Categories: art


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Starry Landscapes And My Instagram

Hello and happy Wednesday!


Sad news: the comments still aren’t working around here, so it feels a bit lonely and like I’m talking to myself (actually, that’s nothing new!). Lack of conversation is the reason I didn’t post last week, but feel free to drop me a line while I try and sort the problem out. I’d love to hear from you.

Let’s change the subject before I start ranting!

Moving On

Fete‘, my latest finished quilt top, is still waiting for me to buy the wadding so in the mean time I’ve been faffing about with an old idea. Remember these stars from 2016? I made them when I was away camping on Exmoor last August (read more here and see some of the inspiring scenery).

English Paper Piecing - Joining Stars with Diamonds © Stephanie Boon, 2016 All Rights Reserved

Exmoor Stars version 1 from 2016

Exmoor Stars

The beginnings of this patchwork reminded me of a night time walk on the moor when there was an incredible moon, magnificent clear skies and twinkling stars. Trouble is, I decided I didn’t like the patchwork (above) after all.

I think it’s something to do with the size of the diamonds (7cm) – and too much of the ‘dirty pink’ print, so I tried again.

Making a star patchwork with English paper piecing. © Stephanie Boon, 2017.

Exmoor Stars, version 2 with 5cm diamonds

I started fiddling about with it again recently and version 2 was born. This time I’m using 5cm diamonds.

Size Matters

Making a star patchwork with English paper piecing. © Stephanie Boon, 2017.

2cm difference!

2cm makes a surprising difference, one that makes me much happier. The smaller size diamonds means I’ll have a bigger variety of scraps to use, although I’m going to stick to a fairly strict palette of blues/greenish-blues (bye bye dirty pink). Collecting enough blue scraps from other projects will take a while, but that’s not a problem because Exmoor Stars is a ‘Janie Day’ project!

‘A what project?’, you ask? ‘Janie Day’ is a weekly lunch date with an old friend, Janie. I hope that clears it up! We both bring along something to work on; Janie usually knits and I sew. Last year I worked on my Quilty365 circles, but this year I haven’t really got into a groove. Until Now.

English Paper Piecing For Lunch!

English Paper Piecing on the go sewing pouch. © Stephanie Boon, 2017.

All ready to go

Everything I need for Exmoor Stars is all prepped, packed and ready to work on for a few months. I enjoyed getting a minimal kit together  – what do you have in yours? I have:

  • cheap thread snippers (don’t want to lose my favourite scissors)
  • a few dressmaker’s pin, sewing needles and a random quilting pin (sometimes handy for keeping things together)
  • tacking and sewing thread
  • basted diamonds
  • a few extra templates and cut diamonds – just in case I get really busy!

It all fits in a lightweight case that my friend Roz made for me, which is much easier to carry than plastic boxes – especially when you travel by bike as I do. This little case is smaller than some people’s wallets – and nowhere near as full, haha!

Free Templates

I experimented with a number of different size diamonds before I settled on the 5cm size and then I decided to draw up a ‘master sheet’ so that I could print off several at a time.

Drawing up an accurate template sheet takes a while, so I saved it as a pdf to share with you. Save the file or print off the sheet for a future project and photocopy or print as many sheets as you need.

If you’re new to Epp my tutorial for making 6 point stars will get you off to a good start!


I Love Instagram!

Fancy a chat? I try and post to Instagram (IG) every day and at the moment it’s the best place to find me until I get the comments sorted here. It’s such a friendly place and I love it far more than Facebook, Twitter and all the rest – where do you like to hang out? If you’ve got an IG account drop me a line and I’ll come and find you!

Walking On IG

I’ve done enough walking to make my legs fall off recently, in an effort to gear myself up for some strenuous hiking on the Cornish coast path this summer. Cornwall has 296 miles of coastline and I’ve done about 80 or so as a continuous line so far. My Instagram account’s full of pictures of the fantastic landscape I live in and this week I’ve been sharing landscape drawings I’ve done when I’ve been out about too.

Across The Valley. Brightly coloured pastel drawing by © Stephanie Boon, 2017. All Rights Reserved.

Across The Valley – Monday’s drawing on a local walk. I shared pictures of the drawing as I was working on it, as well as the finished article.

The Saint Michael’s Way

Fridays or Saturdays are ‘long walk days’ but I’m cutting the miles down to about 13 this weekend, which means I can travel further afield. I’m heading to St Ives on the north coast to walk the St Michael’s Way (part of the Compostela de Santiago), which finishes on the south coast at the iconic St Michael’s Mount.

St Michael's Mount from The Scillonian ferry. © Stephanie Boon, 2014

St Michael’s Mount from The Scillonian ferry, 2014

Make sure you check out my IG for pictures and drawings along the way – there are some spectacular views.  The forecast is for overcast weather with strong winds, so it should be clear enough but I hope I don’t lose my drawings along the way!

I’m linking up with Lorna for Let’s Be Social today, but before I head off don’t forget you can email me anytime, until I get the darn comment form sorted out!

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015

Art Studio – Evening Self Portrait


I stare intensely at my eyes and they stare blackly back at me. I can’t find who I am. Every time I sit to look there’s someone different looking back at me. Today is an anxious, de-feminised version of myself. I can never connect with what I see; never like what I see. Instead I try to capture what it is I feel.

Self portrait, pastel on paper (in A3 sketchbook) © Stephanie Boon, 2015

Pastel on Paper (A3 sketchbook) 6 November 2015

The self is not contained in any moment or any place, but it is only in the intersection of moment and place that the self might, for a moment, be seen vanishing through a door, which disappears at once. Winters J 1989, ‘Sexing the Cherry’, London, Vintage

Heavy rain’s lashing against my bedroom window and there’s a strong wind whipping about the lane outside. I’m still wide awake in the small hours (3am to be precise) and the world feels like a black and quiet place.  In the darkness and the emptiness I realise there’s no point of reference for who I am. Maybe when I draw self portraits this is what I’m grasping for, a point of reference. I’m not sure, but it’s a compelling idea at 3 in the morning.

Staring at yourself intently for an hour and a half, more, is probably more than most people ever do. It can be strangely calming. The running commentary in your head finally switches off and you just feel the chalk moving in your hand, your fingers rubbing it hard into the paper. It’s a physical experience. Your hand follows your eye. Your eye watches the way the light falls across your face, the way it changes with every slight tilt of the head. You just let go.

An Intense Self

I watched a BBC programme The Face of Britain on British self portraits this afternoon (on BBC iPlayer until 3rd December) with the art historian Simon Shama. It  coincides with an exhibition at The National Portrait Gallery in London (until 4th January 2016). Shama was his usual engaging self, and the works he discussed particularly interesting, but something he said struck me as utterly wrong in the context of my own self portraits:

“They reveal that when an artist looks at themselves in the mirror it becomes the battleground between vanity and verity, flattery and truth.”

The artist looking in a mirror to drawing a self portrait © Stephanie Boon, 2015

Drawing a self portrait (it may end up in the bin because I over sprayed it with Spraymount and the paper became unworkable).

I don’t feel driven by any feelings of vanity or self flattery. Nothing could be further from my intentions. If there is a battle, often there is, it’s to discover who I am, to answer a question. Of course you want that to be the truth, but it’s more like trying to unearth the inside from what I see on the outside. But what’s on the inside feels consistently unknowable. All I can say for sure is that I feel things intensely. I’m an intense person. Maybe that shows in the drawings?

At any rate, I’m an intense person that’s gone down a rabbit hole. I’ll stop now before I go any further into the warren.

If you get the opportunity to see the programme or are lucky enough to get to the exhibition, I highly recommend it. It’s thought provoking, with some interesting work that you may not have seen before.

Back tomorrow for some sensible slow Sunday stitching with Kathy!

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Art Studio – Sunset in Pastel

Sunset Over Kea Downs

'Sunset from Kea Downs' Fine Art Drawing, Pastel on Paper © Stephanie Boon, 2015

Sunset Over Kea Downs

I packed up my pastels in a rucksack earlier this week, tucked a few sheets of A3 paper and a sturdy board under my arm and headed out for a walk. I wasn’t planning on going far, 6 miles or so.  I had no plan at all really, just the feeling that I wanted to find somewhere to draw. I left home later than I intended and it wasn’t long before sunset.


I headed out along Kea Downs which gives far reaching views towards the hill of Carn Brea, a local landmark with a memorial to the mine owning Basset family on top.

Field of Maize near Chacewater © Stephanie Boon, 2015

Footpath across a field of maize

I usually carry an Ordnance Survey map with me, even on local walks: I like to find new paths or tracks to explore and you never know what gem you’ll find next. I didn’t need the map for a familiar footpath across a field of maize, but when it’s grown taller than me I sometimes think I’ll be lost in it forever. The path goes down into the village of Chacewater and I headed out again on the other side through unfamiliar, stony bridle tracks, consulting the map every so often to check my progress.

At the top of one particularly steep bridleway there was a spectacular view over the valley. It was scarred with the usual abandoned mine workings and waste that haunt the landscape across Cornwall.

Close to sunset at Creegbrawse, nr Chacewater. © Stephanie Boon, 2015

View across the valley

By now it was close to sunset, the sun was hanging low in the sky and cast a pinkish glow over the landscape, but I still hadn’t seen anything in particular I wanted to draw.  I sat down beside a metal farm gate and watched a small herd of cattle as they came towards me to check me out, probably expecting to be fed.  I sat for a while watching them, rubbing their soft heads which they shook away like a horse shakes off a fly with its tail.

I decided to head back home down another unexplored track and gave up hope of finding anything inspiring. But back on Kea Downs road, after the sun had dipped below the horizon, the sky turned into an incredible spectacle of changing pinks and reds, sometimes washed with golds, all with a rich purply darkness for a backdrop. I decided I had nothing to lose.

I scrambled up on top of a high hedge covered in thorny brambles and started drawing the sky. The colours shifted and changed quickly until darkness fell.  I carried on drawing until I couldn’t tell whether I was picking up a grey or purple chalk any more, then packed up and trudged home.

'Sunset from Kea Downs' Fine Art Drawing, Pastel on Paper © Stephanie Boon, 2015

Sunset Over Kea Downs

Coldness had fallen with the dark.

If you enjoyed this, why not read about one of my collage pieces next?

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015


Improv quilting is calling my name!

Improv Quilting: Floating The Squares quilt, © Stephanie Boon, 2105

Floating the Squares

Hello! I’m glad you’re here today because I’m excited to show you my finished quilt top!  (It’s the first one I’ve made following an improv quilting ‘score’ from Sherri Lynn Wood’s book The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters by Sherri Lynn Wood.) I’m still rather unimaginatively calling it ‘Floating the Squares‘, but I think I’m in love!  It took me a while to figure out the last section with so little fabric left – that’s one way to force yourself to improvise.  I knew it wouldn’t get much bigger in size and wanted to make sure it was balanced and flowing.

Imrpov Quilting: Floating The Squares quilt, © Stephanie Boon, 2105

Development of the ‘bottom’ section (the quilt is hanging up the other way on the wall)

Someone suggested that the large pink square on the left hand side in the picture above stood out too much, but that’s one of my favourite areas!  He suggested that was because of the orange!!! I can’t deny I love orange and I like the way the ‘path’ skirts around the square (and the way the same (smaller) shape is almost repeated on the adjacent edge), but what I love most is the way the eye is drawn to that side and takes the focal point away from the expected centre.  I think I might draw the eye to it even more when it comes to quilting it.  I’ve got to get some of my other projects quilted first though!


Improv Quilting: Floating The Squares quilt, © Stephanie Boon, 2105

Pastel drawing and the quilt top

When I tacked it to the wall in the sitting room I was surprised by the similarity in colours between the landscape sketch I’d propped up on top of the radiator and the quilt.  Strong blues, reds and orange, a slick of green.  Seeing the connection made me think about how I use colours to evoke place, and what else I could experiment with to evoke that in a quilt.  Shape, texture, maybe pattern.  Improv quilting is the way to explore further and I’m keen to move on. I wondered what I could learn from someone else’s approach to improv quilting but even after just this one experiment I’d say that what it does is broaden your thinking.  Making something in a way that’s characteristic of someone else’s practice isn’t where I plan to end up, it’s where I plan to begin.  I have strong images in my mind of what I want my own improv quilting to become.

Improv Quilting: Floating The Squares quilt, © Stephanie Boon, 2105

This way up! The finished top.

Improv Quilting with Strings

Exploring strings is up next in the book and I’m excited by the opportunities this technique might give me. I’ve been sorting through my fabrics and I’ve noticed I don’t have many strips that go the full width of fabric, which is what Sherri Lynn Wood suggests.  It strikes me I’m at a fork in the road: I could follow the score, which would mean buying fabric (and I have an edict that says I can’t!), or could develop the score my own way and improvise with what I have. I always did like unmarked paths best, how about you?

Linking up with My Quilt Infatuation and Finish it up Friday – the first in quite a while!  Have you seen Amanda Jean’s hand pieced and quilted stars quilt? Makes me feel guilty about my own Grandma’s Flower Garden quilt top, sitting patiently on the arm of my bedroom chair waiting for some borders and quilting…

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Happy improvising!
Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015

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Art Studio – filling up a sketchbook

The last two pages in my Moleskine sketchbook are done!  I filled it up with two watercolour sketches during the week and feel pretty satisfied that I can close the cover on this one.

Sketchbook watercolour 2015: Looking across Butney Banks. © Stephanie Boon, 2015

Looking across Butney Banks 1,  July 2015

Both sketches are looking out at the same view across a nearby creek and were done one after the other.  I much prefer the last one: it feels lighter and more fluid, not so overworked (which I still blame on the poor quality paints!).

Sketchbook watercolour 2015: Looking across Butney Banks. © Stephanie Boon, 2015

Looking across Butney Banks 2, July 2015

It’s so peaceful and relaxing sitting on the quay gazing out across the water (or mud flats when the tide’s out), listening to curlews and buzzards.  At the moment the edges of the creek are rimmed with bright green samphire, which is inedible because of the amount of arsenic in it. Still, it adds a slick of beautiful colour to the view.

Why I loved this sketchbook

          The one thing I loved about the Moleskine sketchbook is the way both sides of paper are sized, so you can work across both pages like I have in these sketches, which isn’t possible with conventional watercolour paper.   It’s got a nice cold pressed paper (slightly textured), but I found that with the quality of these particular paints it would lift if I wasn’t careful (lift means that it gets a rough, very absorbent texture where the size lifts off).  It’s a perfect size for carrying around though and fits easily into a bag, or even a pocket.

Since I filled it up I bought a new (different) book but it’s not as good; I won’t be able to use it for watercolour as the paper’s too thin, so it’ll just be tucked in my bag for drawing only.  I’ve used a wide range of sketchbooks over the years, but I still like to experiment and try new ones. Which sketchbook would you recommend and why?  Maybe it’s one I should try?
Back tomorrow with some slow stitching, have a great weekend!

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Art Studio



I don’t know about you, but I find carrying a heavy camera around with me everywhere I go a right pain in the bum!  Enter the camera-phone. Lightweight, discreet and pretty good pictures. Sometimes. But the trouble with snapshots is that they’re just that: a quick click of a button and you move on.  What do you really look at, really see?  A better way of looking is to carry a sketchbook and pencil in your bag.  Add a small palette of colour (watercolour, coloured pencils, etc) and you can come home with a much truer picture of the things that catch your eye.

I’ve had my head down for so long though that I haven’t been looking around me with any real focus. But recently, when I’ve been out walking locally, I’ve felt the need to drink in the landscape and have rummaged around in my well-worn rucksack to find my tiny, not-quite-A6  Moleskine sketchbook (it’s 3.5″ x 5.5″) and 7b pencil.  There they are at the bottom of the sack in a clear, scrunched up plastic bag with a rubber (eraser) and a (useless) pencil sharpener. Probably lighter than an iPhone.  Definitely more creative (for me anyway).

© Stephanie Boon, 2015 A6 pencil and wash: Misty hillside Coosebean

Misty Hillside, Coosebean. Pencil and wash.

© Stephanie Boon, 2015 A6 pencil sketch: Truro Cathedral

View over the Cathedral. Pencil.

© Stephanie Boon, 2015 A6 pencil and wash: Coast Path, Porthtowan

Thrift. Coast Path, Porthtowan.  Pencil and wash.

© Stephanie Boon, 2015 A6 pencil and wash: Coast Path, Porthtowan (detail)


Some sketches get finished, some, like the Oak Tree (below), don’t.  Sometimes you have to move on too soon; it doesn’t matter.  With more regular practice you can train your eye to see/draw more quickly.  This particular sketchbook has some pretty rudimentary stuff in it.  Embarrassing really, but it’s been a while since I’ve been able to do any regular sketching. I’ll get back into it. In the mean time, I’m not worrying.  It’s a sketchbook, so who’s going to see it except me?  Oh, and you of course – but I’m only showing you some of the ‘best’ bits!

© Stephanie Boon, 2015 A6 pencil: Oak Tree, St Clement

Oak Tree, St Clement. Pencil.


‘Best’ is a matter of opinion. It doesn’t even matter if you think you can’t draw: take a sketchbook and a few coloured pencils or watercolours (watercolour pencils are great too), look at something closely but don’t try to draw it representationally.  Just draw some squares and fill them in trying to capture the colours you see.  For example, you could look at a rose in a hedgerow – what colours are there?  The petals won’t be just one shade of pink so try and fill your squares with the variety of pinks you see.  There might be yellow stamen, but what sort of yellow are they? Gradually you’ll begin to build up a picture of the rose by colour.  You could photograph it too, to stick in later. Write notes. It’s a great way to design a colour scheme for a patchwork quilt.


Snatching a few minutes here and there for drawing has been fulfilling this last week or so.  Kim’s health is slowly improving and my concentration has improved along with it.  Looking through this sketchbook reminds me of that; but I wonder if maybe it’s the walking itself that’s helped with concentration.  I find it quite a meditative process, especially over longer distances.  A couple of times this week I’ve walked between 10 and 13 miles and that’s when I really start to lose myself. I’ve been thinking about hiking a lot lately. Getting itchy feet. I’ve got a strong desire to head off into some hills for a while, or out on the coast path at least.  But it’s raining, pouring in fact, and I don’t have any shelter.  So, for now, I’ll have to take day hikes. And remember to pack a sketchbook.

What do you do to help you concentrate?

Back soon with something stitchy, until next time, have a great weekend.


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Art Studio

Hello dear friends. I’m sorry it’s been a very empty week here on the blog and social media;  I’ve missed you and missed visiting you around the internet too, but Kim is still unwell and taking care of him has been my priority. In quieter moments though I’ve managed some patchwork and hand quilting and look forward to sharing it with you – I’ve just not had the time to put it into pictures and words, but I have finally made a start so hopefully will be able to show you something in the next day or two.

Kim has obviously been preoccupying me, so for this week’s Art Studio post I thought I’d show you a couple of drawings I made of him when he was much younger.  Mostly I only get to draw him when he’s asleep! He really doesn’t want to sit still for me for more than 5 minutes, so most of the portraits I do of him end up in the bin or really aren’t very good at all.  I still quite like these sketches though:

Portrait of Kim, Graphite, 1999. © Stephanie Boon, 1999

1 Year Old, 1999

Portrait of Kim, Pen and Ink, 2004. © Stephanie Boon, 2004

6 years old, 2004

Portrait of Kim, Graphite, 2011. © Stephanie Boon, 2011

13 years old, 2011

They’re all quite different really, but each one captures something of him, for me.  I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing them.  Hopefully I’ll be back on Sunday for some slow stitching, fingers crossed.

Happy Easter and happy stitching.

Much love

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Art Studio

My temples and jaw ache from clenching my teeth. All week it seems.  Stress. Difficult things to address, deadlines to meet. Even quilting hasn’t helped. There’s just been no time. Instead I’ve been sewing a dress for a friend, designing the pattern from scratch. It was a pretty time consuming task alongside the all encompassing health appointments for both my son and me.  I took solace in a book. A wonderful, poetic book of non-fiction. It’s the type of book I’m particularly drawn to these days: H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald.

The wind was battering my bedroom window this morning and I decided to hibernate, stay under the covers the day long.  It was the first day with no commitments for what felt like an eternity.  Between bouts of deep, headache-inducing sleep I read.  I read about a bereavement and the ensuing depths of depression of a woman who retreated from the world of humans and lived for and alongside, even inside, her goshawk. I recognise her fall into blackness only too well and I wonder how far I am heading into the gloom now.

I think about today’s Art Studio post, this post, and what I could possibly show you. I’m not in the mood for joyous colours today and the book has woken a memory of my own obsession with a bird of prey in 2007. I found a dead tawny owl. I found scores of dead birds and drew them, identified with them. I was enduring another interminably long episode of chronic depression and the obsession seemed to be the only meaning I could find in anything.

Here are a few of the owl drawings I made. If you don’t like to be confronted with death, maybe you’d prefer not to look, but for me there was a strange beauty in it that I couldn’t stop searching for.


In the Wake of it All (dead owl). Pen and ink on paper. © Stephanie Boon, 2007

Pen and ink

Killed by Car (owl),  Conte and charcoal on paper. © Stephanie Boon 2007,

Conte and charcoal on paper

I am Nothing, Conte and charcoal on paper, © Stephanie Boon, 2007

Conte and charcoal on paper

Change of Events (owl and songbirds),  Conte and charcoal on paper . © Stephanie Boon, 2007

Conte and charcoal on paper

This wasn’t the first time I’d drawn dead birds. I think the first time I was at art school, it was about 1984. I found a robin and painted it in watercolour. I remember the fascination and the overwhelming pathos of holding the tiny bird in my hand. Since then there have been goldfinches, black-caps, blue-tits, wrens, more robins…  But I’m sure you haven’t come to a patchwork and quilting blog to find a load of dead birds! So I shall leave it at that and if you’re on the look out for a good book highly recommend H is for Hawk to you: part nature writing, part biography of TH White (The Sword in the Stone), part memoir, an utterly absorbing read.



And tomorrow?  I shall stitch.  And reply to all the wonderful, much read and appreciated comments you’ve generously left during the past week. What will you be doing?

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Art Studio

I pack up my beloved Unison Pastels and gather together things I think I might need or want once I get a mile and a half or so down the road to where I plan to sit in a cold field and draw.  I never find it easy.  I never know what I’m going to see so don’t really know what medium will suit my needs.  I can pretty much guarantee I won’t have what I want went I get started though. Going on past experience. Get on with it. Make do. It’s what being creative is about.

Art Supplies for an outdoor drawing session. © Stephanie Boon, 2015

Got everything? Umm, no…

And it’s never just about what you might need to draw with, or on.  Hats, scarves, gloves (all plural), coffee (as much a hand warmer as a drink), waterproofs, wind proofs, something insulating to sit on, a filthy, pastel-covered old coat to cover the good one when I get there (so that I don’t look entirely like a tramp on my journey down the road), plastic bags, bin liners – stuff to cover my legs so the pastel doesn’t become ingrained in my waterproofs, a head torch because it’ll be dusky on the unlit roads when I trudge back home, wet wipes to clean my hands (I forget them today. Irritating.)…and a day sack to pack it all in.

And all of that for one small sketch I’m not sure about and a bigger half started/half finished one.  The light fell fast and I could barely see; maybe I’ll go back tomorrow and finish it, but maybe I won’t. I managed to splash water over the one below. Don’t ask, but it’s dried now and there’s no trace left. I wonder how I’ll feel about it in the morning. Right now, I feel pretty flat.

Haze. Chacewater

Pasel on A3 paper.

Haze. Chacewater. Pastel on A3 paper. © Stephanie Boon, 2015.

Haze, Chacewater.

I hope it’s been a good start to the weekend for you and look forward to some slow stitching on Sunday – what have you been up to?

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