aboard the M/V sonofagun, paints and pens, stuff i've made

A smack of jellyfish

redwork bird

As promised, here’s the finished redwork bird design from yesterday, done up as a mock kitchen journal cover using the font Asterism, and a woven fabric texture from Picmonkey, to sort of give me an idea of how it might look.

Also some very small (the size of a playing card) watercolors from this morning…just playing with ideas and stuff. I really wanted to jump-start  a big painting, but didn’t feel well…think I have picked up someone’s flu. It was bad enough to prevent me from heading in to work. So I consoled myself with these little things…they sort of serve as warm-up exercises for the large painting I had in mind; whether I use all the motifs or not is not important…what matters is that I’ve dumped my ideas somewhere for reference, and my mistakes on these teeny-tiny canvases will possibly save me from making the same ones on a larger scale in acrylics.

terrarium jelly

An idea that has been with me for a long time (too long!): a jellyfish that is also a terrarium. Because the two forms have always seemed to be crying out for each other, in my imagination.
There’s something very right about this combination.

muumuu jelly

A jellyfish like a pink silk muumuu with pleated ribbons.

crocheted jelly

Not happy with this one: Just. Too. Much.
Looks like the sort of horrible lampshade you sometimes come across at a Salvation Army shop. I like the tentacles, though.

beaded jelly

The Meh Jellyfish…every smack of jellyfish has to have one: kinda boring, lacks spark. That beaded curtain was a really lazy, unimaginative, clichéd way to finish what might have been an okay exumbrella. (That’s that outer, umbrella-looking part of the jellyfish. I looked it up just now.) Maybe if I transplanted the tentacles from the crocheted lamp jellyfish…

mangroves

One interpretation of mangroves.

Speaking of mangroves, check out my accidentally fabulous tomato plant, growing like nobody’s business in the middle of a mangrove creek! It sprouted from some kitchen scraps thrown onto a basil plant! Pretty soon it had ousted the withering basil and become the star plant on the F/V SonOfAGun.

sea tomatoes

Standard
paints and pens, stuff i've made

Rather red…

redwork bird WIP*long, happy sigh*

This Sunday was spent just the way I have fantasized about spending a Sunday for many, many weeks: no craft market, no dinner parties, no social commitments, no dramas, no urgent errands, no housekeeping. I got up at a lazy 8 a.m. and—after breakfast and getting a huge pot of coffee ready—set to work with the aim of getting one simple project done, from start to finish, in one day.

I took an idea for a new journal cover design and moved it from daydream…to doodle…to finished illustration. In these pictures it isn’t quite done…but dusk came along just as I put in the finishing touches of opaque white ink, and then it was too dark to photograph the illustration properly.

redwork bird 2This is going to be the cover fabric design for a hand bound “Recipe Journal”…the title, in handwritten Spencerian script, was supposed to go inside the empty label, but I’m glad I held off from writing straight onto the illustration…text can always be added in Photoshop, later. I think I’ll keep the label blank, so that the design can be used for other things besides a recipe notebook.

redwork bird 1I loved devoting the entire day to making something. Now it’s dark outside and my eyes are a little strained from all the fine brushwork I did, so I’ll probably spend the rest of the evening listening to music in the dark and then turn in early.

It’s been a perfect, perfect Sunday. Hope your weekend was peaceful and satisfying, too!


Process: Pencil drawing (4B), watercolours on cotton rag paper. Redwork details (I was trying to capture the feel of embroidered redwork stitches) in matte flow acrylic paint applied with a fine-tipped gutta applicator. Opaque white details (not pictured) using white ink and a mapping pen.

Standard
art + design, Inspirations

Art Crush : : Sveta Dorosheva


Ukraine-born and Israel-based artist Sveta Dorosheva is one of just two or three artists I follow on Béhance. Over the years her work has been consistently rich, ornate, delightful, meticulously drawn, and tells such wonderful stories! She’s like Ivan Bilibin, Harry Clarke, Katsushika Hokusai and Hieronymus Bosch rolled into one.

In her latest post she shares 6 or 7 huge collages of her sketchbook and diary pages. It is such a treat to see so much creativity in one place, it’s kinda overwhelming! But don’t stop there…please look at all her projects—she draws some of the most beautiful women, and the costumes are to die for. There is so much to look at and love…medieval ladies, Persian miniatures, the Tarot, steampunk, calligraphy, flapper girls and the Art Deco, lovers through the ages, fairytales…her creativity and her imagination are top-notch. Most of her illustrations are drawn by hand

Clicking on either image will also take you to her Béhance projects…

And I just discovered, tonight, that she has a Society6 shop! The chance to own something with her work on it makes me feel a little giddy! I just don’t know which one to choose!

Standard

I’m working five days a week for the next month and a half, while my manager takes her much-deserved annual leave. That means precious little time to do anything like play or dream…especially as I’ve also had a stall at a craft market every single weekend in a row this May. That means the most I can do to satisfy my creative hunger is to read a few blogs, gaze longingly at the beautiful things others are doing, and pine for the days when I can stay home half the week, again, and explore my own ideas, turn things nimbly over as I work them with my hands, or stroke paints onto a surface and build a world where there never was one.

Dinara Mirtalipova’s website is such a beautiful place to wander…she’s an illustrator,

a pattern designer,

and all-around maker of beautiful things…

whose style carries some of the folk art qualities of her native Uzbekistan, and yet definitely feature both a quirky and sophisticated take on those traditional patterns.

Just the kind of wonderful inspiration I needed this evening, as I enter the long dark tunnel of full-time work…and yet also triggering a deep yearning in me to be free of these everyday responsibilities and back in my own dreaming and playing space.

I discovered Mirdinara via the uppercase magazine blog…always a good place to go for excellent design, beautiful photos, fabulous artists and tons of inspiration.

paints and pens, stuff i've made

Pomp & Circumstance, ver.2

What I did on Easter Sunday and Monday: Repainted the H.M.S. Pomp & Circumstance on a larger canvas.

I loved the idea of a city-ship with an animal figurehead, lurching through green waves and clouds, but the first version of this illustration was too small (5″ x 7″) and a bit cluttered. I’ve streamlined my ideas, since, and cleaned up my city, and am liking this version much better!

HMS Pomp 21

My apologies to those of you who purchased a Society6 print of the first version and now feel cheated! I just couldn’t help myself, after I saw the bigger Society6 prints, and how terrible the tiny image, enlarged to 13″ x 16″ and every bump of canvas showing, looked… (Psst! Moonike, message me!)

Standard
paints and pens, stuff i've made

more teacups…

gold roses tea cup

Gold Roses of the Sun…a one-line poem from Monochords by the Greek poet Yannis Ritsos; a teacup inspired by Islamic tiles, a tea-stained page from a book about Australian Literature…

Still making teacup illustrations. I have done 7 or 8, now. It’s impossible to paint teacup after teacup, and not get fancier and more ambitious as I go. I really can’t repeat a series of steps over and over, it bores me silly…I don’t know how other artists do it! For me, every teacup has to trump the one before; I have to accumulate what I’ve learned previously, and bring that to bear on the next illustration. Eventually I will hit a ceiling, where my teacups (or anything else I’m illustrating) become so baroque, so slick, ornate, and extravagant, that they are monstrous and kitschy, and the balloon I have been soaring in pops, sinking slowly back to earth again.

The Sea Dog’s Teacup, below, is maybe two or three cups away from that point at which my designs and ideas will collapse under their own weight. Still, it was fun while it lasted, and I loved, loved, loved drawing the seascape and albatross on the side of the cup…as well as the magic realism of the sailing ship inside it.

And just for fun, I’ve posted it on Society6, as well (everything I make, pretty much, is going to go on there from now on…sorry if it gets boring, but a girl’s gotta pay for her art materials and South American adventure somehow! ;)

Sea Dog's tea cup

Standard
craftiness, Inspirations, uber embroiderers

über embroiderers: Chloe Giordano

Chloe Giordano

I’m trying to keep up a sort of regular ‘feature’ on über embroiderers on The Smallest Forest: These are the big kids, the crème de la crème, the leet of needle and thread…that runts like me long to play with, but will never even exist in the same universe with. *stabs herself with a #24 chenille* Oh, crewel world!

✂ – - – ✂ – - – ✂ – - – ✂

Chloe Giordano

Admiring Chloe Giordano’s fine handiwork this morning: delicate little animals rendered in minute embroidery stitches and subtle colors, miniature 3D forms that don’t sacrifice any detail or cut corners in the making. They are quite dazzling, in a calm and self-possessed way…the mark of a professional.

Chloe is an illustrator, like many of the über embroiderers I’ve featured here, and I continue to be intrigued by the slightly different ‘feel’ of embroidered works produced by artists who have come to the craft from some other area of the visual arts, using thread and stitches as though they were paints and pens. Their work seems to be less constrained by the rules that one tends to follow when trained strictly as an embroiderer. I like the freedom with which these visual artists manipulate thread, and the expressiveness that their stitches have. I’ve also noticed that they tend to stick to simple stitches…no fancy, exotic knotted and looped moves that stand out on the fabric.

In traditional embroidery it sometimes seems that the medium is the message and not a lot of imagination or creativity goes into the actual design (pay a visit to the craft pavilion at any Royal Show and you will see the judges flipping fairly boring embroidery designs over to inspect and fuss over the threadwork on the back). These contemporary approaches to the craft allow the subject to shine, and have stitching play a supporting role (not that any of this nitpicking matters, they are all beautiful, wonderful, and our lives could use more of both approaches!)

Here’s a portion of the brief FAQ on her blog page:

How did you learn to embroider/sew?

I’ve learned mostly from trial and error, usually I’ll draw out what I want to sew first and try to work out in the sketch how I would stitch to get the effect I want. I also try to look at work I admire and figure out how they did it – this especially helpful when I’m working on something 3D

How long does a piece take you?

Anything from a couple of days to 2-3 weeks. Usually the planning stage takes the most time, once I’ve got everything hammered out the actual sewing doesn’t take long.

What materials do you use?

I mostly sew on an off white calico, if its dyed I use powder dyes. Generally I used embroidery thread for text and sewing thread for everything else, but it’s not set in stone.

Where/what did you study?

I studied Illustration at the University of the West of England, in Bristol.

Have a look at Chloe’s Tumblr, and keep an eye on her (hopefully only momentarily empty) ETSY shop  for more work by this sensitive and soulful young artist.

Found via Mr X Stitch

✂ – - – ✂ – - – ✂ – - – ✂

uber embroiderers: Jazmin Berakha

uber embroiderers: Jazmin Berakha

über embroiderers: Tilleke Schwarz

über embroiderers: Tilleke Schwarz

über embroiderers: Maricor/Maricar

über embroiderers: Maricor/Maricar

Standard
embroidery and textiles, paints and pens, stuff i've made

Mermaid (a handmade gift)

Be a Mermaid design

Taking UPPERCASE magazine’s advice to heart, I threw myself at some new projects on Monday: making Christmas presents for the people I work with (our informal Jacksons holiday party is in four days’ time).

Decided on a mermaid-themed present for the first project, because my manager collects mermaids (and doesn’t surf the internet, so I think this post is relatively safe to put up) and is pretty much a mermaid, herself.

I picked that ubiquitous craft and design saying: Always be yourself. Unless you can be a mermaid, etc… You’ll probably groan and argue that there are too many versions of this “Always be yourself” saying floating around, and that it’s shallow and twee. And I would agree with you. But I am pretty sure my recipient hasn’t heard it yet, and it fits her perfectly. So that’s what it’s going to be. I promised her a handmade gift; I never said it would be urbane.

The finished piece measures 36 x 46 cm (14″ x 18″). It took me nearly two days to make the whole thing, but I dawdled a lot, and did other things, besides. The drawing/painting took up the whole Monday, but all the embroidery was done before lunchtime the following day.

I used a pre-stretched and pre-primed canvas. Made the letters and doodles in acrylics using brushes and a mapping pen. The font I used (just as a guide…freehanding, and then painting the letters, has changed it a lot) is Le bain au milieu de la fin d’apres-midi vers by T N 2. Used only yellow greens, turquoise, and blue paints and inks.

ink detail

All those greeny-blues and lime colors needed a little bit of red-violet for punch, so on a scrap of pink marbled fabric (our recent marbling show has left our home littered with bits of marbling everywhere) stretched in my smallest hoop, I painted in the dots and squiggles of a sea urchin.

painting urchin

While waiting for the paint to dry, I stitched a small starfish straight on the drawing’s canvas, just weaving back and forth between two laid threads that formed each arm.

stitching starfish

The urchin was ready to be embroidered. I used stranded cotton embroidery floss, working buttonhole circles, eyelet stitch (when I got tired of buttonholes), french knots, and backstitch.

stitching urchin

Not shown are the steps where I cut the urchin out and placed it over a thin circle of card with some pillow stuffing, gathering the edges of the urchin fabric at the back using running stitches and pulling tight (sort of the way I finished the back of this embroidery in a hoop…) I was too excited to see the thing made. I stitched a button to the center of the urchin…again, pulling tight to form a dimple in the puffy shape. I stitched the base of the urchin to the canvas.

And these are just close-ups of the embroidery on the finished piece:

DSC_0052

starfish detail

Standard