Autumn colours

I have been working with brighter greens as you know but the colours of this autumnal season are also lovely, particularily on a bright sunny windfree day. Last week we visited Dunkeld in Perthshire and I took these photographs at Polney, just up the road a little from the town of Dunkeld. My father was born and brought up in Dunkeld and the town and surrounding area is a beautiful part of Scotland. It is in Perthshire’s Big Tree country but with lots of interesting things to see and do, including the ospreys during the summer who nest nearby at Loch of the Lowes. The town and surrounding countryside is well worth a visit with many lovely walks.

Polney is very small but always has water lilies in the summer and during the winter when it used to freeze was popular with local people for ice skating and curling. My grandfather, who had been a keen curler, kept two ancient rock hewn curling stones at the back door of their house just down the road from Polney. I have a photograph of my father on the ice during a curling game and I can remember skating there too.

further progress with mixed media piece


I’ve had the two mixed media pieces I produced earlier this week pinned up since I did them and yesterday I decided that I needed to change the dimensions of this one. I like long elongated shapes, either landscape or portrait, and have a real dislike of the standard A4 or other standard paper sizes. I try to encourage my students to see the possibilities that altering the shape can produce. One good way of seeing how changed dimensions might look is to make two L-shapes to physically crop a design or drawing, or fabric work. This helps with the abstraction of an area to move it away from being a reproduction in fabric or stitch of a design. I hope that makes sense. For this piece I have added two strips down each side from another mixed media sheet and have taken a piece of paper outwith the boundary of the shape – edges, again. I’m much happier with the result now although I will not finally decide that it is finished until a few days have passed. I need to see pieces up on the wall, and again, I encourage students to ‘live’ with their works in progress as I believe it is only that way the right decisions are made. When we work a piece it is easy to lose sight of what’s going on and having a break from it or having it pinned to a wall can make an objective appraisal easier. I also think we need another pair of eyes quite often to view what we have done. That objective viewpoint, creating a studio collaboration can be a very useful aid to resolving issues.

One of the hardest things with any piece of work is knowing when to stop, to know when a piece is finished, and I believe we need to live with the work to make the best choices. However this piece needs to be left alone for a few days again and then I will decide if it is finished or not.

Then what to do with it? Well in theory I could translate all the mark making and the techniques used here and apply them to fabric. I could also incorporate some of the card into the fabric piece. Who knows. If it is to be taken into fabric then decisions will be made at that time but in the meantime I’m quite happy with it being a piece of work in its own right.

mixed media trials

I’ve been having fun these last few days with hands permanently tinged with dyes and splashes of gesso. These two are the results of my efforts. I seem to be having a ‘green’ phase, maybe inspired by the wonderful colours I saw while at the TSG weekend in the Cotswolds. They are unmounted and I’m not quite sure yet what to do with them. I’ve also been making some little books, using different materials, including brown paper, photo paper, gesso, printing, gelli plate printing. Good fun.

SIlk paper – days of making

This week both sets of students, in Dundee and Ladybank, have been experimenting with silk fibres to make silk paper. The other half of the groups will be doing this workshop later in October. There are many uses for the resulting paper but it is beautiful as a fabric to add into a project. It has many uses but it is the lustre of the silk fibres and vivid colour which makes it so irresistible. The dyed hankies or silk fibres take acid dyes wonderfully. Of course the fibres could be made into a fabric that remains the natural colour. White on white is always lovely but who can resist the brilliance of colour. It is also possible to use silk paper for constructing vessels. The thickness of the resulting fabric or paper will depend on the intended outcome.