Sunday, 20 January 2013

A Drawing a Day - or Not

I thought I needed to give a progress report on my attempts to do a drawing a day following the instructions in the book I mentioned in my last posting.  I am afraid progress is incredibly slow for two reasons:
1.  It is not easy to put aside even half an hour a day every day so several days pass with nothing to show for them.
2.  Like Clare Smith I find myself doing tatty sketches that end up in the bin.  I tend to be very self-critical of my artistic efforts and the idea of showing them to the world is quite off-putting.  However, here is how I started.

These are a set of 'naive' Christmas ornaments which I drew before I put them away for another year.  The drawing made very few demands as it did not even require any perspective so I then moved on to still life, using objects that were just around the room.  The results are not publishable!

I can buy early daffodils extremely cheaply from the village shop as they are grown round here (see my recent posting with photos).  I drew last week's flowers in a vase along with various other objects but the flowers died after a week so yesterday I bought some more and found myself talking to the farmer who grew them. (He was clad in sandals without socks and a  padded sleeveless waistcoat but had bare arms and the temperature was about 3 degrees so work that one out.)  This drawing is done with a nib pen and ink as suggested in the book.  I am beginning to get the hang of daffodils although at this stage I am still on the chapter about line and mark making.  I find it very difficult to work directly in ink and not be able to rub out as I am used to sizing things up by holding my pencil at arm's length, and blocking in the main shapes in the picture.

A couple of days ago I decided that I should incorporate drawing on the iPad into this project.  I own Brushes (which I have never used) and Sketchbook Pro.  I bought this months ago and after a flurry of enthusiasm have not used it in ages.  Here are examples of my early drawings, based on photographs I took locally.  I have decided that it is not evil to work from photos provided I took them myself and made the decisions about composition etc. both when taking them and when editing them.

And here is what I have done today.  First the daffodils.

And then I drew the books piled up on the table where I was working.

There is an on-going conversation about iPads on the SAQA Yahoo group this weekend and it is interesting to learn that I am not the only one who finds getting used to the feeling of a stylus and screen a bit difficult.  I find it hard to draw straight lines of any length but it may just need more practice.

Finally, it has been extremely cold here the last couple of days.  We must be the only place in the country not to have snow which is a blessing for those of us with wobbly legs, but it is very cold indeed and the temptation to just curl up on the sofa and do a jigsaw on the iPad is very strong.  The cats like that as all three of them lie on me.  Otherwise they are spending all their time in their igloos, either in the conservatory if it is sunny or in the ones we bought before Christmas and put in front of the radiator in my bedroom.

Pania and Hinemoa are both in the black one.  Being Siamese they are very small and can both fit in one.  Nui is on the right.  He is very large for a Siamese, partly because he is on pills for the chronic kidney condition that killed his litter sister, and on steroids because they all had campobylacter three years ago and he was left with a weak digestive system.  I think he is feeling the cold this weekend but he is eleven years old whereas the girls are only three.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

International Desk Day

I was alerted to International Desk Day by Margaret Cooter / who in turn referred her readers to Jackie Morris.  Jackie has collected photos of a lot of studios and desks.  Some of them are artists, others are writers and publishers. It is interesting to see inside people's working set-ups and to realise that many of them are not working in purpose designed rooms with amazing shelving and well chosen furniture.  To see these rooms you need to go to the posting Jackie did on 7 January so scroll down until you find it.

Some time ago Margaret Cooter did a major makeover of her workroom so I enjoyed seeing her new photos.  I also decided I could rush round the house with my camera and join in.  I am one of those people who works all over the house.  I know it is not ideal but when we moved here we had a garage that we needed to turn into a utility room and we knew it could also be a studio.  Given that we had to get planning permission, it took over two years to achieve this and in the mean time I got used to working in my bedroom.  I know many people think bedrooms should be kept as bedrooms but I don't think I have ever grown out of being a teenager and it does not worry me that I have a room full of fabric and books kept in two large bookcases.  The only problem is Siamese cats who like climbing and extracting things to play with from the baskets and jars.  I have to remember to tidy everything away before I go to bed or I can be woken by games using what they have found.

To get to the studio I have to go out of the house and across the yard which I have discovered can be a problem in the rain.  I use the studio for wet work and machining but as you can see from this photo this room has to serve a number of other functions as the house is very short of storage space.

The sewing machine lives on the kitchen table from our last house and my husband built a bench along the back wall.  The wall to the right has two sinks which is wonderful and a vast improvement on carrying water from the bathroom.  But the room is not very big from front to back so I do have some problems.

Here you can see how a muddle comes about!  In the far corner is my husband's corner where he keeps DIY tools.  The shelves at the back hold a lot of general household stuff as well as paints, dyes etc.  The bench is set up for cutting at one end and ironing at the other and underneath it are large underbed storage bins full of wadding, fabric I will probably never use and an assortment of things that might just one day come in handy.  The white board is foamboard which is very light and can be propped up on the bench when I am assembling items.  In the front is a set of Elfa shelving that I have had for ever.  I keep paper, writing and drawing tools and a variety of other tools in them and wish I could afford to buy a second set but they are very expensive.

The International Desk Day instruction said not to tidy the room before taking the photos so I didn't but I was surprised that both my rooms were not in as much of a mess as usual.  I decided there were two main reasons for this.  I have not done much work lately and I completed the quilt top I was working on in the studio and took it into the house a few days ago so that meant the bench is not covered in 'work in progress'.  Then in late November we came very near to being flooded so I rushed out and took as much as I could out of the studio and into the house.  I was acutely aware of what would happen if we were flooded and I lost everything as in 1999 I had to start again after all my textile things went up in smoke in a house fire.

Which brings us back to the bedroom.

I can't believe the table is this tidy!  I recently discovered condensation marks on the wall to the left so I emptied the two little bookcases.  I haven't decided how to solve the problem yet but air seemed a good idea.  Under the table is a small Bernina which I bought last year so that if it was very wet I could sew inside.  The large bookcase now has to hold the books that were in the little bookcases including a lot of my books related to New Zealand (which I would hate to lose), my Persephone books and  my sketchbooks as well as everything that was already there.  Some stuff is on its way to the charity shop.

The table is currently set up for the drawing project I am trying to do as a New Years resolution.

I am supposed to be drawing the vase of daffodils as a still life from nature.  On the left of the table is the book I am using for this project, 'One Drawing a Day' by Veronica Lawlor, together with some other books on drawing that I found I had, some inks because the book tells me to use them and my trusty iPad.  Also an internet radio which will not work in this room despite having a booster.  I think it is probably because the house is built of granite.  (It was once a barn of sorts.)  In the middle of the table is the quilt top I have been working on.  The black plastic stand on the right hand end of the table is a set of small drawers for DIY things.  It holds all the really small stuff and has had to be moved off the little bookcase.  In front of it stands the first drawing I did for the project a week ago and which will appear on my blog but possibly not until I have another one or two to show.  The idea is to do a drawing a day which sounds easy but I am not managing it at the moment!

And if you are wondering where my computer is, it lives in yet another room along with the printer.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Good-bye Christmas, hello Spring

The sixth of January and time to put the Christmas decorations away for another year.  After I had dismantled the tree I went out into the garden and noticed that we had a camellia in bloom.

Only one so far but we have several camellia bushes and they are all in bud.  Then I looked at the pots on the decking and saw that things are beginning to bloom in them.  There were three snowdrops in one (impossible to photograph), a tiny iris in another (same problem) and two roses.

It always amazes me how some plants ignore winter down here.  Perhaps I should have expected it as a couple of days ago I went for a walk up the hill and there on the south-facing slopes, were daffodils in bloom.

Yesterday I was able to buy daffodils from the village shop which I suspect had come from these fields.

We have noticed that the fields beside the Penzance distributor road have plenty in bloom and they are being picked commercially.   Daffodils and narcissi are traditional crops in these parts and were a vital part of the economy in the days before flowers could be flown in from warmer places.  They are still a vital part of the economy of the Isles of Scilly.

They are a wonderful sight especially when the weather is as grey as it is now.   In 2009 I was inspired to make a journal quilt based on the commercial fields that overlook Mounts Bay.  Can I remember what I did?  The background is dyed and then printed using bubble wrap.  I think it is time I got back to doing some printing as it can be very effective.

Sunday, 6 January 2013

Christmas presents for five year olds

This year we found ourselves with two five year olds to buy Christmas presents for.  With no grandchildren of our own and as we do not see these children much it was difficult to think of things.  Someone suggested we buy lego for our great-nephew but we were told he was in danger of getting nothing else.  His parents suggested felt pens so I had a lovely time putting together an 'art kit' of felt tip pens, coloured pencils etc. plus a colouring book and a pad.

The second person was Zelah who features in a very early posting of this blog.  Her mother had promised her a craft corner to be put together after Christmas so the suggestion was that we started it off.  I got a lot of things from The Works but we textile types also have loads of supplies we are never going to use so I was able to add card blanks, some sheer fabrics and various bits of ribbon.  This is what Zelah then gave us when we met up for lunch a couple of days ago.

We think it is wonderful.  I have had to put it on top of the tallest bookcase to keep it out of the way of the cats!  I took it down to photograph it and one cat was immediately there so I must have done the right thing.

More information on Crane Scissors

I have had some information about the origins of crane scissors in response to my recent posting.  The viewer wrote:

The crane is a well known symbol of long life and good fortune in Japan and it is very typical for that design to have originated there.  Creating a practical item with an esoteric meaning would be very Japanese.  The crane is often used as a New Year symbol perhaps made of paper - I have a string of them in my workroom made by a Japanese lady and given to me on my visit a few years ago.  The crane is often woven into fabric design for the same reason and what better way to wish someone creativity than to give them a pair of crane shaped scissors.

So there you have it.

Friday, 4 January 2013

2013 begins

This is a Wordle heading - I had to get my husband to do most of the work as my computer didn't want to load it.

To start the year here is the image I have used for January on the calendar I make for close members of the family and us.

This is photo of the Jubilee Pool taken one Christmas when the weather was a lot sunnier than this year.  The Jubilee Pool is a 1930s Lido built into the sea at a point called Battery Rocks between the port part of Penzance and the prom.  It is a listed building and obviously only open in summer.  It is also extremely expensive to maintain so periodically there is uproar about the amount of tax payers' money that goes to it.  For years there was no proper leisure centre in Penzance and the cost of the Jubilee Pool always came up as a drain on the town's finances.

I make calendars every year and this year I thought I would try to remember to put up the image each month.  The title of this year's calendar is 'At the Water's Edge' so watch out for photos from Cornwall and from my travels.