Friday 30 December 2016

Looking back on 2016

When the year comes to an end I cannot help but reflect on the events of the year and wonder what 2017 has in store for me.

On Christmas Day I managed to get one photo of me with my two grandchildren Savannah and Jack where we were all looking at the camera at the same time!

I really enjoyed 2016; it started off in the best way when my daughter and her husband told us that they were having their first baby. I could hardly sleep on New Year's Eve because I was so excited for them. Then in August little Jack arrived, a dear little cousin for Savannah and I have spent many hours at their place helping them out with the baby. It is such a wonderful time.


I had my first year as President of Waverley Patchworkers and I really enjoyed it even though it was such a busy year with Waverley's 35th birthday, the Quilt Show and the Spring Gathering. I hope my second year is just as enjoyable. One of unexpected benefits of being President was being privy to both the good and bad news of the members. I was humbled by the friendship and support shown by the members to others in need.

I don't make New Year's resolutions these days but I do try and have some plans for improving my life and this year is no different.

1. Go back to art classes; I am going to do a drawing and watercolour class once a week. I have also booked into a weekend class in March by Malini Parker, an artist that I have admired for a while.

2. Go back to exercise classes; I have had trouble with an inflamed hip (bursitis) and after a lot of treatment the physiotherapist has recommended that I start walking and doing some yoga and strength classes. She said that if I want a healthy old age I have to make time for exercise.

3. Keep a sketchbook; I started a new sketchbook last week because I was sick on finding bits of paper everywhere with ideas or measurements etc. Now everything must go in the book and I'll know where to find it, instead of looking everywhere for a certain piece of paper.

4. Continue with my Coral Reef series; I am enjoying making quilts with the coral reef theme and I plan to continue these in 2017.

Life on the Reef ©2016 Linda Steele

I am starting 2017 by travelling to New Zealand to do two weeks of classes with Nancy Crow. Nancy teaches advanced classes in design and composition and is known for her forthright critiques. I am going with some trepidation because I don't do pieced quilts and am heading straight into the advanced classes without doing her beginner or intermediate classes. I hope I am not too much of a beginner compared to the other experienced and usually very talented and well known quilters that are also attending the class.

 We quilters mainly work on our quilts at home in a solitary manner and I relish the thought of taking my quilts to a higher level and receiving some honest feedback.

We have to bring 100 yards of plain fabric and I am travelling there by plane so I had to buy extra baggage allowance to bring all the fabric. Apparently the classes are hard work with timed exercises and critiques. The classrooms open at 6.30am until 10.30pm and previous participants have worked there the entire time. We live on site and meals are provided.

Here is a photo of the fabric I have bought for the workshop, I had to buy it all because I didn't have any plain fabrics in my stash. I also have a bolt of black and a bolt of white fabric to take because apparently we go through a lot of it. It doesn't look like a lot of fabric in the photo but it is and it is quite heavy.

It sounds like a dream to sew non stop for two weeks with meals provided. I'll let you know all about the classes when I come back.

The classes I am doing are Improvisations: Let's Experiment part 2 and Lines, Shapes and Figure-Ground Composition Part 2 (advanced)

Let's hope we all have a happy and successful 2017!

Bye for now,

Tuesday 20 December 2016

Merry Christmas 2016

It's that busy time of year again where all everyone can think about is tidying up loose ends, parties and shopping for presents. I am doing all of the above as well as trying to fit in some sewing.

We bought a new Christmas tree this year because our last one was becoming a bit shabby. We decided to decorate it in only silver and we are very happy to have a change from the usual mix of colours.

I got out my collection of nutcrackers and took their photo, I have resisted buying anymore for a few years now because they all fit nicely on my mantelpiece but I had to be very strong this year because there were some lovely ones in the shops.

It's our turn to have the family over for lunch this year and I managed to find Christmas crackers and paper serviettes with nutcrackers on them as well.

I am looking forward to Christmas this year; Grandchildren certainly bring the joy back into Christmas. My daughter sent me a little video of Savannah skipping around the room and singing to the tune of 'Santa Claus is Coming', now we can't get the song out of our heads as well. She is so excited even though her photo with Santa had her looking a little more subdued. She loves him much better from a distance!

Savannah is very excited though and cannot stop dancing. Two is such a lovely age.

In between helping my daughters with some babysitting and shopping for presents I have been doing some sewing. I have been making quite a large quilt in my Coral Reef series and for some reason I thought I might have it finished by the end of the year!

That was not to be because I decided to try out a number 60 needle and it broke my needle threader; apparently you have to manually thread the small number 60 needles because the hole is too small for the automatic threader. I took it in to be fixed two weeks ago and I still haven't got it back.

I do have other machines that I could use but I love my Bernina 820 and I have all the bobbins set up in various colours and I love the big throat space.

I can still do hand stitching in my spare time and I transformed a plain spot fabric into coral by doing lots of colonial knots.

Plain spot fabric

Coral with colonial knots

Even I was surprised at the difference it made.

Merry Christmas

Bye for now,

Tuesday 13 December 2016

David Hockney Exhibition

I was so excited to see the David Hockney exhibition at the NGV (National Gallery of Victoria). We had studied him with the Waverley Art Quilters in 2014 and I was really drawn to his latest landscape work.

The exhibition is called Current and it includes all his latest work including his huge landscape called Bigger Trees Near Warter which took up the whole wall of one of the rooms in the gallery. The original painting was done on many different canvasses and then hung together. These paintings were then printed and framed and put on the other three walls so once you entered the room you were surrounded by the landscape.

Bigger trees near Warter 2007 David Hockney
You can get an idea of the huge scale by looking at the person standing in the bottom left of the picture.

Of course I had to have a photo of myself in front of it just to prove that I was actually seeing it.

David Hockey is in his 80's but that doesn't mean he has slowed down; he loves the current technology and bought the Brushes app for his Ipad and Iphone as soon as it came out.

The paintings that he has produced on these devices have been printed out on a large scale and were displayed. I particularly loved the spring paintings.

The arrival of Spring in Wolgate 2011 David Hockey
Can you believe that he has done that painting on an Ipad?

There were screens set up around the exhibition that looked like a huge Ipad and you could see a video of him doing the painting from scratch. What really amazed me was how many layers he used. Just when I thought a section was complete he would go over it some more.

We could have been there for hours; there was so much to see. There was a huge gallery of portraits that he painted of his friends and acquaintances over two years and other paintings playing with perspective but I preferred his landscapes.

I bought the book that seems to contain all the images from the show as well as some of his older work and a big interview with him about his life and his thoughts on painting.

The images in the book are large so you can get an idea of the marks that he makes when producing his paintings.

We are so lucky to live in Melbourne and have the gallery bring these wonderful exhibitions to us. Earlier in the year we had the Degas paintings and last year we had Monet, every year we are presented with these wonderful displays.

The David Hockney exhibition is on until the 13th March 2017, so there is plenty of time to see it. I am going to try and see it again before it closes. I am such a fan and have recorded two documenteries about him over the last couple of years and I have lost count of the number of times that I have watched them. One of the films follows him around over 12 months while he is painting the huge landscape which was one of the reasons that I was so thrilled to see it in this exhibition.

You can see the post I did on David Hockney in 2014 by clicking here.

Bye for now,

Tuesday 6 December 2016

SAQA Trunk Show-The Reef

I belong to the international art quilting group named SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates). They made a call for everyone to make a small 10" x 7" little art quilt for them to use at various venues to promote their group. Even though I am only a fledgling art quilter compared to the talented members around the world, I thought I would do a little quilt for them. I wanted to do a little underwater quilt because that is all that seems to be in my head these days.

When it came to getting started though I felt a bit stuck and truth to be told I had not very much free time.

As I was looking through my fabrics I came across the little composition I made at the Fibre Forum earlier this year.

It was too big but not by much and I had fused the motifs using a dry iron so I could easily lift them off.

I cut it down and changed the placement of some of the motifs.

Then I went to my set of Madeira rayon threads and chose colours to match all the elements. I put a piece of tear-away behind the quilt so the quilt top didn't bunch up when I did the stitching.

Here's what it looked like stitched.

Of course it always looks better after it has been quilted. I was given a sample of quilting felt to try from Embroidery Source and so I used that as the batting. I was very happy with the result and might use it again. The quilt stayed thin and not too puffy but it had some body unlike when you use a thin pellon and the quilt is all limp.

The Reef- 10"x 7"
I entered it into the trunk show and they accepted it and so I have already posted it to them. I hope they end up using it for something.

Bye for now,