Thursday, 24 December 2009

On the eve of Christmas


Greetings to all creative Bloggers, wherever you are on this eve of Christmas. May you be warm and cosy, with friends or family - but if you are alone, I will still be thinking of you, even though I may not know you are reading this, or even who you are. With love and best wishes, Ann - from the not quite so freezing English Cotswolds.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

A steep learning curve

my first online workshop page (see below)

I've finally begun work on the first tasks set by L.K.Ludwig in her fascinating 'Printed Patterned Painted Journal Making' online class. The pic above and the one that follows do not do justice to her skill as a teacher: take a look at LKL's blog when she posted an outline of what is on offer, and what is possible.

I really need a whole day to get to grips with all this; the techniques are simple yet ingenious; but collecting everything together and learning how to view LKL's videos without them continuously stopping and starting (my own incompetence) have left my brain in a whirl. And then there's the steep learning curve of Flickr and how to load photos onto a group site so all participants can share their efforts, if they want to. My examples are poor but scraping acrylic paint and spritzing it with water has been an eye opener. I would never have thought of doing that. My photos show my very first sheet (above), which to me seems like sunlight filtering through dappled leaves, and a further one using a feather-grass stamp that blobbed a bit. I am behind with the schedule already after only one week! 

and another page (click on the image to see it enlarged) - I learned what NOT to do when attempting the stamping technique; and need lots more practice

Stencils were called for yesterday and I could not recmember where I had stashed some away, at least ten years ago. Glancing up at a bookshelf-cum-cupboard in the laundry room, lo and behold, a box labelled 'stencils'. Reaching it with all the clutter now stored in front of the steel structure involved climbing on steps and then onto the table of my industrial sewing machine (in itself a storage shelf) and then reaching forward and up, grabbing the box ... (no I don't want to land back in hospital, so caution ...)

Working spasmodically on L.K.L's class has not been the only creative project on my mind this last week. I will be using the pages I create - or at least some of the techniques - in my fabric-and-paper garden journal (see post of 21st November for my initial notes on that topic). Then I have another winter creation on the go which will involve muslin and patchwork, lace and stitched artificial flowers. 

sprays of artificial flowers and leaves, ready to be plucked apart and applied to paper or fabric pages - most are obtained from up-market garden centres, but the most beautiful for creative purposes come from my dear friend, Kristin Steiner, from South Carolina, USA

I revel in my growing collection of these sprays; they brighten a dark space in the work room and yet are there awaiting the plucking of a leaf or flower, which is either attached to a page with a central brad, or free-machine stitched into place for a flattened effect.

this 'sea-foam' flower is soft and velvety; a complete composite flower head was given me by Kristi when she came to stay earlier this summer after teaching at the brilliant Oxford Summer School, to which she is returning in 2010

This particular project will also include poems that have been writing themselves all week. I print them as a kind of transfer onto fine muslin or cotton lawn; they will be superimposed on the patchwork lacy page together with wintery photos that I have been sourcing from various files on my computer in spare moments during the week. So I have much to busy myself with in the Christmas break, apart from catching up with other people's art-making blogs that I have missed since the hospital debacle.

I will close tonight, in this week that will end with Christmas Day, with one of the poems that landed on the page for my 'Winter Observed' keepsake:


I have no idea why these words should have sprung into my mind and onto the page as I planned the keepsake. They just happened; and now I have to take a suitable winter woodland photo in pine woods - and the temperature the last two days has been -9C (15.8F); too cold to hold the camera let alone find a suitable ride of firs. Maybe a Photoshop experiment with a photo from the last icy winter ?

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Artspace & Treats

part of the working area in our roof-top attic

I spent most of last weekend clearing some workspace in the attic-roof – or roof-attic, depending on which way you look at it – so that I had somewhere into which to retreat to create. My working area moves around this old house, according to season and whatever else I am doing. I share the roof with our stored past: we’ve lived here for 40 years and much of what is up there, up the narrow ladder-like stairs and under the sloping roof, has been pushed out of sight from our previous home, and stuff we could not bear to part with from our pre-retirement publishing/printing works. Plus of course my ever-increasing stashes of fabric and yarn. I’m both a yarnaholic and a fabricholic! The workspace is quite large but inaccessible to the rest of the family for they are too tall and hit their head on the beams and trusses. I can creep around underneath!

For the last three years, my workspace has been a tiny table in the laundry room (which fills with smoke and sometimes ash when the wood-burner next door in the boiler-room is being refuelled); or I use the dining room table. But I was becoming increasingly irritated at continually having to tidy everything away whenever we had a meal, and worried that I would drop paint or glue onto our oriental carpets. Up here, under the eaves, it may lack daylight (only one tiny attic window) and be freezing in winter (though I’ve just sneaked in a heater!), and overly hot in summer, but at least I can slide away and be my own person.

The artspace is calling: I had determined to work on more fabric keepsakes and the commissioned garden journal about which I recently posted, and was completely ready for the beginning of this last week, when WHAM … read about what happened at 7.30am on Monday 30th November in my other blog (‘Wild Somerset Child’), if you haven’t already done so. (Thankyou to all those who have left me such kind comments.) All has now returned to normal and my artspace is ready. And so am I.

After ‘the scare’, I returned home to some mailbox treats. One of the things I so love about the blog world is discovering the work of other artists. I am gradually, whenever I can afford to, surrounding myself with little works of art made by other bloggers. Look what I have just added to my collection, which was awaiting my homecoming on Wednesday:


These lovely tags came for the Etsy Store of Tracie Lyn Huskamp. I fell in love with her book ‘Nature Inspired’ this last Autumn, and wanted to learn her technique of painting natural history themes on muslin; her book lies open on the fireside table in the living room. The thought of holding a piece of her work in my hands was uppermost in my mind when she posted about her online store. They are here now; so beautiful, such an inspiration; even more so because she addressed the envelope to "the beautiful Ann Somerset Miles". Little does she know!


And then I became intrigued by the blog of Seth Apter and his book ‘The Pulse’ (a zine I think you call it) and ordered a copy. That too was in the mailbox. What a labour of love, what a wealth of information. Described by Seth as 'an artist survey', in which 94 artists were given seven art-related questions to answer, this is a book to be read in conjunction with Seth's blog (The Altered Page) and the blogs or websites of the participating artists. I will be dipping into it for weeks, searching out the online links, assimilating, and learning.

a parcel of much-needed cheesecloth

Packages are still arriving! In the mail this very morning came the cheesecloth I had asked my dear friend and kindred spirit, Kristin Steiner from South Carolina, to source for me. It is coarser than the muslin I habitually use and seems to be unobtainable over here, other than in 50-metre rolls from the theatrical suppliers I have been buying from for years. Kristi came to my rescue, and as ever with her packages, she attached one of her sweet personal message tags (I save them all), and fabric-ribbon that will instantly find its way into one of my own creations.

Finally, as a treat to myself, I have booked an online six-week course (Dec 14th to January 31st) with L.K.Ludwig, whose work I have also long-admired. I drool over her book ‘Mixed Media Nature Journals’ which had me rushing to incorporate metal mesh and other materials into my own work. I can’t wait to start her online ‘Printed Patterned Painted Journal Making Class’ and feel truly fortunate to be able to learn from someone so gifted, but so far away that I could never attend real-time workshops; (and the cost is amazingly reasonable). I guess I will be posting the results of my endeavours 'ere long. This morning I was emailed my password and downloaded the supplies list. Oh the wonders of modern technology.

And now to climb back up those stairs into my artspace and my own mixed-media creations.

using the insulation in the sloping roof as a bulletin board