Here are some of the pieces that caught my eye in an outstanding exhibition...
Rob and I were lucky enough to get to the final day of the Fine Arts Exhibition at Gracefield Arts, Dumfries, on Saturday 20 August. Fine art from the collection and from the local Fine Arts Society were on show.
Here are some of the pieces that caught my eye in an outstanding exhibition...
I like to do a small amount of exploratory drawing and experimentation every day to keep my ideas and inspiration fresh.
This week I have mostly been looking at line in compositions, with some tracings of interesting artworks, photographs, adverts and some little doodle-like drawings.
Where will they lead? Perhaps to a hooked rug or wall hanging design.
[THIS PIECE HAS NOW SOLD].
With the hot summer we are having, I decided to make a sun artwork. I have used sun images in previous artwork, drawings and collages ...
I decided to develop the sun seen in the left hand drawing and the bottom right collage ...
First I made a hand drawn template for the sun itself. I find that hand drawing rather than using a compass or drawing around a saucer, for example, gives a child-like and lively feeling to the resulting wobbly circle! Next came the choice of fabrics for the sky and sun. I had recently purchased some of Fiona Moir's hand-dyed cotton fabrics, and one piece was the perfect shade of blue, with touches of pink and orange. I also had some hand-dyed fabric that I bought from an Ebay seller, and another, brighter piece for the centre of the sun that I had in my stash.
Using the templates, I cut the sun pieces out and gave them a turned edge, to give a smooth appearance to the outer edges of the circles and hand appliquéd them in place on the background fabric.
Next came the irregular rays encircling the sun. I tried a number of threads, yarns and ribbons from my collection before deciding to buy some hand-dyed rayon thread from Oliver Twists to give the flexibility, colour and texture that I wanted. I do not need much excuse to go shopping with this lovely company! ;o)
At this stage the top was layered with larger pieces of thin wadding and pale blue backing fabric for the hand quilting to begin.
Once the outer rays were attached, I couched a different Oliver Twists' thread in a spiral on the body of the sun, going through all three layers, then added some Czech glass beads, some sparkly sequins that I found in a charity shop, with some tiny glass beads holding them in place.
At this stage I wanted to add some borders, so trialled a number of coloured fabrics before hitting on a very thin border of orange, to pick up the orange in the sky fabric, and to continue the theme of 'warmth' and 'heat'. Now for another, wider border. It took many auditions before I came upon this vintage fabric from my childhood (I think it was a skirt) that featured pink, folksy flowers against a dark blue ground. The pink echoed the pink touches in the sky, and the orange highlights worked with the other orange elements, so it was perfect. All of the other fabrics I had tried, in shades of grey, blue, green, yellow and black had to be refolded and stored again. :o/ The flowers seemed appropriate summer flowers and added another layer of decoration.
The final outer binding was another session of trialling and rejecting fabrics, until I discovered a pair of cotton shorts that I bought a long time ago from a charity shop, purely for their beautiful colour. Although the short strips of fabric I could salvage from them meant joining five pieces, I had to use it. I had decided from the beginning to sew this piece entirely by hand (I usually attach the outer binding half by machine, and then finish it on the reverse by hand) and found that it worked perfectly, continuing the handmade look that I wanted for this piece.
More hand quilting was added to echo both sides of the orange border, with simple orange and green threads to highlight the flowers and stems in the floral border.
A tiny signature label (pigma pen on pink fabric) was sewn in the lower right hand corner of the sky, before adding a woven label on the reverse and a hanging sleeve in the same pale blue fabric as the backing. A piece of pine strip wood was sawn to size and sanded at the ends, and the piece is ready to hang!
I've made three small, hand stitched textile samples in recent weeks, looking at contrasts, in colour and texture:
I have no real object in mind when creating samples like this, but it can lead to ideas for colour palettes to use in future work, or juxtapositions of materials that are interesting.
If mounted nicely, they make interesting small abstract artworks in their own right, or small pieces can be sewn to a card blank to make a special greetings card.
My latest wool applique, Inflorescence, is finished!
These piece is, of course, influenced by the flowers found in gardens and hedgerows at this time of year. It started life as a sketch ...
... which became a cut paper collage ...
... and a digital artwork ...
... and finally a wool fabric applique. This is my favourite part of the process, when the fabrics and threads come off the shelves and are auditioned to see which will best suit inclusion in the piece. Two pieces of black, hand-dyed wool blanket were joined to form the backing. The flowers and abstract elements were cut from a variety of fulled wool fabrics, including blanket, upcycled clothing, auction finds, some tiny pieces of Donegal Tweed that I had snapped up at Woolfest show. I also included a couple of pieces of synthetic, shiny fabrics to add a contrast to the dull, nubby wools. The dense fabrics were used 'as is', those that were more loosely woven had a thin line of fabric glue applied around the outer edge to minimise fraying. Thin sweater fabrics were used double, to give them more body.
Some elements were cut using templates taken from my collage, other were free cut using a large pair of scissors. The individual blooms were completed and arranged on the backing before being pinned in position. I used a variety of threads, including two that I had just bought at an exhibition, hand dyed by Fiona Moir. Others were cotton embroidery threads from my stash, Aurifil wool/acrylic thread, or Perle cotton threads, which have a nice sheen contrasting well against the duller wool.
At this stage, I decided to give the piece a variegated edging that echoed the shape of the nearest flowers, with a flat top edge where the wool blanket was rolled to the reverse to create a hanging sleeve for a length of wood dowel. I used blanket stitch, French knots and a short straight stitch or whip stitch to attach the various elements, and around the outer edge.
A decision to add more of the abstract dots was taken at this stage: first some larger ones along the top edge, then a flurry of small ones dotted in any gaps that remained. The final touches: a label sewn to the reverse, and a wooden lath cut to size to hang the piece.
I spent a few hours this afternoon playing with paints, pens, inks, pencils and oil pastels, etc making six mini abstract experiments consisting of different marks. I was trying to vary:-
I felt that there were some interesting interactions between colours, textures and the type of mark made. I highlighted my favourite areas in the second collage above. I did not like it when the materials merged and turned into muddy mixtures, so leaving the first layer to dry before adding the second seems like a good idea for the future. I do like 'wet in wet' painting techniques using watercolours or inks, though. Layering a translucent or incomplete layer over a solid area worked well. The scratched/sgraffito lines in the thick red paint successfully revealed the yellow layer beneath.
The collections of marks that worked best included a mixture of large and small marks, solid areas of colour with overlapping patterns or translucent overlays that allowed the layer beneath to show through. Also some areas which were blank or had faint patterns contrasting with more solid forms in other areas feel more satisfying as compositions, to my eye.
The thick splodge of black paint contrasted interestingly with the crumbled yellow oil pastel, but will probably never dry or stay in place. It could inspire a representation in textiles: a towelling fabric or patch of dense French knots next to an area of shiny plastic or faux patent leather perhaps? Some food for thought in bringing more texture into my work.
Rob and I paid a visit to the textiles triennial exhibition at Gracefield Arts, Dumfries, today.
It was bustling with visitors and the exhibits looked great: very well balanced and a lively, interesting collection of textiles to admire. We had fun spotting pieces by people that we knew and I saw my own contributions (labelled in the photos below, with other contributors' work appearing in some of the photos).
The Spinners and Weavers' section had some gorgeous fabrics, yarns and threads available to buy, and there were also raffle tickets on sale in two of the areas.
The thread that links my pieces is that they all contain recycled/upcycled textiles, such as old clothing, curtain linings, bed sheets, etc.
The last image shows the Solway Quilters' "Row-by-Row" Group Project by the Thimbles Group
Individual members each sew one row for each of the five projects and one person from the group completes the piece. These pieces were made by:-
I'm really looking forward to attending and participating in this group exhibition at Gracefield Arts in Dumfries, starting on 2 April 2022. It is well worth a visit if you are in the area and enjoy textiles of all types.
I will have four pieces in The Solway Quilters area, and six pieces in the Textiles and Embroidery Dumfries section.
Julia K Walton