Birks Mere Lake embroidery and painting on canvas

Just to share what I have been making so far recently. I used a drawing I made on the spot of the lake in the Lake-district here in the UK as a starting point. Am sharing the drawing here too. I had the idea to dye the canvas first, and then do some embroidery whilst it was on the stretcher prior to sizing some areas with rabbitskin size that dries transparent so you would still see the dye. Then I can oil paint on chosen areas as well. I won’t use primer and have researched that you can paint direct with oil on sized canvas without priming if you want to. Rules are made to be broken, but I don’t want the unsightly chip fat look of oil seeping outside the brush-marks. So lets hope this works! I have mixed embroidery with painting before, but on ready-made canvases. So am curious where this new venture takes me with a canvas I have stretched myself from scratch. The meditative quality of sewing, and repetitive action of pushing the needle through the canvas is satisfying. It felt a bit like one of those celtic drums, as I held the stretcher to sew and turned it to fasten threads. You can engage with the physicality of the canvas much more than having it on an easel. I kept standing back from the embroidery too to decide what marks to make next. I find all this glacially slow, but interesting for me. I will post further updates when I have done more! Embroideries don’t seem to mind being shared as I go along unlike paintings!

Great Gable sketches

I went to Wasdale in the lakedistrict recently and sketched this iconic mountain and a fell next to it. It was overcast at first but the cloud burned away to reveal the granite characteristic outcrops. I didn’t try to climb the mountain but my partner did. He said the rocks coming down were a bit hairy so I was glad I didn’t try. I thoroughly enjoyed sketching and painting though. One of my favourite valleys. Click to enlarge as usual.

Path through the Rhodies. watercolour and pencil

A visit to the garden in the lakedistrict here in the UK provided yet more inspiration last Friday when I went to work and sketch. I take photos too throughout the day. The colour in the garden itself was compelling this time not the lake so much. Just click on the images to enlarge. I enjoy the flowers in all their stages, whether in bud, full bloom or withering with petals falling.. The wind moved through the whole garden as we worked and the fragrances were intoxicating. Overload of the senses! It was great to be immersed in this place as well as painting and drawing it. So many perspectives, a happy place. A duck landed on the lawn and waddled towards us then flew off, something is always happening..

Bridge at Chollerford, Northumbria, watercolour and pencil

We went on a little trip to Northumbria and I drew this bridge from our hotel garden. The stone is a wonderful yellow ochre sandstone round there. The trip to Hadrian’s wall and Housteads fort was another highlight. A real atmosphere, and you could imagine the soldiers and community living and working there. The wall itself was imperfect in some places and was made by ordinary soldiers not master masons which added yet another dimension. I took a few shots with my digital SLR which I much prefer as what you see through the viewfinder is the image that is captured, which wasn’t the case with my other camera that broke.

Flower gift, watercolour and pencil

I painted and drew these yesterday. They are Japanese orchids and relate to the idea I think that children can be dandelions or orchids. Meaning that some will grow and thrive wherever and some will need a lot of TLC. This was said to me recently by a friend. Don’t know how true it is reckon we all need a lot of the latter!

Found Camelia and Purple Sprouting Brocoli

I found this beauty on the pavement in front of me yesterday afternoon. It had been knocked off a flowering bush nearby and would only have got squashed, so I decided to take it home and make a little study. I was so glad I did. These are some of my favourite flowers. I used pencil and watercolour for the observational study and pen and ink with watercolour for the broccoli. We get this vegetable from the market and I’ve wanted to make a little drawing of the bunches for a while now and it was only on Sunday that I got round to it! We ate it then with our Sunday dinner, delicious! These studies form a welcome break from the embroidery I have been concentrating on and gear me up towards moving back into drawing and painting. I have a feeling a painting will be coming next!

Neoartists artists statement

Am really pleased to see my most recent artistic statement on the Neoartists website ( I am an associate member with them) and link to this my personal website. They are a great bunch doing some challenging and impressive work. I hope to co-curate a show there next year for painters primarily with Richard Cross under the title ‘The Undiscovered Country’. Wish us luck! Here is the link to Neo, you can find me in the list of artists!


‘Dawn Cloth’ completed

Well I have finally completed my ‘Dawn Cloth’ this week. I used a strong Prussian Blue type thread for the final bit of background to the sky but didn’t quite have enough, so the pinks beckoned again! I am leaving it now and it is in situ on the wall in my little studio. Am still waiting to hear from the facility that offers counselling for sexual abuse survivors if they want me yet for my proposed workshops in embroidery and puppetry. I am well but had the idea if I asked a textiley young person if they would be interested in carrying on this work that might be a good idea with a view to looking forward to the future. I so believe in this work and just don’t want it to disappear down the proverbial rabbit hole. I have a couple of people in mind and will gradually put feelers out. They have to be folk I trust and who get what I am wanting to offer. Wish me luck everyone!

Birks Mere spring visit

We went to this special garden yesterday and had a good visit. The light moves across the lake throughout the day and into the garden itself in the afternoon. It highlights what I want to sketch and photograph through the light and how it moves. I am only just beginning to understand this! I used some soft pastels that I have and my trusty 5B pencil. I like how you can lay down colour really quickly with the pastel and use pencil for more definition mixed in. These sketches may be stand alone responses or become embroideries or paintings. Will just have to wait and see. Nature teaches and teaches and we see better through drawings.

Birks Mere revisited

Here are some drawings and photographs made the other week at the secret garden in the Lake District UK that I visit. The lake was like a mirror in the morning as the dawn broke and I saw ducks flying low over the lake with their reflections in perfect reverse. Mesmerising. Then two fighter planes split the sky. They often fly through the lakes and mountains to practice manoeuvres. It brought home how fragile peace is even in a beautiful place like this. Worrying in these times that we are going through. I find myself wondering how much these fighter planes cost and how much each flight! I understand it’s an official secret how low, high or fast they can fly. I went to the garden yesterday and had a very good day there before the weather broke. Will post some shots of that in my next missive. Meanwhile enjoy the sketches I made on the first visit. I also did some light pruning of shrubs and roses. I try to give back to the garden when I take from it by drawing…