Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Journaling a Wild Harvest (Malvern-1)

cotoneaster berries

Now home from the RHS Malvern Autumn Show and its celebration of food, plants, harvest and 'the good life', my pocket page colours (shown in my last journaling post) are perfect for recording all that we saw and did - over one hundred photos to analyse, from factual to pure whimsy, and words running into thousands. Our visit started as all do with 'the journey'. I like to capture the anticipitation as we leave home, and the feeling of impending excitement as we near the showground. Whilst I manipulate words and juggle images for magazine features and my other blog, which will take me the rest of the working week, here are my first notes scribbled into my travel notebook. The photos were all taken at the show, in the harvest pavilion.

crab apples

rowan (mountain ash)

All this, and more, will be added to the pocket-page journal. There just isn't time whilst we are away to play 'on the spot'; but come the late autumn, sitting by the fire will be time enough.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Experimental mode

paper bags painted in 'Autumn' colours
waiting to be folded and stitched into 'pocket pages'

I am in a whirl; it's Malvern weekend again (food and flowers and edible gardens; a veritable 'celebration of nature's harvest' that must be captured one way and another, apart from in words for two commissioned features. For personal 'art from the heart' enjoyment, I will be taking photos - up a ladder this time, and making notes and sketches, for I do not have my pocket pages ready. Painted, yes, but folded and stitched, not yet. But while the farmhouse fruitcake is baking to take with us in the motorhome, I determine that photos at least can be taken. The sun streams through the window, making lighting difficult as I lay out pages to photograph, and then I can't find my camera. Panic as usual!

Colours are those that to me convey flaming Autumn (Fall) though we rarely experience a real blaze of colour. So I think dahlias and ripe plums dripping from the tree, Gascoigne Scarlet apples in the orchard and all shades of red and orange.

'Pocket Pages' have in fact almost done their turn - they were my chosen experimental project for this year's travel journals, ranging from verdant spring green, through summer gold to these reds and vermillions of autumn; the soft blue-greens for the Shropshire Hills (which we never did capture for it rained most of the time), right through to slate blue - payne's grey- veins of stone and mountain colours for my Welsh pages. See previous posts for ongoing pics and explanations. When all are complete, they will form 'my year of travel': always working you understand, but these are my personal memories and thoughts.

I turn to my beloved fabric once more - a lifetime of it, combining it with paper and paint and whatever takes my fancy. I am again in experimental mode (having said only recently that my brain was numb, it has come alive again). So I am working upon little hand-stitched patchwork pages for a grand-daughter's birthday keepsake, combined with a couple of turquoise/indigo paper pockets to hold tiny secret notebooks; and then out with the muslin, gesso, inks, neocolor and gel medium. Her book will be a collection of my experimental samples, themed in shades of blue, with linen coloured backgrounds for the poem inserts I have written her, pearlescent buttons and tiny jet-blue beads with stamped or embroidered fish. Lace? I can't decide; somehow it does not fit the watery swimming theme, though it would make superb surf.

watery blue fabric with patchwork snippets attached,
awaiting hand-stitched embellishments
(the fabric will be folded to make a double-sided page
measuring approx 6ins square)

I made my first usual exploratory notes last week - but for once I have progressed beyond the notebook stage and have started stitching. I have five weeks to complete this. And now the cake is ready, my 'technicals' for tomorrow must be prepared - laptop, camera, tripod, notebooks, etc, and a little light reading for evening on progressing my website - I hope to create an online journal page on the Malvern Show, but need to learn how to do so first!

my notes of last week: click on the pic to enlarge it and read
from top left, top right then bottom left and bottom right.
(Then click on the back-button to return to the blog post)

Wednesday, 16 September 2009


click on this photo if you want to view it at an enlarged size

Despite a hectic work schedule, an article that 'wouldn't come right' (though it has now) and working on my revamped website, I pulled out one of my project bags last night, determined to add just one element to one of the pocket-page journals. A napkin-tissue motif perhaps? But before positioning the bright white daisy, I had to decide what words would also appear on the page. I dove into the bag looking for the words that I knew I had written at the time I planned the journal content.

Oops! When allocating materials to the project bags about which I blogged last post, I quite forgot about the words which MAY be on snippets of paper but more usually in one of my black, leather-covered notebooks. I had also forgotten that these notebooks also contained many ideas and a record of experiments with paper, fabric and paint, as do my working experimental art-books. So now I have to catalogue all my notebook entries, and allocate copies of them to the relevant project bag, with a second copy filed in an overall 'master catalogue'.

An odd way of working, but I can only equate it to the method I used for years when producing layouts for the magazines I edited. You needed to assess the whole picture and know what was to fall where and on which pages. Working page by page without all the relevant elements (text, photos, advertisements and infill material) always resulted in an un-cordinated jumble, a magazine lacking any thread of story or continuity; no storyline. A habit of a lifetime is hard to break, hence all this preparation: project bags and catalogued notes.

Earlier posts will demonstrate that at times I do actually manage to complete a 'piece of art'. But for the moment I am stuck in a rut and the creative spirit has deserted me, though cataloguing hasn't.** As to the bright pink notebook (called 'blossom'), that catalogues ongoing work and ideas for my revamped website, about which I wrote last week in my 'wild somerset child' blog. I don't know quite what I have taken upon myself, but it keeps me out of mischief!

** Oh bliss - it hasn't! This is an update: three hours after posting the above, I have a flash of inspiration for a paper/fabric book that has been at the back of my mind for a while now. And then, after reading a couple of posts from fellow bloggers (Jude of 'Spirit Cloth' and Lynne Hoppe), everything begins to fall into place. Their blogs have sparked ideas; not copying, but leaping off at a tangent. (I know I should put links to these two gifted artists/bloggers and I will, but I have sneaked up to my office and the supper is burning !!)