Category Archives: seasonal

Hideout in the hedgerow

Developing a piece of work is a slow process, an idea percolates, sketches are drawn and samples made – although in my case the samples often end up being included in the finished piece – not so great for the sketchbook but it does advance the making process!

Hedgerow and Hare 2020

The idea for this hare has been percolating for a long time. Ever since I stitched one for a community project, I have wanted to incorporate a creature into one of my wildflower scenes. My daily dog walks during the current Covid 19 lockdown, are proving inspirational in that I’m noticing daily changes in the wildflowers, bushes and trees in the little local park – though I don’t think my lovely canine companion is going to appear in stitch!

Bobby looking for treats!

He usually gets a treat when I stop to take a photograph, its the best way to keep him still for long enough to take a good shot!

This partial lockdown does mean that I’m not getting to see my beloved wild flower border, though it’s just a mile away from home but seeing wood anenomes, honesty, marsh marigolds, forget me nots and yarrow coming into bloom is lovely. And the number of birds I can see and hear is wonderful.

Anyway, I started with a sketch of this hare in the hedgerow and he has been growing daily over the last few weeks. Collaged from hand dyed fabrics onto pelet vilene and then stitched with free motion embroidery

Now he has been cut free from his background and is ready to fit into the hedgerow, I ve added a base layer of greens to a sheer chiffon ground – recycled fabric already printed with some leafy images.

Starting to build up a grassy hide away…

I positioned the hare and used a contrast thread to mark his outline so that I could matched the stitched grasses to those in my initial drawing.

Now I’m starting to add in the wild flowers, the Lady’s Bedstraw has been stitched on soluble fabric, the knapweed and clover have been stitched onto more hand dyed fabric and then cut away from the base. The tricky bit is to decide when to stitch the wire hoop into the background fabric – I’m using an embroidery hoop whilst I stitch but it is not quite as big as the wire one, I’m just concerned that if I stitch it to the wire then it will be harder to machine stitch if I decide to add more detail – patience required at this stage!

Getting back to my daily dog walk – I started to stitch the red clover yesterday and this morning, saw some growing in the park – it’s as if I have conjured it up – or did my subconscious draw it to my mind on a previous walk?

Mondays are for Walking

Autumn is creeping in, with September gone after soaring temperatures followed by torrential rainfalls. The season change has caused us to pause and reflect on  changes in our lives here in Newcastle. Dealing with loss of loved ones leads to recallibration of priorities and needs, and so my partner has cut down his hours and I have altered mine leaving us both free to spend Mondays walking in the beautiful North East landscape. If you get the opportunity, I can recommend walking for wellbeing.

Each week we have picked a route of around 10km, in different locations; coastal, moorland, riversides and woodland. Incredibly, all the routes so far have also included remarkably good cafes! (More on that later!) I haven’t stopped to get out my sketchbook yet but have been busy with my camera and collecting bag.

The walks have provided thinking time to mull over project ideas and the landscape is certainly proving inspirational.

Week 1: From Craster to Low Newton and back, via Dunstanburgh Castle

We started this walk with tea and toast at the Shoreline Cafe in Craster, truly excellent toast!

We found this spider hanging outside one of the little cottages on the dunes near Low Newton- beautiful markings

On our return the temperature seemed to have warmed up enough to get these little frogs hopping- we had to be very careful where we put our feet!

Dunstanburgh Castle looking dramatic against the sky line,

Lunch at the Ship Inn, Low Newton. It had to be crab sandwiches and kipper fish cakes!

A mad dash back to Newcastle saw us reach Grey Street in time to catch the end of stage 3 of the Gour of Britain bike race – think we overtook them when the riders got stuck at the level crossing in Widdrington!

Week 2: Allendale  around Stobbs Cross

This walk started with a visit to an art gallery…and cafe- can you see a routine forming 🤣

We went to The Allendale Forge to see a beautiful textile art exhibition by the very talented Kate Slaughter and then got our energy levels up with a tasty vegetarian breakfast.

I found this walk quite hard, the landscape seemed bleak to me and the wind was fierce

Lower down the route, hedgerows were covered with rose hips, hawthorn berries and the last few blackberries.

We saw several beautiful brown butterflies whilst we were on the moor – I need to check if this caterpillar was related to them!

Week 3: Derwent Valley from Swalwell to Thornley Woods

We couldn’t go too far from home today- kid taxi duty later – but this gorgeous walk is only 9 miles away- so lucky to live where we do.

We walked a whole mile from the car park before ‘accidentally’ finding Land of Oak and Iron a heritage centre that just happens to have a lovely cafe attached 🤣 more toast and tea tested- 👍👍👍

We walked across the viaduct and then went down to follow the river.

Wasn’t quite so impressed to find this-almost as big as my foot!

Thornley Woods has an accessible sculpture trail- and another cafe! These walks are all easy to reach by bus from Newcastle too!

Week 4 Alnmouth to Lesbury,Bilton and Hipsburn and back

Heading up the A1 this week, calling at Swarland for…yes, tea and toast – you really need to try Nelsons in the Park 4 slices!!

I love Alnmouth, a village full of art and cafes right on the coast- this time though it was all about the river. So after a short walk along the beach we turned inland to find the Aln.

This little hut features in one of my miniature scenes

We walked through the golf course and across a field warning of bulls – luckily they seemed to be elsewhere.

This little robin was quite fierce- he flew right up to my face twice as we tried to pass him- surely it’s the wrong time of year for nesting?

Another viaduct- this trainspotter just missed the 1 o’clock to Edinburgh going overhead!

And after all those steps? A vegan spicy cauliflower pie fromScott’s of Alnmouth

I hope we can continue these walks as the weather turns, we’ve been lucky so far but if it does get grim, we might switch to urban walks with (more) cafes and cinemas!

Connecting with Landscape

2017 has rolled in with strange weather. One day freezing, the next double digit temperatures. Winter weather alternating with, what feel like, cool English Summer days. Goodness knows how nature will cope with these crazy days. 


It has given me chance to get out walking in the hills and at the coast, feeling a connection with the landscape. The more society disappoints me the greater the appeal of land and sea. 


A sense of space, peace. A feeling that nature will still be there; serene, powerful, beautiful, long, long after this political posturing that makes me so distraught . I walk in the landscape; amongst the hills, by the sea, seeking affinity, looking for signs of continuity, harmony. Walking thinking, looking and recording. What makes it beautiful, what will endure? 

New work emerges in sketchbook and sample form, getting more deeply engrossed in the detail of landscape, connecting colour, texture and form to understand, better, the nature of a place. 


Working with blue; weathered and worn, like flaky paint on coastal huts, layered like sky loaded with clouds bearing weather in many guises, textured like waves, building and crashing, thrusting spray and foam across rocks and shoreline.


Trying to capture the essence in colour and stitch. A new focus and challenge for new challenging times. 

Something Fishy & All things Holy (T)!


Getting ready for tomorrow’s workshops- blanks cut and painted ready for participants to add their creativity! 

Some of the demonstration pieces will be for sale at the Holy T Art Fair – to raise funds for the project. See you there 23/24 September!!


And this view of Holy Isle should be framed and ready to go too! 

Great North Art Show

Tomorrow is delivery day for the Great North Art Show!! So my bank holiday is being spent adding mirror plates and searching for bubble wrap!

I’m taking five pieces to the show – but I think one of them is still in Edinburgh so there may have to be a last minute substitution….

I’m hoping  to take Glimpses of Summer

Glimpses of Summer

Sometimes the sun breaks through the clouds.

Arran Breeze

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Stonechat Lands

Stonechat cropped square

(I’ve just had this one re-framed and added in some sneaky extra details! Can you spot the difference?

There’ll be some more images soon of the show itself, I’m so looking forward to it!

 

 

Summer Time and the stitching is…

The stitching is mostly being fitted around the daughters on school holiday 🙂

We all went to the Last Shift Banner picnic on Saturday afternoon. It was great to see the school banner on display with its bigger brothers and sisters from local collieries!

The picnic was in full swing when we got there, with brass band, folk singing, rapper dancing and shuggy boats. A wonderful way to finish off the festival.

So now its time to get on and develop new work for Autumn shows and exhibitions. I’m really taken with the idea of doing some pieces based on hedgerow flowers. Has anyone else noticed how beautiful, and prolific, the wildflowers are this year? It would be lovely to capture them in stitch and cloth. I’ve been sketching and photographing for a while so I think its time to start experimenting now. Perhaps with soluble fabric as I think the spaces and layers between the plants are important.

These lovely flowers are on the bike route into town, a great border between the bike and foot paths!

I’ve had some time out to see the textiles art that local branches of the Embroiderers’ Guild have displayed to celebrate Capability Brown’s 300th birthday. The teatowel display at Gibside looked gorgeous, blowing in the breeze in the walled garden. There are more pieces on display in the chapel, and another collection at Wallington too. Well done to all my friends taking part in this – we had fun spotting all your work!

 

Fabulous Funfair

I am so excited to be finally paying a visit to the fabulous Carters Steam Fair in June. Given my love of funfairs and vintage style how could i not be drawn to this! I’ll certainly have my sketchbook and camera prepared  as I experience rides like these.

Carters Chair o planeCarters galloper-picCarters Steam yachts-pic

I’ve already stitched some pieces inspired by funfairs, particularly the Hoppings here in Newcastle. I used to visit the funfairs at Scarborough and Blackpool as inspiration for my final degree show back in the day too!

I’m hoping I can put a new sketchbook full of ideas together from my trip to the wonderful Carters Steam Fair. Here’s hoping for sunny weather to capture all those beautiful colours and shining surfaces!

 

All at Sea

Surging towards a market next Saturday 28th May  – Newcastle ArtsFest organised by the Lovely Lesley! My ‘transport co-ordinator’ loves it because he gets to drive up to Gray’s Monument in Newcastle city centre! So, I’m busy finishing some new pieces and planning the set up. It’s always lovely to be in the centre of Toon, lots of people to chat too and lots of lovely artwork to admire – get yourselves there if you’re in the area!

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These two are awaiting their frames, the weather has turned a little stormy! I’ve been developing ideas with my hand dyed fabrics, trying to emphasise mood and texture.

Meanwhile, it’s all a bit shipshape at the Arts in Health project I work on too – this time its all about boats. Those owls we made are lovely but maybe a bit Autumnal? So I thought we could all sail away on a seaside theme over Summer, redoing our window display with a new installation.

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A sample driftwood boat

One relative on the Chemo’ ward kindly donated some old map books, so the pages are going to be repurposed as sails. I have sterilised lots of bits of driftwood and disassembled a roll of willow edging (Poundland !)  So this week we’ll be making driftwood boats to sail over the seven seas. Then we’ll add needle-felted lettering across the top of the scene and a silk painted ocean at the bottom. That should keep us all busy for a few weeks!

I’ll post more images as the project develops. (And if you want to know how to sterilise driftwood – you need to boil it in a very big pan for several hours, changing the water a few times too! Steamy!!)

 

 

 

Just a few ideas…

After my little jaunt up the coast, I’ve been trying out ideas in my sketchbook – I brought a kelp root back from the beach and I must get it sketched because to be honest its a bit stinky!

One reason I’m not doing so many markets at the moment is because I want to develop some new work (the other reason being the My Journey project I’m also documenting in this blog.) I have a feeling that these new pieces might get quite big, in comparison to other work I’ve been doing recently. So, I’m trying out compositions, colours and processes in my sketchbook. I’m trying to practice what I preach – don’t settle for the first idea, do get out and draw on location, play and experiment. Often, I find, that deadlines mean I skimp on some of these – so I’m giving myself a bit of time to get really stuck in to the research. I’ve got two new boards on my Pinterest site Joan Eardley and Anne Redpath. I’m fascinated by how they use paint and want to try their sort of approach but with  fabric and stitch.

(c) Anne Morrison; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Summer Grasses & Barley on the Clifftop Joan Eardley c1962

There’s so much life and energy in this painting. I love the layers, the marks and the use of colour. I think that I’m moving towards this in my own work as I develop themes and ideas.

Yesterday was such a beautiful Spring day, sunshine with some warmth! (Quite rare in the North of England at the moment!) so I treated myself to an afternoon in the garden with my sketch book. Just working on capturing the flowers that are starting to bloom. There are Bluebells still tightly clenched in buds and Magnolia Stellata starting to unfurl. Beautiful shapes and colour changes that are so subtle. I found out the Bluebells are also known as Endymion, after the youth put into an eternal sleep by the Greek Moon goddess Selene. I love these stories of how names arise, I store them in the ideas cupboard in my brain ready to use when I’m trying to think of interesting titles for my work. But is ‘Land of Endymion’ a bit too romantic for a scene from my garden or the local park?!

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Silk Painting Spring Theme

A different sort of project! Working on the theme of insects, the group I work with on Wednesday have been using silk paints to create beautifully coloured insects in circular motifs. Why circles? Well, I’m doing a bit of up-cycling…a certain Swedish store  sells a scarf tidy, I found one in a charity shop and disassembled it. This gave me a lot of string and a whole load of plastic rings. Haven’t thought of a use for the string… yet, but the rings are going to be used to frame these insects – are you with me so far?

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Wise birds Wise Words 2016

Remember these guts? The Wise Birds I posted about a little while ago? Well, there’s another window next to them that’s looking a little bare. So the insect display is going to go up there.  The idea is that the insects will all be flying around a central panel (see below) showing a Spring time garden. The panel is all ready for the colour to be applied. It’s a relaxing way to pass the time whilst receiving treatment – and as several people can work around the table at once its a good way to encourage peer support.

I’ll post more images when it’s all finished.

It’s been a nice change from stitching for me too! Although, you know what…I am almost ready to get back on the machine – maybe I’ll  just keep drawing ’til the sunny spell we’re having here is over though!