Friday, October 18, 2013

I howl at the moon..........

Well, I've actually had (almost) an entire week at home and got to play in my studio.

It was a bit of a strange week, I actually felt myself sinking into the black hole of depression, but luckily, think I only got as far as my knees, when things started to look clearer and rosier. I find that a full moon can have quite an effect, some months are better than others, but this wasn't quite so good.  I never suffered, or don't think I did in the UK, and think it must be to do with less light pollution where I live now, ie., no street lights, just a sky full of stars. Once I find out the reason for feeling the way I do, it's a lot easier to cope with.

The end of the previous week, I had challenged a friend to turn out a piece of intuitive art every day for five days, (more to the point, she got me started on challenging her, I used the same parameters, it had to be totally intuitive, no thinking, just pick the fabric and go. The only difference was I didn't have a subject to work from). Probably a lot easier to do with paint and paper than with fabric, but I actually had a  lot of fun with it. I made myself choose a piece of fabric every day without looking, and had only one where I felt I had no idea what I would do with it.

Day 1 - the fabric I pulled spoke to me, I could see leaves in the dye patterns so decided to use Inktense pencils to intensify and then machine stitched around the edge. Not a bad effort for my first piece!

Day 2 - this awful purple piece caused me to scratch my head, and I had no idea what I was doing so decided that abstract might be best, although it's not that easy to do. Not my favourite.

Day3 - I was in Cincinnati in April and took a workshop with Cindy Walter, we were painting fabric, diluted and undiluted, this was a clean up rag stuffed in a beaker. I quite like this piece, I saw a dragon in the colours and then added a branch of cherry blossom.

Day 4 - this piece of fabric just yelled stormy skies so that's what I did. Used wool roving and silk roving and cheesecloth.

Day 5 - This piece was interesting and I really just started playing with it, out popped a waterfall and I was pleased with the overall result.

I posted the results of each days piece on Facebook which is where I am in contact with my friend, and I was able to see her pieces too which I really enjoyed, they are getting more confident the more she does, and I really love them. I think I should continue the challenge - is anybody game?

I also had a very interesting morning on Tuesday. A friend from church had asked if I would like to meet her friend from the Netherlands who had been taking a workshop in the States and was coming up here for a couple of days. Oooh, yes please!

I am always interested in meeting other artists and connecting with them, no matter what their medium is, paint, fabric, metal, print, I really love it. I have plans to get together with an artist friend who lives locally as I would like to do prints on fabric, and he has a printing press, so I want to see him very soon, I'm a big fan of Tony's work, and want to learn more from him, he was unwell earlier this year, but is now on the mend, and I will see him after I get back from Houston. Oh, didn't I mention that? Give me time.

Anyway, I had a lovely time with Margo van Strien, she told me about the workshop she had taken with Nancy Crow and showed me the work she did, and showed me her website and her work, which is lovely, and so different, and then I showed her mine, which is completely different in style to hers. 

I always find it interesting to see and hear the reaction to my work, it gives me hope. Interestingly, Margo asked if I sold my work. I told her that I had space in a lovely Gallery in Port Stanley, and while I can't keep up with the demand for my fabric postcards, (a snip at $10), the "larger" pieces, which I try and keep to a smallish size, and reasonably priced, don't sell. I think the reason for this is that when Joe Blow goes to a gallery and looks at a painting, they see the size of the canvas, paint, colour and, the fact that they can't/don't/won't/ couldn't do "this", "it's" worth the money. With a textile artist, they look at it and think it's fabric, why should I pay what they're asking? They do not see the cost of dye to "paint" the fabric, fabric paints, acrylic paints, watercolour pencils, Inktense pencils, (my personal favourite), the design, the different materials, silk rovings, wool rovings, cheesecloth hand dyed or painted, the DESIGN, (this doesn't happen on its own and takes as much thought as a painted canvas would), mulberry bark, again a favourite, silk cocoons, carrier rods........ the list is endless, BUT the art is as important and just as well thought out.

One of the things I really love to do is perspective. I love to make my work look as though it has walkways, paths, hidden spots and dimension, after all, isn't that what all the great artists would do?

My space in Port Stanley at the Art Emporium - please help an impoverished artist.

A quilt I made for my friends Mother

I really like this piece, canvas, tyvek, cheesecloth and colour vie paints.

I'm a big fan of Pre Raphaelite art. When I was doing my Diploma in China Restoration, I got very friendly with a couple of girls who hailed from Liverpool, (probably my most favourite city on this planet), and the husband and I would often go and stay with either of them for the weekend if I was taking my class. Did you know there were NINE Museums in Liverpool housing some of the best art in the UK, if not the world? Especially Pre Raphaelite. My favourite was the Lady Lever Gallery in Port Sunlight, I could spend hours in there just breathing in the art and ceramics. Another was Sudley House. I think my jaw dropped when I saw the Charles Rennie Mackintosh furniture housed there plus other pieces from that period and whenever I was asked where I wanted to go, it was high on the list.

Our very first visit to Liverpool consisted of going out for a meal with both sets of friends, and then driving around at 1 am and visiting all the sites mentioned in Beatles tunes and singing at the tops of our voices, Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields, John Lennon's home, which was just down the road aways, it was magical. I remember going to the Theatre in Liverpool and watching a play about the life of John Lennon, "Imagine". The tension was palpable, this was their son, so get it right. I just wanted to get up and dance and sing. I can report that the show was well received and got a standing ovation, phew!!

But, back to Art..........(to be continued at a later date).

Friday, October 4, 2013

On the catwalk.... I shake my little tush on the catwalk

Today was the day, or evening, of the fashion show. I always love doing these events, it's the same group of girls every time, and we only really see each other twice a year when we meet up for the show, lots of wine is drunk, stories told, and catch up on what's happened since we last saw each other.

Tonights show was a new venue, we had met the previous week to do a show at the Restaurant we do twice a year, so this was the same clothes just a different place. I mentioned that we were going to have our hair and make up done which was a lovely treat. Normally we do our own hair and make up.

I duly arrived at the salon at the appointed time, and got checked in..then realised that everyone else was there, I just didn't recognise them! It was lovely to watch everyone else getting prettied up and pretty soon it was my turn.

Now, I have a wonderful hairdresser. My trips to her salon generally hit the three hour mark as we factor in a visit at the same time, and she updates her skills regularly and will always come back with some funky ideas which she knows none but me will go for or can carry. I sent her a quick text just to let her know that I was modelling and having hair and make up done, just in case she found out that my car was parked out the front of another salon, (these things have a strange way of getting about), and said that if one hair on my head was touched apart from having a wash and blow-dry, I would not be responsible for my actions. You see, I am terribly vain where my hair is concerned and always have been. I like to look groomed and my hair is a big part of that.

I was offered a cup of tea, what would I like. Plain and ordinary Tetley's. Well come and see what we have, Pumpkin Spice, Pomegranate, Cranberry....... can I have Tetley or plain tea, No. I'll have water then thanks. I drink gallons of it anyway I really don't mind. I don't understand the popularity of flavoured teas, but appreciate that others do, I feel unfulfilled.

So what did I want to do today? Well, your the hairdresser, and you know I'm doing a fashion show, so it's a pretty good guess I just want a wash and blow-dry. Ok, no problem. The wash was lovely and then I was led to a chair, a robe put around me, and the drying began. Dear reader, the one thing I have been blessed with is plenty of hair, so why do they use volumiser to make it look bigger? I have a lovely bob straight fringe, (bangs), so not too difficult a style to deal with. The Big round brush came out and it was blown dry ..........backwards? It's a bob, surely it should be down and under? Oh well, go with the flow and let her do it. Well, it's bigger than normal but I guess it will fall into place. Oh good, the flat iron is out, not to bad I guess, except one side sticks out more than the other. Oh, now what's she going to do?

Backcombing.........SERIOUSLY????  I thought that was pretty much dead and buried except on little old ladies, (sorry if I offend any little old ladies). I just wanted to giggle and say what on earth are you doing? She lifted sections and dusted a powder onto the roots then backcombed. I was beginning to look a little slack jawed by this time as I couldn't believe it. It was a little pouffy but not like my Mother's used to be. Mother would go to the hairdresser every week to have her hair done, washed, put in rollers and under the dryer, once dry, the rollers came out and it was backcombed to within an inch of it's life and then doused in hairspray. That "do" did not move - ever. In fact, a very good friend of mine once referred to her hair as a steel helmet because there was never a hair out of place and it just couldn't move it was so lacquered.

As a child, I was never allowed to have long hair. It was always short and I hated it. In my teens it wasn't too bad because all the mods had short hair, including the girls, so I was sort of in fashion. I came home from the hairdressers once with hair cut short, but she had left longer tails at the back, mother was furious and whipped those off with a pair of scissors. Once I was 18, I could do what I liked with it, so I grew it and loved it. I have quite a small head, so short hair always make me feel like a pimple.

I used to go up to the Vidal Sassoon School of Hairdressing. That was a real experience, and probably the first time I got a decent hair cut. It was a training school. You would turn up at either 10 am or 2 pm, and check in, you had an appointment for one or the other, then sit with lots of other girls in the waiting room. Eventually the students would come in and look around until they saw something they wanted to work with and then you were taken away into the main salon. The first time I ever went there I was around 18 or 19, and a young Japanese boy decided to take my hair in his hands and off I went. His instructor was good, showed him how to look at the hair, how it fell, where the crown was, the idiosyncrasies, after all, hair does'n just pop out in a straight line, it will have kinks and swirls just where you don't want it. After some discussion it was washed and then the cutting started. I can't really remember what the style was but think it may have been a pageboy and it was beautiful. It was the first time I had ever spent two hours at the hairdressers. After that, I decided to graduate to a proper salon, and chose Michaeljohn, and went several times.

And so started my journey on finding the perfect hairdresser. I did once, and am pretty much close to it again with my current one.

Trevor became my best friend. I met him at an Antique Fair, and once we became friends, he started cutting my hair. He was another one who would change my style frequently. I used to pretend I was the junior in the "salon", he used to do the husbands hair too, and I would sweep the cuttings off the floor, and watch in fascination as he trimmed away with the scissors.

Anyway, I digress. Once bouffanted, I was then able to join the others for a glass of wine, a new experience, wine at the hairdressers, but fun to do! And we just sat and chatted and watched the others get their makeup done too. I love having makeup done and it didn't look too bad when finished, it was a fun afternoon, but, as I told my hairdresser, I wouldn't be changing her anytime soon.

The evening went well, always difficult to judge in a new venue, but it was lovely, the ladies eat their meal while we model, and love to have a quick feel of the clothes. It's very informal and we all have a good time. All to soon it was over and time to dress in our own clothes.

Which brings me to fashion. I love clothes, I have a wardrobe full and probably far more than I need. I envy those people who only have six or eight items which all mix and match, but they are missing out on so much. I am sure my wardrobe is like 90% of the populations, I love it, got to have it............and it goes with absolutely nothing else in the wardrobe, but never mind, I'll find something one day that will be perfect for it! And there it sits.

However, I tried hard when I was England not to buy anything that didn't go with something else, and managed pretty well and was pleased. If I had a report card, it would say "must try harder........"

My original career prior to Conservation and quilting was fashion retail. I was a management trainee at Harvey Nichols, (darling, shades of Patsy from Ab Fab always come to mind when I think of Harvey Nicks). A lovely store, or was, as I didn't think much of it on my last visit. The one thing I loved about stores such as Harvey Nicks, Harrods, Selfridges, etc. was that you might not be able to afford the clothes, but you could get up close and personal with them. I never made clothes, just the worlds worst and I don't have the patience for it, but I used to love looking at how they were put together, there is something so different about couture, the way the lining is made and how it is attached to the garment, the detailing, stitching etc., is just a joy to study and look at. I was lucky enough to own a Yves St Laurent skirt once and I treated it with reverence. I would look at it in great detail, the waistband, the fabric, the lining, how the lining was attached not only at the top, but to the hem of the skirt. I didn't wear it often sadly, it was just to special to wear everyday, but YSL is probably, or rather was, the best designer in the world. The French really have the rest of the world beaten on couture I'm afraid. I have books on his clothes and I love to look at them, the designs are timeless and I wish I could have more.

Bicester Outlet Village was my favourite shopping destination. Situated just outside Oxford, it had a lot of designer outlet stores, Versace, Ferragamo, Max Mara and many others. Max Mara was a big favourite and I liked going through their racks and stores too. It must be the Italian styling.But, it was good to be able to have designer clothes at a much reduced price. I think the husband is glad we don't live in the UK now, it's cheaper for him to clothe me!!

I am now a big Joe Fresh fan. I can get my groceries and clothes in one store, and before you pooh pooh it, just turn a dress or coat inside out and look at the finishing. It may be inexpensive, but the detailing on the seams and other small touches impress me. Now they have Internet shopping it will be my downfall!

Oh well, that's it until the Spring, when Fashion Week starts all over again.........

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Summer... what was that?

I can't believe that we are now almost through September and officially into Autumn, (Fall for those of you in North America).

I got home safely, and the next day, the husband and I were off to Michigan to join our friends who had rented a cabin at a resort just outside Gaylord. We had a gentle drive and arrived mid afternoon and made ourselves at home as there was none there. Eventually they came back and we had a very enjoyable couple of days.

A cabin similar to the one we were staying in. The sprinklers came on every day about 4pm, and did not stop until 8am the next morning, hitting the metal was noisy.

The main office

All too soon it was time to come home, but I did need to do the washing and unpack my suitcase!

Now here we are, almost at the end of September, and I have to buckle down and get the workshop information proof read and ready for the website for the Quilts of Great Britain. I am really looking forward to this Festival, as I do them all, there is always an excitement about the workshops, and I look forward to taking the registrations.

It hasn't left me a whole bunch of time in my studio. I have tried so hard to get some items ready for the Gallery in Port Stanley, so far I have four postcards and a small picture and not much else! There is a call for Christmas items now so really have to get something done this week and next. I am also trying to write an article for a quilting magazine. When I was in Birmingham, I was asked to do this, and I have struggled with it a bit, so I have decided to write it the way I write this, it might flow more easily.

Well, it's now October.

I should have realised that things wouldn't go the way I wanted.  Never mind, I will get there in the end. I have been spending time writing the workshop lists out and still have a way to go, the husband also needs to photograph the quilts so that we can then get our tech wizard to upload it all to the website, it's a long slow process. The rest of this week is taken up with modelling tomorrow for a good friend who has a dress shop, we are having hair and make up done, so it's a bit of a treat, and then modelling on a runway and dinner. I do this twice a year in a restaurant in Sarnia. The evening is sold out every time and we all have a lot of fun. Patti is very generous. I love going for my fittings, I generally get the more unusual items to wear which is fun.

However, this isn't helping my creative spirit.which is in sore need of feeding. She's probably sitting in the studio with arms folded getting grouchy, so I will have to try and be extra nice to her and get some work done. I have, in fact, signed up for a challenge which is quite exciting and I'm looking forward to starting it. I need two models, so I will have to draw on an artist friend and her husband and get them to pose for me. A good excuse to see them anyway, I just need to set up a time and date. Sarah has a show at the end of this month, so I hope i can talk to her then. My idea is in my head, I just need to get it started.

I also have a baby quilt to finish, it just needs quilting now so I should buckle down and get on with it.
So, why am i sitting here? Time to go and get some things finished!