Saturday, 5 December 2009

Artspace & Treats

part of the working area in our roof-top attic

I spent most of last weekend clearing some workspace in the attic-roof – or roof-attic, depending on which way you look at it – so that I had somewhere into which to retreat to create. My working area moves around this old house, according to season and whatever else I am doing. I share the roof with our stored past: we’ve lived here for 40 years and much of what is up there, up the narrow ladder-like stairs and under the sloping roof, has been pushed out of sight from our previous home, and stuff we could not bear to part with from our pre-retirement publishing/printing works. Plus of course my ever-increasing stashes of fabric and yarn. I’m both a yarnaholic and a fabricholic! The workspace is quite large but inaccessible to the rest of the family for they are too tall and hit their head on the beams and trusses. I can creep around underneath!

For the last three years, my workspace has been a tiny table in the laundry room (which fills with smoke and sometimes ash when the wood-burner next door in the boiler-room is being refuelled); or I use the dining room table. But I was becoming increasingly irritated at continually having to tidy everything away whenever we had a meal, and worried that I would drop paint or glue onto our oriental carpets. Up here, under the eaves, it may lack daylight (only one tiny attic window) and be freezing in winter (though I’ve just sneaked in a heater!), and overly hot in summer, but at least I can slide away and be my own person.

The artspace is calling: I had determined to work on more fabric keepsakes and the commissioned garden journal about which I recently posted, and was completely ready for the beginning of this last week, when WHAM … read about what happened at 7.30am on Monday 30th November in my other blog (‘Wild Somerset Child’), if you haven’t already done so. (Thankyou to all those who have left me such kind comments.) All has now returned to normal and my artspace is ready. And so am I.

After ‘the scare’, I returned home to some mailbox treats. One of the things I so love about the blog world is discovering the work of other artists. I am gradually, whenever I can afford to, surrounding myself with little works of art made by other bloggers. Look what I have just added to my collection, which was awaiting my homecoming on Wednesday:

These lovely tags came for the Etsy Store of Tracie Lyn Huskamp. I fell in love with her book ‘Nature Inspired’ this last Autumn, and wanted to learn her technique of painting natural history themes on muslin; her book lies open on the fireside table in the living room. The thought of holding a piece of her work in my hands was uppermost in my mind when she posted about her online store. They are here now; so beautiful, such an inspiration; even more so because she addressed the envelope to "the beautiful Ann Somerset Miles". Little does she know!

And then I became intrigued by the blog of Seth Apter and his book ‘The Pulse’ (a zine I think you call it) and ordered a copy. That too was in the mailbox. What a labour of love, what a wealth of information. Described by Seth as 'an artist survey', in which 94 artists were given seven art-related questions to answer, this is a book to be read in conjunction with Seth's blog (The Altered Page) and the blogs or websites of the participating artists. I will be dipping into it for weeks, searching out the online links, assimilating, and learning.

a parcel of much-needed cheesecloth

Packages are still arriving! In the mail this very morning came the cheesecloth I had asked my dear friend and kindred spirit, Kristin Steiner from South Carolina, to source for me. It is coarser than the muslin I habitually use and seems to be unobtainable over here, other than in 50-metre rolls from the theatrical suppliers I have been buying from for years. Kristi came to my rescue, and as ever with her packages, she attached one of her sweet personal message tags (I save them all), and fabric-ribbon that will instantly find its way into one of my own creations.

Finally, as a treat to myself, I have booked an online six-week course (Dec 14th to January 31st) with L.K.Ludwig, whose work I have also long-admired. I drool over her book ‘Mixed Media Nature Journals’ which had me rushing to incorporate metal mesh and other materials into my own work. I can’t wait to start her online ‘Printed Patterned Painted Journal Making Class’ and feel truly fortunate to be able to learn from someone so gifted, but so far away that I could never attend real-time workshops; (and the cost is amazingly reasonable). I guess I will be posting the results of my endeavours 'ere long. This morning I was emailed my password and downloaded the supplies list. Oh the wonders of modern technology.

And now to climb back up those stairs into my artspace and my own mixed-media creations.

using the insulation in the sloping roof as a bulletin board


  1. I do love seeing artists' work space, so thanks for showing yours. And a great day of mail for sure. So glad you are enjoying my zine!

  2. You have a lovely workspace. I'm in the process f creating one of my own. A necessity :)

  3. Great art space and what wonderful gifts you have there to inspire you. Glad you found a quiet spot for yourself where you can drip paint.

  4. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and space.. I always enjoy your inspirational blogs.
    So glad you're feeling better

  5. Ann,
    I finally figured out I can post to your blog & 2 others that were rejecting comments if I use a different browser, apparently it has to do with the type of comment box you use on the same page... isn't that odd... all my others take...
    Anyway, Terrific for you that you have carved out a little spot for yourself, you need it!! And oh dear, I am so glad you only had a scare the other day, what a scarey thing. Anyway, love all the little treats you received, SEth's zine looks great. And you know, I took a class with Tracie where we were painting the little birds she does. I thought of you the other day as I ran across her book, and had meant to mention it to you since you are working on nature and garden journals.....

  6. I was mentally saying "Oh, yes," as I read about your workspace moving about the house. In our old home I had a heavy oak desk which I heaved up and down the steep staircase at least twice a year, relocating to where it was warm enough to sew. In this small new house I have sacrificed a guest room to create a "lair" for my quilt making, a small helping of my books [which overflow the bookcase] containers of CD's, the computer desk, my stash of genealogy photos and notebooks. It would be embarressing most of the time to post a view of the space.
    As I read of these projects and the new handcrafts you have acquired I found myself thinking of an old book loaned to me when I was a student. Someone had taken a large heavy tome the content of which they evidently didn't admire. The book had been recovered in a piece of tapestry and the pages were covered with pasted in poetry clipped from other books or magazines, as well as pieces hand written on paper and glued down. It was a fascinating collection.
    It is truly inspiring to see where others work, see "works in progress" as well as sharing the triumphs or frustrations during the process.
    Thank you for sharing--and do be careful on that ladder stairway!

  7. I love Ludwig's book, and also, Seth's. Where we work can have a huge impact on what we create, as much as we try to make it immaterial. I'm off to read your other blog, now.
    Best to you.

  8. Loving the rooftop attic workspace! Very creative and a wonderful place to create art!