Works In Progress 2

I’ve been out of regular blogging and writing rhythm over the last few weeks with family commitments as my mother isn’t well, and I’ve been driving to my home town in Durham for hospital appointments. This irregular rhythm looks set to continue, but have laptop, will travel, with social media links bookmarked and passwords at the ready!  Because of the ups and downs around these changing circumstances and associated stresses and worries, I’ve found myself concentrating mostly on visual art rather than on creative writing. I find visual art easier to stop and start, with the magical help of a stay-wet palette, as opposed to writing, which once immersed in is like being sucked down a black hole with lightening strikes and sparks coming from at you from all directions, requiring absolute focus and demanding excellent navigation skills. So this post is going to be very visual, from my current painting in progress to learning the rudiments of surface pattern design, to continuing my progress in crocheting afghan squares. But I can’t miss out my new writing desk chair, or thoughts prompted by my recent wedding anniversary – 29 years technically, but together for 32, which weirdly doesn’t feel that long, and of course has the added feature of always being a work in progress!

So starting with my current work in progress, a 60 by 40cm acrylic on canvas

 This particular size is the largest I can cope with on my painting desk, as I’ve never got into the habit of using an easel, probably explainable by my compulsion for detail, but on a more practical level, it’s also because I only have a small room to paint in and I like to keep things tidy. After finishing the more gentle toned field painting, I found myself desiring luscious colour, and I found a photograph I’d taken of a peony flower. My subject was sorted, and I used a simple scaling up method when transferring it to the canvas in pencil, adding the stem and a few leaves. But I want the background to be abstract and exotic. And with this in mind I spotted a photograph in my ‘design ideas’ folder, of a multi-coloured glass vase taken as a close-up for the marbled pattern. I played with this photo, applying different digital colour filters and printed out three or four colourways for reference and stimuli.

Here is the progress so far, painting petal by petal, and I’ve used gold paint for the stamens in the centre. The idea is for the peony to be bold and dramatic, and for the background to support the peony colours rather than detract or compete with them:

And here is the marbleised glass vase pattern in the original colourway which I hope to incorporate:

Next up is surface pattern design

This is me scratching a design itch I’ve had for many years, ever since I worked in a soft furnishing department with gorgeous floral fabrics. I used to marvel at the stunning repeats of roses and cottage garden flowers in clusters and scrolling bouquets printed on chintz or cotton satin. (This period of my life features at the beginning of my second novel, After Black, currently in ‘turtle writer’ mode of the publishing process.) I wasn’t a practising artist at the time, but when I became one, I checked to see how these beautiful repeats were crafted. In the old days a ‘master’ repeat was drawn and painted in full detail on paper, but allowing for heads and stems of flowers to overlap the edge of the repeat square or rectangle, so when that master repeat had the same repeat aligned top, bottom, left, and right, next to it, in the fabric printing process, all  the incomplete design elements on the edge of the master repeat fitted and flowed from one repeat to the next. Surface pattern was achieved this way for fabric, wallpaper, gift wrap and so much more. It was specialised stuff. Artists had to specifically train in this for years to become a textile designer, but today we have more mainstream available technology, with design programs like Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator to make the job a bit easier and more accessible to artists and crafters of all kinds. And not only that, the fields for these designs being put to use is also more open now.

So when I spotted a lady online offering five free online workshops in this very subject, using adobe illustrator, I was hooked. I had to wait for the second time around of the delivery of these as I didn’t get my act together quickly enough for the first, but I’ve just got lesson 5 to go now. For anyone of you who may be interested, the lady’s website is https://www.annelafolletteart.com/join-me. If you join her Facebook group Anne’s Art Club and register for the workshops when they come around again, you can watch the workshop videos for about 24 hours after they’ve been live. From a black and white pen sketch, to colouring in and choosing a background colour, to duplicating and moving the elements around to create a repeat, and finally to multiply it to get your pattern, here is the process in pics:

Simple doodle drawing of variously sized elements

Scanned into illustrator and coloured in

One finished repeat

Final repeating pattern

Afghan Squares

My education in learning crocheted afghan square patterns has leaped from two designs to three. The red colourway is the newbie, called ‘starburst’:

A new chair

I have a new chair for my writing desk, because the back of the former one had faded from a vibrant pink to an unattractive bleached pastel in the sun, which comes from the window to the left in the room, out of shot. The new chair is vinyl covered and a more harmonious colour, swivel (of course), and padded for comfort, with a shiny chrome base. The blind you can see in the window came from my days in soft furnishing and it’s there because this window overlooks the roughcast gable of the next cottage, so the blind gives me a summery feel instead of a block of bleak grey.

Writing life

I’ve been concentrating on less demanding aspects such as editing some short stories I’ve accumulated to go into a collection entitled ‘Treading Water’ and writing a brand new one or two for this ‘anthology’ – very posh word for a collection of stories or poems I’ve always thought! Plus I’m processing novel 2 for the paperback at the moment. I’m at the early stages for this as the cover is still to be designed, but I’m learning the process for myself so I don’t mind going at a snail’s pace. There’s simply no rush. The memoir and novel 3 are not forgotten, I just need to be less distracted for these weightier projects.

And finally, my wedding anniversary musings

 

The only person who has ever marked me and my hubby’s anniversary by sending a greeting card is my mother. When the card comes days in advance, I say to my hubby, ‘oh, right, it’s our wedding anniversary coming up’. ‘Oh, yes, so it is,’ he replies. And that is usually the end of the matter. No balloons, no champagne. We never really make a point of remembering, we don’t go for romantic meals, I don’t get flowers, and even when I do get them, I’d rather have picked them from the range at the supermarket myself. We didn’t have a big fancy wedding, it was a registry office with a few witnesses, me in a Laura Ashley summer dress, Him in a cream suit. The fact that my mother remembers ever year does touch us both and we both know she won’t be doing this for years to come with her health the way it is now. This made the pink envelope that recently came with the card inside even more special this year.

Hubby and I first met in 1986 and have been together since then. It really doesn’t seem so long, and I think that must be because our partnership works well and we allow each other space to grow and change, whilst always somehow learning something new about each other. There is no complacency at all. But the earlier years were not plain sailing by any means – lots of arguments, silent huffs, emotional differences and conflicting expectations. And I was  thinking of some core advice I could give to a HIM and a HER  in a partnership from the perspective of where me and hubby are now, so here goes:

Advice for HIM

Never tell her to calm down. It will have the opposite effect. Do this at your peril!

When she’s being very quiet and you ask her what is wrong, never believe her when she replies ‘Nothing’. Believe this at your peril!

When she want to talk, listen to her. Don’t interrupt and jump straight in explaining how to fix things. She wants to explain how she feels first and she really wants to solve the problem herself, but first she needs to express herself and how she feels about the problem. Yes, it’s a bit of a carry on, but there you go.

Don’t tell her she’s over-reacting or ‘getting carried away’  – she needs to express how she feels. Just go with it. The emotion is not directed towards you, it’s about what she’s feeling about whatever she’s been carried away by. Yes, I know, it seems convoluted, but it’s part of the process. Sigh!

Say thank you for what she does for you – like making tea or mending the hole in your sock. She needs to know she’s appreciated and not taken for granted.

Compliment her when she’s looking good – and never ever tell her her bottom looks big.

Share housework and chores, no polarised role stereotypes, petty jealousies or bickering over trivialities or money.

Read John Gray’s Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus. Yes, you really have to make the effort to read this book. She has to read it, so it’s only fair that you read it. You are a team.

Stay open to changes in yourself and her – allow each other to grow as individuals.

Show that you love her and tell her you love her every day if you can. Far better than sporadic token boxes of chocolates or flowers.

Advice for HER

When he’s been grumpy after work and doesn’t want to talk about his day, go with it. As far as he’s concerned, talking does not always help, it just reminds him of the problems he can’t solve or fix.

Don’t expect him to be a mind reader. If there’s something you want him to do for you, you have to ask him. Yes, I know, it would be nice if he worked it out for himself and could read your subtle hints, but that’s simply not how his mind works.

Beware of consciously testing his love or loyalty – he has a finely tuned radar system for detecting emotional manipulation, and the results of triggering this off can seriously backfire on you.

Say thank you for what he does for you – like checking the tyres on your car or making the evening meal. He needs to know he’s appreciated and not taken for granted.

Let him make a mess when he’s fixing something. Tidy up later on. I know this hurts, really I do, but restrain yourself!

Compliment him when he’s looking good and never ever tell him his tummy is getting big.

Let him have his cave/alone time and he’ll appreciate his time spent with you even more.

Share housework and chores, no polarised role stereotypes, petty jealousies or bickering over trivialities or money.

Read John Gray’s Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus . It’s facsinating and will stand you in good stead.

Stay open to changes in yourself and him – allow each other to grow as individuals.

Show you love him and tell him you love him every day if you can.

And know that all this is always a work in progress for everyone!

Cheers for now :>)

 

 

 

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Posted in On Art, On Craft, On Life, On The Creative Life, On Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments