Monday 25 December 2023

Merry Christmas 2023


(some of our Christmas decorations)

Merry Christmas to all blog readers and commenters (who celebrate this festive season).

(another Christmas decoration)
As has become my Christmas tradition, here is the quote from one of my favourite Christmas carols, "It came upon the midnight clear", written by Edmund Sears in 1849.

"Yet with the woes of sin and strife

The world has suffered long;

Beneath the angel-strain have rolled

Two thousand years of wrong;

And man, at war with man, hears not 

The love song which they bring;

O hush the noise, ye men of strife,

And hear the angels sing." 

I wish the men of strife would hush and there could be some peace in the world.

(My Christmas cards this year)

To end on a positive, I quote from Desiderata (a 1927 prose poem by Max Ehrmann): 

"...And whatever your labours and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy."

(Another Christmas card I made this year)
May I wish you a happy, healthy and peaceful festive season.

Thursday 21 December 2023

Winter gardening and looking forward

So far, December has been wet, grey and a bit dismal.  The garden is looking rather bedraggled and unkempt.  I leave all the flower heads and seed heads over winter, for insects and birds and winter interest. When I venture out, which is most days, I look forward to seeing the garden changing with the seasons. I am trying to have something in flower for every month in the year and so far, I think the garden is managing that. Above is camellia Yoimachi, proving it was a good buy.
There is also Camellia Yuletide, a relatively recent addition, but with lovely red flowers.  It is certainly earning its place.
While not yet in flower, some of my hellebores are showing they will be soon. Above is Hellebore Ericsmithii Winter Sunshine.  I was very excited to see these buds.
Here is hellebore Hello White Pearl, proving to be a real stalwart, along with...
...Hellebore Hello Ruby.  While I don't want to wish the days away, it's lovely to be able to look forward to what is yet to come.

Thursday 14 December 2023

Wanderlust 2023 - weeks forty-one to forty-nine - Monoprinting and carving

I was really looking forward to the final focus of monoprinting and carving and I really did enjoy it.  The first week was looking at different kinds of carving and printing  and we used stencils on the gel plate, heat sensitive printing foam (where you heat the foam, press an object into it and an image is created.  When you have finished, you heat the foam again and the image disappears. I used some japanese anemone seedheads), foam shapes on a kitchen roll inner and a lino print.

My linoprint was of honesty seedheads, from a calendar - 'silver pennies'.
The next week was making papers using the gel plate and then creating a collage image.  My papers included corrugated cardboard, my own foam stamping plates, bubble wrap and my own stamps.  I chose the tree as we were enjoying nice autmnal weather.
Week forty three was using charcoal and then oil pastels on the gel plate. I had wanted to try using charcoal on the plate, but just hadn't got round to it, so this was my chance.  We used a photo to trace over using the charcoal and then stuck the image to the gel plate.  We then made some 'wonky people' using oil pastels, which was a bit of a trial and error process, but I got there in the end.
We then had to represent a favourite place using gel plates and bearing value and contrast in mind.  My place (not that you'd know from the image) is Haddon Hall. The little bridge is represented by the arches, the swirls are roses, the wavy lines are the river, the castellations are just that, and the diamonds are the window panes.  I wasn't sure I had chosen the right colours, or that I had enough contrast... 
...but when I desaturated the image, it looked better than I thought.  There are light and dark areas.
We next made a lino print again from a photo and made decisions about how much to take away or whether to add patterns.  I was really pleased with this. I made a frame for the image with gel plate printed patterns.
For this week, we used a gel printed background which was a very colourful one.  We then painted out a lot of the colour using black acrylic.  I used a face stencils for my version and was pleased with how it turned out. I like the change of colours from warm to cool.
For the penultimate week, we took our inspiration from Matisse's paper cuts and designed our image using cut out paper.   We then made a lino print of the image and printed it on paper and material.  I decorated the paper print with acrylic pens and stitched over the material version.  
I used three stitches: backstitch, split stitch and french knots.  It took a while but the result was worth it.
The final week was just having fun with colour, so I did!
There was also a wrap up week, where we were encouraged to bind any loose pages and then make a cover for the journal. I need to decorate my cover, so shall do that shortly.
This year has been about experimenting with different media and I have learned a lot. I have found some lovely techniques and will be using them again in the future.  I have embraced some media, such as pastels, which I didn't think I liked.  
Most recently, I have rediscovered my love for lino printing and collage and this is an area I really want to develop, so this will be a focus next year.  I have also signed up to Wanderlust again next year, so it will be interesting to see what that will bring.

Wednesday 6 December 2023

Winter has arrived

Last week it was much colder, as winter started to make itself felt.  Above is Clematis Wyevale looking beautifully statuesque with a dusting of frost.  
As we were going into the city centre, we were stopped in our tracks by these amazing icy spiders' webs. 
They look so beautiful.
I can't remember ever seeing something similar, although it could be I just wasn't looking!
These are all at the front of the house, along the railings.
Aren't they incredible?
Then on Sunday morning, this is what greeted us.
Even with the frost, ice and snow, this salvia, Cerro Potosi, still had a flower.
The winter flowering jasmine was also braving the temperatures.
I also found two raspberries - one was eaten before I took the photo - and they still tasted good!