Fighting the January Blues

Fighting the winter blues is always a bit of a challenge, but when it’s so cold, the daylight is grey, at best and I am recovering from flu it’s more difficult than usual.

Inspiration and preparation

Painted backgrounds and threads ready to start stitching

I decided the antidote to potential misery was colourful embroideries! I had a few pieces in progress and decided to look at the most sunny and colourful to work on and found these flower based ideas.

Embroidered Lavender

Close up studies of lavender

I happily stitched and completed each background, enjoying the process after my trip to Aus and NZ which always means an enforced break from my own work.

Welsh Poppies from my garden

Welsh Poppies from my garden

It seemed to work and feeling enthused I trawled through all my photos from my recent trip to Australia and NZ to revisit all those blue skies and summer colour. I found a series of images from a beautiful rhododendron garden we stumbled across in the Blue Mountains. 2 of them immediately attracted me and seemed obvious choices for new work.

Sunlit Rhododendrons

Completed embroidery on the “Sunlight and Shadows” theme

They were just what I needed, colourful and vibrant to lift my spirits. Painting with bright colours and selecting lovely pinks, reds and bright blue threads to work with was already firing up my enthusiasm. I thought a series would be a good idea, thinking about my display at Chelsea in May (planning ahead!) and I remembered had taken some photographs of my own garden when the rhododendrons and blue ceonothus was in flower. So then I had 3 images to play around with and I wanted them to work together. Looking at the compositions and overall size was a good starting point.

Photographs of my garden and silk painted background

Photographs of my garden and silk painted background

Sketches followed, lots of standing back, looking, thinking and drinking tea! Finally a commitment was made on each piece and I could draw each one on to the silk and paint the background colours.

Painted background of the rhododendrons

Painted background of the rhododendrons

As usual some pre arranged teaching popped up in my schedule and an enforced break from my own work came along. It’s never a bad thing, I like the space between the processes, it gives me thinking time, stops me rushing in, too eager to finish a piece without due consideration.

So at this stage I have 3 backgrounds ready to stitch when I can get back into my studio! In the meantime winter is slipping by and the snowdrops are looking pretty outside my window. Daffodils will be next, hurry up spring!

Teaching in my Garden Studio

I have been organising my studio with teaching in mind and recently took delivery of some very smart tables and chairs! All part of the preparation for the 2 courses I will be running in there in March.I will be teaching 2 courses in March. The first one is “Up Close and Personal” when we will be learning to stitch the fine detail in close ups of flowers and leaves. Learning how to blend in stitch to create a smooth transition through colour and tonal ranges, plus interesting stitch techniques for petals, stamens etc.

The second course is “Texture in Nature” celebrating and exploring the colours, texture and detail of trees, concentrating on stitch techniques for tree bark. Some smooth, others craggy and covered in lichen and moss.

I had an email this week from a picture researcher at Quarto Publishing in London to say they love my work and would like to publish it in a new edition of the Encyclopedia of Embroidery Techniques. They told me they plan to update the book with some more contemporary embroidery examples in the gallery section and are looking for beautiful finished embroideries in a range of styles and stitches that reflecting different themes including landscapes, flowers etc. They chose several from the website and I have sent 10 examples of my work so they can print as many as they like! I am looking forward to seeing it.


Opening my new studio

My Open Studio event in June this year was the first opportunity for people to visit me in my new studio. Only a short time after coming home from my week at the Chelsea Flower Show it was a frantic ( more than usual! ) lead up to the first weekend. I enrolled the whole family to help, we were painting walls, making shelves, varnishing the floor, weeding the garden and hanging pictures on the walls, it was non stop activity!It was worth all the effort when we had lots of visitors over the 2 weekends and really good sales. Everyone enjoyed the new studio and with all the doors open it allowed people to stroll through to the garden and the summerhouse to see Myk’s photography display. Most of the time the weather was very kind and we had some sunshine!I am planning to have a quieter spell now, enjoying working in my new space, occasionally getting distracted by the garden and relishing the summer months ahead.

Between Wisley and Chelsea

The Wild Garden at Wisley

I have returned from my first show of the year at RHS Wisley, nr Guildford. It really was a top quality show in beautiful surroundings. We had 5 days to enjoy the gardens and meet new and valued customers, their response to my new embroideries was really wonderful. The event was also a great a practice run for Chelsea, after being in glorious isolation at home for months since my last exhibition it can be a shock to the system! I returned to see the progress on my new studio. Its a major project with a cloakroom, utility room and the studio room with its 2 sets of bi-fold glass doors. Its going to be ready for my Private View on June 12th…hopefully! I am thrilled with how it looks and can’t wait to get in there with my sewing machine and hang my embroideries on the walls.

Starting to lay the oak floorboards

Preparations for Chelsea are now high on my agenda, with a few more embroideries to frame and plants and pots to organise for the stand its a busy time. The mammoth task of fitting everything into the car is a challenge, we always manage somehow! There is so much to remember, hi-vis jackets, tickets, screwdriver, framing gun, clothes for all weather conditions, etc. etc. It is the major event of my year and demands my full attention before and during the week we are there. This will be my 22nd year as an exhibitor…I should know what I’m doing by now!

My centre piece for the stand at the Chelsea Flower Show ( 23 x 36 ins)

My New Studio

Work has begun on my new studio. We are converting the double garage behind the house into a teaching room and studio. There is a lot of work to do, the brick walls and ceiling need insulating, plastering, painting, and a wooden floor laid. The wall overlooking the garden and the garage door will be replaced by floor to ceiling bi-fold doors, so there will be lots of natural light.

Framework on the wall for the insulation and plaster

I currently work in a smaller studio the attic, (all jokes of artists starving in garrets have already been made, thank you!) so I am really looking forward to having more space to create in. On a sunny day it will be great being able to open up the doors and enjoy my garden. I will overlook the pond and my favourite tree, a corkscrew willow.

This wall will become glass bi-fold doors, my entrance to the garden

There it was …gone!

The view of the studio from my garden. Waiting for the glass doors to be fitted, bit draughty in there at the moment!

My regular students are looking forward to being in there too. It will be ready in time for my Open Studios event in June. I will be open 10am to 5pm on 13th, 14th and the following weekend, 20th, 21st

I will post more photographs as the work progresses. Exciting times!