12 August 2010

Summer holiday

From the large gap between updates you'd be forgiven for thinking that I have been away on holiday or something, but sadly I haven't! It is not that I haven't been working on any of my projects - I have! I have just been terribly lax about posting updates. I could put it down to the summer heat, but really I don't have any excuses. Particularly as I have actually been painting! Anyway, I'm posting an update now, so ...

The Paradise Tryptych has been slowly progressing, or at least the second panel has. And I have so far resisted 'tweaking' the first panel, but I know I won't be able to hold out forever. As for the third panel, I know what needs to be done with it but I probably won't make a start on it until the first two are complete. Here are some pictures to show the progress made over the last few weeks:

Progress is slow, but at least I am happy with it. That tends to mean the painting has a chance of being finished. That and the fact that it is already hanging on the living room wall in its incomplete state so that I see it every day. Always a good incentive to get something finished. Although saying that, my copy of The Execution of Lady Jane Grey hung on the wall for the majority of its 8 years as a 'work in progress'. There was something rather interesting about its incompleteness. I'm not sure that it is true for this one.

Next week I am away on a training course so I do have a valid excuse for the fact that there won't be a post. Once I am back, I hope to have some more news to add on my dressmaking adventures. The kiln has now been sold and the money is in the bank so there is nothing stopping me from progressing with my idea, except of course for the usual lack of time and multiple other projects on the go. Not that that usually stops me, especially if there is money burning a hole in my pocket!

19 July 2010

A question of priorities

So, yes, I missed an entire week's update from the week before last and now I am a day late with an update for this last week.

However, the excuse is a really good one: I've been too busy painting! I think that, if the reason I've failed to post an update is because I've actually been doing the thing that the blog is all about then, really, it is perfectly acceptable. After all, it is the creative work that is important. This blog is just supposed to help me keep sight of the fact that I am making progress and have not just lost myself in the world of work. And the weekly update target is really just a way of imposing a kind of flimsy deadline on myself - I always seem to work better under pressure.

So, excuses out of the way, what have I been doing? Well, The Paradise Triptych is now coming along quite nicely (at least, 2 thirds of it is). The centre panel is done, but I have a need to do just a bit more to the peacock tail feathers. I am currently trying to resist the temptation to fiddle with it, but I know I will give in and that I will probably end up redoing almost the entire tail. There is something not quite right about the 'eyes'.

Anyway, the right hand panel is what I'm really focusing on right now. The main fish, below the surface ripples, is starting to emerge. The ripples aren't quite right, but it is almost there. The rest is very much just sketched out, but I have almost covered the entire canvas before launching into the detail, which is unusual for me. I'm feeling quite pleased with it and with the overall look of the two panels together.

The left hand panel is still blank. It needs some further thought before progressing. Whilst it is only ever intended to be viewed as part of the 3 (as is the right hand panel) it still needs to have some kind of focus, and currently it doesn't. The central panel works more or less by itself. The peacock is of course meant to be the overall focus, but I can't help feeling that the 3 panels should work individually as well, at least to some extent.

I have also been working on the tapestry which is still progressing reasonably well. I do suspect that I am going to run out of wool though, so I am going to have to pick my moment to order some more! It still doesn't really merit a photo yet, but I will post something soon.

What else ...? Well, PayPal is now up and working for all new publications on the Clutag Press and Archipelago websites (I still have to do the back publications) and we have taken over 60 orders in the last fornight which is not bad at all. I have also now finished typesetting the new Andrew Motion poetry book, Laurels and Donkeys, and the proofs are out for review. That means that, with the exception of any corrections, I have completed my current Clutag Press typesetting tasks - at least until we start setting Archipelago Issue 5 which is not that far off.

One last thing to note here is that I am currently formulating a new plan which will, at the very least, result in an extension to my wardrobe and may turn into a small business venture. I have sold (on paper at least if not yet actually sold) my kiln which I no longer have regular access to or the time to use. I intend to put the money raised towards other creative pursuits and specifically this new project idea. Top of the list of new purchases: a tailor's dummy and an overlocking machine! Rest assured, as the idea progresses I will post updates here so be on the look out...

5 July 2010

Quiet week

It has been a quiet week in terms of creative production this week. Sadly not a quiet week on the work front which has been manic. Still, I have managed to get the first new Clutag Press updates up with PayPal available, and to prove it works we have had our first order - and I haven't even sent out the notifiction email to our subscribers yet.

Other than that, more stitching on the tapestry but very little else. I have decided I need a holiday - from work that is! A chance to stop and recharge and have some real time to work on my various projects. I'm going to have to have a good look at my calendar and work out when I might be able to squeeze in even a couple of days somewhere.

Oh, I have just been reminded that I did make a banana cake at the weekend! We had some old, black bananas given to us for free from our local vegetable market stall which I froze because I was going away the next day. Anyway, they defrosted ok and made a very nice (low fat) banana cake. As you can see, there isn't much left already.

28 June 2010

No more surprises...

Ok, so I have finally come to my senses. There was no way I was realistically going to be able to work on the tapestry in secret and have any hope of finishing it in time for the big birthday. So all has now been revealed! As my other half very kindly said, the surprise element is only a very small part of the present so nothing has really been lost.

As a result, and as you will probably have guessed, this means I've spent pretty much all of my spare time this week stitching. I will post pictures once there is something to see. At the moment there is just too much white canvas!

Going back to my original list of tasks on the go, I have also made some progress in getting PayPal set up on the Clutag Press and Clutag Archipelago websites which, whilst really only a very small task, will make a huge difference to operations - if nothing else it will save my mother from queuing in the bank with handfuls of cheques to be paid in. We are slowly dragging ourselves into the 21st century!

21 June 2010

Crazy undertakings

So, I was away last week for work and, as expected, there was no update - I had nothing to report. This weekend, however, I had entirely to myself and yet I still failed to make an entry. But this time the excuse was definitely the right kind of excuse. I fully intended to post an update but I got so absorbed in what I was doing that before I knew it it was 01:00 and I really had to go to bed.

So, what was I doing? Well, I had planned to spend the whole weekend painting, but on Friday the postman delivered the tapestry canvas and wool I had orderd and so I kind of got distracted.

I have discovered a worrying pattern in my own behaviour. About 3 months before one of my other half's significant birthdays I always seem to manage to come up with a wonderful idea for a present which, in reality, turns out to be a project that could never realistically be completed in the time period. Before he turned 30 I embarked on a copy of his favourite painting, The Execution of Lady Jane Grey by Paul Delaroche. The canvas I bought for this was 101cm x 76cm - so not small. I finished the painting 8 years later! Needless to say, I was not working on it consistently for all of that time. There were long periods where nothing happened or other projects got in the way. Of course it was not kept secret all that time and was hung on the wall in its various stages of incompleteness. It wasn't until we were due to move house and I was issued a challenge (that I couldn't finish the painting before we moved) that the last section was completed. The final painting is shown here.

So now, 3 months before the big 40th birthday I fear I may have embarked on another crazy and impossible project. I can't post any pictures of course because that would ruin the surprise. Given that I have been stitching for almost 2 days solidly I have completed a frighteningly small section of the canvas. Admittedly I am very pleased with the way it is working out, but I have a feeling it may take some time. Almost certainly longer than the 3 months I have. But we'll see. I'll keep you posted...

In a brief break from the sewing I also made a batch of ginger snaps. I've never had much luck with biscuits, but these are rather good. Too good, unfortunately, as I'm now having to resist eating too many of them. There needs to be something left by the time my other half returns tomorrow otherwise there may be trouble!

6 June 2010

End of the first week

So, what have I managed to achieve in this first week (or 5 days to be precise). Well, so far so good. I have:
  • Completed the typesetting for the new book of poetry by Geoffrey Hill, due to be published by Clutag Press in the autumn and I have completed the cover design. Both have been approved by the author. Any last minute minor tweaks will now be made by Adrian at Senecio Press, who manages the final production and printing for Clutag.
  • I have started the right hand panel of the Paradise Tryptich as you can see. It is still in the very early stages, but it is a start:

  • I have turned a photograph of the central panel of the Paradise Tryptich into a 90th birthday card for my grandmother (she had seen an earlier photo and liked it so I thought I'd turn it into a birthday card). A week or so before starting this blog I completed a water colour as a birthday present which I'm sneakily also including here (although it doesn't count as this week's output).

  • And I have made garlic and rosemary foccacia to go with our cazuela de papas a la abuela (granny's potato casserole) for dinner. I have been experimenting a lot recently with bread making and I have to say that since our breadmaker died the results have got an awful lot better. I am now a convert to making it entirely by hand. Anyway, this is my first attempt at a foccacia:

I have decided that I will aim to update this blog on a Sunday night, which gives me the week to try and get things done in the evenings (when time allows) and then the whole weekend where I stand a much better chance of finding some time to be creative. Of course, having said that, I go away for a week for work on Wednesday so the likelihood of finding any time to make, paint or draw anything is going to be very slim, but we'll see...

2 June 2010

In the beginning...

So, here we are at the very beginning of it all. I suppose I should start by listing the projects I have on the go at the moment so that weekly updates have some kind of history - is it new? or is it something that has been hanging around for a while? As you can see, there is a certain lack of focus and an inability to actually finish anything!

  • The Paradise Triptych: This is my "current" painting project. It consists of 3 canvases (dimensions: 80cm x 40cm each) and is intended as a decorative, fantastical piece rather than anything realistic. It is done in acrylics, rather than oils, because of the decorative intention - and not because acrylics are my 'safe' medium.

    The idea for the middle panel came from a dream (not the usual starting point for my work) and the overall design was developed from that. As is my habit, I have started focusing on the detail far too early: the middle panel is almost complete whereas the outer two have not yet been started. I intend to work on these remaining two together, and to tweak the middle one as I go, in order to try to create something that works as a whole. Anyway, this is what it currently looks like so that I can document what happens from here.
  • Parc Turó, Barcelona: Sitting in the park one glorious day in late winter, over two years ago now, there was just something about the quality of the light, the branches of the bare trees obscuring the buildings behind them and reflecting in the water of the pond that seemed absolutely magical. Photographs were taken and a painting, in oils, was begun. And is still just begun ...
  • Crimson II: A copy of the painting Crimson II by Andres Garcia Ibañez has been underway for quite some time. We saw the original, along with a host of other amazing paintings by the same artist, in a gallery in London about 6 years ago, but this one was probably my favourite. We almost bought a print while we were there (although we could ill afford it) but instead I decided I could do a good enough copy myself. It seemed in the spirit of the artist who spent much of his youth copying the works of the great masters. It was, and is, my very first attempt at oils but it is not finished!

  • Wedding dress designs: I have produced a number of designs for a 50's style wedding dress for a friend in Barcelona. These are now awaiting her thoughts and feedback. The challenge will be to actually make it, and make it so that it fits, given that we live hundreds of miles apart. The deadline is a year away so there is still time...
  • Tapestry: This is something I have not tried before. It is definitely not going to be one of those standard, pre-printed tapestry kits. Possibly a little ambitious for a complete beginner but I like a challenge!
    The music studio (not mine - I am tone deaf) needs deadening. Currently it is very stark and reflects too much of the sound, or so I am told. A 40th birthday present is required (besides the much-longed-for Taylor guitar that has already been given - 9 months early!) and so this project will be to produce a music-themed wall-hanging to help soften the room and reduce the 'noise'. I am currently awaiting the materials which are on order from Lucy Winter. I just hope I've ordered enough wool!

  • The Colourful World of Violet Bloom: I have written 5 chapters of a book (intended for children) in which the theory of seeing and colour, and the practicalities of painting, are explored. I feel it has lost its way, but I know what needs to be done. I just need to sit down and do it! Anyway, here is the synopsis:

  • "Violet Bloom is a very serious little girl who only believes in real things, in scientific things, in facts and figures and logic. From early experiments into what colour things are in the dark, with the help of her friend Bear, she learns all about how colour works and why things look the way the do. Along the way Violet also discovers that people aren't always quite what they seem on first impression and that making friends can be as simple as just being yourself."

  • Publishing: One of my other, regular, commitments is to assist with the website maintenance, typesetting requirements and graphic design needs of Clutag Press and its literary magazine Archipelago. This is a family affair and is something I am delighted to be involved in, even though there always seems to be something that needs doing! Currently I am working on two typesetting projects and a cover design. These need to be completed in time for publication in October. And then there is issue 5 of Archipelago to start setting. It is also required for publication in October!
    I also need to figure out how to introduce PayPal onto the websites - something that should be easy enough to do, it just requires time for me to sit down and do the research!
  • Website: And last, but not least, there is my personal website. It is woefully out of date and really needs some attention. I'm hoping that this blog will give me the incentive to keep producing and that, as a result, there will be more completed work to post on the site.

There are many other projects that are started and not yet finished, but for the time being these are the ones I'm prepared to own up to and which I can see some chance of finishing! If I do manage to finish something, it will be recorded here first...