This is the story behind my latest Harris Tweed painting of snowdrops.
The main feature of Rock Village where I live in Northumberland is the mill pond, which is surrounded by woodland and in February these woodlands are covered in a carpet of snowdrops. They are such a welcome sight as it means that winter will be over soon and this year I was inspired to do a picture of them. I spent quite a bit of time lying flat on my stomach amongst the snowdrops, as carefully as I could to avoid causing too much damage and took lots of photos and the above video. I got a few strange looks from dog walkers.but never mind.
In the end I decided to create a composite picture based on what it was like to be right down amongst the snowdrops, rather than standing above them and looking down. This is the line drawing I came up with.
I always start my pictures with a line drawing. I cut this line drawing up and use the pieces as you would a dressmaker's pattern, pinning them to the tweeds to make sure that I cut them all to exactly the right size and shape. I then often stick the picture back together again to use it for reference, which is why some of the pieces in the above picture aren't exactly in the right place.
This is a photo of the finished Harris Tweed painting. Although this is a very small picture at only 23.5 cm square, it has still taken me about 25 hours to finish it for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the white tweed I've used was woven specially to make a wedding dress and so it's a bit finer than most of the Harris Tweeds I work with. This means it's also a lot more prone to fraying as a result of being needle felted. So I've had to be really gentle with it and go carefully. Secondly, my design turned out to be extremely complicated to make up as it was very fiddly to cut, fit and felt so many small and delicate pieces of tweed together. Never mind, it's good to give yourself a challenge. Now that it's finished it will be sent off to the printer to be electronically scanned and I'll get a print proof back and an electronic image, which will then get sent off to the greeting card printers.
It's Saturday morning and I'm home alone, which is quite rare. I have been meaning to write this blog for about 10 days now, but ironically I haven't had time. The reason it’s ironic, is that this blog is about not having enough time or space.
I am very, very lucky to be able to earn my living as an artist working from my home in rural Northumberland. But it can get a bit lonely and I find that I need contact with other creative people on a reasonably regular basis, or else I get a bit down and de-motivated. So I try to meet up with friends with similar interests fairly regularly and it just so happens that they are all women and all self employed.
Recently I have been struck by the fact that the conversations we have together often centre on finding the time and space to do it all. I should say at that point that they all have it far worse than me as they all have teenage children, which appear to be almost as big a time suck as toddlers. Anyway, I am not moaning about the lot of women here, but I have been reflecting a lot about how self employed women manage their time, space and roles, especially when working from home.
I know that not having enough time is an issue for most people, but when you are working from home it can be hard to be strict about good time management. For women this can often mean that their time is continually drained away by managing their home and the needs of their family. So they end up snatching brief moments to run their business, often when they are tired and not at their best.
Also when you work from home your work space and living space become one. So not only do you continually see all the domestic chores that need to be done, but you also see all the business chores that need to be done as well. For some people, this can mean that it becomes very difficult to give yourself permission to have down time, where you do nothing.
Finding enough physical space to work at home can also be a problem. I am lucky as I have a lovely little conservatory to work from (pictured above) and I can close the door on this. Mind you there are 3 other rooms in the house that are now full of greetings cards, prints and packaging! One of my friends who works from home has no designated work area and has to work on the kitchen table and store her stuff where she can around the house.
Finally, I want to talk about head space, which in my opinion is also vital if you are an artist or run your own business. I think you need head space in order to think creatively and by head space I mean taking a break from thinking about day to day life and worries. Although I really do not like winter, this is the time when I am at my most creative these days and I think it’s no coincidence that this is the quietest time for us as a business. Getting into the zone takes time. But you also need to be able to physically get away from the demands of your day to day life, either by leaving your home/workplace or shutting yourself away in a room of one’s own. In my opinion head space is the trickiest space to find of all. Now I really should be getting on with last night’s dirty dishes......
This is a lovely local craft fair organised by Alnwick's very own Bailiffgate Museum. The museum is very much a people’s museum, where fascinating stories of the past are told about the town and district of Alnwick. The museum is independently run and housed in a beautiful old church in the town's historic quarter. In addition to the shop and museum displays downstairs, there is also a large gallery area upstairs where you can see a variety of exhibitions throughout the year.
The museum supports local artists and makers by selling their work in the museum shop and putting on regular art exhibitions. As the museum have hand-picked the all the stall holders you can expect the items on sale to be high quality and locally made. There'll also be tea, coffee and lots of homemade cakes. We'll be there selling our cards and prints and hope to see you there.
Friday 23rd (10am - 6pm) & Saturday 24th June 2017 (10am - 5pm).
Mitchells Lakeland Livestock Centre | Cockermouth | Cumbria | CA13 0QQ.
Preparing for new pictures using rare white Harris Tweed
Spring is finally coming to Rock Village in rural Northumberland and there are carpets of snowdrops and winter aconites. This has inspired me to want to create a couple of snowdrop pictures and so I went out taking photos yesterday.. The first picture will be all about spring with winter aconites and snowdrops. So I'm happy as I've now got lots of good photos to work from.
However, I want the second picture to be a wintery scene of snowdrops peeping through the snow. So I has planned to go out and a take a second lot of photos today as we were told in no uncertain terms that we would have a shed load of snow. But what have we got....no snow and loads of torrential rain instead!
Quite a few years ago I bought some rather special white Harris Tweed (also pictured above) and I'm going to use this for my snowdrops. As far as I'm aware, this is a very rare piece of fabric. The person who sold it to me told me that it had been woven specially to make a Harris Tweed wedding dress as part of the finale of a fashion show held at Stornoway in 2011 to celebrate the centenary year of the Harris Tweed ‘orb’ trademark. I've searched on the internet and found a supporting article and photo (see below) in The Hebridean News (click here to read.) I've certainly never seen any more white Harris Tweed since.and it is a very useful colour in my work. So I think I'm very lucky to have found it. All I need now is some snow before the snowdrops all disappear!
This is the final lineup of all my Harris Tweed paintings for the pop-up Left Bank Gallery exhibition from 13th - 25th March 2017 at the Harbour Cottage Gallery in Kirkcudbright, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland. Prints of all these images will also be for sale at the exhibition.
Prints and greetings cards of these all these images are also now available with free postage and packing from the PRINTS & CARDS page on my website www.brightseedtextiles.com.
Further information about all these originals (except "Seascape III" ) can also be found on my TWEED ORIGINALS website page. As "Seascape III" is long and thin, the image won't really work on my originals gallery page. The picture is 22" x 10" in size (unframed) and the price including a contemporary box lime washed wood frame is £500.
"Highland Cattle II"
This one of several new pieces of work I have done for a special pop up exhibition, curated by Emma Moore (previously of the Left bank Gallery, Kirkcudbright) to be held at the Harbour Cottage Gallery in Kirkcudbright from March 13th until March 25th.
This new picture is also available as a print in 2 sizes from my online shop for £25 (unlimted edition) and £75 (limited edition) with free postage and packing. Greetings cards with this design to follow soon.
Kirkcubright (pictured above) is a beautiful small town on the banks of the river Dee in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland. Kirkcudbright is known as an artist’s town due to its long association with the Glasgow art movement, which started when several artists, including the Glasgow Boys and the Scottish Colourists, based themselves in the area over a 30-year period from 1880 to 1910 and established the Kirkcudbright Artists' Colony. The town also hosts a fantastic arts and crafts trail each summer in August. Visit www.artandcraftstrail.com to find out more.
The Harbour Cottage Gallery (pictured above) is the oldest gallery in Kirkcudbright, and is managed by the Kirkcudbright Harbour Cottage Gallery Trust, which was founded in 1955. The gallery aims to 'further the Arts in the widest meaning of the term' by providing an exhibition space for local professional and amateur artists and by showing the work of artists from further afield. Each year between Easter and December the Gallery hosts a wide range of exhibitions, including an 'Open' Exhibition in early summer, aimed at encouraging and supporting new and developing artists.
Tracy Jamar is an American textile artist based in New York. Back in the summer of 2015 she approached me, after seeing some of my posts of my rag rugged work on my facebook page, and asked if she could feature some of my work in her forthcoming book. The book has just been published. My copy still hasn't arrived yet, so I don't know which pictures of my work have made the cut, but it's all very exciting!
As ever, my rag rugged work is made out of Harris Tweed. The work Tracy wanted to include involved shirring (where strips of fabric are sewn onto the base fabric) and wrapping (where strips of fabric are wrapped around a base rope/cord) and coiling (where strips of fabric are rolled up and then sewn onto the base fabric).
If you want to find out more, you'll either have to come on one of my rag rugging workshops or buy Tracy's book. I've included some example pictures below that are likely to be similar to the images appearing in Tracy's book.
You can see more of my rag rugged work on my gallery page at www.rebelragruggers.co.uk. To find out more about Tracy visit her website www.tracyjamar.com or her facebook page Tracy Jamar FiberWorks
This is my latest needle felted Harris Tweed painting of a Barn Owl out hunting across snowy fields on a very moonlit night. We are very lucky in that where we live we often see Barn Owls at night and I have even once seen one hunting during the day when the ground was covered in deep snow.
I loved using a pale grey and white Harris Tweed to suggest the feathers on the birds wings. The white Harris Tweed I have used for the face is a very rare tweed that I bought a few years ago. I am led to believe that it was specially made to make a wedding dress for the finale of a Harris Tweed fashion show held on the island. I've certainly never seen it for sale anywhere since.
I had hoped that this picture might be ready as a card for this Christmas, but unfortunately I didn't get it finished in time. However it is is available now as a print in two sizes - 12 inch square - £75 and 7.5 inches square - £25 with free postage and packing.
The original itself is 15 inches square (without frame) and costs £500. It is framed in a plain, flat contemporary wooden box frame approx. 1. 5 inches wide and deep, with a white lime wash finish. Postage and packing with full insurance is an additional £25.
I am a Northumberland based textile artist and I create needle felted paintings with Harris Tweed and wool yarns.