Saturday, 31 January 2009


Now that we have finished the assessment section of the first part of the course, I have had an epiphany. I acknowledged that in trying to justify my subject area I kept identifying common themes and categories rather than answering the question why. Soon as we stopped turning work in, my head cleared enough to get some clarity.
Here goes…
When I am in the daily humdrum of life, my head fills up with continuous whirring of thoughts. With some practice and concentration I can silence that voice for a while and that is when I like to go for a walk, especially in woods. When I am in this state I can witness all the natural beauty that is around me, including seeing beauty in things that are not your typical flowers. Once you are quiet enough you get to see the hidden treasures of life.
So I paint forest scenes because that is what I associate with beauty, calm and peace.


Florida- my next subject area
I was born in Tampa, Florida and I am a third generation Floridian. This is very rare as most folks in Florida have moved there at one point in their life. I moved away from Florida when I was ten. Even then I knew it was a place I did not belong. The one word that I can surmise my experience of Florida is “fake”. I have returned periodically and am fascinated by the architecture that is made to look like it has some age and culture. Most folks I know there are very concerned about the car they drive and, unlike me, would never consider driving a banger. Some of my friends from the area have already had Botox and plastic surgery is obviously rampant. Needless to say they look at me in my jeans and “orthopedic” shoes and want to make me over, either that or have given me up as a lost cause and chase me out of town with burning sticks.

Now Florida does have some good points. It has a heavy Hispanic influence and therefore has some of the best Cuban food ever. I love their slow cooked meats over black beans and yellow rice. Yum! Another aspect of Florida that I enjoy is the hidden aspect. My parents go to an island called Little Gasparilla, just north of Boca Grande. It is 7 miles long and ½ mile wide. There are no bridges going to the island and therefore no cars. The water taxi (40 min ride from mainland) will drop you off and you have to ferry your luggage and provisions to your house. The water on the island is not drinkable so you have to bring enough water for you and your pets visit. There are no shops, nothing! It takes a few days to adjust. I recommend knowing your fellow travelers as, well, the shining comes to mind.

The island is mainly a wildlife preserve with a few houses at each end. The parts I love about the island are: Sharks teethe- you can find loads of pre historic sharks teethe on the beach-they were all over Florida but have all been collected by people, Dolphins, Mackerel –swarming everywhere and you can catch them from the beach with a net, Manatees- Usually on the inlet side versus gulf, Owls, Snakes, Turtles – both sea and regular, Armadillos, You can walk for miles with no shoes, No one is around, Fishing, Strange creatures captured in bait nets and …there are actually lots more things but this is all I have for now.

This is Florida’s culture. Not the immense concrete or multitude of theme parks. My point for adding this to my blog is that in my next subject I want to step outside of my comfort zone and do a sea scene. Sea scenes usually make my skin crawl, as I have been exposed to so very many super cheesy decorations at various holiday condos at the beach. I had been toying with the idea for a while, then the lovely pinky Sue have me a wee book on Ernst Haecke, I knew it was a sign. Thanks Sue!!!

So I am off to Florida at Easter for a, um, well, exploratory trip of course.

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Layering Digital Fabric

Just a quick note. I wanted to report on the digital print that I did last Friday. My intent was to look at layering a transparent fabric, silk organza, over the tighter weave of cotton drill.
Silk over Cotton Cicadas

Close up of Above

Another Silk over Cotton

Close up of Above

I found it interesting that a) the details of the underlying illustration come through clearer on the dark parts of the silk and b) the darker part of the underlying illustrations showed up best through the silk.

Silk Organza in Window

I did not intend to use the silk by itself but I really like way the silk allowed light through but created some privacy. The answer to bathroom window decoration? Have to find out how to finish silk edges.
Next will investigate layering but using more darker shades on silk so that it shows more of the underlying design.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Light Experiments

I am looking at how different materials look on lights. Below are my experiments.

Cicadas in Linen

I liked the look of digitally printing on linen but was disappointed that the image was not clear when held up to a light. Not good for lamp material.

Owl on Linen

Same thing here, linen is fuzzy in light. Maybe good for certain images but did not work with these.

Owl on Cotton

Clearer and a good atmosphere with the grain of cotton coming through.

Owl on Silk

This was the clearest. I liked how the details in the owl are visible with silk and the light behind it.
NEXT- to try the cicadas on silk and make a lampshade out of it.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Encaustic Medium

I thought for the exhibition I would attempt a bit of an experiment with coffee stain and wax. I wanted to block out an area with wax so that the stain did not take to that area and there would be a lighter, highlighted area. I only soaked the linen in coffee for 2 hours and the waxed that I used was candle wax. I can tell no difference between the waxed area and the stained area. Even then the stained area is only a slight shade darker. Maybe linen does not take to coffee staining (like the cotton). I have put another piece of linen with wax on it into the stain and I will leave it there overnight and see what transpires.

Painting Wax on the Fabric Before Staining

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Elizabeth Terry

A friend of mine had a rather famous restaurant, Elizabeth’s on 37th in Savannah, Georgia. Elizabeth was telling me how she knew nothing about being a chef but got it in her head to open a place. She turned out to be very successful. She was doing a bit of art on the side and the class she wanted to take was not available. A lecturer persuaded her to take a pottery class and reluctantly, she agreed. After she took the first class, she knew she had to sell her restaurant. Her heart had been taken by pottery.

Elizabeth on 37th, Savannah, Georgia

Elizabeth Terry's Sculptures

I can relate to that feeling. It was the same when I first tried watercolours. After my first class in watercolours I could not go back to acrylics or oils. I loved the dreamy and sometimes eerie effects you can achieve. I love that you need absolute concentration and that it has taught me discipline. You can correct a mistake in oils and acrylics but one knock of the arm by a 5 year old and all your watercolour is down the Sewanee.

Experiments in Composting

After reading the article on Glessner I decided to have a go at staining and composting. In the entry "Owls" you can see the results from staining with coffee grounds. For composting, I decided to use plums and also yoghurt in moss. In the antiques trade if you wanted to age concrete statuary you covered it in yoghurt and put in the shade where moss was growing. I will report on the results as they come in.
This is the yoghurt experiment. After a few days it went missing. I found it in the bushes so then I layed it flat in the moss with a towel and then a brick on it.

Lorraine Glessner

I discovered the work of Lorraine Glessner in an article by Ruyak in the Surface Design Journal. Glessner uses many layers on silk to produce her work. These include encaustic medium, pigmented encaustic, paper, magazine or photographic images, burning, branding, rusting and composting. Her art takes a lot of time with composting alone taking between 3 weeks to 6 months. Glessner also uses horse hair in her images to draw patterns adapted form Google earth. She is quoted as saying “it’s all about birth, life, death and regeneration”.
Ruyak, J. 2008 Lorraine Glessner’s Layers of Meaning. Surface design Journal, v33 #1

Images available at accessed 11 January 2009

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Critial Review

I have toyed around with several topics that were relevant to my work for my critical review. These have include looking at illustrations in modern design, what makes modern illustrations modern, Halloween designs, depth in digital print, narrative and meaning in illustrations for designs and tension within subjects for interior textiles. Eventually I settled on depth within digital print and how to not make printing flat. I suggested layering, tension and hand applied techniques to give digital fabric depth and an aura. Aura is defined in the Merriam-Webster dictionary as “a distinctive atmosphere surrounding a given source” and “an energy field that is held to emanate from a living being” available at [Accessed 7 January 2009].

Treadaway states of Walter Benjamin in his essay "The Work of Art in the Mechanical Age" (1934), the use of the "term aura to describe the emotive element that is lacking in the machine manufactured product". Treadaway goes on to look at various effects with digital fabric printing. In an interview with Earley she states that "printed cloth is too flat" and it being " a stage in between" rather than a finished product.
Treadaway, C., 2004, Digital Imagination: The impact of Digital Imaging on Printed Textiles. Textile, vol 2 pp 256-273.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Owl Digital Printing

These are the results of digital printing. I wanted to produce a more detailed illustration and experiment with different techniques.

Original Watercolour

Digitallly printed on Cotton with Background RGB

I did not like several things about this print. I added a background to the original watercolour. I think this detracts from the owl as the focus of the design. Also I forgot to change the image to lab colour so this printed out in RGB. Note how much redder the illustration is compared to the other images printed in lab colour.

Large Owl on Silk

This image was printed out at twice the size of the original watercolour. I wanted to see how the details looked when enlarged. I was pleased that the image did not blur and still looked striking.

Owl on Silk with Coffee Stain

After digital printing I washed the silk at 40 degrees. Then I soaked the fabric for 12 hours in coffee grounds. I washed it again at a 40 degrees wash. I am pleased with the result giving it an aged look.