Saturday, 12 April 2014

Sketchbook pages and some new work....

Here are a few pages from my sketchbook, finished at home after my museum drawing day. I don't spend time on sketchbooks, often my ideas are a very rough sketch which I then use for a lino cut; so it was a change to spend a little more time on these pages.

Following on from my love of hares my new work is 3D lino cuts, each a one off featuring a hare.
This one is Hare, the lurker, the looker to the side. 
They are great fun to do, working smaller makes a change for me.
Here's Hare, the swift as wind at Wimpole Hall. 
The titles are taken from a Middle English poem The Names of the Hare which may have come from a Shropshire family. It was apparently designed as a ritual to be recited by the hunter on his first encountering a hare; and the 77 different names were supposed, on their recital, to deliver it into the hunter's power. It's 64 lines long, so I can't help thinking that by the time the hunter has recited it, the hare would be long gone!

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Drawing at the museum

Last Saturday I went on a drawing day in Cambridge organised by White House Art. Neil Payne was the tutor, he has a fresh, wacky approach and came along with lotsof different pens, charcoal, graphite pencils, water colour crayons (use spit to wet and smudge them was his advice) - obviously no water allowed in the museum.
We spent the morning in the Sedgewick, full of wonderful bones, fossils and crystals to inspire us. 

In the afternoon we were at the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, full of collections from many different cultures. 

These were huge containers for food served at feasts, they were beautiful. I haven't photograped any of my sketch book pages yet, some still to be finished. It was reminder of how lucky we are to have wonderful museums to visit - I last went to the 'Arch and Ant' went I was at school in Cambridge!

Friday, 14 March 2014

More Lino Workshops

Some more lovely work from my recent workshops.
Mia, Pam and Maggie at the cutting stage. 
Careful inking up, 
Mia's lion... I'm sorry I didn't get final photographs of the lovely landscapes printed by Pam and Maggie, but here they are having fun. 
The next day featured a komodo dragon, 
a horse
and honesty

Marcy, Janey and Jenny had a very successful day. 
The great thing about teaching these days is that it's a shared learning experience and I love helping people start their printmaking journey.
I was pleased recently to be asked to tutor some lino printing classes at Missenden Abbey next academic year. Alison had seen my work in Cambridge Contemporary Art. I gave it a lot of thought but realised that at the moment I couldn't make that committment, so have reluctantly declined this opportunity.

Monday, 24 February 2014

A fun day

I've taught 3 lino workshops recently and while they were tiring they were also wonderful. It was a great reminder of how therapeutic creativity is.
Jenny, Joanne and Paula joined me this time.

Jenny found the right angle for her board.

Joanne printed her sample fish and below is her inked up lino block - a beautiful butterfly, I forgot to photograph the actual print. 
Jenny's flowers showed her great design skills.
A busy day!
Paula's design is a good example of the simplicity I advise for a day's workshop.
White on  black paper looks good.
A successful day!
I'll end with a family theme, so important at the moment. Mia, Wills girlfriend is staying with us from New Zealand.
She cooked us a sensational Balinese meal. These are steamed fish parcels - fish tum.
We also had rice, beef dendeng ragi and urap - a wonderful vegetable stir fry.
I was sous chef for this yummy, spicy, aromatic meal; lots of chopping!
I've so enjoyed cooking with Mia.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Difficult times part 2

My blog has become a record of my retirement journey, an on-line diary I suppose. My last post was about difficult times but I avoided talking about the main worry (the other was a joyful part of my life leaving me when I needed their support, which now seems insignificant).
My son William had brain surgery on December 20th, a 5 hour awake craniotomy to remove a tumour and cyst that has been growing on and off since the diagnosis in February 2011. Recent growth meant that surgery was the only option and after 3 days in hospital, spent mainly asleep, he came home. This is before
with his nephew William and this is after 
with an impressive horseshoe shaped scar all of which you can't quite see plus bruising. He is doing well but it is a massive op to go through with physical and emotional side effects. 
I'm continuing this post 2 weeks later, still in shock from the news that the tumour was malignant and Will needs radiotherapy, not what was expected as it was thought to be a benign low grade tumour. So we now know where Oncology is and another part of this journey will begin.
It is now the end of January, nearly 3 years since Will's original diagnosis. On Monday he starts 6 weeks of daily radiotherapy (weekends off for good behaviour!). Luckily we have a great hospital only half an hour away. There maybe chemo later. We're taking one day at a time and remaining positive for a good outcome but suddenly we are in a new world of cancer. It's a world I've known nothing about in my family since my mother died of liver cancer in 1973. I'm over the initial shock and Will's positive attitude is catching. On Mondays he is holding meditation evenings here which is good - I take part which is helping me as are good friends and family. Amid a very different Christmas on Boxing Day I had an idea that has led to new work. When I have a good day I busy myself in my studio, the inked up lino blocks below are a clue - not ready yet for unveiling the completed work.
Now I feel a bit better I'm finding my art therapeutic of course and had a day's printing at the Curwen which was very emotional telling my print friends the news, which is hard to do. I'm finding the whole thing rather isolating so far, somehow everything has shifted but I'm determined to carry on my life while dealing with all the ups and downs that lie ahead.
This post was started over a month ago and writing it has helped. 
As usual my family make me smile, here's little William,
looking very serious, Barney dusting the hood of my grandfather clock; I took it off so that he could see the clock movement. 

Barney and big Will sharing some delicious but chewy dried mango. 

Friday, 27 December 2013

When life is difficult

Recently it's been a tough time for me personally and, more importantly, for my family. Afteer afew sleepless nights, talks with good friends and words of wisdom from my lovely son I decided I must channel my sorrow and fears.
So I screen printed some hare backgrounds which went wrong to start with but I perservered, printed some Hare in the snow prints
did some bad knitting (I really like it but can't do it evenly!) and ate jelly babies
started a new book 
looked after little William who spent much of the morning asleep on me - what a comfort.
I tidied my study -gosh, I can see the carpet!, framed myself a hare print -just for ME (part of looking after myself) 

I made my first cup of tea in my 1st mug design (selling well) 
All these simple pleasures over a few days helped me, as did Barney, grandson number 1 bringing me flowers he'd chosen himself 'to cheer Gaga up'. Wow, you had to smile at his wacky choice! 
How fortunate I am to have wonderful family and friends around me, including my dear son Will back safely in the UK, more of him next time.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Busy December

What a busy month of activity with my art. I only took stands at a couple of fairs, one large and one small and both were fun; of course the large one was loads more work and totally exhausting, the small was delightfully low key. My new hare in the snow print was well received.

I print it in black or prussian blue and have a couple more to print before Christmas.
I entered 3 prints in this exhibition

and was lucky to have my hare at the front of the catalogue. I sold 2 prints but was really surprised to receive the following when I went to collect unsold work. 
Several of the 20 were printmakers, I think it's great to raise the profile of hand pulled print making.I think my work has developed this year; I love combining screen printing and lino cuts which allows for unique prints within a variable edition. One downside is that people have found it hard to choose which version they like best.
Cambridge Contemporary Art is one of my favourite galleries They recently asked me for 6 prints to be shown in their Christmas Show, which was exciting! I have had my first sale!
My 2 weekends of my own Christmas Open Studio have been very successful with lovely visitors, some returning and some new. I needed to print some more hare tea towels and aprons for the second weekend. 
The culmination of one visitor from Devon to my Summer 2012 Open Studio was the selection of my blackbird print for his Artist's Cards catalogue (a wholesale card company). He didn't reveal who he was at the time but wrote to me later asking to use it (for a fee of course!).
I'm pleased to see them sold with a contribution to Cancer Research.
Looking at their website I saw that they are out of stock and I've been told that they will re print next year.
To finish on a festive theme you may like this non-alcoholic mulled punch.
1litre red grape juice
1/2 litre orange juice
1/2 litre cranberry juice
10 tbsps demerara sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
8 cloves
2 sliced oranges
2 sliced lemons
1 tsp garum marsala
Tie the spices in a piece of muslin, heat the liquids and dissolve the sugar in a pan. Add the lemon and oranges. Simmer for about 10 minutes, add more sugar if needed and serve warm. This went down well at my open studio, great on a cold day.