Phew, into 2021 lets hope it offers some light at the end of the tunnel regarding the Covid situation. I’ve been pottering on with my embroidery and am really enjoying exploring different stitches and layering effects. I even added a bit of clay modelling despite being advised not to by friends on social media. I hope to use such samplers with participants in my proposed workshop for sexual abuse survivors as an aid to connectivity and inter-relatedness. I don’t want to share what I do with them though as I don’t want to unduly influence. Creativity is particular, personal and innate and I hope to bring that out without participants feeling the need to copy or imitate. I will offer bespoke demonstration of stitch and embellishment, but the ideas will very much be their own. You just can’t help but be creative starting with a very simple running stitch. I really believe in the benefits of all this as an aid to bring us into the present, not as a distraction, but to experience the moment in a fuller and un-staid manner. I have sent a proposal to a local facility that offers counselling to such survivors. They said there may be some funding for materials, so fingers crossed that it comes off this year when we get the vaccine and can meet in person. It really does need to be experienced this way on so many levels.
I’ve been making this embroidery sampler in-between painting sessions, with a view to making such with the adult sexual abuse survivors in the puppetry workshops I propose to offer. Running stitch is so easy and would be a great way in for anyone to start making creatively in an accessible and achievable way. You just start with a straight line and see where it takes you, it is just in the nature of such low key creations that you can’t help but just let things happen and the ideas begin to come! I would offer guidance, on simple stitches in a bespoke way and then gradually work towards ideas for abstract puppetry. This would be a great lead in I think, and very enjoyable in its own right, The repetitive sewing action brings you into the present engaging with whatever you are making in an open-ended and creative way. The sense of touch is integral in all stages from threading needles to creating stitches and adding embellishment be it beads or string etc. The possibilities are endless!
I went to the garden I visit again last Thursday. The weather was perfect and it was wonderful as usual to tune into nature and draw. I take my watercolours, pencils and chinagraph pencil as usual and see what pulls me towards it. The large rhododendron bush at the bottom of the garden was the candidate to begin with, I had noticed it the last time I came and this was the right choice. I drew first for this one and laid watercolour on afterwards, but also drew on top of the watercolour, no rules really!
Next came a heather bush that was flowering. I studied a few individual flowers then the whole bush. Watercolour first this time then drawing but move between the two as ever! Rules are made to be broken after-all!
Here are some more watercolour and chinagraph pencil sketches made on the 6th November ‘plein air’. Rejuvenating as ever, I really enjoyed using the china-graph pencil and found the tacky way it connects with the paper really satisfying, I am on with a large oil at the moment based on the garden so watch this space. Won’t share that as yet as I tend to stop once I share and am not ready yet!
Have been locked out of Facebook again as I keep getting hacked by someone in Birmingham this time! It’s OK though at least FB are working on looking out for me, though I do miss talking to my friends. Guess it will come back when it’s clear. Meanwhile I can share what I do on here and on twitter! I won’t be stopped by these people! I feel quite strongly about this, why should our creative voices be silence by these mischief makers.
I did a zoom session last week with the facility that offers counselling with survivors of sexual abuse and discussed my proposed ‘Texture, Touch Quilt’. They seemed to like it, but I really could see the difficulty of getting such vulnerable survivors to collect different bits and pieces at home. May have to get some little kits together or something like that. It’s all a work in progress, but we’ll see. I still really want to do this work as I really believe in its benefits. Watch this space for updates everyone!
I have been experimenting with another strand of artisitic endeavor recently. I can’t offer my proposed workshops in sensorial abstract puppetry at a local facility that offers counselling to sexual abuse survivors because we are in level 3 of Covid restrictions.
However, I recently listened to a radio 4 programme called ‘The Touch Test’. This was very interesting for me, especially the section where an embroideress worked with a surgeon using her creations to help him investigate malignant tumours through touch in the fragile fabrics she uses. She attends operations to watch what they do. I thought about the parallel for sexual abuse survivors who have a heightened awareness of this sense. I set about creating this textile quilt response with scraps I have in the studio. It also follows on from the mini-quilt experiments that I have shared on here. Creating through touch in this way would bring participants into the present moment, in a continuous and creative fashion giving creators agency which is potentially healing. So watch this space! I could work with folk on Zoom potentially. The hard surface of the table in front of participants would also offer a solid and comforting quality, and prevent fragile pieces of fabric from floating around in an alarming way.
Here is the Touch Test link:
These sketches were made a couple of weeks ago at the garden I visit to draw and help with the plants and trees a little. I can’t go today as I was hoping because of the weather. I’m finding nature and especially the oak trees really help just being with them and watching the wind in the leaves during these Covid times. The seasons flow on despite what is happening to us. I was raking the little acorns from around the trees and finding saplings everywhere. You really appreciate the cycle of these beauties. There are a few oaks that have established and I can understand how they do it. Click sketches to enlarge for detail folks!
I made this study of a plant given to me by a dear friend. It was the first stand alone drawing that I have lost myself in recently because of the Covid situation. Nature reaches me still through everything. I also made a little silk painted mini-quilt from it, a kind of tactile gift to myself. I will probably use it as a book mark. I got the idea from a stitch practice sampler that I am also showing here. I loved the texture of the silk with the fleece raised in ridges underneath and decided to use the idea more deliberately in this little gift to myself. The tactile nature of it is comforting and the achievable scale worked for me in moving responses along. I have also stretched and gessoed a giant canvas for a more ambitious idea so watch this space!
I made this little oil study after visiting my son Patrick and his wife Sarah at their home near London over two weekends. I made a pencil and watercolour study of the wonderful sycamore in their garden, and used that to make this little oil study back in the studio. I am finding nature is the greatest comfort in these difficult Covid times. Our movement and freedom is curtailed and anxiety is never far away. However, I really do find drawing from the motif outside helps me personally. Revisiting the experience back in the studio through what I make also helps. Rituals of stretching, rabbit-skin sizing and gessoing canvases also ground me in the present moment. These are very strange times and moving forward through being creative and responding to the natural world is a way of coping I have always turned to.
I have recently been making a little oil painting based on honeysuckle studies from a garden I have been visiting. I have also looked at an old charcoal drawing and painting from a long time ago which also inspired and am including them here. Watch this space for more little paintings or for more added to this- not sure yet.
Here are a couple more sketches from the wonderful garden I have been going to that has so inspired me after lockdown. This has truly been a liberation, it is so beautiful like the secret garden. This time I was in a different location in this large space. The trees and planting captivated me. I am making a small oval painting inspired by some flowers there which I will share soon once it tells me it is done. Watch this space!