Saturday, July 31, 2010

Inspiring colour

I mentioned in my last post that a purple flower in my backyard inspired the initial thought to create my Cyclones painting (which is still in progress, painting day tomorrow!).  This is that flower. It is a rannunculus (think Poppy), one of the first to bloom in our veggie garden (yes, we have flowers in our veggie garden, makes it look pretty :D).  I didn't know they came in this colour and I was quite entranced with its iridescent blue-purple. In fact Cyclones would have been based on purples if I had actually had some purple pastels, a lacking which I fixed during the week ($4.50 per pastel, ouch).

So in the meantime, while I finish my cyclone painting (and likely start on the Colour Challenge painting), I thought I would post the piccies I took of the flower before the weather totally destroyed it (its a little ratty already).  I know I'm likely to get some more inspiration off it, so I thought I'd share ::grin::

Enjoy its purply goodness and its miriad shades to blue.

(definitely painting day tomorrow, rain, shine, or tanting 2 year old)

Sunday, July 25, 2010


I did painting today! Got the easel out and everything! I am an artist type ::grin::  It's not finished, but I'm happy with what I managed to achieve :D

Dragged out the pastels I spent so much money on several years ago and started playing with line and shape. I started with a very vague flower and just drew. I had no idea where I was going and still don't really, I just drew. I chose blues because there is a purple flower in our backyard that I liked the colour of and I've been using a lot of red and green lately (and I need to buy some purple pastels) and a change is as good as a holiday. Also, because I couldn't put my pastel collection down within reach of little KJ, I was restricted to the colours I could hold in one hand. So a little bit of a challenge.


Of course, because Mummy was using pastels, KJ had to use some too and being the arty little two year old she is, she made cake ::grin::

She's the one who said it was cake :D


The Creative Colour Challenge

I have always been a sucker for colour.  I can see something with just the right colour combination, with just the right zing, and be drawn to it across great distances.

 It could be something to do with my synaethesia, or being arty or just because colour and light create life, I don't know, but I love colour.

I've just recently come to realise some reasons why I haven't explored my visual art as much as my written work.  When I write, I just write, always excited where it will end up and not really caring whether I make mistakes along the way (heh, writing has an undo button that doesn't quite work as well for visual art). I've never managed to do that with my art, mainly because art uses many more expensive resources.  So step one for me is to say, hey, I can always buy some more.

The other main reason I find is that my perfectionist attitude gets in the way. I've always been a realist artist and when the result doesn't live up to reality (I'm just not that good), I get depressed.

A few years back...okay, nearly 10 years ago, I went through a short period of exploration with my art.  I took a concept that had nothing to do with reality and just went for it.  I didn't care whether it looked like what it was supposed to look like, I didn't sit for hours trying to get the finest detail just right, I just painted.

I had so much fun.

My theme was movement.  It started with painting the movement of a whale without actually painting the whale.  I wanted to illustrate the existence of the whale by the effect it had on its surroundings.  The result was far from being accurate with even the concept and the paint strokes were as rough all hell as I just happily slapped them down, but I enjoyed it.

I took the concept one step further and tried it with a gecko and I got lost in the colours of reds, yellows and oranges.  To this day, I love those pieces, despite them being on crappy cheap card rather than good illustration board, despite the paint dribbling everywhere.  I just enjoyed creating them so much.

I don't know why I returned to precision drawing (the Lotus piccy above was completed six years ago and was pretty much my last major art has been neglected).  I've recently given it a great deal of thought as my life has been changing considerably over the last few years.  After nearly seven years of trying, I finally achieved pregnancy with my little KJ in 2007 and wonderfully again with Izzy in 2009 and I now have two wonderful little daughters and I can finally pull myself off the IVF train and turn my focus elsewhere (apart from the important role of parenting, of course, women were made to be able to do more than one thing at a time).  I've found the idea incredibly freeing and I know exactly where I want to direct myself.  I want to free up my art and enjoy it, create and scribble and be inspired.

And I think colour is the key.  I'm not going to worry about needing to sell work, I'm not going to worry about what anyone else thinks of my work (beyond thinking that everyone will think it is wonderful ::tongue in cheek grin::), and I'm NOT going to be precise.  I'm going to explore colour.  I love colour.  Why haven't I thought of this before? 

I've just recently taken up crochet, a craft I've dabbled in vaguely for a long time, but only recently started using it to create completed objects, and it is through that and through the art and craft communities online that I'm finally beginning to find my centre.  Crochet doesn't require a picture perfect result, it only requires colour and pattern.  So I've begun making up designs using the tools of crochet.  I can also do my crochet while looking after KJ and Izzy as it doesn't require me to be at my art table, so even if I don't get time entirely to myself (a rare thing that I had to fight for this morning), I can get some creative work done.  It is good for my health....Nutty gets cranky if she doesn't create.

But I do sorely want to take this new found idea to my traditional media and explore.  At the moment I'm poking around with soft pastels, lovely colour sources.  I haven't quite mastered them yet, having trouble with keeping the work clean and manipulating the colour on the page, but it is fun exploring.

I started with one of my favourite flowers, Sturt's Desert Pea, and for those of you who know of my crochet cushion cover, this is where it came from.  I made an attempt to draw the form, colour and shape of the flower, but just dabble and play, exploring them rather than worrying about accuracy. I set out to mutate :D  Because I'm a novice pastelist, I'm not to good with accuracy in the medium anyway.  This was the result.

So I have begun my journey to free up my brain.  With the help of many inspirational bloggers (who I surf for and read while feeding Izzy, despite not being able to type while so engaged) and friends, I hope to find some new abilities and explore some serious colour.

But wait, I've forgotten the original purpose of this post (typical me)!

One of those inspirational artist/bloggers is Louise Gale and she is holding a Creative Colour Challenge !  Can I say perfect opportunity????  I've jumped on the bandwagon hoping I can juggle my time efficiently enough to get at least something done.  No matter what your medium, join us!  It is going to be fun!

(breaking a non-writing period and clearing the verbal logjam in a flood of wandering text)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

A tale of two sewing machines

Okay, I finished the crochet for my sturt desert pea cushion cover last week. July 14th to be exact. I then jumped out into the void that is my sewing knowledge...and fell in a hole.

I have two sewing machines residing at my house, neither of them are mine as they belong to my Sis (they were my late grandmother's) and I haven't touched them either beyond moving them from room to room and eventually into the shed as our family expanded by two little girls. However, finding the need to finish this project, I bravely dug up the most recent model (think 80s) and with help from my Sis (who has the ability to actually sew), set it up beside my art table in our hobby room (yes, we have a hobby room, a big one jammed with art equipment, modelling equipment, books and computers...its getting more and more jampacked as time goes by).  After much fussing over it, we get it going...and going and going and going...the foot pedal has a burnt out capacitor in it and the machine won't stop running at full bolt. The room smelt rather pleasant after that.

Hubby, the electrical technician, pulls it apart and declares he will go in search of a replacement part. Sewing machine number one down for the count.

Sewing machine number two is an antique deadly treadly. Again, my Sis has experience using it and amply gets it up and running (no capacitors in it to blow). Two things cause problems. Sis says she can't get the right tension going (I just nod, assuming she knows what she's talking about as I certainly don't) and the only way to do zig zag is to literally zig zag the cloth while sewing. Since the operation of the machine requires some skill in simply keeping it going in a straight line, I don't think I'll be doing any zig zagging in the near future (and besides it's an antique, I'm scared my noviceness will demolish it and my grandmother is hovering over me in the afterlife asking me 'What the hell do you think you are doing?????').

So there are three remaining options. Hubby gets the part for the first sewing machine (he's hit a stumbling block, but he should still be able to get it), I hand sew the hemming (patience, Nutty, patience), or I go and spend some money on a small basic sewing machine.  I only want to hem and I can get a nice little Elna for around $130. Updates down the track on that.

So the crochet part is complete, but I thought I should also mention how I got there, because that is half the fun. I am rather new to crochet and a stubborn student who likes to go her own way, usually the hard way.

I had designed this project in my head with crochet embroidery both to emphasize the random curves and give the surface some texture. I have never done any crochet embroidery before (or any other embroidery for that matter), but I had an idea in my head and could see no reason why it wouldn't work, so I set off to do it.

This was the result:

I had not considered the possibility that hooking single crochet into each stitch would draw the fabric so tight, so I had to pull it all out and design a stitch that didn't pull so hard or at least pulled more evenly. I came up with a single crochet-chain-chain combination that had me hooking into the fabric only every second stitch, hence reducing the 'drag'. And besides, I found myself liking the new texture it gave to the piece with its 'stitchy' appearance rather than the smooth line of the previous attempt.

Here, to the left, you can see the two stitches. The red, blue and green at the bottom are the straight single crochet (I use the US terms, despite being Australian, because they make more sense to me) and the white and red at the top are the new stitch I cobbled together. The right is a close up.

That problem sorted out, I completed all the crochet embroidery.  But as I did that, a new problem began rearing its head. 

My square was no longer square.

So there was much unravelling as I brought the design back three colours from the right to resquare it up.

I slapped on a black border of three rows of single black crochet along with a raised line of black crochet embroidery all around the edge to complete the embroidery part of the design and conveniently hide the rough edges at the top and bottom of the rows.  Here it is all pinned and blocked.

So now it sits waiting on a desk in my hobby room for me to either hand stitch the back (which I'm thinking of doing because I just want to get it done), or Hubby comes through with the goods and I can learn how to use that sewing machine.

Either way, I have other projects brewing in my brain and I want to jump on to them.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

My crazy pink and blue throw

I have two projects running at the moment. and this was the first.  I recently had a little girl and I knew I'd need something to occupy my brain while breastfeeding and this is what I managed to come up with.

I had done granny squares in my last project and wanted to something a little different, but I also needed something easy to do, so I took a stitch from my Harmony Guides: Basic crochet Stitches and turned it into a square.  I knocked up a couple and it seemed to work well.

For colours I had some Moda Vera Fauna Eclipse (the blue one in the piccy to the left) and some grey Moda Vera Amanda, but I knew I'd need some other colours to go with it.  We had a girl's day out at a Spotlight store while there was a sale on and I came across the Patons Fireworks (the fuzzy pink and black swatch) and Patons Foxy in red and white.  I'm not normally a pink person, but I really liked this one and ended up running around the shop looking for colours to match it.  I hadn't intended to include either of them in this project, thinking I would use them for something else, but the inclusion of the blue/grey/pink yarn Moda Vera delight (top left swatch) drew everything together and I suddenly had a rug of pinks, greys and blue.  I think they work well together.

I eventually finalised the design with 48 squares outlined in black and now that I can't really feed and do my sturt desert pea design, I have returned to this square at a time.

The furry yarns, the Fireworks and some grey Moda Vera Jazz are proving a challenge and not a little frustrating.  I've had to dump the design for the swatch from the Fireworks and just do straight stitching because it is impossible to see the stitches.  Not that it will be noticable. I'm about a third of the way through the squares at the moment and still enjoying it.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Coming along nicely

I have completed the crochet base of the cushion cover and am now embarking on the crochet embroidery I have planned ('planned' is a very loose term here, basically I have an idea and am going to see if it works).

I bought the cushion insert today, and though it could be considered a mundane aspect of the project, I found it quite exciting simply because I was purchasing filling for something I had created.  It is getting close to a finished work and for me, that is an achievement I will cherish (and hopefully make a more recurring habit).

I've also got some ideas for other cushion covers that have me bouncing around in my head.  A couple lead directly on from this design, using the same colours in different ways (I bought more wool today ::insert evil cackle here::), but I also have a completely different idea for a gumflower cushion cover that would definitely involve me inventing either a stitch or some decidedly challenging embroidery.

I keep telling myself that I must complete this piece first, both to test the techniques, and to complete the process of making a cushion, something I last did in home economics class over twenty years ago (and not that well either).  I also don't have a sewing machine (they seem to be allergic to me and react by tangling and jamming should I walk anywhere near one...I'm thinking to see if I can find an allergy-free model if I end up taking up this craft a little more permanently), so I have the challenge of sewing this piece entirely by will be an interesting result.

I have little knowledge of sewing materials.  Can anyone suggest what material I might use as a back to this cushion?  The yarn is soft acrylic. Also, I'm considering colours, red, green, or black? Black was my initial thought, but I'm not one hundred percent convinced. The stripes will have a black border crocheted on, however.  Any help greatly appreciated.

I'm thoroughly enjoying being so inspired at the moment.  I've been surfing on my laptop while feeding little Izzy and have seen some wonderful works online. They press all my arty buttons and set off multicoloured light bulbs in my hair.