was getting darker.

Husband had taken the adolescent puppy to the New Forest for a run, whilst I was at the meeting, and had encountered a hail storm there, and the sky seemed to be threating us with another on the way home.

Luckily though by the time we got closer to home the threat had disappeared. we arrived home safe and sound with an exhausted but happy puppy. A lovely day.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Spring Flowers

Awoke this morning to a severe frost, but by lunchtime , wonderful sunshine. As you know have been rushed off my feet by the day job, and I have not seen the garden in daylight at all. What a lovely surprise to find these anenome's ( Well at least I think that is what they are?) lurking in a corner pot down by the shed. Dashed out to the front to look at the crocuses I have posted pictures of before, they were opening cheerfully too.

Nature is unbelievably clever at lifting our spirits, a few flowers and sunshine, and I'm smiling. Will never be a gardener though, I cultivate too many weeds, you may have noticed.