Monday, 3 July 2017


The experimental works and larger pieces are on hold for a couple of weeks whilst I sort out my garden - sadly neglected over the past few months whilst I've been battling an ague.

The bottom of the garden was a place to hide away and where "stuff" was stored. Like most people this was a place to put things you couldn't put anywhere else but didn't want to throw away.... like hosepipes and compost bins! After it was cleared and the old shed taken away this is what was left. Yikes!!

But it's surprising what a few days work and a lot of kneeling, digging, visits to the tip, and planting will achieve.(also, hence the "Twinges") Although not finished because I have plans for a nice pagoda style seating area, we have this which is infinitely better than it was!  I've popped some colourful flowers in just to lift the heart but they're temporary whilst I have a mull over a permanent look. Everything, just like me, is delightfully wonky.

Talking of "looks" I borrowed G's glasses because I couldn't find my own (this annoys him enormously!) and rather liked the look once they were on. A shape and colour I'd never countenance really, but maybe next time I need to renew my prescription, I'll be a bit bolder.

I've promised (on FB) a run through of the XCut as a printer, so will now concentrate on doing that for the next posting.

Annabel x

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Festival of Quilts, The Wooden House Workshops, and back to Blogger.

Blogging is a strange thing, which is why I keep coming back to it.

Catch Up

If you're around for the Festival of Quilts this year, (NEC Birmingham, 10th - 13th August) do pop along and say hello! I shall be there with Laura Kemshall for the entire 4 days in the Through Our Hands Gallery. Linda Kemshall will be popping in too we hope.
Laura Kemshall and I will be exhibiting very diverse work from most of the 27 TOH Affiliated Artists on the theme of "A Portrait". There were no rules, suggestions or joint discussions about the theme so all the work you see will be very original. My own piece, Self Portrait in the Third Person will be there - I collected it yesterday from Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum, and was thrilled to receive the Peoples Choice Award for the Open 2017. Thank you so much to anyone out there who voted.

Here's a little video of the making of Self Portrait in the Third Person.

You too can have a piece of your own work in our gallery at Festival - which would thrill us skinny! All you have to do is join the Portrait Shuffle and return your work to us before 31st July. It's all being done in aid of Save the Children, who do such incredible work with children all around the world.

Laura and I hope you will enjoy the TOH Gallery, and what we have planned by way of a live performance this year. Come along and watch the Battle of the Quilts (well, it's not being called that really - it just sprung to mind and will do for the moment!)

I have been a bit poorly since March but am much better now, and hope to get back into the swing of more quilts very soon. I've still been pottering of course in sketchbooks, and have visited Laura and Linda Kemshall at the Wooden House for a lovely day of Not Drawing!! (Drawing without a Pencil). Laura is a brilliant teacher and we had an amazing day (and an amazing lunch it has to be said!) She runs her workshops in a newly converted cricket pavillion which is a great space for a small class (no more than about 6 I think) and Laura is very generous with her materials and time. Linda Kemshall was there too of course and it was great to catch up and see her latest and most beautiful watercolour book in person. You can read more about it here. The countryside around the village of Worfield and Bridgenorth where they live is just spectacular too.

We did monoprinting, rubbings, tracings, and it was a lovely treat to spend a day with like minded people and just stretch my ideas.

Immediately below is a tonal tracing, and underneath that, Laura encourages me to go large and loose with charcoal. Coloured monoprint of a persimmon for a sketchbook page. and finally a bit of therapeutic piecing after a turnout of small bits and bobs from my stash.

Thank you for reading!

This is a monoprint through a stencil - link to DMTV on sidebar if you'd like to know how it's done.


Sunday, 21 May 2017

Agnes Martin - fathoming out by experimenting

A lot of modern art, especially abstract expressionism, leaves me cold - literally. A room full of stripes has me shivering! Mind you, so does the work of John Constable. It's me, I know it is.

So in an effort to try and understand and make life a richer thing, I've been doing a search on You-tube for inspiration. I could read about it, but I find a lot of art books a bit hard work.

I recently found a video about Agnes Martin, who said (and I'm quoting the Tate's website)

‘Without awareness of beauty, innocence and happiness one cannot make works of art’.

Not sure I agree, but I'm told that Agnes Martin is perhaps most recognised for her evocative paintings marked out in subtle pencil lines and pale colour washes. Although restrained, her style was underpinned by her deep conviction in the emotive and expressive power of art. Martin believed that spiritual inspiration and not intellect created great work.

OK, so here's the experiment (thank you MOMA for your explanations and processes)

My finished pieces


I started with the yellow version.

I didn't use a canvas for this but 2 A4 sheets of mixed media paper. I put 2 layers of gesso spread thinly and at 90 degree angles. This was topped with a layer of acrylic paint.

I marked the aperture of my mount, and then put a layer of masking tape around the marks about 1/4" in from the edge. I then used a ruler to mark on the masking tape a grid. This was drawn at 2cms x 1 cm in soft pencil (Martin used all sorts apparently. The marks are part of the painting)

I then sanded the grid very lightly. This smudges the lines slightly in places. Martin often did this.

 I mixed a bluish grey by using the base colour with white, black, ultra marine, burnt umber, and gloss gel medium.

 I used a round brush and made strokes half way across each box on the grid. I believe the idea is to concentrate on the grid and the strokes, but not to rule out any mark making. It is what it is, and the paint shouldn't be fussed with.

I then went through the painting again to mark the other side of the grid. (nb turn the paper - don't try and paint with the left hand!!) I reloaded the brush every second stroke.

The Blue Version

I then reversed the colours and did the blue version. I mounted them in white mount board frames.

Click here if you'd like these 2 pieces.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Jenny Wren portrait

We have a pair of wrens in our garden, and they often flit about just the other side of the window in an old honeysuckle. If I stay really still, I can see them at close quarters from the settee.

I'm not a good enough drawer to catch their likeness whilst they're flitting about, so I've copied an image from a book. I had no idea how complex all those feather patterns were!

I drew the wren onto caligraphy paper (a new purchase - I was eager to try it out!) but I think I used the wrong side as it has a slightly rough surface, whereas the other is smooth. Never mind, it still worked well with pencil.

Having stuck the finished paper to my canvas using acrylic gel, I thought it needed something else. I drew a circle and used gold acrylic paint to infill. I could have used gold leaf which would have looked even better I think, but I couldn't get the lid off the size.

I liked the sparseness of the white and gold with the pencil drawing, but decided to be reckless and add a spot of blue.

Of course, once the blue had dried, I decided I preferred the white!! I compromised by putting a coat or two of white acrylic over the blue except for the bottom right hand corner. Why did I leave that? I have no idea - I just liked the weight of colour at the bottom and the design made by the blocks of colour.

Saturday, 15 April 2017

Portrait in parts

For this portrait I'm starting off by using some stencils and stamps to make a background. I especially like the stencil with the jumbled letters and numbers you can see below all the others. There is also some acrylic paint, disposable palette papers, and sponge rollers.

I used the first colour paint over the stencil (left hand side) which leaves some of the white surface of the canvas showing. I then flipped the stencil and used black paint on the remaining bit of canvas. I continued to flip and apply paint.

Time for a few stamp impressions.

I now have a background on the canvas - I may need to over paint to make it more black later.

Next step, is to make a similar effect on some card which I'm going to cut up into labels.

 Cutting up the cardboard prints (which have been backed with black card)

Using a bradawl to make a hole.

Threading with my chosen thread, and attaching to the painted canvas.

 Adding more. They hang loose from the top. When happy I'll fix them permanently with a staple gun and hide it all under a piece of fabric or similar.

 Showing the reverse of my tags. There's nothing on them yet, but I shall fill with sketches/paintings etc of eyes, noses, mouths, ears - whatever takes my fancy!! A portrait in parts.

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Just having fun - Portrait Shuffle

Here's a copy of the latest posting on

Experimenting with portraiture

I like glass perfume bottles and have collected them over recent years. Can you see the little one in the collection below with the glass strands around the outside? Graham gave it to me for a Christmas present about 5 years ago.

If you've decided to join in the TOH Portrait Shuffle, you might be wondering how a perfume bottle fits into the theme. You may also be looking at your blank A5 canvas and wondering what on earth to do!

To help explain, the TOH gallery at Festival of Quilts this year will be about portraits and will be full of quilts and textiles made by 27 different artists, and their work will be very different from each other as it will be based on their own interpretations and how they identify themselves and others.
Some of the accompanying text to exhibition:

A portrait can be almost anything, from a face to a bouquet of flowers. It’s an open term allowing for discovery, experimentation and interpretation of self and others.

A perfume bottle is an interpretation of self in that it is about my loves and relationships, and perhaps says more about what makes me tick than an image of my face.

Image 1: Making a background using a stencil and waterproof pen.

Image 2: Filling in the stencil shapes with some marks.

 Image 3: I've left a perfume bottle shaped hole!

 Image 4: A pen and ink drawing onto caligraphy paper, stuck into place using acrylic gel medium.

 Image 5: Painting over the background using watercolour.

Image 6: A wash of white paint tones it all down a bit, and provides a better background for some stamping.

Image 7: Adding texture and text with stamps, and a final layer of gel to seal it all and lift the colour with shine.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Portrait Shuffle  you can buy your pack on this link or on

Come and join Through Our Hands, and everyone over on the Portrait Shuffle!! Join in and collectively raise some much needed money for Save The Children and help them stop children starving to death.  You can make a difference you know, and this is one way.

For £20 you get a Portrait Shuffle Pack (a guaranteed minimum of £5 will go to Save The Children - and we hope more depending on postage costs and who joins in) It's being organized by Through Our Hands (myself, Laura and Linda Kemshall) and we will be posting lots of ideas on our blog along with your work.

You also get to be exhibited at the NEC in August (not compulsory though if your a little shy). After that we take everyone's work and give a little shuffle, before sending you back someone else's beautiful work.

So, you get a pack, lots of fun, a free exhibition at a prestigious event, a piece of original artwork sent to you through the post, AND you get to help suffering children around the world. What's not to love? Please join us and make a difference.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Life 18 - Self Portrait In The Third Person

62 inches x 58 inches.  

 Save Save Save

Just comparing the original photo to the finished quilt

 Not sure it's a sensible thing to make the comparison as you can see loads of blips, but it's fun!!