It might be a cool and wet start to July, but recently I have turned to painting with a warmer range of colours.
It is another layered mid-sized scarf which has ended up more patterned with the second layer than I had originally intended.
And, after steaming the colours have turned out to be stronger and hotter than expected as well. Perhaps this weather is going to get the idea and also turn hotter too and then we’ll have a summer after all.
Last month I took a few photographs of the flowers that had managed to do their thing despite a very wet May.
As it happens it was the photo of the deep purple and pale lilac aquilegias that consciously caught my attention and became the inspiration for a silk scarf.
And, in that strange way that colours and shapes so often infiltrate the sub-conscious, the alliums found their way into my design too.
The second layer of shapes and colours added over the first fully dyed silk made for a messy looking composition, but after steaming the completed scarf, Eladora Sea, has turned out to be one of my favourites.
The UK is now in lockdown, more or less. Everybody who can works from home and all non essential trips out of your house are prohibited, although, as yet, we don’t have the military on the streets enforcing these restrictions. With the ensuing quiet I have found myself more reflective than usual.
Now here’s a flitting stream of consciousness: . . . how did we get here . . . who is marshalling the NHS response . . . oh yes, that bloke who looks like a rabbit in the headlights, what’s his name . . . Hancock, yes, Matt Hancock . . . isn’t he the MP for West Suffolk, yes he is . . . other side of Bury St Edmunds . . . mmm, Bury . . . I wonder whether Blackthorpe Barn will run its Christmas Craft Fair later this year . . . that part of Suffolk is beautiful in winter . . . melancholy Suffolk . . . melancholy pines . . . ah the lonely Lady Drury and the Hawstead Panels.
Now there was a woman who knew about reflection and meditation and solitude. Her solo endeavours, her painted closet, installed in the now temporarily closed Christchurch Mansion, is a visual expression of living a contemplative life.
I have not been spending this disconcerting time on too much introspection, although I have been slowly working my way through my thousands of photographs, a process which turns out is intermittently thought-provoking. During this task I have come across pictures of earlier work I had completely forgotten as well as old rather poor quality photographs that I took when I first launched my online shop back in July 2013.
One or two of the old photos had captured a look, an expression that was worth saving. Six or seven years ago, and particularly before my week’s photography course, I hadn’t realised how much tidying up, enhancing and, well to put it bluntly, cheating could be achieved with Photoshop.
Nowadays, with a solid five years’ plus of amateur experience under my belt, I am so much better at getting the photograph I want (eventually), but sometimes the circumstances defeat my grand intentions. This was the case on a visit last month to the ‘Handel & Hendrix in London’ Museum. Not quite the tightly focussed, intriguing image I was hoping for, but I can always blame the delicate distortions of the fine, antique eighteenth-century mirror.
Sometimes you feel totally out of step and then suddenly with one extra long stride you’re right back in time and notice that you’re also in tune and on trend. That’s how I felt when scanning through lines of photographs from the recent round of fashion shows.
It’s that time of year again when most of the tribe are back from their holidays and it’s the beginning of a new academic year. It was first starting nursery, then school, then university and now for this year’s graduates, hopefully, it’s starting work. September is also the fashion show season. London’s Fashion Week has just finished on Tuesday, New York was the week before and those interested will continue to watch as Milan and then finally Paris present their style innovations.
It is different this year as instead of showing a spring collection for buyers to order now with stock arriving in their stores next March/April, some brands were showing ‘see now, buy now’ or ‘runway to retail’ collections. Either way, in reality this doesn’t directly affect me as I only paint one-offs, but I do keep an eye on the changing trends. Mostly I’m interested in trends for colours and the feel of the overall palette that is on offer. This September I’ve noticed the odd glimpse of orange amongst all the very patterned designs from brands still showing designs for next spring. However, it appears the ‘see now, buy now’ presentations as shown by Burberry have logically chosen colours that feel more seasonally now, more autumnal, with hints of old gold, muted pink and dark plum amongst the black and grey.
As you can see above there’s plenty of black and grey generally popular for northern winters. I’m not holding my breath that there is going to be a sudden shift away to more colourful clothing to brighten our grey winter days. Wearing high fashion can be akin to a high-wire act, and for women over 40 it can be downright treacherous and inevitably blacks and greys remain the tried and tested favourites for mortals. And, you can always add colourful accessories to otherwise understated combinations to refresh and update your look.
Blacks and greys are fine, but, I guess at heart I am traditional as when I think of autumn I think of warm browns, old gold and burnt orange.
Anyway, after all that, here are two little black crows flying off into their futures . . . . .
You may have noticed I like pink and I like flowers, so naturally I have painted quite a few scarves inspired by pink flowers.
However, sometimes when nature is doing it so well I feel intimidated by her perfection and find myself turning to the manmade for alternative sources of inspiration.
Firstly, I take a photo of an everyday object, remove the distraction of colour, then turn the image upside down to stop myself from recognising the object. The idea is to stop seeing the motor bike and just see shapes. Then using Photoshop I soften and blur the lines to produce a picture that gives an outcome similar to the resultant image we see when we squint.
With a little more tweaking I eventually get an image that I can use to work from.
And here’s a little first go, freewheeling in monochrome inspired by a motor bike.
Of course, I’ve used the classic black and white combination before giving a very clear area of contrast. But, wait, I can also see some pink flowers!!
Last October three metres of crepe de chine arrived to be painted for a blouse. Three metres will take me about two weeks to complete, but before I begin such a project I take the opportunity to make some samples and often a scarf to establish that I’ve interpreted the brief as expected.
Here are a few photographs as the work progressed.
The finished scarf after steaming showing the colours just that little bit brighter.
And, half way through the three metres of crepe de chine – last autumn.
Fast-forward to February 2016 and the silk has been made up. I’m always thrilled to see my work transformed into garments.