Monday, 24 November 2014

Demonstrating at Holmwood House

I’m not quite sure what the Couper family who originally owned Holmwood House would have thought of me demonstrating my textile techniques in one of their bedrooms, but it seemed to go down well with the visitors yesterday! 

It was a really busy day, with lots of people coming through and as well as buying some of the beautiful crafts that were on sale, could watch me at work.  In fact it was so busy I didn’t get a chance to stop and get some photos of me in action.  I took these photos when I set up on Saturday. 

Some lucky people got a chance to try printing with the gelli plate and try free machine quilting (I think I should have been on commission!) and some lucky primary school teachers went away with great ideas for Christmas arts and crafts projects.  Obviously I had a ball – a captive audience with whom to share my passion for my textiles. 

In demonstrating, I made lots of great prints and I’m really excited about how to take them forward, although I may have to put the small pieces to one side for a while to work on the bigger ones.
I will add some of the pieces to my website soon so you can have a chance to buy one too.
And finally, after such a great day, I arrived home to a quiet house, which was a bit suspicious.  However, it was positive silence as all three children were busy making a fantastic dinner for me as a belated birthday present, using the cook book they had given me.  Dinner was delicious, especially as it was such an unexpected treat.

Friday, 21 November 2014

The Big Reveal: New Collection of Small Works

Forgotten Figures I by Gillian Cooper
Finally, I’ve finished some of the series of smaller pieces I’ve been working on.  And here they are.  Each of these pieces is 8x6in – the smallest I’ve ever made.
Forgotten Figures II by Gillian Cooper
I’ve really enjoyed working small.  I love the speed (there are about another 15-20 in progress as well as these ones) and playing around with composition by cropping the slightly larger pieces to fit within the frame.  All of these are now mounted ready for sale at Holmwood House on Sunday (and afterwards).  Come and see me at Holmwood House in Glasgow on Sunday afternoon if you have time and you will see exactly how these pieces were made.
Forgotten Figures III by Gillian Cooper
These pieces are all wholecloth too – no piecing before I printed, painted, stencilled and stitched.  In some ways I think I would be too precious with a piece I had already made to stick it onto the printing plate just to see what happens.  Perhaps that will change with experience, but for 8x6in there are already a lot of techniques involved, so I’m not convinced it would add anything. 
Forgotten Figures IV by Gillian Cooper
I’ve also altered my colour palette to some extent.  Other people have been commenting on this rather than me, as to me it seems entirely natural and not really anything different to what I was doing.  This is where the insights of others come in handy.  Do you have any views on these pieces?

Forgotten Figures V by Gillian Cooper
I intend adding them to my website for sale sometime soon and reviving my Etsy shop to start being a bit more commercial about my art.  There.  I’ve stated it.  Now I have to go through with it as I’ve put it in black and white.  I still want to make totally unsellable installations, but even I don’t have them on permanent display in my house so I can hardly expect others to do the same and it would be nice to have some room under our bed/in our garage/under the stairs again rather than it being taken up with artwork.
Forgotten Figures VI by Gillian Cooper

Monday, 17 November 2014

In my studio: lots of daily drawing

Greek Goddess sketch by Gillian Cooper in Conte Crayon
A few months ago I told you I was trying to do a daily drawing and shared some of the early pictures.  This felt like a bit of a luxury, taking time out from making the things I needed to do, but at the same time, I know it is important for my artistic practice.  So I’ve carried on with my (almost) daily luxury and each day I start with the treat of a large mug of tea and a blank piece of paper.  Almost all my drawings are related to my continuing Ancient Greek Goddess obsession, although occasionally it may be another ancient object such as a pattern from a vase or a little horse sculpture instead.  I started out in 4B pencil, moved into 8B as I love the smudge effect.
Inspired by a Greek Octopus pattern on a vase by Gillian Cooper.  Sketch in pastels

Currently, I’m playing around with the media more and more.  Yesterday was soft pastels, which I love, today was NeoColor, which I love a lot less!  Inktense and Conté crayons and fine tipped pens have also been hits.
Detail of Greek figure in pen by Gillian Cooper
Now my biggest problem is stopping and getting on with other work as I get very absorbed in the drawing and don’t want to stop, so I am devoting more and more time to it.  However, it is very good thinking time and hopefully I will be able to develop some of these ideas further.
Same detail as above but in Inktense by Gillian Cooper

Do you have a favourite medium to draw in?

My daughter getting in on the act - with more pastel on her than the paper!
Terracotta figure in pen by Gillian Cooper
Side view of Greek figure in Conte Crayon by Gillian Cooper

Friday, 14 November 2014

In my studio: creating a collection of small works

Work-in-progress by Gillian Cooper
Over the past month or so, I have been working concurrently on lots of small pieces.  Some have worked; others will remain samples (a polite term for failures!).  What is really exciting is that they are all coming together now and will be ready to take to Holmwood House for the Meet Your Maker event next Sunday (23rd November 11-4).
Work-in-progress by Gillian Cooper
The completed pieces will be hand-dyed then mono-printed using acrylic paint, followed by more colour added using Inktense pencils.  I’ve made stencils and used them with Shiva Paintstiks over the top.  Parts are then padded before they are machine quilted.
Work-in-progress by Gillian Cooper
I met my dear friend Marjory Mackinven for lunch today and showed her some of them, saying I was worried that these are too simple.  However, having listed out all the techniques involved, I think I am now agreeing with her that they are more complicated that I had realised!  It was lovely to see Marjory and catch up and we had a fabulous lunch at the new Three Sisters Bake Cafe in Killearn Village Hall.  Highly recommended if you are in the area.

Work-in-progress by Gillian Cooper
Finding the balance between strong design and suitable levels of detail is an interesting challenge.  I often find that as I add more and more detail, the composition becomes less clear and so the overall design is not as good.  The good news is, though, any overworked pieces can always be cut up and used in another piece.  Do you know when to stop?

Work-in-progress by Gillian Cooper
The back of one of the pieces, showing the padding

Work-in-progress by Gillian Cooper

Monday, 10 November 2014

Out & About: the C&G students' show

Yesterday saw the exhibition of our C&G students.  It went up relatively fast on Saturday and it was gratifying to see how much work there was and how far the students have come over the two years. IT has been such a pleasure to teach and I will miss them.

On Saturday evening, a lovely group of their families and friends braved the horrid weather and came and suitably admired their work.  Then yesterday it was open to the public.  As with all exhibitions, it came down much faster than it went up!  Luckily though, there will be a second outing for their main pieces at the new Stitching, Sewing & Quilting Show at the SECC over the first weekend in March.  One or two of the final quilts still had some finishing required, so it will be lovely to see them completed.  If you are around in Glasgow that weekend, it will be worth a visit.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Out & About: C&G exhibition this Sunday

After two years of hard work, on Sunday I say ‘au revoir’ to my first group of C&G patchwork and quilting students.  I’ve had great fun teaching them, along with Ruth Higham at The Studio, Loch Lomond Quilt Show and I can’t wait to see their final quilts.  It doesn’t seem like two years ago when we started this journey together, for whilst they have learned lots, I have too.  I hope they continue to gather as much pleasure from textiles as I have since I finished my C&G in embroidery, sometime last century – my, how time flies when you are stitching!

You can see their amazing work at The Studio on Sunday 9th November from 10-4.  Please do come and see if you are in the area – there may even be some cake. 

The photos accompanying this post are some of their samples and designs in progress.

Monday, 3 November 2014

Exciting news: Meet Your Maker and EPM

Despite being laid low most of last week (I really, really hate migraines), it was surprisingly good work-wise!  I can’t share all of it with you now, but the next 12 months is beginning to shape up nicely.
Holmwood House

First up, I heard on Friday afternoon that I had been selected as the Maker for ‘Meet Your Maker’ at Holmwood House, a National Trust for Scotland property.  It’s a project being run by CraftScotland.  It is always nice when your proposals are accepted, but I’m really thrilled as Holmwood was designed by Alexander ‘Greek’ Thomson, who was born in the village where I live.  You can read about my visit to Holmwood in this blogpost:  He was inspired by Ancient Greece too and the building has a lovely feel to it.  So please come along and see how I make on Sunday 23rd November.

Secondly, I know I’ve been posting lots about the European Patchwork Meeting, which I went to in September.  I’ve still got loads more images to share, so I may just do one large post with them all, as it is now ages after the event.  It’s tricky trying to balance the time to blog with studio work, especially when the studio work is going well!  In addition to just wanting to see the show, I had an ulterior motive to visit as I’m very proud to announce that I am one of the exhibitors in the 2015 Show.  I was blown away by the quality and variety of work on display this year and looking at the list of artists for next year, I am in illustrious company – you should book your flights now!

And finally a teaser – there were a number of other exciting developments, one totally out of the blue, but until they are signed on the dotted line I can’t really say anything.  Hope your week was as good.

Synergy by Gillian Cooper - for sale on my website

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