Thursday, 26 April 2012

Credit where it's due

I've finally received my report - there were a lot of "ex"s in it!  Excellent, exemplary, exogenous, exoskeleton...

But there was also

"all students were fully engaged, motivated and supportive of each other"

"the students were highly motivated and were producing high quality work, taking away new skills each week, returning the following, with excellent examples of practice"

"one commented on how the course is pushing her to develop her art, her drawing, her design etc and how surprised she was at that".

How good is that!  They all worked so hard and have been such a brilliant group.
So here is a just a sample of their wonderful work
(sorry about the quality of the photos, the light was terrible):








Jo, again


Jan - I'm so sorry this is blurry.  Jan was a complete beginner and has been wrestling with her recalcitrant machine all year, but she's definitely beaten it into submission now - look what she can do!

Jane again

Margaret again - I couldn't resist adding her kingfisher.  This was stitched in last year's class, but it's so good!  And I don't think I shared it before.  She printed him onto Lutradur before stitching:

I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone next week!

PS welcome to new follower!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Inevitable consequences


Whether it was finally sorting the little house to be a studio, booking a venue and confirming my solo venture, finding out that I got a "1" for my observed teaching session back in March (like my Ma said, I hope that's the right end of the scale - nothing like positive affirmations from the family, eh?  I think a 1 is an Outstanding - but I'm not sure, because someone told me that you couldn't get a 1 for teaching craft because you don't use enough IT...).  Basically I was getting all positive and optimistic and thought I knew what I was doing....

So it was inevitable that when I tried to stitch a little something, just random, something to get the ol' sewing machine warmed up again, something like this appeared:

What was I thinking?  Clearly I wasn't...what's with all the orange segments?

I know, let's stitch black all over it:

Yikes, the orange looks worse than ever.  Quick, hide it:

Right!  That's it!  I can't stand it any more.  Time to cut it up.

OK.  This is just too much.  Let's call it a day and finish these things.

And to top it all, the new Blogger Interface is here, the season has reverted to winter, I've been reading a very depressing book about all the things we shouldn't be eating if we want to avoid getting lardy and die of heart disease or diabetes, and I've been told that I can't promote my own courses and teach for adult ed pepes at the same time.  That's going to get slightly tricky, methinks....time to give up and lounge around on the sofa all day eating cake instead.


Tuesday, 17 April 2012


Well, we did it.  We're still married, we're still talking to each other.  We even got it over and done with before lunch.

We went to Ikea and survived!  I was prepared to drive there all by myself, but over breakfast Mr Gonecycling made a surprise offer of company in return for my navigating skills (I am, after all, the Chief Nagivator around here....).  He kept his ipod plugged in all the way around, but swore he could still hear me whenever I asked him something, and didn't get cross once, well, maybe once, but that was on the way home when we got stuck in traffic at East Grinstead...

We even got a Viggo anglepoise desk lamp!...well, it isn't a Viggo really - that's the Whippet - but we always reckon he could be something from Ikea, and what better for a whippet than an anglepoise lamp?

Note the foil...

Which chair?  Hmmm.  Wooden chair is better height.

But I like the pink ones.  We have a spare cushion.  Done.

There's more foil here...hiding under the table.

Only two tables after all - I had a final measure before we went, and I'm glad I did - three would have been a squeeze!

And then the view from the window, over the "pond" to the back door.

So I'm all set!  Well, nearly - just need some sunshine now.  That or a heater.  It's too cold in there!  It's all insulated, but the insulation seems to be keeping the cold in.

But I think our success with the little house has messed with our heads.  It all started when I made some bread rolls for the Girl's packed lunches.  I'm not sure what happened, but they came out of the oven all pointing the same way...

They looked like little creatures, gazing up at the moon...

I thought they looked like mice

or maybe snails


Mr G thought they were more like little owls...

but the Girl reckoned they could be Whales...

Who needs a boulangerie when we've got our own zoolangerie!

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Empire building

I redesigned our garden over three years ago now.  I always knew it was bigger than other people thought, mostly because I spent a long time pacing and measuring and marking things mysteriously with bamboo canes, but also because I could see "beyond" the overgrown laurel and mounds of ivy.

I knew we would have room for a garden office or studio or summer house, and nothing would grow in that bit of the garden (apart from laurel and ivy) so after difficult negotiations (mostly because Mr G hates shopping and refused to go and see lots of summer houses) we eventually had our summer house, complete with green roof (now a bit beige, due to the drought....) built.  And then a few summers ago (was it really that long?  I finished and decorated it so it could be used.

Since when, it hasn't been.  Mr G never wanted to "work down a hole in the garden" and so the office stayed in spare bedroom, and I decided it was impossible to use it as a studio as it wasn't the size of a small warehouse and I would never get all my stuff in it, let alone be able to work in it because of all the multitasking - cooking dinner, feeding dogs, cleaning, faffing, procrastinating etc.  And much as we would like to, we never just "sit", so having a place just to "sit" wasn't working for us.

But then the FOIL arrived, and has been sitting in lots of crates in the dining room.  Something had to be done.  Unfortunately, the something probably involves a trip to Ikea, so Mr G thought he'd delay things awhile by insisting that we get rid of the sofa in the summerhouse first. 

So I did.  Less than 24 hours, thank you Freegle.

And this is what we have now!

The crates of foil are now installed, but I reckon they can fit under tables.  Three tables to be precise.  And then I will have SPACE!!!  Space to think, space to paint, space to draw, space to felt, space to measure and cut up foil for the shop, space to MAKE A MESS AND NOT HAVE TO CLEAR IT ALL UP AGAIN!!!

I'm quite giddy with the prospect.

(Less giddy with the prospect of a visit to Ikea next week to get the three tables, but that's only because I know someone will probably be ratty and grumpy and unpleasant about it...)

In other news, my class with the local adult ed pepes was cancelled, so I have gone solo and booked a village hall.  I'm now very scared!  I hope it works!  I've got a free "gig" at the summer fair to promote my classes so I need to get my thinking hat well and truly on...

And finally, we played with paint again and I experimented with sticking stuff onto acrylic.  Not sure about the result, all ended up a bit "straight", but it's a first go:

Wednesday, 11 April 2012


For AGES now - and I mean YEARS - I've wanted to sling some paint at a canvas and just see what happens.

So I did.

I had absolutely nothing to lose - the canvas was from the charity shop, and originally had a very dodgy "seascape" painted on it.  (First job was covering said seascape with white paint!)

Then I donned an art shirt, covered all surfaces, opened the tubes of acrylic and let rip:

Loving it so far!

The next photo was taken at the "I just ruined it" phase:

And this is the "I think I must be finished soon" phase:

And with a few more tweaks, I finally finished:

(The light is a bit bright in the last photo - sorry).

There was a spare canvas (dodgy sunset, duly overpainted) - so the Girl had a go too!

She calls it "Caterwauling Cats"!

And in other news, there is now FOIL in the shop!
(Just blue/green for now - shall I do gold/silver/bronze next, or pinks and purples?!)

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Location survey: Wales

We've just returned from three days being well-fed and rested in westest wildest Wales.  Just before we left, I read on someone's blog (I'm really sorry, but I can't remember where or who...) about doing a "location survey".

And it struck a chord.  Instead of wondering what to draw, or which sketchbook to draw it in, a location survey gives a structure, a guide - like a scientific process not an "artistic" process.  So I can record textures, colours, lines, shapes, patterns.....thinking about it reminded me of my 17-year-old self chucking a quadrat square around the sand-dunes of Pembrokeshire on my Biology A level field trip, and that was a lot of fun so I thought I'd give it another go.

Unfortunately we chose the wrong week to go to Wales:

Day One - Sleet and sideways rain

So I just had to draw what I could see out of the kitchen window:

Day Two: ventured out as far as the lower field and found an interesting pile of sticks

(don't think David Hockney need be worried yet...)

and coz it's a boggy field, there are a lot of tussocks:

The sun had come out by then, so I sat on a chainsaw-sculpted log seat and drew a quick sketch of the view over the "pond"

The "pond" now isn't, because it's been drained to make a bog garden - too many toddlers toddling over the horizon to have a pond now.  The tree at an angle on the LHS is an old willow tree, and I have spent hours and days of my life sitting in the crook of the branches reading.  The tree has nearly fallen over now, and is a bit too mossy to sit in, which is a shame.  It was a great spot to sit and read - easy to keep an eye on comings and goings from the cottage, people walking or driving tractors up the track from the farm, but not too close to be interrupted or asked to do chores...

Close by, I found this tree:

with it's amazing lichen-encrusted and mossy bark:

I got a bit cold trying to draw the lichen, so I warmed myself up by walking up to the top of the hill opposite the cottage, and down the other side to the track.  The wind was coming from the north and icy-cold, so I made a very quick drawing of the view from the side of the hill and tried to capture the movement of the wind through the long grass:

Day Three: nearly time to go, so time to face my fears and draw the flowers and bits and bobs that I stuck in a jam jar to "draw later":

(larch tufts)

My sketchbook isn't looking how I thought it would - so far it's all "drawings" and not "survey results".  But I'm really pleased that I did so much, and it definitely felt easier!