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Down the garden path….

shed 1
The Shed

Time to get the shed ready – it’s warm enough to take the glass cutting and painting equipment down to the bottom of the garden and install myself there until Autumn. It’s probably a bit safer to cut the glass down there than on the dining room table. (due to my inexperience the direction the offcuts tend to go is a bit erratic!). It’s lovely and peaceful too. Not the largest space, but that’s fine. There’s room for my old desk and another of similar size. And LOTS of plastic boxes.

“Handprinted (www.handprinted.co.uk), the brilliant studio and print suppliers down the road, hire “open studio” space, so that’s the printing facility sorted. Booking  means I don’t just mess about thinking and not doing- I need to get stuff prepared for the day I’m there.

Seaweed screens
Seaweed screens

I’ve been yet again on the seaweed designs – this time t-shirts, T-towels and long, long scarves in both silk and muslin. Printed a few motifs onto scraps for use in patchwork later too. Think I might clean the screens now and dream up something else- I was getting a bit obsessed with the stuff……still need to do some proper paintings yet though…..

Sea Panel (square)
Abstract Sea Panel (square)

Once it becomes layered, glass seems very tricky to photograph. The edges look as if I’ve moved the camera, but it’s just shadows. Well, you get the gist of it I hope. This one is ready to go on the wall – these fixings hold the glass and then fix it so it stands away from the wall. Clever, huh?seabed-1-copy

seabed
seabed

Meanwhile, the Winter evenings have been spent making this “seabed” tapestry, with odd bits of wools (plus a bit – it’s always the way – you think it’s thrifty, but rarely ends up that way!). I made it up as I went along, which was more enjoyable than following a pattern, if a bit imperfect both in execution and finish. But it’s all mine!

I then went on (while I was feeling everso thrifty), to a rag rug. It was the first whole rug I’d done. I won’t say it will be the last (there are a lot of old curtains I’ve insisted on carrying from loft to loft), but it was incredibly MESSY and HARD WORK. Geoff said I looked like I was wrestling with it.

 

Rag Rug

So I’m abandoning big cumbersome jobs in the evening in favour of something called slow stitching. Well, my version anyway. I’m making some pieces in a kind of Japanese Boro method, to eventually become (perhaps) a quilt. Or a jacket?! But NOT a cushion – we have enough! I didn’t seem to be able to think beyond “cushion” for ages. Maybe I’ll show a bit of it next blog. But it IS SLOW and a lot gentler!!

Pale February

A pale February sunset
A pale February evening

Everything looks a bit washed out this month, but maybe I should try and think of it optimistically as PALE and INTERESTING. Yes, that would be a better attitude, and the colours are really subtle and gentle. Shame it’s so cold though!

Warming up proceedings, I am back to glass fusing – and it’s certainly a better temperature around the kilns – t shirts and windows open in the studio at Making Space (www.makingspace.org) on Thursday nights! So far I am still making panels, and a bit obsessed with sea ideas,

Sea Panel
Sea Panel

but I’ll get past it and move on in the next few weeks I expect. There are so many different ways of manipulating glass and colour to explore.

Back at silkscreening too, with the excellent team at Handprinted (www.handprinted.co.uk) on a course taught by Shirley Scott. I’m hoping that some of it will stick in my brain a bit better this time around! No shortage of plans and ideas for what to do – although my ambition usually outruns my skill. However, once I’m a bit more confident of working on my own, silk screening is something I think I might be able to handle and experiment with at the kitchen table.

Speaking of which! Friends and family will be pleased to note that I have now finished silkscreen panels for cushions and made enough for them to be a bit more comfortable around said table. Those wooden chairs are HARD!

Spring Cushion Panel
Spring Cushion Panel

At home, I have been very, very busy having an early springclean. (Back to optimism!).

I have been cleaning out plan chests and have found all manner of things from the past. It confirms what I have recently, and belatedly, learned. SKETCHBOOKS ARE A VERY GOOD THING.

Flamingos at Birdworld
Flamingos at Birdworld

But a lot of drawings stuffed in those drawers, forgotten, abandoned, and some of it, I was even pleased to find! Even an etching which I am happier with now, than when I did it.

Lepus Leap Etching
Lepus Leap Etching

And some ink drawings of cats – done with a 0.2 Rotring, rather than a dip pen. Faster, but having to make adjustments to technique because of course there is no variation in line.

Rotring cats
Rotring cats

Having rediscovered it, I’m going to try to reproduce the kitten on right on a noil silk cushion – using silkscreen. Mmmm! Ambitious, and possibly not practical! (Also I may have more cushions in my life than really necessary – I don’t seem to be able to get beyond cushions sometimes).

Also found lots of demonstration pieces from when I was teaching. This is a page of cats’ eyes, but there were loads and LOADS of watercolour flowers, collage and gold leaf. Must get back to that in the Spring. Also many, many “nearly” finished paintings. Some are now in the dustbin, but a few I’m not ready to abandon….yet.

Cats' eyes practice, and "Annie", Kate's cat.
Cats’ eyes practice, and “Annie”, Kate’s cat.

Just to continue a previous theme – I finished a bag to go with Kate’s Myrtle scarf – not without help I may add! For a simple thing, that pattern was sure complicated! Thanks to The Eternal Maker in Chichester (www.eternnalmaker.com), for a really good workshop, it got done.

Myrtle bag
Myrtle bag

Living in West Sussex is great. I’m not saying it would suit everyone, but really, there is so much going on, and it’s such a lovely place to be.

AND where else could I spend an interesting afternoon with a torch and friends in a cathedral looking for medieval graffiti? Eh?!

medieval graffiti
medieval graffiti

Sorry if you try to use the link to websites – I haven’t got the hang of how to do it yet, and it may need another plugin – but at least the name is there. Apologies – I will manage it eventually!

 

 

 

 

 

Resolution

sketchbook design of Myrtle the Car - scarf for Kate
sketchbook design of Myrtle the Car – scarf for Kate

It’s customary to make some NEW resolutions every year, but really I haven’t got a very good record of keeping to them – so generally it’s never been a thing I cared to do – or share!

At the start of 2016 we had just moved house to Sussex by the Sea – and I had also left behind any intentions of doing any more big and exhausting Shows like Chelsea (I do miss it though). But hooray! I still exhibited at the SBA, the SFP and Florum, and fulfilled a RESOLUTION!

After more years than I care to think about (but over 40 at least), I decided that I had sketchbook envy. I have always subscribed to the draw it on the back of an envelope and shove it in a bulldog clip with all the other passing thoughts. This of course, was a terribly disorganised habit and meant that a) I couldn’t find what I wanted, or b) I  forgot all about the light bulb moment + brilliant idea. In fact, sometimes when the bulldog clip could take no more and all the bits of paper fell out, I realised I had had exactly the same flash of inspiration on several different occasions, each time thinking it was the first! Sad.

So last January I purchased a proper A4 sketchbook. It was cheap because I worry about expensive paper (post war habits), and didn’t want to feel extra intimidated. Who hasn’t hesitated with that first mark? It is still a slightly unconventional sketchbook, because apart from drawings, it contains notes on all the different things I tried last year (see last blog), photographs of things in progress, things finished (satisfying!), and things that may or may not come to something. I committed to the scheme, and can truthfully say, I’m hooked. Maybe years ago I was always in too much of a hurry – commercial art makes you behave like that. But now I really enjoy using a sketchbook. And if I do slip and use the odd envelope, I stick it in.

sketchbook
sketchbook

So there we have it, I think that particular resolution is as good as several years worth all in one go to me. I feel really smug!

Sketchbook
sketchbook
sketchbook
sketchbook

And the only resolution I have made is to continue with the last one. (There are others I SHOULD make, but I know they’ll be wishful thinking).

 

2016 – a creative experiment

Did this.....
did this…..
and this.....
and this…..
and then this too
and then this too

but not all in the first week! In 2016 Geoff and I settled into our new home by the seaside, and now feel like we’ve been here forever we like it so much. Also visited lots of new places (see Instagram for my excessive photoshooting!).

I’ve tried so many new skills in the last year, that I felt as if it was a creative “bucket” list that I’d undertaken. Loved it all, accepting that I’m not going to master anything in particular, but that there are a few things I’d like to improve on in 2017. Settled down now into only pursuing a few different directions.  A less frenetic approach can be one resolution for the new year! My year of being a dilettante is now officially over.

To all, here’s hoping for a peaceful and happy new year.

Seasonal Weather

It’s been a fairly hectic month – but whose month isn’t leading up to Christmas? After all the Christmases I’ve experienced you’d think I’d know how quickly December goes – but no, as ever, I’m in a dash at the last moment. One year I prepared really early though, and on Christmas Eve could only find the ironing to do, which was a sad disappointment, and one I’m not keen to repeat. So it’s back to the turmoil. I have a list (haven’t we all?), but I cull it the closer the 25th creeps. Noone knows what they might have received if I’d only finished it in time, but there’s always a birthday to aim for…….

Yesterday was mild and sunny. Working in the greenhouse on some white hellebores I’m bringing on for Christmas Day, I was joined by a very noisy and cross bumble bee. I do hope it has somewhere better to be today – it has turned really cold this afternoon.

December hellebore and visitor
December hellebore and visitor
snowdrops, hellebores and white tailed bumble bee
snowdrops, hellebores and white tailed bumble bee

 

Oh well, it was a beautiful sunrise. I think the saying is “red sky in morning, shepherds warning”.

Sunrise South Coast 23rd December 2016
Sunrise South Coast 23rd December 2016

I have yet to master the link between website and Instagram – will be working on that – meanwhile loading photos onto Instagram seems a lot easier than the website. Look for janharbon if you want to see more.

glass and marbles

Autumn panel and Sea panel
Autumn panel and Sea panel

I suspected I’d fall in love with making fused glass – and so it is! These are my first two pieces to come out of the kiln, and even though they have “undesigned” bubbles, I’m so happy to have produced anything remotely as intended! Now working on some more – with perhaps a few more curves included this time. The possibilities are endless, although my ambition immediately exceeded my skill – a lot to learn – and some science, not my strong point. But it’s like holding colour in your hands, so tactile. Hope to make progress.

Teaching by the excellent tutor Kate O’Connell at Making Space, Havant.

Seachange 1
Seachange 1

Still painting though! – this painting in ink and gouache was inspired by a workshop at Pallant House Gallery to do with interpreting sound. It was in connection with the artwork of the month by Wihelmina Barnes Graham, although I never really understood what the connection was! I must have missed a bit somewhere….. Nevertheless I was interested to read in her biography that she was inspired by Turner’s seascapes, although there isn’t an obvious connection to her work there either I think. It must be all in the mind……

I have done several more versions, the colour becoming more adventurous as I continue. Must be the glass!

Marbled papers
Marbled papers

Also been on a day’s “marbling” – another very interesting way of “playing” with colour, really enjoyed the experience. This method above is Suminagashi (floating ink) first practised in Japan in (?)12th Century and different to the Renaissance and Ebro methods which use feathers and combs. This is all about gently blowing and allowing ink to find it’s own course. Not quite in control – and a bit unexpected. The professionals are of course in control, but I don’t think I can wait that long to learn how, so I’ll have to make do with happy (or otherwise) accidents. I’ve always believed painting should have serendipity too.

Anyway, I see  some collage work coming out of it in the near future, and no doubt I will be mightily inspired by Mark Hearld’s work currently showing at the Bankside Gallery London in “St.Judes in the City” exhibition. I’m off to see it tomorrow – Southern trains permitting of course. I’ll be reporting back…

 

Life’s still a Beach

November sunshine
November sunshine

It’s just beginning to be a bit colder and blustier- so probably not long before the beachcomb pickings will be a bit more abundant.

Beach mobile with seashells, driftwood, seaglass, sea china and wire
Beach mobile with seashells, driftwood, seaglass, sea china and wire

So I’ve used what I can for the moment, hoping for more this Winter!

Seaweed is starting to come in and be left in piles on the strandline. I’m always a bit sad for it, as it seems to dry out so quickly. I’ve been pressing some, drawing some, and using the lovely shapes it makes. So it too will be useful in the coming months (although there is some objection as it can get a bit smelly if I take too long to draw or paint it…)

Stranded
Stranded
Pressed seaweed
Pressed seaweed
seaweed silkscreen design
seaweed silkscreen design
seaweed motif ready for silkscreening
seaweed motif

 

 

Getting started…

There is a great deal to learn when you start a new website from scratch! So I shall apologise now for the shortcomings you’ll (probably) find. Give me time and I’ll get it sorted….I hope.

In the studio
In the studio

Meanwhile, to get things going, and to give me some practice in uploading and arranging things, I thought I’d put on a bit of of a demo. So here goes:

Stage 1 - pencil layout and first wash of watercolour Stage 2 Second wash and beginning detail
Stage 1.  pencil and first wash of  watercolour               Stage 2. Second wash and beginning detail
3. Adding more colour and detail plus lettering
Stage 3. Adding more colour and detail plus lettering
Stage 4. Final detail and added collage scraps
Stage 4. Final detail and added collage scraps

I later added some touches of gold here and there – but it went off to exhibition before I had a chance to photograph that. But I’ll do some more gold leafing and collage in a later blog, with some information on the process I use for that.

There, that wasn’t too bad! Famous last words………