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Have you taken a look in my shop lately?

Have you taken a look in my shop lately?

I’m always ricocheting between my love of painting and my passion for stitch. There are never enough hours in the day for it all, especially when the fabrics are slow stitched by hand or the paintings involve many layers of translucent glazes. Let’s just say, I’m never at a loss for something to occupy my time! We’ve recently added a short course about the potential of simple running stitch to our designmatterstv site and I thought if you hadn’t seen that you might like to see a landscape I worked with the techniques. It’s a lovely rhythmical way to sew and the subtle colour changes are so beautiful. I think it’s a perfect activity for stress busting!

I love to sit and sew in the garden whenever I can and often the plants and wildlife I see there become my inspiration. Today was a perfect  25C and sunny so I took advantage of the opportunity to mount two appliquéd and embroidered pieces onto box panels ready for display. They are really heavily stitched and I’ve loved combining the slow hand stitching with free motion machine quilting too. I’ve added them to my online shop if you’d like to see more images or think you might like to find them a new home!

Now, after all that stitching,  it might be time to get the paints out for a change. The green woodpecker is acrylic on a wooden panel but I’m in the mood for some lovely watercolour now – maybe a few of the lilies that are just opening today will feature – I’ll let you know how it goes!

Bye for now,
Linda x

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I’m featured in Quilting Arts Magazine!

I'm featured in Quilting Arts Magazine!

As you may remember, since I’ve had the loan of an embroidery machine from Husqvarna Viking, I’ve been experimenting with using both the built in designs and those in the library of My Sewnet. The rosebud design shown here provided a perfect opportunity to add fabric paint within the stitched outlines of the flower and its leaves. I worked this in a grey Madeira rayon thread onto hand dyed cotton fabric, layering the fabric with cotton batting and a cotton backing so the stitched design quilted the layers rather than just embroidering on a single layer of cloth.

Sometimes I’ve chosen filled designs instead of outlines. They showcase the lustre of the threads and create beautifully rich and detailed surfaces. I’ve extended the digital designs with more fabric painted rosehips, rosebuds and leaves.  Lots of my examples are stitched onto old quilts that I’ve recycled. Embroidering onto an existing pieced and quilted fabric adds interesting colour and texture don’t you think? Of course it does present some problems too but I’ve chosen to ignore the existing quilting and simply work over it with both stitch and paint.

Working onto a quilted surface does mean that my leaves and especially the pears in the final image have strange linear patterns but I rather like the serendipity of that layered effect. The additions are hand painted with either fabric paints or artists’ acrylic paints mixed with textile medium. I particularly like the gleam of metallic paints!

I haven’t heard of anyone taking commercially available digital designs and making them completely their own in this way but, you know me, the control freak rears its head again! If you are interested to see more the Summer Issue 2022 of Quilting Arts Magazine has a feature.

Bye for now,
Linda x

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Having fun with more painting!

Having fun with more painting

I tend towards the obsessive – once I discover something I like I have trouble resisting the urge to indulge completely. Watercolour ground is the latest obsession! The roses I’m showing here today were painted from photographs I took on a visit to David Austin Roses before lockdown. You’ve probably heard of the very famous garden centre I mean. If you visit in early summer the gardens are a treat for the senses with the perfume as heady as the sight of the flowers. The June day we were there was perfect – hot and sunny. I can’t wait to visit again but in the meantime I can enjoy the photos and use them to make a painting. The unconventional support I’m working on has an interesting origin itself – it was a panel taken from an old wardrobe we were getting rid of. When the wardrobe was broken up to be taken away it seemed a pity to waste the panels although, at the time, I had no idea what I’d use them for.

I mentioned watercolour ground in my previous post but then I’d only used it on canvas. When I spotted the wardrobe panels in a corner of my studio I thought they’d be ideal candidates to see how the ground would work with wood. The panel was very dark so the first thing I did was to give it a coat of white acrylic paint. Once that was dry I added a layer of the watercolour ground to the raised central section and put it aside overnight. It’s difficult to photograph anything that’s just white but the picture here shows the rough surface the coarse ground produces. That’s the effect after one application but you can add more or even create more texture if you prefer. Depends on the sort of painting you intend to make I think. I’ll let you know how I get on with a more textured landscape painting soon!

I often make a pale pencil sketch before I start painting with watercolour but the surface I had created was quite coarse and didn’t really lend itself to much of a drawing, so other than to mark vague outlines of where the flowers would sit, I didn’t spend much time on preliminary marks and just went straight in with the paint. This is still very much a work in progress but I am itching to get back to it and add more detail to the petals and more deep darks to the shadows between the leaves and buds. I’ll also be tidying up the border frame of the panel with another layer of acrylic paint.

It’s curious to discover how different it is to paint onto the surface prepared with the watercolour ground than it is on rough watercolour paper. I’m still learning how the paint reacts but  I’m loving it!

 

 

Bye for now,
Linda x

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Loving Painting!

Loving Painting!

At Designmatterstv we’ve been focussing on Laura’s 31 Days of Art Journalling course lately and I have loved working along with her prompts into a little sketchbook but it has meant that my other painting has been neglected. I’m not sure if it’s the return of spring and all that means in the garden but I have been inspired to get the canvases out and get stuck in! Our magnolia blossom has been gorgeous during the early warm, sunny weather but sadly, with the return of frosty nights, the delicate petals have suffered – not before I had time to try and capture their loveliness in watercolour though. That’s the beauty of a painting – the flowers will always be perfect! The still life shows a few of my favourite possessions with the orchid from Marks and Spencer that my mom gave me for my birthday nearly four years ago. It’s getting a bit unruly but flowers its heart out every year.

Part of the rekinding of my passion for painting has been the discovery of a watercolour ground that means almost any firm surface can be prepared to accept watercolour paint. I understand this product has been around for quite some time but it’s been a complete revelation to me and I’m always up for new experiences! The manufacturers say it can be used on wood, cardboard, plastic and even glass but I’ve applied it to canvas panels and I’ve loved experimenting to find out how similar or different it is to painting onto paper. We’ve added a little video about it over on Designmatterstv if you’re interested to hear more details but essentially, the ground is applied to the canvas and allowed to dry – the surface will then resemble the texture of watercolour paper. I’ve used the course ground made by Schmincke but lots of manufacturers have their own versions. One of the advantages of working this technique is that a canvas panel that has been primed for use with acrylic or oil becomes receptive to watercolour paint and of course, a deep edge box panel doesn’t involve the cost of framing. As long as the finished painting is sealed with cold wax it’s protected and ready to hang without the need of glass or frame. I’ll definitely be making more of these paintings on canvas but there is always room for traditional techniques and the two paintings of jugs of flowers sitting on lace cloths shown here are pure watercolour on watercolour paper. I’m not decided yet which I prefer as the paint reacts differently on the ground to how it works on paper – only way to decide is to keep painting I suppose. At the moment I love both!

Bye for now,
Linda x

PS If you fancy owning one of these original paintings all of the above are available to buy in my Shop!

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Totally Obsessed!

Totally Obsessed!

Since I last wrote about being loaned an embroidery machine by Husqvarna Viking scarcely a day has gone by when I haven’t embroidered something – no old quilt or scrap of hand dyed fabric is safe! You can see here a small hanging I’ve made where the branch and some of the leaves are digital embroidery and the lemons and extra leaves are fabric painting. The close up shows how I’ve free motion quilted the background fabric in angular lines of cream on cream and finally created dimpled texture in the lemons with tightly spaced circles or meanders.

I’ve done a similar thing with the olive branch but in this piece I hand worked tiny seed stitches around the motif where the raised surface of the digital embroidery meant I couldn’t get in close enough by machine. The leaves in this design are meant to be cut back to create the texture of velvet pile but I’ve decided to leave them uncut because I prefer the lustrous shine of the threads. (I’m using Madeira threads gifted to me as brand ambassador for all the embroidery). You can see, I’ve also made another  version of the lovely fern design I showed you last time but I’ve painted into this one with a coppery metallic fabric paint mixed in with a little of the olive gold. I think the copper complements the variegated colour of the embroidery thread and also contrasts well with the colour of the fabric. I’ve also painted bunches of grapes and extra leaves into a fourth piece that’s worked onto a digital print of flaking paint on a building. I really like to layer pattern on pattern. Most of these pieces are yet to be completed but I get so excited I have to start another embroidery while I’m still painting or quilting the last one! There’s great satisfaction in multi-tasking – picture me carefully painting as I sit next to the embroidery machine as it whizzes away on the next piece! The final photo here shows how I’m stitching out more leaves and branches ready for more painted fruit. I can’t imagine this obsession ending any time soon but I’ll let you see how I get on!

Bye for now,
Linda x

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New Year – New Machine

New Year - New Machine

First of all although a little belatedly, Happy New Year! I hope you are all rested and refreshed and raring to go in 2022! I don’t want to sound like a complete misery but I’m always pleased to get back to a normal life as soon as the decorations are down. This year particularly so because, as a Brand Ambassador for Husqvarna Viking I’ve been loaned a top of the range Epic 2 embroidery machine. It arrived 3 days ago and has hardly been idle since then. It’s so exciting getting to know what this beast is capable of and I am really impressed with what I’ve discovered so far. It’s early days and I’ve only tried the tip of the iceberg but I hoped you’d be interested to see my first forays.

One of the first designs I chose to try out was the lovely big fern ‘line drawing’ you can see details of above. It’s already built into the design library of the machine. I’ve worked it onto a digitally printed pastel drawing of mine which I had partially free motion quilted. I chose the outline fern because it gave me potential to add paint in the leaf shapes – you know how much I like to add a bit of paint! I’ve used Jacquard Lumiere paint in metallic olive gold for this.

The daffodil and tulip piece above and to the right is another of the built in designs which looked very sketchy and hand drawn – just like a pen drawing I might have made in my sketchbook. I stitched this onto a scrap of a quilt Laura had chopped up to make purses. It already had quite a lot of linear quilting and digital embroidery but I chose a dark thread that would show over the top of the initial layers of pattern. The design was worked in a single colour of Madeira rayon thread but once the embroidery was finished I added colour to the blooms with Inktense pencils and water.

The leafy embroidered branch on the right is looking very plain right now but my plan is to add painted lemons – I’ll let you see if that turns out as I imagine it. It’s looking great in my head but I just have to make it happen on the fabric now!

Thanks for reading this today – hope you’ve enjoyed seeing how I’m keeping busy in a cold and dark January.

Bye for now,
Linda x

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Where Does Inspiration Come From?

Where Does Inspiration Come From?

There are two questions we get asked all the time – “How long did it take” and “Where do you get your inspiration”. The answer to the first is simple – as long as it needs. The second is more complicated because inspiration can come from anywhere. Unless I am working to a brief, where the theme is provided, I find mine from the every day and familiar – from things I surround myself with and love. They aren’t necessarily valuable things but they are precious to me. My paintbox is a perfect example. I’ve had it for many years and it’s really well used. As the colours run out I top them up so it’s only the box itself and the china mixing palette that’s original. (Well apart from the horrible viridian green which I hate but can never bring myself to throw  away). A few years ago I made a digitally printed quilt from a photograph of the paintbox but when it sold at exhibition and wasn’t going to come home I decided to make a second version. I don’t like to repeat things exactly so this time I started by making a pastel and watercolour painting of my box rather than using a photograph. That’s a detail of my paintbox on the right and the painting I made of it is below. I had the painting printed onto cotton fabric using fibre reactive dyes and quilted the wholecloth design with free motion machine stitch. The finished quilt is shown here on the right.

I tried to be true to the luscious pools of colour with my thread choices and particularly wanted to capture the stains on the wood of the box and the white china tray. I rarely wash the palette and prefer my colours to flow from one project to the next. The stains also provided exciting shapes for the quilting as I stitched around their contours. It’s always good to have shapes for quilting inspiration and these organic splashes and drips contrasted effectively with the more geometric shapes of the half pans and the wells in the palette.
If you’d like to see close ups of the quilting visit the Portfolio page on my website where the quilt is now listed for sale.
Thanks for reading this today!
Bye for now – Linda

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Hard to Choose a Favourite thing!

Hard To Choose A Favourite Thing

I’m one of those people who think a day is wasted if I haven’t made something that didn’t exist the day before! It doesn’t really matter what that thing is as long as I create something! It may be as simple as a loaf of bread or a tasty cake but the most satisfying creations are always ‘arty’. I sew, quilt or knit almost every day but I get the most enjoyment from my drawing, printing and painting because they are so immediate. A quilt can take me weeks or even months but I can make a drawing whenever I have a few free minutes. There are always several sketchbooks on the go – usually because I’m too impatient to wait for pages to dry before I can turn to the next. This one is a tiny square format which is ideal for quick sketches. The little bird was drawn with water-soluble pencils and then I added washes of water to diffuse the pigments. We’re working on a ‘how to’ video showing this technique for designmatterstv – hopefully it’ll be available soon. The nuthatch in the book I’m holding was done in exactly the same way but I liked his shape and colouring so much I decided to make a second version using more traditional watercolour techniques. I’ve mounted the finished watercolour painting onto a wooden panel and sealed the surface with cold wax to protect it. He’s in my online shop now if you are tempted to own the original!

It’s a cold wintry day here and I’m about to make soup! While it’s bubbling away I can get back to that sketchbook. No time to squander!

Bye for now,
Linda

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Dare I mention Christmas yet?

Dare I Mention Christmas Yet?

I know that it’s barely November but the shops are already gearing up for the holiday season and I’m jumping on the bandwagon too! I’m gradually adding a few small and affordable pieces to my online shop. These 6 inch square pincushions might be just the thing for a friend who enjoys textiles or maybe even as a treat for yourself! I’ve really enjoyed making them using all my favourite fabrics and techniques and I hope you’ll like them too. I’ve got quite a few more of these waiting to be photographed and I’ll be adding them to the ‘Shop’ as fast as I can so please check back from time to time to see if anything appeals and feel free to drop me an email if you need more info or have questions.

Bye for now,
Linda

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Studio Sale

Studio Sale

I don’t make many quilts for sale. My work is usually created in response to a call for submission to an exhibition but I’m pleased to say that they do often sell when they are on show. There’s nothing quite like seeing quilts ‘in the flesh’ to tempt a buyer. But in these uncertain times there are few opportunities for getting the quilts out and about. I don’t have any upcoming exhibitions even pencilled into my diary so I’ve decided to post a few of my quilts here on the website just in case anyone fancies giving one a home! I’ve also kept the prices as low as I can because, buying direct from the maker means there’s no gallery commission!

You might remember some of my Moth series from the article in Quilting Arts Magazine a little while ago? I am fascinated by the creatures I see in my garden, in fact, nature is my greatest inspiration. There were several of these moth quilts made for an exhibition we had planned before the dreaded pandemic struck. A couple of them made a brief appearance on the Madeira trade stand at the National Exhibition Centre but they were never exhibited as intended. Seems a pity to have them hidden away  where no one gets to enjoy them so you’ll find three of them now available in the shop.

I’ve also added one of my favourite pieces, ‘Wolf Moon’. This one was made for a DesignmattersTV video and has also never been exhibited.

Quilts are a fantastic way of adding colour and personality to an interior and they will give years of pleasure as long as they are not hung in strong, direct sunlight. Treat them as you would a watercolour painting.

I’ll be adding more to the ‘Shop’ as I find time to get them photographed so please check back from time to time to see if anything appeals and feel free to drop me an email if you need more info or have questions.

Bye for now,
Linda

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Unfinished Business

Unfinished Business

I hate unfinished business but when we are making videos for Designmatterstv we often have lots of pieces that get put to one side once they’ve done their job. I’ve been rifling through my heaps of ‘stuff’ and the search revealed a cheery looking bit of piecing that only needed quilting and binding to be complete. I’m fortunate to have an even feed attachment (walking foot) for my Husqvarna machine and I’m always impressed with how easy it makes perfect straight-line quilting. I wanted to use some of my hand dyed cotton threads on this piece as well as the Madeira Cotona 30s I used for the machine stitching so I hand stitched around the contours of the stencilled and painted leaves and berries on the corner triangles with variegated, single strand threads. I’m happy with the contrast I’ve achieved by combining geometric shapes of the patchwork and machine quilting with the softer, more organic shapes of the stencilled leaves and the hand stitch.

Digging deeper into the unfinished pieces I spotted a mono print that Laura had made during a workshop she taught at her studio before the dreaded pandemic brought everything to a halt. I thought it would be a perfect candidate for a little digital embroidery. Now I’m sometimes a bit hesitant about using preset designs from my embroidery machine because the control freak in me prefers to create my own. However, I was occupied with something else at the time and just chose a flower design I hadn’t used before. I know many people regard digital embroidery as a cheat but if I can set my  machine to be stitching away while I am busy doing something else at the same time I’m more than content! Of course I had to make it my own in a small way so I ignored the recommended colour choices and chose a completely different palette. As long as the value contact is maintained it should work perfectly. I actually love the result and will be finishing this with lots of quilting to lose the bagginess you see in this photo.

I always make time for drawing and painting even when I’ve got lots of sewing projects on the go. I never have to look far for inspiration – the garden is full of fabulous lilies at the moment. This painting is a practise piece for a more involved still life I’m working on now. As soon as it’s finished it will join my other watercolours in the Shop gallery on the website.

I hope you are keeping creative too!

Bye for now,
Linda

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New Sketchbook

New Sketchbook

It’s so exciting to have a brand new website as a present from Laura for last week’s big birthday! I had no idea she’d been secretly working on it for some time. While she was getting square eyed at the computer screen I’ve been enjoying myself making a new sketchbook. I’ve used recent plant prints together with some pages made last year. The papers are nearly all watercolour 140lb weight as I think they survive the hour of boiling better than cartridge paper.

You may have seen the method I use if you are a regular follower of the videos on Designmatterstv. It’s just a case of boiling a tightly clamped bundle of papers interspersed with plant material in a bath of water, vinegar and rusty objects! I realise that sounds crazy to the uninitiated but the slight unpredictability of the process really appeals to me. The best bit is removing the clamps to see exactly what has transferred to the paper. There are often squeals of delight as all is revealed!

Putting the prints into a book format provides lovely background colours and textures to work into. I am often inspired by nature so it makes perfect sense to me to print from leaves and flowers from my garden and then paint and draw onto the prints with more detail. I always work with birds, insects and flowers that I can photograph or collect each day when I need a visual reference. There’s no deadline  for the work – it just evolves organically. I return to the pages over  time and as the seasons change so does the inspiration. I make one of these garden diaries every year and get much pleasure looking back at them. If I spot an empty space I might work back into it at any time – even years later!

We’re planning to add flip through view of this latest book to the Sketchbook pages of my website soon so I hope you’ll check back if you’d like to see more detail.

Bye for now,
Linda