Sunday, 21 August 2016

Summer Sketchbook

I have really been into painting and sketching recently and I decided to make a scrapbook to document my holiday this summer.

Sketching by the pool
I spent a week with my friend Mel in Mountain View, San Francisco which was awesome! Rather than just relying on holiday photographs I took time out every day for sketching, painting and collaging my holiday experiences.  Art equipment I packed for the trip were sketching pencils, Windsor and Newton watercolours, Chromacolour watercolour pencils, a few black pro-markers, scissors, a glue-stick, acrylic paint markers and a range of brushes.

Sketching on Mel's sofa
It was the most relaxing and enjoyable time and I pretty much sketched / painted everywhere starting out in the airport lounge and on the flight over to the USA.  The most indulgent was next to the pool, on the sofa at Mel's house and finally on a train ride to my next holiday destination in Wales last week.

Things I included in my journal were maps, leaflets, tickets and receipts of my adventures alongside traditional sketches and watercolour studies plein air of food, city scenes and landscapes.  I chose an A5 Seawhite concertina sketchbook which comes with a rather cool hardboard case. It is not quite finished yet but here are a few little snippets for you to enjoy.

Painting on the train to Wales last week
The many cool California signs found around Mountain View
Sushi and Santana Row a beautiful palm tree lined shopping street
Mushroom and leek omelette home cooking, film night on the sofa and the lovely Steven's Creek Trail walk
Ice lolly pool inflatable and the amazing graffiti of Clarion Alley in the Mission, San Francisco
Mel standing in front of a Frank Stella painting at the SF MoMA
Dusk at Pier 39 and Pier 23 neon sign from Fisherman's Wharf, San Fransisco
The concertina sketchbook laid out next to the pool before my return to the UK
I am enjoying putting the finishing touches to my journal and hope to finish it before my return to work in September. I also want to include my mini break to Wales in the remaining pages of the book.

What have you been doing this summer to relax and unwind?

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Me-Made Rejects #2

I try to regularly edit my wardrobe. I have noticed the more confident I have become at sewing the easier it is to pass on any home-made garments to the charity shop. My first few hand-made garments, despite their imperfections were saved from the charity shop bag on several occasions for sentimental reasons.

As I am getting better at fitting clothes for my body shape I feel happy to pass on my hand-made garments for somebody else to enjoy or at the very least get re-cycled. Also, having a blog means I have an electronic record of my achievements / learnings / disasters which makes the process much easier.

Here are the hand-made garments that hit the Cancer Research Charity shop last week:

Free-style Circle Skirt

Previously un-blogged on account of the fact I never wore it. I made it in a splurge of industrious sewing in April 2016 before this years Me-Made-May. I pretty much just free-styled the cutting of the circle skirt by folding the fabric down the centre and re-folding from the corner and cut out a circle. I then guestimated the waist-line cut too and attached to an elastic waistband.

The elastic waistband was re-claimed from a circle skirt I made in 2007 for a school pantomime performance and the fabric was a stash-bust polyester affair I bought from Goldhawk Road. The remainder of the fabric (about 1.2 metres) made it to the fabric swap on the 4th June and was picked up by Tamsin from Pimp my Curtains so watch that space for another make from this abstract fabric.

Hand-sewing the full-circle hem was a nightmare, even though I left it for two days to drop. It's a bit wonky in places! Hopefully somebody will find it and have a bit of fun wearing it this summer.

Black & White Scout Tee

As you know I LOVE the Grainline Scout Woven Tee but this version was made without really thinking about the weight of the cotton I was using. I think when you first start making your own clothes some of the most obvious things (like comfort) get over-looked when we fall hard for an amazing printed fabric. I adore this abstract monochrome print but as mentioned earlier it is much too stiff (even after lots of washes) and restrictive as a comfortable top. I had to say adieu.

Matisse Dolores Pocket Skirt

This was lovingly made as part of my art-work for a course at the Tate Modern during the Matisse: Cutting into Colour exhibition. I was inspired by his bold lines, architectural shapes and colour. I wore this on the final evening of the course when we had a group exhibition showcasing our art-work inspired by Matisse. 

You can read more about the construction here. The pattern was machine appliquéd with hand embroidered elements to pick out delicate details. It was such fun to make but I have not worn it for two years so it was time to share the love!

Tilly and the Buttons Mathilde Blouse

My Tilly and the Buttons Mathilde was a hard one to give away. This blouse was a result of a weekend workshop at Ray Stitch taught by Tilly herself not long after her debut on the BBC's Great British Sewing Bee in May 2013. It symbolises my renewed interest into garment sewing after a 20-year hiatus after art college.

Last year I re-fashioned the sleeves to make it more versatile as I did't wear it with the original blouson sleeves. Even that didn't help!

The main reason this lovely little top didn't get worn was again, due to poor fabric selection. The rather heavy-weight cotton just didn't drape and was too heavy for a blouse. A lesson learnt! I really should re-make this top in some lovely light voile or viscose.

I have passed on my me-made garments to the Charity Shop with a hope they may be re-worn or re-cycled into something more useful. Previous me-made rejects blogged about here. To date I have passed on or refashioned 16 me-made garments.

Have you given away or re-fashioned any of your me-made clothes?

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Missoni Art Colour at the FTM

I think the Fashion and Textiles Museum in Bermondsey has definitely upped it's exhibition game for the Missoni Art Colour event. I have a feeling they were influenced by the outstanding Alexander McQueen at the V&A and thought they needed to get more dramatic and atmospheric.

This exhibition certainly is bold, dramatic and atmospheric thanks to some creative lighting, interesting displays and a 'white-noise' soundtrack especially commissioned for the exhibition. Recordings of the knitting machines used to make Missoni fabric were looped together to create a soundscape that certainly added to the exhibition experience.

As a trained textile designer I found the sketchbooks and technical notes for the knitted fabrics really interesting. The most striking aspect of the show is the wall of mannequins wearing a vast collection of amazing Missoni garments.

In addition to the beautiful clothing there is an impressive collection of artwork bought by the Missoni family over the past 60 years which links their fashion inspiration to a range of fine art pieces by Giniani Severini and Sonia Delauney amongst others.

This exhibition runs until the 4th September and I would highly recommend a visit to this stunning little museum if you get a chance this summer.

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

National Portrait Gallery and Pearl & Groove Life Drawing

I enjoyed a very creative afternoon with my friend Alex yesterday starting at the National Portrait Gallery to see the BP Portrait Award exhibition and ending the evening with a figure drawing class.

The prize winning paintings at the National Portrait Gallery were interesting and I was particularly moved by the second place prize winner, Silence by Bo Wang (centre image below).
It is a striking portrait of his grandmother who was in the final stages of terminal cancer. I certainly had an emotional response to this painting especially after reading the artist's thoughts behind the piece.

The first prize portrait by Clara Drummond of her artist friend Kirsty Buchanan entitled Girl in a Liberty Dress had an interesting connection having just visited the William Morris Gallery last week. Both artists were working on an exhibition with the William Morris Society Archives and you can see the influence of his colour palette and intense pattern details in this work.

Admission to the BP Portrait Awards exhibition is free and runs until the 4th September at the National Portrait Gallery.


We made our way to Portobello Road for 7pm to attend a life drawing class lead by artist Bella Franks at Pearl & Groove bakery. This is my second drawing class at P&G with Bella who is an enthusiastic and friendly host for the evening.
The model Vanessa, was also a dancer as could tell from her beautiful and elegant poses. A 20 minute break at half time gives you chance to enjoy some of the gorgeous cakes the Pearl & Groove girls make - this time it was a sweet and delicious Pistachio and Rose cake. Very yummy indeed.

Here are my sketches in graphite pencil and charcoal. The longest pose was 25 minutes and the majority were 3 minute - 10 minute poses.

Quick 3 minute warm-up sketch 4b pencil
20 minute study 4b pencil
Tools down - its break time! 25 minute study in charcoal

20 minute sketch in charcoal
15 minute study in charcoal
I thoroughly enjoyed my creative evening and would certainly return for another life drawing class at Pearl & Groove.
The next events are on the following dates at this lovely venue:
Wednesday 10th August
Wednesday 24th August

Monday, 25 July 2016

O'Keeffe Inspired Art

I attended the third session of the Tate Modern Art Course linked to the current Georgia O'Keeffe exhibition last night and we had the chance to draw or paint plein air (seems to be a reoccurring theme in my posts lately). The options were to use the riverfront outside the Tate as a view or to visit the Community Garden next to the Tate for inspiration. As you can probably guess due to my rather garden-heavy posts during the month of July, I chose the garden.

A small but perfectly formed secret walled garden exists to the left hand side of the Tate Modern. Snuggled in a slither of land next to the terraced housing next to the Globe Theatre and the huge expanse of the Tate buildings lives a little oasis of community gardening.

These are the studies I made using the beautiful red flower (Dog Rose?) as inspiration. Despite enjoying sketching this I am not 100% happy with the outcome as I feel it is a little twee and too traditional for my liking. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of drawing and painting it.
What do you think?

30 minute pencil study (unfinished) and 30 minute watercolour version
Detail of the 30 minute pencil study
Detail of 30 minute watercolour study
The art work I have been enjoying over the past week has been an extension of the pomegranate studies I started last week. I have been exploring more abstracted compositions and limiting my colour palette as O'Keeffe did in many of her works.

Below is a selection of pomegranate studies starting with a more realistic image and moving towards more simplified and abstracted shapes and use of colour:

Watercolour pencils
Watercolour pencils
Two colours of watercolour: Windsor & Newton Orange and Deep Red

Watercolours (Deepe Red, Orange, Winsor Yellow) overlaid with blue watrcolour pencil
Watercolour paints (Deep Red, Orange, Winsor Yellow, Ultramarine, Prussian Blue)
Blended Watercolour Pencils (no water yet)
Next week at the final session of the Tate Course we are to select our favourite works produced during the course for a group exhibition. I am undecided as to which one to select but I'm hoping to get a chance to explore these abstract pieces further which may sway my decision.
Which art works do you think I should choose?

I will leave you with these stunning views around the Tate Modern yesterday.