Nature’s Larder – Preparing to Observe Qualities

My instinct was to get started, jump right in. Get out the paints and the pens and start drawing. But I slowed down and read the brief, I need some more time to think about what and how I want to express my collection.

The student notes included a list of artists who use marking making and drawing in their art. The internet is a wealth of information, its easy to get lost on there and very easy to build up a sense of closeness to someone you haven’t even met. I was very pleased that the first artist on the list was familiar to me and I had actually seen one of her sculptures.

Louise Bourgeois is very interesting because she creates dramatic art from a place of great emotion. She explores issues of motherhood, parenthood and a woman’s place in the home. 

My group of objects are household objects, they are comforting, homely. I am not comfortable with conflict or causing distress. Would I ever make a huge scary spider? How can I create drama in my work? Will my personality ever let me make pieces that shock; that cause a primeval reaction in the viewer. Lets see, I’m not so sure I will.

The drawings in this article particularly appealed to me, the gentle lines and the layering of the tendrills and organic  forms.  


 Louise was a stunning looking woman and showed great restrain in her simple drawings. 

 These 2 photographs were taken by me in Bilao. It was a fascinating place and I particularly liked the visual impact of Maman the spider.   
I also looked at the work of Hilary Ellis – http://www.hilaryellis.co.uk. Her work is incredibly skilled and requires a huge amount of patience. I have huge respect for it but it’s not for me.

From Hilary’s very specific work I moved onto Michael Griffiths  www.michaelgriffithsfineart.com work and felt much more at home. It fasinates me how such naive and simple compositions can be so accomplished and practised. 

The closer you look, the more detail you see. The colours and textures layer but they remain fresh, the colours don’t mush together. The paint marks look haphazard, like they’ve been done almost with eye’s closed but there is so much more to their development. Its the gentleness of touch that I can see, the skill and control needed to place the dramatic strokes in just the right places. 

The last lady on the list was my favourite, I will definately be following and  finding out more about Roanna Wells http://www.roannawells.co.uk. Her sketchbooks are facinating and can be found here http://roannawellssketchbook.tumblr.com

I like the use of shade and simple lines to capture an object or a scene. No complicated or elaborate mediums, nice simple pen and pencil.  This is definately one of the styles I will be using when I complete my own drawings.

Roanna’s stitches are very precise, I love the use of negative space and outlining to create shapes. I shall be doing more research to find future exhibitions so I can see how the work translates in real life.

Lots of looking and thinking today, so I didn’t manage to spend much time on my own work, just a few black and white artsy edits ready for the start of tomorrow’s drawing exercise. Still feeling vaguely reluctant, but I’m sure once I get started I’ll be fine.



Nature’s Larder – my collection

Thinking, thinking, thinking, that’s how I used half of my time today. I spent the morning on Google looking for information about fruit and vegtables. Some of the things I found were interesting, a lady that makes dresses that look like vegtables, a guy who takes amazing photographs of vegtables under a microscope, another guy who lights up fruits and to top it off Louise Gardiner who sews beautiful embroideries that feature fruits and vegtables.

This piece just blows me away, has me running for cover and worrying will I ever be this good? Edit




Then I decide its time to stop clinging to my iphone and to start looking at books for inspiration, I read about fruits and how they’ve played a part in folk lore and how fruits with seeds are a sign of fertility and self potential. This idea stuck with me. Along with the thought that a fruit or vegtable is the culmination of the plant’s process. From here the cycle continues. I’ve always been facinated by falling leaves and was caught by one comment I read today about how many trees and plants release leaves to soften the ground on which their fruits will fall, so they are attractive to animals and birds who will carry the seeds unwittingly to places they can transplant and grow. Here is all aspects of this living thing working together to ensure the species survives. I started to think of my vision of nature’s larder as more delicate, more gentle but with strength. It should include things with 2 sides to them; in essence strong but also having more simple qualities. I thought about the leaves of cabbages, slim and textured but when eaten strong and effective. Especially on my tummy. The tough, hard pips of apples held inside soft juicy fruit. Hard brown twigs of cinnamon with their light scent and sweet flavour.

So off I went on a scavange hunt.

And, this is what I found. An apple with a beautiful centre, holding safe a little pip, some delicate green cabbage leaves and its denser but plainer coloured white cousin. A tough shell which was once home to an oyster. Then some cinnamon and some seeds I bought home from Moroccco, they are a variety of tea (I promise) and have a small solid pip inside a tactile almost fabric like collar. And finally an aging, dried tulip, the pollen and seeds of which were still vibrant despite the decay of the petals and stem.  I layed then on a piece of orange tissue, bright like the sun but made of strong, man made lutrador.

It was important to me that the colours worked well together even though I know this assignment is about the textures, lines and shapes I stood back and looked to see if I had gathered enough items to enable me to start the mark making and recording style drawings required. I took more photographs to focus on the textures and to identify areas that would lend themselves well to examination and duplication.

I was satisfied that I had sufficent possibilites but had found myself drawn again to colour and how it worked in each shot/composition. 


A few black and white edits took away the distractions and I was pleasantly surprised by the variation in tone between the items. The colour’s no longer distracted me but my tea did and in particular a leek, not the whole leek just a circular cross section. So I added a few to the collection.



This has been a wonderful exercise, very enjoyable. Ive learnt that it’s not always necessary to be elaborate in your search for items of interest and value. Keep it simple.

ATV - Assignment 1 · Uncategorized

A Textile Vocabulary – Introduction (Assignment 1)

Learning Log – 28 March 2015

So the pressure is on, I’ve done all the admin, registered on everything I should and read and re-read the introduction. Ive got a nice notebook to make all my notes in and I’ve scheduled in my assessment dates. 

Now its time to start the work, I’ve made it my goal not to over think everything I do, reflection and assessment of what I have done is needed, not hours of analysing my choices and deliberating whether I am good enough or not. 

My theme for this assignment is Nature’s Larder. Of the 4 themes on offer this one appealed to me the most, I could quickly imagine the possiblities of fruit and vegtables. Its not the bravest or the most original choice but it was the one that made me happy. I could see racks of vegtables in the Budapest Market, the beautiful embroidery on the Corbet Bed in the Shrewsbury Museum, the intricate patterns of vegtables under a microscope and the shapes of fruits and vegtables in Art Nouveau. 

I was soon thinking about all the places I could visit to gather ideas and objects. I couldn’t help myself but in no time I was in Waitrose grabbing 2 cabbages and some funny sprouty cabbaggie things. Can I stitch into cabbage?? Bet I can! I can do lots of prints and rubbings. As I work I can have fun exploring the shapes and possibilities presented by objects we see and handle everyday, that are hated by many and doted on by others. Vegtables and fruits are found everywhere and vary considerably in colour, size and texture, not forgetting in taste.

And what about all the traditions surrounding vegtables?  Cabbage in Poland, leeks in Wales, chillies in Thailand and the feelings that vegtables create; memories of seaside holidays bought on by the smell of vinegar on chips, excitement as the Christmas dinner brussels sprouts arrive in the supermarkets and what about the humble apple? It was poisoned for sleeping beauty, one a day keeps the doctor away and without Apple I would never have discovered social media and had the confidence to share my art with other people. My Apple devices have introduced me to some great and supportive people and lots of tools for enhancing and developing my work.

To kick off my studies and to lossen up my approach I decided to make some collages with magazine cuttings, vegtables, fruits and food is very visually appealing so is often featured in magazines so I had plenty of material.

The collages developed organically, loosely themed by colour with a little splash of another colour to create some conflict and a focal point. There was so much colour, texture and detail I decided to use colour and shape to give some coherance to the groupings. I really wanted to create a sense of abundance, fullness, joy and variety.

In reflection I could have made less collages and concentrated on the edges and the sequence of the layers so the finished article was more polished. If I hadn’t used all of my A4 paper to make a copy of the course materials I could have printed off and used some of my own photographs but I’ll be doing that when I really get down to the gathering of materials. 

I couldn’t resist the urge to make a few edits of the collages and to create a montage of my favourite. This montage and the shots of my collages have found their way onto my Instagram account and I now have my own tag: #sallytextiledegree. This will make it very easy for me to look back at the photographs that I have shared and used.

That’s me for one day, roll on tomorrow and the start of my scavange hunt for objects that represent Nature’s Larder to me.

I hope you enjoy my blog, do not hestitate to ask me any questions or provide me with some feedback.


I’ve only gone and done it!

Today has been a very busy day, sometime last week in a mad moment I decided to enrol on a distance learning Textile Degree.  It’s been a whirlwind since then. In no time I’d applied for, and received approval for my student finance, I’d applied to the College of Arts and with stunning swiftness I’d been enrolled, allocated a student id, a tutor, given access to all sorts of resources and a link to my my course materials. Email has really changed the world. 


This is the degree and I’m starting with a course called A Textiles Vocabulary. I’ve only had a brief glance through the course materials and now I’m bursting with excitement to get started.

At certain points I will be submitting formal assignments but as I go I have to keep a learning log and this can be in the form of a blog. This will be my learning log, here I will record and reflect on what I’m doing. 

Please help me with support and feedback on what I’m doing and how I’m getting on. 

It’s going to be tough, it’s going to be an adventure. Bring it on I say!! 


Even on a busy day

Even on a busy day I try to spend a few minutes sketching. Today from somewhere in my head came these little doodle flower shapes.

When I put the photo on Instagram I put a little filter on to liven up the colours.

To make them even more interesting I distorted the shapes and highlighted the lines.

And who kept me busy today? These 2 little tykes!


Canvas chaos

A little while back you might remember me starting some mixed media work on 3 fairly big canvases. It was a step out of my comfort zone and I must admit they are still challenging me. It’s been interesting watching them develop and some of the reactions I’ve had to my posts of the progress shots on the inter-web.

After laying the bases (paint and gesso) I went straight for some ink dribble. Then went a little crazy with more gesso & Brusho.

It was interesting when I posted these on Instagram, on the blue piece I received some constructive feedback highlighting that I could do better, in truth I agreed with the guy (and it is only progress) So I stomached the comments and moved on, but them on Tumblr one of my  posts was getting reblogged  and low and behold it was the blue piece! Sometimes you’ve just got to put it out there and let the people decide!!

Each morning I find myself drawn back to canvases and I throw a bit more ink and paint at them, usually what ever is to hand. In most cases it’s fabric paint. I love it’s watery translucent quality.

I feel that the canvases are slowly developing and getting some personality. Taking photos of them has been invaluable, the shots so often highlight areas with a lack of tone, or too much globby paint, or weird shapes (you know what I mean!!) 

Then just for fun I used my iPhone to make some abstract edits. These could easily find their way into my collages or transferred on to fabric as a base for an embroidery. 

I hope you enjoyed my blog and please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any questions


Doodle Day Book

Its taken a week but I’ve finally been able to start using my new doodle day book. 

It’s been paint a page. Wait ……. let it dry … wait … now paint the next page. There were loads of pages so it’s taken a while.

I’m particularly pleased with the pages with the little painted squares, they are perfect for recording shapes, in this case doodles but in the past I’ve recorded all sorts of shapes.

Over the last week I’ve become a little bit overwhelmed by all of my  ongoing/unfinished/not-even-started projects and it was lovely to sit this evening and just doodle straight from my head.

Thank goodness for doodles!

Techniques and Guidance

Quiet Days

Its funny how art creeps into your life, it doesn’t feel that long ago that even putting a pencil to paper was a huge event. 

I’ll never forget the time me and my lovely City & Guild pals were asked to draw some flowers in class. You’d have thought Jenny had asked us to jump off Niagra Falls in a barrel. 

It’s taken a while but now I often find myself at my painting table in my pjs sidetracked on my way to the bathroom for my shower! 

For anyone struggling to take the leap towards drawing every day I’d highly recommend a few of these ‘tricks’

1. Try free drawing. Don’t look at the page, just grab a pen and draw something in front of you.

2. Paint pages in a small sketchbook that you can carry round in your bag to record what you see. Last summer I kept one to record our trip through Wiltshire, Dorset, Devon and Cornwall.

3. Do some investigating and find a good app or software program for editing photographs. Use it to play with shots of your drawings and don’t forget to share. Find a supportive online club or group and be brave. My Instagram friends have encouraged me from day one and soppy as it sounds I couldn’t have got this far without them.

4. More investigating, find yourself a book or even better an online daily prompt blog or website. I love Myfanwy’s blog, the prompts are simple, inventive and cover a wide range of interests which is perfect for a jack of all trades like me. Myfanwy also runs a group on Facebook where we share anything creative including responses to the daily prompt. 

Be Creative

This edited pepper is still my favourite photo prompt so far.

So really there’s no excuse, get a pen and some paper and have a go!