Saturday 29 November 2008

Hissy Fits, Cats and a Secret

What an amazing response to my grumbling. It made me feel so much better to know you are all on my side. In Batsford's defence, they were cross too, as the article hardly mentioned the book. They had given permission for an excerpt and sent some images but I can't blame them for not expecting what the magazine did. As those of you who are editors know, there is a code of ethics and this magazine seems to breach it all down the line. I can't imagine not paying for articles - with WoW and Quiltwow, I take the view that if you want good people you have to pay for them.

Love Diana's idea of a letter. Might try that but I doubt they'd publish it.
Don't think it's a copyright issue as Batsford gave permission, Hippopip.
The piece has been dispatched Julie. Hope it arrives safely. Thanks for the condolences - it was very sad. More on this later.

Hadn't looked at the Flair site, Writer in Res, but you are right and this is borne out by their treatment of Annette, Viv and Rosalind.
Lorraine is right and having d4daisy as publishers makes it easier to control things like this.
Heather - I'm so glad you are enjoying the free lessons. I'm loving the Yahoo group, now I've got the hang of finding everything!

Sewlknit2 has it in a nutshell - unfair to readers of the mag and the book. It really wasn't the lack of payment that I minded - book publicity is often a quid pro quo arrangement.
Good to hear from you, Annabel, a concise comment. Poo just about sums it up.

Diana - thanks so much for nominating my book 'Raising the Surface' for the CPS 'Book bits'. I've just had my royalty statement from Batsford and this book just goes on selling - amazing.

Thank you all again - I feel I can stop moaning now - seems to me that the mag won't be around long with an attidude like that.

I've had an excellent week. Finished Digital Humanity for the Cyber Fyber Exhibit. Here's a little detail. Just got the finishing touches to Digital Reliquary and they will go off to America - via Michael for some photos in case they vanish on the way.

My new table and chairs came which meant a total rearrangement of two rooms. They look great but why is it that when you swap rooms around you are always left with:

Two vases and a large plant that don't fit anywhere.

A piece of furniture that is two inches too long for the place you planned for it.

A bad back.

I had a lovely day out with Jane Wild. It was Olga Legg's funeral that we went to and she was a very close friend of Jane. Olga had battled against cancer for many years and she was a real 'one-off' as a character. I will try to get an image of her C&G final piece - called The Luggage - and you'll see what I mean. Jane and I were in that rather fragile emotional state where you either laugh or cry and we settled for the former. I haven't laughed so much for ages and it was a lovely day.

A brief history of cats. I've had lots of enquiries about Stevens'health and I've been scared of speaking too soon but the steroids seem to be doing the trick. They've reduced the dose now so it's still fingers crossed.

Smudge is still a bully. Here he is in Killmouski mode. Luckily it's just a toy.

He hides his toys in the wine basket so everyone thinks we have an alcoholic cat. his markings are really developing now and he such a lovely soft coat. He makes a great hot water bottle on these cold evenings.

Must go now as I have a secret assignation with Purplemissus and Carol M on the M4 motorway. More on that later.

Monday 24 November 2008

Layers in Photoshop Elements

Layers in Elements. Just a quick idea on using them.

I used a pic of the LLoyds building and duplicated it so that it was on the first layer. Then I clicked the New Layer button and filled it with a mid blue. I drew mad squiggles on it with a paint brush and went over them with the Impressionist brush. Thought this would make a change from a gradient.

Clicked on the middle layer and went to Filters, Adjustments menu and selected Invert. The same as PSP Negative Image.

Then had a play with the layer palettes Modes menu. I chose Difference for the top layer and played for ages with the middle layer options. All worked well.

Finally I went back to Filters and Adjustments and played with the gradient map. Hours of fun, here.

Hope that helps a bit with the Layers conundrum.

Wednesday 19 November 2008

Layers in Paintshop Pro

I've had a little play in Paint Shop Pro with some of my London photos. I love this view of the Gherkin with a tree. bear in mind that I use an ols version of the program so newer ones may look slightly different but the method should be the same.

I went to the Layers menu and clicked Duplicate. Then I added a new layer and put this gradient on it.
Then I clicked on the middle layer, went to the Adjust (or Colour) menu and changed the colour to negative. After clicking on the Merge Modes and changing the top two to difference, my Layers palette now looked like this.
And the resulting image like this. Love the colours.
One more effect - this time a Distortion filter called Wave.
I like the contrast between the tree and the geometric areas and the way the lines have gone all loose - like threads.
And yesterdays stitching? Not sure how much Susan Lenz wants us to give away before the Cyber Fyber exhibition, but this is how I am incorporating all your comments about blogging.
The little coloured tiles symbolise the pics on the comments. I hope to finish the first piece today and have a new idea for the second piece of work.

Sunday 16 November 2008

Away from it all

Still time to put your name down for the give-away folks - see last entry. Add your comment to that post, then I won't get muddled - it happens so easily, these days! Thank you all for the magnificent response. So encouraging.

We have had such an exciting time over the last few days. We were supposed to be going to Paris for a few days but the agent had a muddle over our booking form and, by the time we realised this, there were no places left. Despondency. So on Thursday I suggested to Clive that we go up to London to see the Bacon and the Byzantium exhibitions. He said that was pushing it a bit and why not stay the night. This turned into two nights and we have had such a good time. It is not easy for us to be spontaneous, due to all the commitments but this just squeezed in fine. (Suitable arrangements were made for cats in case you are worrying).

The hotel was great and we parked the car and took to tube, foot, taxi and river bus. The Byzantium exhibition was amazing, especially the icons. Lots of them were on thick slabs of wood in a very distressed state and Clive kept muttering about catalogues. It's true that they did look just like killed catalogues. There was a whole room full of icons from St Catherine's monastery in Sinai. I have drawn them so often in my sketchbook and it was a real wow moment to see them in the flesh.

It was late night opening, so we went around tea-time and it wasn't too crowded. There was a lot of criticism of the labelling which was very sparse (I think they want you to hire the audio-thingys) but it caused everyone to talk to each other and pool their knowledge and it made it all very friendly. We kept going back to the beginning and starting again. I will do some drawings of a reliquary that I really fell for and post it tomorrow.

When we eventually tore ourselves away from the RA we walked up Regent Street to see the lights and these driftwood horses were in the window of the National Geographic Shop. Fantastic, aren't they?

They were made from driftwood collected by Balinese schoolchildren and are an allegory of the four horses of St Mark's in Venice.

Here's a close up from another angle.

Then we found a lovely little Italian place for dinner. We walked up to Oxford Street and then it was back to the hotel.

Having slept like logs we breakfasted well and set off for Tate Britain. The Bacon exhibition really blew us away - we're both big fans. Spent our coffee break discussing scale, perspective, artistic devices, tortured lives, man as meat, non-narrative descriptions and the meaning of life. This was exhausting and we had to have another coffee to recover. We soon reverted to normal and enjoyed a drawing exhibition in another part of the gallery. Thanks to Jane Wild for telling us about that - would have hated to have missed it.

Then on to the river bus that travels between the Tates. Proper tourists and here's a shot to prove it.

After that little sit down we went on a tour of the city, where Clive slaved for so many years. There was a lot of 'I used to work in that building' and he realised to his horror that one of the buildings he'd worked in had been pulled down and rebuilt THREE times since he was there. What a waste. No wonder the city is in such a mess - how can that be justified?

Soap box over. Here's something really good. Can you see it peeping out shyly at the top?


And a bit closer?



Yes, it's Foster's wonderful gherkin.


.Love those reflections

I've never liked the Lloyds building as it makes me think of pressure cookers.



But it makes a great Displacement map.


More on London next time.

Friday 14 November 2008

Post 200

Well, this is my 200th post - a red letter day. Thanks for sticking with me. I'm still really enjoying it, although I haven't posted as often as I should lately. It's been such a roller coaster, what with Julia and the books. Workshop on the Web is now put to bed and we have the funniest article on a day in the life of Art Van Go. Still lots of the usual workshop articles but this one is a bonus.

I understand that a 'giveaway' is in order so if you would like this small embroidery, from my Shrine doors series, leave a message on this blog. I'll be drawing it on Wednesday, so that gives a few days. The textile is nine inches by seven inches and is mostly paper, metal and stitch. Reminds me of a book I once wrote!

One of the articles in WoW is on using stuff built in to your sewing machine, in particular, what you can do with embroidery machine motifs. Since I've had this Vista laptop, I haven't been able to use any of my digitising programs and I decided that it was time to remedy this. So I upgraded my Bernina Artista software and installed it, together with the patch for Vista. To my surprise it worked really well, first time. Hooray!

I had to take the laptop to the machine, which is a pain, so I've ordered a Bernina memory stick which can be read by the sewing machine - so much easier.

I tested it by placing some letters on a page in Paint Shop Pro. Used the Jokerman font, which is a bit recognisable but probably not when I've finished with it! I am making an installation, titled ebooks, for Cyber Fyber so I used lots of eeeees.

This was then brought into the digitising software and converted using the automatic feature.


Stitching it out on water-soluble was not easy - due to the furry paws of the helper. He had to be removed from the scene.

Finally it was finished - the ultimate test, using metallic thread on water-soluble film. No problem! I'll dissolve it later today and show you the result.

.Don't forget to leave a comment for a Shrine Door.

Sunday 9 November 2008

A Wonderful Class

I am back from my workshop. We had such a great time and they were a lovely class and very forgiving, considering I made them do designs! Here is Isabel, surrounded by all the colours in her design. I thought it showed what a colourful lot we were.

It was an embellisher course and usually we just leap straight in. But this time I wanted to work in a more structured way. So we tore coloured paper and used soft pastels (developed from a Sue Dove idea) - the idea being to work with blending techniques. They stopped grumbling when the most exciting artwork started emerging, based on the designs. This is wonderfully colourful work from Joan. Design first and then embellished piece.

I think the one below was by Kay, but I may be wrong.


And Jenny came up with this design and finished piece.

We had a lovely meal on Friday evening and my friend Sylvia came home with me for a cuppa between class and food. Smudge was delighted to see her and even showed her his secret pipe cleaner. He keeps stealing them and I keep taking them away in case they hurt his mouth. He was very polite at first and asked permission to hide it in her bag. Unfortunately he then attacked the bag and had to be removed from the room. What a let down.
Here he is below - making the point that there is nowhere in my workroom to sit except the smallest sink.
Back to the course - Sylvia made this lovely glitzy flower piece. Lots of hand stitching, too.

Dorothy made a great sampler.
Andrea has a great gift for colour, as you can see.
I didn't get a picture of Sandra's wonderful shell - can you email me one, Sandra?
There was so much lovely work that I shall put more up later in the week.

Arti - so glad the class went well. I had no doubt it would. I can remember the very first class I taught, just after finishing C&G. I loved it and knew straight away that this was what I wanted to do. And now I am to have a year without teaching - will I make it or will I have to set up an emergency workshop. My class from yesterday have volunteered to be available if I get withdrawal symptoms.

Doreen - yes, the real Jane is quite special and I count myself very lucky to have her as a friend. Especially when she makes me lovely papery bits.

Wabbit - I didn't realise the shells on the Yahoo site were yours - you were going under an assumed name. Hence the formality in my reply. I shall know in future.

Glad you've joined WoW, Adele - the next issue is looking good and I have had such a good play with Grungeboard that it turned into two articles.

Julie, you are so right about how a funeral can be sad, moving and uplifting.
Julia's was wonderful. Alex asked that we wear something colourful and the crowds around the church formed a sea of colour. I kept thinking how she would have loved it. There was lots of her work there, too and so many photos. It was a communion service and the vicar asked everyone to partake (very unusual for an Anglican church) which made it really spiritual and special. Alex gave a marvellous tribute, I don't know how he did it without breaking down. They were married for over fifty years.

We all had a bite to eat and then, on Julia's strict instructions, we toasted her on her journey with champagne. We took Yvonne Morton up and it was good to have her company on the way home when we were all feeling rather sad.

Saturday 1 November 2008

The oomph is back

Thanks to all who commented on the sad news about Julia. I'll pass on the comments to Alex and I'm sure he will appreciate them. I do agree that Julia was such an inspiration, especially for tutorials. The funeral is on Wednesday and we are instructed to wear bright colours - a lovely idea and one that fits the bill for a very colourful person.

Thanks Heather for the comment on the free classes (details on I'm having a ball putting them together. The Yahoo group are very quiet - are you all busy?

You may have read on Anna's blog that she spent a day at Urchfont college with the Textiles 21 group. I have also joined the group and had a lovely two days at the college. It was cold and frosty - just the right conditions to appreciate the huge log fire and the wonderful food. It is starvation for me today, as anyone who has stayed there will know.

On the first evening we had a great loosening up design exercise from our mentor, Sue Dove. Here she is with one of her creations 'Clarice and her Bird'.

Those who subscribe to Workshop on the Web will know that she was our star interview in the latest issue. I have known Sue for some time and she's a fantastic teacher, very much from a fine art background. I feel that I shall gain so much from the tutorials. Here's a detail of Clarice.

In addition to Sue, we had a teaching session from Jane Wild (on casting and colouring paper) and it was amazing. A great privilege as she rarely teaches, which was why I persuaded her to write the Paper, Metal and Stitch book with me. I knew with Jane it would be a best seller. I've kept the pic small as I know she doesn't care for being photographed.

She had done so much work beforehand and had prepared lots of cast paper ready for us to colour. So while we were waiting for our own to dry, we could try some of her exciting techniques on the dry pieces.

Anna has a pic of this example in its natural state. It is paper with scrim trapped between the layers, cast over a softsculpt mould. I painted mine with Burnt Umber acrylics and then waxed it with gold Liberon metallic wax. I dried it overnight and used Golden fluid acrylics as a glaze over the top. I love it to bits.

We were able to get down to our own work, too. This is why I joined the group as I felt I had lost my oomph a bit and hadn't had a chance to do anything for me for ages. This is a detail of my piece for the cyber fyber exhibition, which I shall call 'Binary Humanity'. Pretentious, or what? All your comments will be included somewhere - I hope.

It is about the way that something as coldly electronic as a box of digital do-das on a desk can generate friendship, encouragement, empathy and all the best of human emotions. I hope it works - I'm quite excited, so far. I transferred some images (mostly Clive's html code for WoW) on to metal shim. They don't show much, but I know they are there.

Quelle Horreur! I had forgotten to take any black fabric to put between the metal and the craft Vilene. If you don't do this, the white shows through when you stitch. Necessity is the mother of all hissy fits and, in a moment of inspiration, I used a black plastic carrier bag. Worked fine. I liked it so much that I will let some show through.

Some of the cast paper faces were made by Jane so I will put it in as a joint piece.