Saturday, 11 March 2017

This week's progress

Well I stuck to the plan and for several days this past week I've been up early for a pre-work session in the studio. I have to admit I'm more productive in the morning than after work, and it does feel good to start the day knowing I don't have to force myself to fit in creative time at the end of the day when I'm over it. Up here in Far North Queensland it's well and truly light and balmy even at 5.30 am so getting out of bed isn't too difficult. I did spend some time moving things around to fit in the large table I used to have in my Hobart studio. But now that I have dedicated areas for cutting, ironing, sewing and beading, I'm on a roll.

The only thing is, I still actually don't know what I'm making! I've always worked best with an end product in mind and I'm just not sure what that is right now. I remember my art teachers urging me to just make and explore and ideas will come, so I'm doing that. I've taken those lovely pink fabrics I gathered last week and have been experimenting with them using the same techniques and a similar motif to the work I was doing last year. Maybe it's the tropical environment or the climate, I don't know, but  right now I'm drawn to bright colours rather than the muted eco dyed silks I used back then. This new colour scheme and slightly more elongated shapes are giving that old idea a new lease on life. I guess that's what design development is all about… introducing different elements to an existing design and seeing where it goes.

So from this idea I could make brooches, hair accessories, miniature artworks, a major wall hanging or all of the above. For the moment though, I'm just enjoying the act of being creative (almost) every day. Let's see how long I can "stick to the program"…..

Here are some pics of this week's progress.

Please do leave a comment with any fabulous ideas!


Deb x

My study old 70s sewing machine (a hand-me-down from my Mum) ready to roll in the early morning light.
Pinks on pinks on oranges, ready for stitching.
Opaque pieces stitched down.
Then the sheer layers added.
I use the free embroidery foot on my machine to sew through the layers creating the quilted effect.
I like to do a couple at a time.
The free embroidery allows me to use the machine like a fine liner and create fluid lines.
Here the basting glue I use to keep the pieces in place as I sew is still visible!
I then cut the pieces away from the backing cloth. Here I was experimenting with combining two pieces together.
Now I'm trying out a different colour combo on some mini motifs.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

The struggle to be creative.

Thinking pink in the studio today.

After having the intention for a couple of weeks (and whingeing to my husband yesterday about not having the chance to be creative - to which he responded matter-of-factly "well why don't you just go down there and be creative?") I finally set aside a couple of hours today to get into my studio and make a start on something new. Starting new projects usually fills me with a sense of excitement and renewed energy for my craft because more often than not, I've had ideas rolling around my head, waiting for me to finish my current project so I can express them.

But today…. well I really just faffed around for two hours pulling out all my pink fabric, setting up a half arsed ironing station and staring out the window. This was my time, but I just wasn't into it today. I'm tired because I worked late last night. I'm hot and sweaty because I live in Townsville and there's no air-con in my studio. I'm uninspired because I actually don't know what to do! And I'd rather be relaxing in the pool.

But I continued begrudgingly with self-talk going on in my head that went something like this…..
"Stop making excuses. True artists don't wait for inspiration, they show up and create regardless. Find your discipline, and focus. You know you just need to make a start and you'll be on a roll. And also, you've made a big deal about setting up this studio so now you have to do something in it!!

"I'm forcing myself to be creative!" I told my husband. "Why do feel you have to be creative?" was his response.

And that got me thinking, "Why do I feel like I have to be creative?"

Well first of all, I like to identify myself as a textile artist. I know it's not my full time job but I do believe that anyone who regularly applies themselves to their work can call themselves an artist. I have created artwork and exhibited it and even sold some pieces. So I'm an artist, but only if I continue to be one. Secondly, I developed quite a disciplined routine with my practice last year and was very productive. I hate to think of just letting that momentum fall away as if it were another lifetime ago. And also, I know that it's good for my soul to be creative. It's hard to describe, but I experience an inner fulfilment when I create that's a mixture of meditative mindfulness and joyful energy. I know that when I go for too long without it, I start to feel out of sorts and directionless. So yes, I have to be creative!

But what happens when one's lifestyle is somewhat incompatible with being actively creative? When one works full time and runs a household and is depleted of physical and mental energy, let alone any creative energy at the end of the day? And when one lives in a climate which is more conducive to outdoor activities such as pool dips and sipping Gin and Tonics on the balcony than slaving over a hot sewing machine? I suppose one has to come up with solutions to make it happen.

Well miraculously, something did happen while I was staring out the window. I allowed myself to vague out and let go of practical thoughts. My brain became clear and I started thinking creatively. (I guess this is what meditation is all about) I recalled months-old ideas, conversations and suggestions, which led to other ideas. Then, as I gazed blankly around my inspiration boards, I honed in on a colour combination which excites me. It had always been there, I'd just never really noticed it. I was able to visualise a thing and a plan to create it. It dawned on me that maybe what I need is an initial period of mind-clearing in preparation for a new project, just as having a clean studio and a clear desk is necessary.

I've also recognised that after a busy working week, weekends aren't always going to be the optimum time to get into my work. And a once a week session certainly isn't going to build momentum. So I'm going to attempt early morning sessions this week. I'm not at all a morning person, but lately after a work day in this heat, I don't seem to be an afternoon or night person either! So I'll see how the mornings pan out for a week and report my creative progress on my next blog.

Wish me luck!


Deb x

Saturday, 25 February 2017

Inspiration for new projects.

This week, I thought I'd revisit some early influences and some recent art crushes too, to get me inspired to begin new projects. Each of these artists come from different backgrounds and produce work in vastly different styles. Although I am obviously drawn to their work for very different reasons, their use of irresistible colour combinations and the tactile nature of their work is common to all of them. I love studying the images of their gorgeous pieces for visual inspiration, and also reading about their processes, work practices, studio spaces, and indeed what inspires them.

I hope these artists inspire you too!


Deb x

(I take no credit for the images)

Annemeike Mein is one of my earliest influences in textile art. My Mum gifted me her book "The Art of Annemeike Mein" in my early 20s and my mind was blown! This Dutch-born artist resides in East Gippsland, Victoria. She creates incredibly lifelike 2D and 3D representations of Australian flora and fauna using primarily machine embroidery on silk and linen based on her equally impressive sketches. 

Tiny Red
Tilleke Schwartz is another textile artist from the Netherlands. She hand embroiders on linen in a  contemporary, rather illustrative style, often using text in the design which is reminiscent of graffiti. When viewed closely, her work is made up of traditional embroidery and cross stitch, but the style is anything but quaint! 

Welcome To The Real World

Beware Of Embroidery

Detail -Always

Natalie Miller is an Australian fibre artist who creates beautifully textured and colourful macrame and tapestry pieces. Her work spans from decorative domestic to commercial installation to couture fashion with some impressive commissions and collaborations.

The biggest macrame chandelier in the world! Installed at Pacific Place in Hong Kong.

Collaboration with fashion lable Romance Is Born.

Jessica Grady is an artist I've only just come across through social media. Recently graduated from Norwich University of the Arts, Jessica's work has a fresh, flamboyant style that oozes youthful energy! Her textile art pieces feature hand made sequins individually stitched into floral motifs in vivid, contrasting colour combinations. She also uses found objects to great effect. 

Monday, 20 February 2017

All set up!

Some of my most inspirational objects including a pair of shoes from a  NYC Ballet Co ballerina.

Well it took me a little while but I've finally set up my new studio!
It's a long narrow built in space under my house which unfortunately lacks strong natural light and the pretty outlook I enjoyed in my previous space. To be honest, I doubted whether I could ever ignore the white floor tiles and security screen doors to create an inviting space I look forward to working in. But I believe I've done it and now I can't wait to get in there and start a new project!

Following a few interior design principles, I added a turkish rug to the floor, artwork to the walls, some extra lighting and of course, plants. I researched warm climate shade loving plants and returned from Bunnings with a green and yellow leafed Pothos which I hope will trail down from it's shelf and take over the studio before too long, and a gorgeous native gardenia which stands tall on the floor. I also pinched a couple of others in cute vintage containers from around the house. I'd love to add more plants, but in the interests of practicality and the limited space, I shall refrain.

This decorating phase was relatively quick and simple. The difficult part of this set up began at the unpacking boxes stage when I came to the shocking realisation that I have kept some materials and old clothes with the intention of "using them for something" for decades. This stash has been packed up and unpacked with each house move over those years (and there have been several) and yet I never seem to use them. It dawned on me that the fact is, I actually didn't/don't do the projects I predicted I might do. The fact is, I now work with eco-dyed silks and luxe vintage fabrics. So there's really no need to keep the eight pairs of denim jeans a generous colleague once donated. Or the old ready-made curtains I used before we had proper ones made. Nor some items of my late Nan's clothing I kept for sentimental reasons but would never really make the cut for an artwork. So I bit the bullet and re-homed them. And now I have a stash of material I'm actually likely to use and enough room to store it.

This exercise was beneficial in a couple of ways. There was the obvious feeling of lightness one has when de-cluttering.  But more than that, getting real about the work I actually do now was very powerful. It felt almost like a "coming of age" to acknowledge to myself that after all the dabbling and experimenting in different media, materials and styles, that now I know what it is I like to do artistically. I have a direction and a focus... and old jeans and curtains just don't have a place in that.

I will admit that I experienced a small amount of inner turmoil letting go of my idea to reduce landfill by creating artwork from discarded clothes/fabrics. I will continue with this quest, but the reality is, it would take several lifetimes for me to create works using all the fabric I had. Hopefully someone else can use my deleted items and save them from landfill for another 10 years! This process of letting go has given me a new energy to surge forward and create the work I'm dreaming of now, not 10 years ago. And it's rather liberating!

Here are some images of the new space. I'd love to hear your feedback...


Deb x

Ok so I'm sharing my studio with the piano!
It's a bit of a jumble but it all fits!
Mt new fav plant and a collection of rusty objects for natural dyeing. The trolley was a roadside find.
This clear desk space is beckoning me to start something...

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Back to reality.

Firstly, I do apologise for missing my last week's post. You guessed it… I was in that pool. Also, I had not yet set up the technology because I had spent soo much time in that pool (indoor plants and artwork were clearly the priority in my new house set up) If anyone who lives or has lived in a hot/humid climate could please leave tips on how to be creative/productive when the body and brain are saying "make yourself an icy drink and just get in the pool!" I'd be very appreciative…

Anyway, I'm back on-line and back to reality. But before I move onto new creative projects I'd just like to share the body of work I created and exhibited last year. It was actually the first time I had created work in a series of this size, building on techniques I had used on previous work but with the luxury of time to really explore and take the concept to another level. I entitled the collection "Tears of Joy" as it relates to difficult emotions I was experiencing at the time and how the creative/making process provided grounding focus and actual feelings of joy. I still feel joy when I view each piece; it's a feeling I hope to share through my work...

Here's an excerpt from my artist statement:

"….This collection explores the relationship between the random and the orderly. I love working freely, without a set plan for the finished result, allowing the work to develop organically. I begin with a colour scheme and a motif or shape in mind, and let the work dictate its direction from there. I experiment and move things around until my gut tells me to stop. For this process to be successful I need have a clear, open mind and be in touch with my intuition and I find the activity to be both stimulating and meditative.

Using individual quilted pieces to create an harmonious vignette, the process became an exercise in design problem solving. My aim was to achieve the illusion of randomly placed shapes and embellishments while maintaining balance of scale and a flow of line which is pleasing to the eye. (This is where my artistic intuition comes in) The juxtaposition between the softly quilted naturally dyed silk and the bling of the beading also creates a nice tension. I imagine the finished piece to be akin to a princess who arrives home from the ball after a big night of fun and dancing; still wearing her silk gown and jewels but disheveled, and a little frayed around the edges!

Techniques: Natural-dyeing, quilting, machine embroidery, hand-beading.

Materials: Silk, silk organza, bamboo batting, cotton, thread, sequins, beads.…"

Details and prices can be found in my online shop.

Flora 1
Flora 3
Flora 4
Flora 2
Tears of Joy
Moon and Stars
Heart's a Mess

Saturday, 21 January 2017

New Home!

Here's another brief post as I'm still in transit!

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about leaving my beautiful studio in Hobart which now, in the sultry tropical North Queensland heat seems light years away! We've bought a fabulous house here in Townsville, the highlight feature being a sparkling pool in an oasis-like tropical setting.

Everything about the house is pretty much perfect and I'm lucky to once again have a space I can work in. As you can see by the realestate image however, this room will need some life injected into it to make it a place where I'll actually want to work (it will be hard enough to drag myself away from the pool on a hot day!) I'm concerned by the lack of natural light and the long narrow shape accentuating the boxed in feeling.

As I settle into this space with my own furniture, inspiration boards, artwork, plants, rugs etc I'm sure it will begin to feel like my own. I'll be sure to post an update once I'm all set up!


Deb x

Sunday, 15 January 2017

On The Road

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm moving from Hobart, Tasmania to Townsville, Queensland. That's 3317 kms and we're doing it by road. I'm not much of a happy road tripper but it has been fascinating to travel through a variety of climates and landscapes from the south to the north of Australia. Hard to believe it's actually the same country!
I guess one of the advantages of travel is the visual inspiration  available if one is looking out for it. I believe as an artist it is crucial to take advantage of sights and experiences which may not be available at home surroundings. You never know when an exotic leaf, flower, sky colour, ambient light or animal might inspire a new idea or direction in your artwork. So I keep my eyes peeled and my camera (iPhone!) ready...

Here are some images I've snapped along the way.


Deb x