Sketchbooking on the train

Last weekend I went to the Isle of Wight, to celebrate my Dad’s birthday with my family. I took my sketchbook supplies to keep myself amused on the train.

I didn’t realise until I sat down that my favourite Khadi sketchbook isn’t really compatible with a narrow train seat!  

Luckily the people around me were very friendly, and I even made a new friend, as a fellow Embroiderers’ Guild member said hello, and we spent a good couple of hours chatting, sharing sketchbooks and talking about our EG branches.

I did all of this spread on the train – the flower punch was good in a limited space.   

I had a whole table to myself towards the end of the journey, so I could spread out.
   

I even brought a little film pot, so I could use water to smudge the gelatos.
   

I used the leftovers from the flowers to make this spread, a fun exploration of  colour:

    
 
I cut some shapes from a piece of paper, dictated by the print, and thought they looked like vases, so made this page:

 
On the return journey, I made this spread, taking the shapes of the pears and the onion skin stencils. I am not too sure whether I like it, but it has plenty of Neocolour 1 on it, including white on the printed pieces, which will resist dye well, so I will probably give it a coat of colour:

   
 
I also started this spread, cutting out the figures, and doing the outermost bits of both pages. I finished it on Friday evening in front of the telly.

On the way back I was sharing a table with 2 other people, with the wall to my right, so I ended up working on my lap, and cutting out was a bit awkward!

   

  

   
 
  
  
Altogether, an enjoyable way to pass the journey.

More Photos from the Stitch Retreat

I have found some more photos I took at the stitch retreat, on my phone, so I thought I’d share them here.

Hilary brought her shop with her, look at all the wonderful products we had a chance to play with and buy:

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My focal point images, before over dyeing…

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And after…

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Mustn’t get the dye and the Jack Daniels muddled…

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My lovely messy creative work table:

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Overdyeing on fabric with purple and green lumiere paint underneath:

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The results of an evening’s efforts:

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On Saturday, I decided to print on my hoodie. I got a white one for Christmas in the hope that I could print on it so it started to look like my print table.  Unfortunately, all I’d managed to get on it so far was a bit of tomato sauce and a spot of biro, despite wearing it for two print and dye sessions.

I set it up on my table and used the mini gelli plate to print patterns on the back:

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Another creative work area during the composition exercises:

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As I’ve already mentioned, wine featured rather heavily on the Saturday night, and apparently I felt the need to take several in progress shots of it!

A glass of each at dinner!

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The wine we brought back from dinner:

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Back at my work table:

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Late night colouring in progress:

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Stitch Retreat Part 2

In mid-January I went on the second instalment of the Stitch Retreat with Hilary Beattie. Here are my blog posts about the first one last year: day 1, day 2 and day 3.

This year, the plan was to work with a pallete of materials and work towards a finished wallhanging or canvas with them. We spent the Friday night evaluating our materials and working out what needed to be added to them. I had a range of good prints, but the colours did not hang together well, so I spent the time overdyeing them with slate, fig, orange and turquoise dyes.

On Saturday, we did various composition exercises, including using quilt block patterns to create backgrounds.
I used the Attic Window block to create this spread in my sketchbook:
  
I liked the layout so much that I used it as the background for my two final pieces, a pair of canvases to go either side of the clock above my front door.

I also used the offcuts to make these two sketchbook spreads:

  
 With a bit of washi tape and some gelatos  

  

 
And then I also added some ivy leaves to the earlier backgrounds:

   
 
 I then went on to my main pieces. After quite a lot of experimenting, I ended up with two background compositions that I liked:

   
  I like this secondary triad colour scheme, but when I added my focal point figures they disappeared into the background. One tip I picked up from Hilary was to add an area of black and white behind the focal points for contrast, which worked for me.   

   

 
On Saturday night, we ended up with quite a lot of wine left over from dinner! Slowly people started to go to bed, and we ended up with just Hilary, Maureen, Judith, Vicki, Nichola and I still polishing off the wine and working on into the night.

  
Hilary working into an altered book

  
 Hilary and I colouring 

I did 10 double sketchbook spreads that were really relaxed and enjoyable (AKA wine-assisted!). I only have this picture of one spread, so I will have to scan the rest in soon:

  

At 2am, this was the state of the wine:

  
On Sunday, I spent the morning finishing bonding down my collage, having decided about 10pm on Saturday that ironing was rapidly becoming dangerous.

I then freemachined everything down with a wiggly grid:

   
 

  
Now I need to add more free machining, hand stitch, and work to draw out the focal points more.

All in all, an amazing weekend, and I am looking forward to the next one already.

Day 296

A busy day today, I gave blood (pint 21), picked my mum in law up from the coach station on the far side of Brum, and our new bed was delivered.

I spent a relaxing 15 minutes in the evening making a new spread in my sketchbook, collaging in a spare figure from my printing:

   
 
It’s Neocolour 2 on the background, the top one is chalk pastel, with a collaged edge on the right, and the bottom one is a collaged figure (printed with Lumiere paints), with a chalk pastel outline.

The pages still need more development, but I like leaving something for another day.

Day 178

Today I spent a marvellous few hours at a Birmingham Embroiderers’ Guild Dayschool with the marvellous Angie Hughes, who was teaching us to make tantalising textile tag books. (I think she now calls it Indian Tag Books, but we booked it a while ago)

We brought along images which we collaged with scraps of beautiful fabrics and layers of stamping and stitch.

 
My images went along a whimsical transport-ish theme, with a ship, a man with a flying umbrella, hot air balloons and a moon.

 
 I got to use some  of my hand dyed fabrics for backgrounds. The pinky ones in the middle I snow dyed myself.

  
 

I got these two tags laid out, but I want to add some hand stitch and beads/sequins.

  
These are my finished tags.

All in all, it was a great day, and I’d totally recommend taking this workshop with Angie if you can. She’s so fun, and very generous and supportive with her knowledge.

Day 120

Today, I got out one of the zigzag books that I’d dyed A month ago, and added more colour with koh-i-noor watercolours, just letting the translucent paint flow and over colour the dye underneath:

Here’s how they turned out:

   

 

The book reminded me of a landscape, so I grabbed my basket of collage scraps and started building up a scene:

  

I added some text on the back with gold gel pen, which says “On the first day of May, as the sun rose, we set off for the woods, to shed our winter coats and breathe the sweet spring air.” A bit of wishful thinking for mayday – I have a busy weekend ahead, though hopefully the weather will be kind, and allow us a trip to an English Heritage property on Bank Holiday Monday.

Here’s how the zigzag book looks standing up, rather nice!

  

When I was glueing the collage pieces down, I ended up with blue tinted gel medium on my scraper, as a lot of the dye was dissolving and moving in the gel, so I smeared the excess gel off on a sketchbook page, added some hearts punched from the same paper as the houses, above, and painted on some red dye for good measure. I love using up leftovers!

  

Any evening that ends with painty, messy hands is a good one in my book!

  

 

Day 100

Today marks one hundred days of creativity – something every single day, even the long ones, the tiring ones, the ones which ended a couple of hundred miles from where I woke up. And it’s all thanks to Myfanwy Hart, who challenged me and other people on the Be Creative Facebook group to do this. I’ve tried so many new things, and just felt my creativity awaken, partly brought daily practice, and partly through learning from the right people.

Anyway, enough gushing! Today, I had a long day, on top of a couple of weeks of long days, so I made some time before work and did a collage in my sketchbook. Last night, after posting, the shape of one of the new woodblock stamps inspired me to cut these citrus fruit shapes from various papers. This morning, I arranged them and collaged them down, along with a few cut out ‘pips’ from the centres:

   

 

The background is some leftover pink and chartreuse paint from a roller a couple of weeks ago, with some swipes of yellow paint from a pallete knife, and a few faint stamped lemons.

I like it, and think it might work well in fabric, with some print and appliqué.