Monday, 18 December 2017


We have a variety of lavender bushes growing in the gardens around our house.  They grow well, are great for the bees & smell wonderful whenever we brush past them!  The one that grows at the edge of our front porch has an amusing characteristic that the other bushes don't share.  It droops it's developing flower head, as if it is just too heavy for the adjoining stem!

Set against a backdrop of large leafed succulents, tree foliage and a water tank, I thought this made an interesting composition possibility for #7 of my weekly art project.

I began with drawing with black pen, a little colour variation in green & purple in a series of rough 4cm square thumbnail sketches.  I recorded what I saw...and then played with those components.

Eventually I had a design I liked! to transfer this idea into fabric!

The fabric stash held some very exciting possibilities.  And so the sewing & cutting back began.

More cutting back & even more soon brought me to the realisation that I had somehow, accidently turned the background around the wrong way.  Oops.

Once it was all cutback, I was able to see what else it might need, as embellishment, to give it a lift.  It was clear that the purple I had used for the lavender head was too close in tone to the grey in the background, so I added some stitch.

That did the trick!  I was very pleased with my end result & I loved the colour combo!!  Using two different shades of green for the stems also adds energy & interest.  Only I would know about the mix up with the background & it still looks okay anyway. Phew!

Sunday, 17 December 2017


In one of our gardens we have a David Austin rose, which is deep red and has a true 'old fashioned' rose scent.  Sadly, the local possums like to eat it's beautiful buds, so I try & pick them before they become food.  Their calyxes are like a dancer's arms, so graceful & elegant.

Using two thicknesses of copic pens, I began by drawing line sketches.  Using flat colour, I highlighted the difference between the rose bud and the calyx.

It was the beautiful calyx lines that I fell in love with, so I traced each one, cut them separately, and had a little play with grouping & overlapping the lines.

It took a LONG time for me to find a combination that I was content with! 
Roses in  hand, I then rummaged through the fabric stash, auditioning fabrics alongside each other, finding the right combinations.

After working out which fabric would sit in which layer within my 'sandwich' of fabrics, I transferred the design and started sewing in the stitching lines.  In the process of getting my supplies for this little project together, I discovered that I was seriously short on red sewing thread! (Out came the shopping list!!)  In the end, I chose a variegated green thread, which shows up against the fabric, so I had to be careful my stitching was smooth!!

Then the cutting back began.  This is always like Christmas to me!  So much fun!  The first few cuts boded well!

A considerable amount of cutting back later & this is the final result.
Whilst I quite like the flowing nature of the lines, the background is perhaps a bit too busy & distracting.  There is something not 'right' with this piece.

Recreating it into greyscale, via the magic of computer photo tools, I can see that the tonal values of the focal shapes are too similar to those of the background.  They blend in rather than draw the audience's attention to them.

Perhaps if I had added some sort of shadow to break up that sameness, I've tried to illustrate above with my very poor computer mouse drawing skills,  it may have been a more successful composition.
This is the value of learn!

Friday, 1 December 2017


Our pond is home to four fish,  waterlillies that never flower, a pump that doesn't work,  lots of strappy plants and...currently...a beautiful water Iris.  This flower only appears when it wants to, so it is an extra special treat when that happens.

Although this means that two WAPs (weekly art projects) in a row have been inspired by an Iris, I don't think that's a problem! :-)

I took a few photos of this elegant beauty hiding amidst the straps of green before heading to my work books to start looking closer & exploring further.

This week I abandoned my black pens for sketching, and used only greens and purples to make visual notes and explore creative ways of interpreting the flower & the environment in which it sat.  It is good to change methods from time to time, it keeps the process fresh, interesting & it can inspire completely different ideas & options.

As you can see I ventured into the realm of abstraction, which was a lot of fun & I liked where it was heading.

Once set on a design, I gathered my fabrics together & began by preparing a background with the white.  I use an air erasable pen, which appears as purple, and eventually completely disappears.  This helps me see where I'm going.

To create the flower, I carefully cut vliesofix backed fabrics to the various shapes of my flower design & iron-appliqued them together.

It was then time to carefully place the Iris between the background & the foreground fabrics, before I could begin sewing those foreground lines in to secure them all together.

I held my breath during that first cut back.  Had I placed the Iris in the right spot? Yes, I had!!

Before anymore cutting, I gave the Iris some machine embroidered features, which also served to secure it in place more reliably.  Then it was time for the cutting back to begin.

This is the final result, and I'm very happy with it.
Definitely a fun & pleasing exercise!!

Wednesday, 29 November 2017


Planted around our house are several clusters of purple Iris.  They seem to have a mind of their own as to when they want to flower.  This makes it all the more exciting on discovering that a bud has formed.  I love the shapes the buds get into before they unfurl into petals, much like delicate butterfly wings.

I cut a single Iris & took it indoors to study further with pen & pencil.

These were the pleasing results.
Having completed a more realistic drawing of both a bud & the flower, I chose to do a quick linear drawing of the flower in black pen.  It was from this that I saw the potential to develop a design for my weekly art project.

Using my trusty view finder, I moved it around the sketch, looking for interesting combinations of line and form.

These I made a visual note of, and then developed one design further.  It is amazing what changing the thickness of a few lines will do!

After the usual routine of gathering fabrics, sewing in the design and then cutting back, this is what I had produced . 
I absolutely love those dramatic lines.
However, it was a bit needed more oomph!  I also wanted to reference the colour more obviously.

I achieved that by creating more lines!
Stitched lines in purple thread form the narrow vertical lines, whilst the horizontal ones were achieved by cutting back to another fabric below.

Whilst I would make a couple of changes if I were to do this again, I am quite pleased with the result.  I am also pleased with the background fabric, which ties the colours together well.  In some of the purple stripes, I have put hand stitching, which may be lost in the photo above, but does add a textural quality to the piece...even if only noticeable under close scrutiny!!

I am actually beginning to enjoy this weekly art project...dare I admit, that I look forward to it each week????

Tuesday, 28 November 2017


 The first peach blossom to appear is always an exciting discovery.  It's pale pink petals look so delicate & fragile against the solidity of the wood branches.  The leaves are also delicate when they first emerge in their fresh lime green newness.

This year  they appeared just as grey & miserable weather was about to hit Adelaide.  The pink stood out beautifully against the grey sky as well as the grey corrugated roof of the neighbour's house.

Using  photos as a reference, I began by making a few sketches, exploring both line & colour.

Once settled upon a design, a rummage through the fabric stash eventuated in these choices & I was very happy with how the colours sang together.

Before starting on the fun...flowery...part, I needed to create a corrugated roof like background with my grey fabric.

The process continued with sewing the design through the layers & then cutting back...and cutting back...and cutting back some more!

This was the result after all that cutting, but it wasn't quite complete yet.

The addition of embroidery & beads finished it off nicely.

I love the flow of the purple lines, the colour choices and in particular, that green silk.  It is one of those fabrics that I wish I'd bought a million metres of, because it has proved to be so perfect for so many different projects.  Sadly, there's not a lot left now! Sigh!  Such is life.

Because of the square format I felt as if I had to squish the design up a bit to fit.  Of course, it wasn't until afterwards that I realised I could have rotated it & placed the blossom across the diagonal!!!!

This is an exercise.  I am always learning!!

Monday, 27 November 2017


We have had horrendous weather this past week (Oct 3, 2016) & expecting more rain yesterday, I nipped out & cut a bunch of  Arum lilies before they were battered any further.

My elegant Arums usually appear around spring time & I look forward with delight at seeing their flowing lines and graceful forms!  We have several clumps of them dotted around the garden, each flowering at different stages.  I love them from bud until full flower!

Naturally, I was inspired to use them as my muse for the weekly art project.

Being so attracted to their free flowing lines, I wanted my sketches to be quick & catch some of that freedom.  Several of these had potential, but I eventually chose one to take further...into colour!

It might be hard to believe, but this is how I spent a few hours!!!!  Design development takes time!

After committing to a design, and rummaging through my fabric stash, I then sat at the machine to sew in the design & then begin the process of cutting back!!

Followed by more cutting back...

And even more cutting back!

Whilst there was something deliciously appealing about the simplicity of the previous step in producing this piece, I felt it needed something more to draw the eye, so the yellow beads were added. 
I'm very happy with the lily, the shape & flow of lines & the beads, but am not so happy with the movement of lines in the left hand side of the background.  They distract & take focus away from the lily itself.  If I were to do this again, I think I would make them more like the right hand side & maybe use different greens...or at least ones that are a bit more interesting!!

Sunday, 26 November 2017


Inspired by Brenda Gael Smith to do a weekly art project based on a garden related theme, I've decided to give it a go.
I have given myself some rules eg; only Monday can be used for this exercise, they all must be 15cm square & contemporary reverse applique, I mustn't get my knickers in a twist if I don't like the results & I must remember that it is just an exercise.
This is how the first attempt went...

Our Bluebells are flowering in abundance (sept '16) and we have several beds of them around the house.  They are our little patches of England, and remind us of the carpets of Bluebells we used to see when walking in Tehidy Woods while living in Cornwall.

They, being so very beautiful, are the perfect inspiration for my very first Weekly Art Project.

I began by drawing.
Drawing is very much a process of getting to know one's subject & I consider it essential, even if my end result will be worked in fabric and stitch!

After settling on a design & a colour range, it was 'search the stash' time!  After drawers filled with options...I chose these as my palette!

After a few hours of stitching and then cutting back, and then a final play with hand stitch...this was my final result.

I'm not particularly happy with it!  As soon as I pinned it up on my work board, I began the process of, "oooo.....I should've done that there & this here."
My immediate impulse was to start again, but this project had taken me ALL day!
I was even thinking about it as I went off to sleep!  The mantra "it's just an exercise' wasn't getting through, so what do I do...commit to this project & take the consequences of mental anguish & a lump of time...or not?
I still havent decided yet.
I'll keep you...posted!!