Saturday, 21 January 2012

Starting Work for Art Week Sales & Exhibits

My notebook box
On the assumption that our Village Art Week will be going ahead at the end of June, I need to begin creating the paper and textile books I intend to demo and sell. I need to plan what I am going to make, and when. I am notorious for writing lists and ideas and not seeing a complete project through; so I decided that initially on each evening in January, I would jot down my thoughts - for I could visualise what I wanted to do. Most evenings I have managed this. I brought my 'quilt journey' box into action, moving into it my current notebooks and word-whispers, a small box with pens and tiny paint box, my 'burnt sugar diary'. 'Quilt Journeys' (my 12in x 12in pages that will be linked into booklets) are ongoing, but my workroom is out of action, noted from time to time on Facebook. I suddenly realised that making sufficient textile books of this size was impracticable, they would take too long, cost too much and in any case are a personal record of aspects of my life. 

One of my finished fabric books (a gift for a grandchild in 2009)
Far better would be 6in x 6in (15cm x 15cm) which is a size I have frequently worked with. I had my theme - landscape and gardens, using my photos and my own word-whispers but adding collage from old books. Notes proliferated but gradually some parameters emerged, stimulated by the arrival of a catalogue from my favourite second-hand bookseller who specialises in my chosen subjects. Her special offer was enticing and a parcel soon arrived (I was determined that pages from these would be ripped up and used for stitched collage, but now they are here I just may have to keep one or two intact!) 

Second-hand books purchased for collage
I am keeping a diary, and have prepared a series of A4 cards outlining themes and tried and tested methods that will save me from endless experimenting. Time to begin - and then on Monday evening came a breakthrough: in searching for photos to match my poem-spills that I intended to use, I came to the conclusion that I find it easier to create words to match an image than the other way around. (Though it is immodest to say so, this ability comes from endless exercises when I was young, a technique I subsequently used when teaching my classes of eight-year-olds. Here's what you do - select an image or object at random and without thinking jot down some words, adjectives particularly; just whatever comes to mind.) I rarely change my poem-spills and word-whispers, though I may tweak them slightly for their look on the page. 

Tree image, cropped from a larger photo
Today I set this in practice: my dear husband Raymond and I took a picnic and drove a few miles in search of the images I wanted for a 'Winter Trees' book. Previously we would have sat eating out picnic and I would have looked at the scene and words would come into my head. Today I started from the visual aspect, looking for trees that could be cropped out of a larger picture, leaping in and out of the car into the strong wind, taking a photo and using the 'enlarge' facility on my camera to view where I could enlarge a section, even though the image was a long way off. 

Top road into village
I scribbled a few words, but will probably 'write to fill' - i.e. print the image I want to use, collect pieces of collage and any ephemera I want to use, arrange them speedily on the fabric background and assess how many words will be needed to fill whatever space I allocate within the layout for text.

Enlarging part of the tree
I have already today taken sufficient images for an eight-page paper and fabric book, and this last, as the light began to fade and we dropped down the hill into the village illustrates my point of 'photos first, words afterwards'. Click on the final image below so you can see it full-size - look at the horizon, can you see the portion I will crop and enlarge? And this is what I wrote: "Trees in groups, on the skyline, at a field's edge, in copses; bird-haunts, shelter, and fuel to keep us warm."  I type the text into a word document, click 'file, print, save as pdf' and then convert the pdf into a jpeg using Photoshop Elements. A sheet of images are assembled in another Word document, and printed in reverse onto 'Epson Cool Peel' image transfer paper. Look back through this blog for posts where my word-spills appear, and you will see what I am referring to.

Down the hill into the village
Dusk is imminent, but trees on the skyline can be cropped and enlarged
Here's the final image, trees on the skyline; I took lots more, but these that I have posted best illustrate what I am talking about, and the method that I will be using to put these first books together; not just one but three or four the same; batch-production saves time but each will vary slightly. And that's just one theme. I have others lined up.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

All work and no play ...

this part of the landscape took my fancy - I so love winter trees; you can do so much with images such as these
Last weekend, Raymond and I went for a winter picnic; I journaled a word-whisper and sketched; and posted about the experience. It was a revelation, had me determined that I would play a little each evening, creating hand-made books of these special moments, for even essential and much-loved office work can pall when there is never enough time to stop. That was last Sunday, and we decided this morning to drive out with another picnic - only a few miles; find a gateway in which to park the car and out with the journal and pen. 

Cropped from the main image, played with in Photoshop
(when we arrived home), I could zoom in closer, a machine-embroidered image, perhaps
Last week was spur of the moment. This, today, felt forced, rushed. But I was determined. Down local lanes somewhere in forty years we had never driven. "If we don't stop now, it will be dark," I said. So we did, and I looked at the landscape: bare trees, a field, a far-off and somewhat insipid view. My muse had vanished, or were we so  hungry, 2.30pm of a Sunday afternoon that home-made bread, salad, prawns and ham, with a flask of hot, hot tea overtook me? First, whilst the light was right, I took a photo, and started writing, visualising the textile page that would emerge: word-spill transferred to fabric, photograph patchworked and stitched, embellishments added from my stash (collected and hand-made).

And so we sat, and ate; I played with my camera, and words fell out of nowhere; and I found I was somehow absorbing the landscape, the sky, the silence; and the task I had set myself was done. 

And I have to explain that I so very nearly abandoned this, my Journaling blog, at the end of last year, felt I was going nowhere with my paper and textile creations, my experimental pieces, and all the finished pieces for which they were but forerunners. I felt I would never have the time to achieve all that was in my heart and mind.

But after the village art exhibition in October 2011, some of us talked about participating in Warwickshire Art Week Open Studios in June of this year; and I thought, "yes, I'm ready for this." So any spare time is now devoted to working-notes on what I will make and hopefully sell, from map-trails to quilt-journeys to textile poem-spills - and actually creating them. My journaling / sketchbook pages progress (must do, or I forget how to pull it all together), and thus this blog WILL continue, and I will post thoughts and sketch pages and finished keepsakes; and I hope the Sunday picnics will become the norm and a happy escape, and the catalyst for a portfolio of pieces.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Journal spilling again

Anyone reading my new-year's day post on my 'Wild Somerset Child' blog will have realised that 2011 was my annus horribilis, and it would seem from the comments already kindly posted by blog followers that it was likewise for others. I am not here re-visiting my feelings - or lack of them - on 1st January, other than to say that the winter picnic my dear husband made for me, his kindness in driving me out of myself, and my deliberate snatching of my Journal Spill notebook and camera, catapulted me into 2012. Description of the day, and photos, can be seen here: I mentioned that my journaling word-whisper would appear here in due course. Here it is, and I apologise that my blogs are all interlinked. That's the way I am.

So I sketched, and the word-whisper fell onto the page, not in its usual format - that will happen in my 'Quilt Journey Word-Whispers' (have I lost you? Sorry). I turned to the back of my fat notebook and spilled some more: a little more coherent, a finding of something that I was afraid had been lost, though maps are so often a trigger. My perceptive husband knows when work has overtaken me and I need to be 'taken out of myself'. And here is what I wrote at the back of my book, subsequent to my poor sketch-spill:

"Ilmington Hill: the names alone speak history. Compton Scorpion, Cathole, Foxcote, Woodmeadow, Lark Stoke, Goose Hill, Ebrington. Fields evocative of past lives, villages long gone; only the names and the marks on the landscape reminding me of what once was; hedge and ditch and furrow, barn and byre .... a sparrow-hawk alights on the roadside hedge, steel-blue back; pauses just a few seconds, then swoops low past our parked car, and is gone."

You can double-click the journal image to read the words I wrote 'on the page'. Thankyou for visiting.