Categories: art

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There’s a Fete going on in Cornwall!

Hello lovely, patient friends! I hope you’ve all been enjoying the summer so far, the weather’s been pretty rubbish here, so at the first glimpse of clear sky I grabbed the chance to take some photos of what’s in my hoop at the moment. But more on that in a mo. First off…

Comments Are Working!

I’m sooo glad to tell you that I’ve moved the blog to a new hosting company and finally we have working comments again…we can have a conversation! I have to admit that as well as being really busy with all the walking, I haven’t felt very motivated to post over the last few months, because talking to myself was a little bit dull to say the least (even the blog emails weren’t working)! Hopefully that’ll change now.

Out Of The Hoop

Since I last posted I’ve taken Prosperity out of the hoop. I’ve only got the borders to quilt now (I’ve finished one of them) and I don’t always use a hoop for those, mostly because I’m too lazy to add extra strips of fabric to the sides to hold it in place. Let’s be honest here, who does that anyway?!

Hand quilted patchwork quilt 'Prosperity'. Improv design © Stephanie Boon, 2017

Just the borders to quilt now

One quilt out another one in. And that’s my sister’s 40th birthday quilt ‘Fete’.

Fete

The Basting

I thread basted this quilt with herringbone stitch. It’s so lovely to work on because you don’t have to keep removing pins every time you move the hoop along a bit.  And it really doesn’t take that long to baste this way, especially if you work at a table. I did in a couple of hours over 2 evenings and I could have done it in one go if I’d been feeling more industrious!

Hands quilted improv patchwork quilt by © Stephanie Boon, 2017 www.Dawnchorusstudio.com

Fete, basted and being hand quilted…at last!

Who else prefers to thread baste?  I imagine pins are much easier to remove if you’re machine quilting, as you wouldn’t have the trouble of trying to extricate thread from under small machine stitches? I’ve been enjoying snipping the basting threads as I go along, which means I get to see the gorgeous texture developing.

Fete, a hand quilted patchwork quilt by © Stephanie Boon, 2017 www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Hand quilting in big stitch style

The Quilting

I had a couple of attempts at a quilting design before I settled on this one. My first idea was to create an all over zig-zag pattern in a random style, rather than geometric and even. I didn’t like it. At all! It seemed to lose the flow and movement of the bunting flags. So I tried again.

This time I stitched about a quarter of an inch from the seams and then another parallel row about another quarter inch apart. I didn’t like that either for two reasons: 1. it still felt geometrical and ‘rigid’ and 2. it left some of the larger flags without enough quilting to hold the layers in place (for my taste).

I went with version number 3. This version comprises ‘random’ echo quilting, various widths from the seams, with the second row various widths from the first. And if the smaller flags look good with just one row, they get just one row! And the larger ones might get 3 or more. I much prefer it because the quilting works with the flow of the bunting, rather than creating a pattern of it’s on own top.

The Thread

Hand quilted patchwork quilt by © Stephanie Boon, 2017 www.dawnchrousstudio.com

Hand quilting on the Kaffe Fassett backing fabric

The back looks good too I think. I’m working in ‘big stitch’ with a cotton perle thread in blue. I chose blue because I didn’t want to see the flags too distinctly on the back. This was another decision I made so as not to detract from the pattern of the fabric.

The big, bold Kaffe Fassett design has as much exuberance as the front and the quilt could easily be reversed. The other thing I like about the thread is that a friend gave it to me. Her mum died relatively recently and she had lots of perle cottons in her sewing box that my friend was unlikely to use. It makes me happy to think she’s part of this quilt too.

Walking and Drawing

My desire to be creative seems to be on a bigger roll lately. Maybe having a break from being online so much has had its benefits? Instead of thinking about things I’ve been getting on with it. Perhaps all the long distance walking has helped too. It clears the head and allows you to see the landscape in a different way. I’d all but forgotten how much I love the simple act of looking and  painting too. I always draw, but colour and mark making is an enlivening experience.

 

Oak trees. Oil pastel on paper. July 2017 © Stephanie Boon, all rights reserved. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Oak trees. Oil pastel on paper

Painting - Beech Trees In The Rain, © Stephanie Boon, 2017. all rights reserved. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Beech trees in the rain.

Painting. Pines Through The Beech Trees. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. All rights reserved. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Pines through the beech trees

Painting: Dead Tree at Trelissick (Beech Trees). © Stephanie Boon, 2017. All rights reserved. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Beech trees in fading light

Another old friend gave me a wonderful gift of a set of oil pastels. I’d never used them much before and I’m amazed at the range of marks I can make with them – I wonder where these sticks of gorgeousness have been all my life!

I’m using them to make the series of small woodland drawings/paintings you can see here (they’re just a little bigger than A4). I’m aiming for 10 or so and maybe I’ll even exhibit them some day!

Another Hike

Cliffs and beach at Duck pool. North coast of Cornwall. July 2017. © Stephanie Boon, all rights reserved. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Cliffs on the north Cornish coast

I’m heading off to the north coast again tomorrow and I’ll be taking some art materials with me, of course. It’s a short trip, only two nights, but what with the weather and a load of appointments (more about that next time) just squeezing in 2 nights seemed to be better than none (it was meant to be 4). Things won’t be so frantic towards the end of the month and I’m planning another 80 mile stretch, this time on the south coast. When I finish that section, I’ll have walked the entire Cornish coast in one continuous route (that’s 300 miles). That makes me happy.

Come and join me on Instagram (I have 2 different accounts) to see more pictures of walking and hiking in Cornwall and how my quilting is coming along (slowly, haha!).

One last thing before I head off to pack my rucksack, please, if you find any glitches on the site just let me know (in the comments, haha!); I have every confidence I can sort it out with this new host! (And a few oddities are to be expected when you migrate a site from one host to another.)

I’ll see you on the other side of my hike, so until next time have a great end to the week and a fine weekend too.

Best wishes

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com

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Walking’s Where It’s At

Oh boy, I had no idea it’s been so long since I posted! Quilting is still going on in these parts, but it’s taken a bit of a back seat for a while because I’ve decided to do some training in something a bit different…

Walking

Zennor Head on the South West Coast Path, Cornwall, June 2017. © Stephanie Boon, 2017, www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Sweeping coastal views on the north coast of Cornwall

Walking and exploring my local landscape has always been a source of enjoyment and inspiration, and has a clear benefit to my mental health. The health benefits of walking are always touted by medical professionals and health and fitness bloggers and it’s become a bit of a hackneyed cure-all.

I’ve had decades of trying to stave off chronic depression with varying success, but I can attest to the need to get outside and run or walk, whether it’s 2 miles or 22 miles, and gradually the positive benefits  affect my mood. When you’re in the depths of ill-health it can be really hard, like walking through treacle, but I’ve learnt I just have to push through it.

I had a bit of a blip a few months back and pushed myself through to the point, where today, I’m feeling better than I have for years!

A5 study of willow tree-tops in oil pastels. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Tree-tops. Willows.

I’ve been feeling creative again. And looking to the future. I’ve signed up to train as a walking group leader. It’s a nationally recognised award that qualifies you to safely take groups on guided walks in lowland Britain.  I’m full of ideas of how to put the training to use! Walking/drawing workshops for artists and textile artists, hiking and walking around glorious Cornwall, workshops in map reading and navigation (I’m not too bad, haha!) – you get the idea I’m sure.

View from Trencrom Hill, St Michael's Way, West Cornwall. Pastel drawing by © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

View from Trencrom Hill, St Michael’s Way, West Cornwall.

But training requires walking. Lots of walking. So, I’ve been out and about a lot and quilting has been confined to a few snatched hours here and there, progress has been slow and I felt I had nothing to show. And then there’s still the issue with the comments not working on this blog…

Quilting

Prosperity – hand quilting still in progress

This quilt, a wall quilt, is still in the hoop, although the centre section is now finished and I’m working on the border. A few more concentrated hours and it’ll be finished up.

Prosperity is a small hand quilted wall quilt by © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Hand quilting underway

Prosperity is a small hand quilted wall quilt by © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Close up of the hand quilting on Prosperity

I decided to work Prosperity with as small stitches as I could muster and I’m pretty pleased with my efforts, even if they are a bit uneven here and there. I’m looking forward to getting this one finished up because I’ve got all the things I need to be getting on with my sister’s quilt Fete now.

Fete – my sister’s 40th birthday patchwork top all finished up

© Stephanie Boon, 2017. Cornwall, UK All Rights Reserved Patchwork quilt top in progress

Fete – trying it out for size

The top’s all finished up and I squared it up just last week. I’ve begun the back, but still need to make a strip for the side because it’s not quite wide enough. Shouldn’t take long, just need a bit of inspiration! I made an appliqué title block last year, but it doesn’t work with the deep blue Kaffe Fassett backing fabric, and it’s probably a bit too big (have you seen the new Kaffe website, it’s so much more inspiring than it used to be). I’ll probably add the appliqué to a cushion or something…what would you do with it?

Patchwork fabrics.

Almost ready for a sandwich! – The bright Kaffe backing is in the centre

 

'Fete' applique in colourful fabrics for a patchwork quilt. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Fete – feeling summery!

Exmoor Stars – slowly growing English paper piecing

English paper pieced patchwork stars. © Stephanie Boon, 2017 www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Making stars

Exmoor Stars is my English paper pieced ‘background quilting project’. I do a little bit here and there, usually once a week when I’m out with my knitty friend for lunch.  It’s slowly growing, but I need to cut and baste more fabric before I can do anymore. At the moment I think I might give this one to my brother for his birthday in 2019 – so plenty of time to work on it. Well, I’ve got a quilt on the go for both my sisters, so it would seem fair to make him one too, haha!

My other sister’s 50th birthday quilt

I haven’t actually started this one yet, even though I’d intended to by now… her birthday’s next May and I want to get the top finished by October time really, to give myself enough time to quilt it. Better get on with it then! I’ve started a good collection of fabric though, which is getting me a bit excited.

I’m going with prints with a nature theme for this one – there are some really good ones around at the moment, and I’ve been lucky with a donation of the butterfly fabric by a friend who was having a clear out. As I’ve mentioned before I think, my sister suggested pastels for her quilt because she said she had ‘no idea what colour my walls will be by then’… since when do quilts have to go with walls?!?! Pastels shmastels, there are going to be a few brights in there, otherwise it won’t be a quilt made by me, ha!

Fabrics for patchwork

Pastels…ish!

That’s about it for me at the moment. My apologies to you all for not being around much lately, but I hope you’ll forgive me and welcome me back into the fold soon. I’ve still got a lot of walking to do, so will be out and about a lot, especially in this wonderful summer weather we’re having here in the UK.

Why not come and join me on Instagram, where I try and post more regularly (daily when I can)? I’ve opened 2 accounts now,  stephieb.dawnchorusstudio for quilting and a bit of home life and TenMileHike where I share photos just of my walks – hopefully you’ll enjoy at least one of them! And it would be a great place to chat, since I just haven’t had the time to sort out the comment form here…

Hope to see you there, and I’ll pop back to the blog sooner rather than later! I might even have a finished quilt to show before the end of July!

Love and best wishes

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com

 

 

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‘Scawswater Coins’ (A Local Version of Chinese Coins!)

Challenging Coins

A few weeks (months?!) back Ann and Kaja invited us to join them on an AHIQ patchwork challenge and I said I’d join in. The challenge was to make a quilt inspired by the traditional Chinese Coins design, simple horizontal strips separated by vertical sashing. I love the simplicity of the design and was curious as to how I could make it my own.

It’s been fascinating to see all your interpretations. Kaja added a pinwheel block to hers, which she describes on her blog today, and Ann’s already on her second version, working with a different palette. So many of you are all finished up and ready for the next challenge…I wish I could say the same.

I’ve made a good start, but I’m not rushing!

Colour In The Landscape

I was out and about drawing a fair bit when Ann and Kaja threw down the challenge and I kept returning to this particular view. It’s a place near home called Scawswater and I was fascinated with the landscape across the valley.

Across The Valley Scawswater 3 - pastel drawing. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. All Rights Reserved. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Across the valley – Scawswater, 1

The colours…

Across The Valley Scawswater 3 - pastel drawing. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. All Rights Reserved. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Across the valley – Scawswater, 2

The shapes…

Across The Valley Scawswater 3 - pastel drawing. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. All Rights Reserved. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Across the valley – Scawswater, 3

The light.

It seemed a natural step to take this fascination forward into the new patchwork project.

Patchwork Inspired By Drawings

The colours are important, but I was more interested in how I could capture the feeling of movement and shape in the landscape within the confines of a Chinese Coin design.

Chinese Coins is made up of essentially two simple shapes: a short rectangle (the coins) and a long rectangle (the sashing), so that’s where I set my parameters. I started off with a few small strip sets:

Patchwork colours inspired by pastel landscape drawings. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.co,

Beginning with some small strips

 

Patchwork colours inspired by pastel landscape drawings. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.co,

Inserting some small verticals.

 

Patchwork colours inspired by pastel landscape drawings. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.co,

And some bigger verticals!

Coins In The Landscape

Scawswater Coins - a patchwork quilt in progress inspired  by the traditional Chinese Coins design. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Thinking about sashing

Scawswater Coins - a patchwork quilt in progress inspired by the traditional Chinese Coins design. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Thinking about colour transition

 

Scawswater Coins - a patchwork quilt in progress inspired by the traditional Chinese Coins design. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Adding ‘sashing’ strips at an angle to create movement.

 

Scawswater Coins - a patchwork quilt in progress inspired by the traditional Chinese Coins design. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Playing with the strips

Scawswater Coins - a patchwork quilt in progress inspired by the traditional Chinese Coins design. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Love the orange strip!

I have no idea how this is going to progress, no picture in my head of how it should look when it’s finished, but I love the results so far. That might well have something to do with the fabulous orange colours though!

Talking of colour… I don’t plan on buying any fabric specifically for this top, so I may well come to a standstill when I run out of the colour palette I’m using. If I do, I’ll put it on the back burner until I accumulate some more. Or feel a bit rash and spend money I shouldn’t!

No Comment

You may have noticed I’ve been a bit awol recently (then again you may not). To be honest I’ve got a bit dispirited because I haven’t been able to sort out the broken comment form as yet. It doesn’t feel great talking to yourself all the time! And if I haven’t visited you for a while…I probably have, I’ve just not been very talkative!! I’ll try and overcome my frustration, but in the mean time come on over to Instagram where I pop in for a chat most days. Or drop me an email, I love to hear from you.

I’m linking up with Ann and Kaja today for AHIQ, see you there.

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com

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Starry Landscapes And My Instagram

Hello and happy Wednesday!

Comments

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 www.DawnChorusStudio.com 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. http://www.dawnchorusstudio.com

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. http://www.dawnchorusstudio.com

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. www.DawnChorusStudio.com

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!

Download

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. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

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. www.dawnchorusstudio.com © 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 www.DawnchorusStudio.com

Art Studio – line of trees

Sketch

Line of Trees, small mixed media sketch by © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Small sketch in mixed media

I made this little sketch as the light was fading this evening. I’ve passed this line of trees on foot so many times recently and feel particularly drawn to them.  I haven’t always had time to sit and sketch.

Into the Trees

Line of trees © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Trees on the skyline

I’ve taken a few photos of the trees over the last week or so instead.

Sometimes, more often than not lately, I take a walk home from town instead of riding my bike or taking the bus.  It’s about 6 and a half miles. This particular section is like walking through a dark tunnel of trees that’s created by a hedgerow growing on either side.  As I wander along, looking at the ground, I notice there’s more light and see a gap in the hedge. Through the hedge on the other side of a field this line of trees catches my eye. Every time.

Line of trees © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Focussing on the texture

I’m especially drawn to this particular section of four trees. I see a metaphor here; I see me in the landscape. I could be the one grey cloud or the one dead tree.

Line of trees © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Realising it’s a specific part of the line of trees I love

I won’t dwell on the thoughts that are running through my head about this at the moment, but random thoughts like this are often where a piece of art begins for me. This time I’m thinking in terms of another improv quilt, but maybe there’ll be several pieces of art that come from these thoughts.

Line of trees © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Today. Watching under dull light and blanket cloud.

Reading

I finished reading Philip Marsden’s Rising Ground: A Search for the Spirit of Place today too. I talked a bit about it last week, but today it still seems to be sinking in. Everything feels slow and hazy at the moment, but there was one quote Marsden quoted from the artist Peter Lanyon that seems pertinent and I wanted to share:

“I believe that landscape, the outside world of things and events larger than ourselves, is the proper place to find our deepest meanings.” (p126)

At the moment I’m just looking, wondering what it means to have meaning even.  I’m not in a good frame of mind for art, drawing or anything else really; it all feels like going through the motions. I can’t concentrate at all.  I think I just need to stitch. One at a time. And not think beyond that. Stitching is good, thinking is bad!

Until tomorrow, when I hope I’ll be a bit more lively for Slow Sunday Stitching with Kathy 🙂

See you then!

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Art Studio – finding a sense of place

Rising Ground, a search for the meaning of place, Philip Marsden, with watercolour Devoran Creek (Looking for a sense of place) © of Stephanie Boon, 2015

Good reading

I’m reading a fascinating book by Philip Marsden Rising Ground: A Search for the Spirit of Place. Lately, as I’ve mentioned before, I feel I’m trying to find a sense of meaning and have been considering how that relates to my being in this place, the place I inhabit every day.  I ponder whether really knowing the landscape, defining a sense of place, will help me know and understand myself any better.

It wasn’t much of surprise, when I was browsing in my local bookshop, that this title caught my eye. I’d never heard of it before, but was delighted to find that I’d heard, and know, a lot of the places described in the book: Philip Marsden seems to be searching for his own sense of place – and he lives within a 40 minute drive from here.

Much of the book is set in Cornwall and Marsden travels from the east of the county to the far west by foot. He explores the landscape through its history from the Neolithic age to the present, describing the renovation and discoveries about his own ageing home alongside. I realised that many of the books I’ve recently read are about people looking for, or describing, a connection to landscape or sense of place (Kathleen Jamie, Helen Macdonald, Robert Macfarlane, Hugh Thomson…). And they search on foot. Walking, it seems, is the only way.

Painting of Devoran Creek (Looking for a sense of place) © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Watercolour, pencil and graphite

It’s interesting to discover how many of these authors, Marsden included, relate their explorations of place to explorers or settlers of the past. They delve into how others viewed or inhabited the same landscape, how it changes and what this means.  As well as all the walking, there are hours spent in libraries, heads buried deep in books and historical documents.  There are meetings with experts from archaeologists and historians, to falconers and fine artists (some finer than others!).

And it all leaves me with an aching feeling that I don’t walk enough. Something is stopping me and I can’t put my finger on what it is.  I take familiar routes. I sit and I stare at the same skyline, the same fields, the same creeks, questioning how my sense of place, this place, is reflected in who I am. Or whether I’m reflected in what I can see in front of me. This week I sat on the quayside at Devoran, took out my paints and looked hard. I was looking for two hours.

Painting of Devoran Creek (Looking for a sense of place) © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Watercolour, pencil and graphite

And listening. Curlews were crying in their mournful way, geese were honking. There were people playing with their dogs nearby. I just felt empty. Like all I could do was look and see and not feel any connection. Depressed mood. It has a lot to answer for.

I came home, stuck my head back in the book and tried to fight the feeling that at the moment I’m living through someone else’s glorious landscape, instead of my own.

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Art Studio, Painting in the Countryside

 

Painting a watercolour of the English Countryside, © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

The beginnings

I’m close to home. I lean my bike against a 5 bar gate and hop over into the field of barley on the other side. I kneel down and get out my watercolours to paint the English countryside I see in front of me. I’m entranced as the colours change with every shift in the breeze. Words tumble through my mind as I watch, but just one sticks: sway.

Dusk over Carn Brea. Watercolour on paper. © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudilo.com

Watercolour painting ‘Dusk Over Carn Brea’

Sway in the Countryside

It’s a gentle word I think, in this context. It describes the countryside in front of me, but what really strikes me is that when I’m looking intently out at something, like I do when I’m painting or drawing from observation, what I’m actually looking for is a ‘way in’. I’ve been searching for a sense of meaningfulness lately and I wonder if engendering a deep connection to the countryside I inhabit will give me that. I have a feeling I can only get that connection by really looking.

I’ve watched these fields of barley over the last few weeks, seen how the colour changes under grey skies or deep red sunsets.  Listened to the swaying of the landscape. Felt the sway.

Field of barley in the English countryside. © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Field of barley

Barely field in the English countryside at sunset. © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Sunset

I noticed that nearby there are fields of dock and grasses that sway too.

 

English countryside. © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Barn below a field of dock

But I kept coming back to the barley.

Field of barley in the English countryside. © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Field edge

You might wonder why the word sway resonates with me. I wonder too.  Maybe you find the same?  A simple word, whatever it might be, just seems to encompass a larger, deeper feeling. Sway feels primitive to me, it’s something we instinctively do to soothe ourselves. My instinct is to keep the word to the fore, it feels like a good metaphor, and develop some work around it. No doubt that will mean reading, more sketches and paintings of the countryside around me, but ultimately I think it will lead to a quilt, a companion to Deepening.

***

The barely was cut this week, ready to be gathered up for winter cattle feed. Autumn is moving in and the countryside is about to change its clothes.  Me, I’m off to find a jumper and head out for another walk before I pick up the needle for an afternoon’s quilting. It looks like another wet weekend and I can’t think of anything better I’d rather do!

Have a great weekend

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Art Studio – watercolour painting

Norfolk

When I was in Norfolk recently I packed a tin of paints and some watercolour paper, hoping to be able to do some painting while I was there visiting family.

Glade, Sandringham. Watercolour paint pallette and sable brush. © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Birthday paint tin!

I was given some money for my birthday a couple of days before we left and I bought a travel tin for my watercolour paints. (I need another tin like I need another quilt, but it was irresistible!) I spent some time deciding which colours I might need for the Norfolk landscape, but as it turned out the only painting I did was this sketch of a glade in Sandringham woods. Not very inspiring and not a great experience: I got covered in horse fly bites!

Glade, Sandringham. Watercolour painting on paper.  © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Glade, Sandringham. Watercolour and conte on paper (approximately A4)

Cambridge – painting exhibition

One hot, sunny day last week though we took a train journey to Cambridge and I got a watercolour fix I wasn’t expecting: The Fitzwilliam Museum was showing a painting exhibition Watercolour – Elements of Nature. Turner, Cozens, Constable, Cotman…the greats of the Romantic period were well represented alongside many others, from Nicholas Hilliard miniatures of the Tudor period to Cezanne in the 20th century.  All the paintings in the exhibition are from the Museum’s own collection. It was a wonderful opportunity to see so many fantastic works side by side, to see different approaches and developments over time. The gallery was busy, but not like one of those so-called block-buster shows where you file through like sheep being dipped. You could take your time and spend as long as you wanted looking in detail at each and every painting. I was in my element. Kim was bored after about 10 seconds!!! (I’m lucky though, it may not have interested him very much, but he is patient and never hassles me to hurry up when I’m looking at art – he’d get short shrift if he tried!)

As part of the exhibition there were also sketchbooks in cabinets and examples of pigments, old paints and paintboxes that added to the romance of the genre.  There were even a few mussel shells on display…

Mussel shells and Pebbles. © Stephanie Boon, 2015. www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Mussel shells and pebbles

What?! Say again?  Mussel shells!  They make perfect portable palettes!  (Another piece of useless information: Turner used squidged up bread for soaking up excess watercolour – nowadays we use tissue/toilet paper, or a sponge!)

Mussel shell painting palette. © Stephanie Boon, 2015. www.DawnChorusStudio.com,

Innovative mussel shell palette!

When we got back to Norfolk Kim and I went for a nighttime stroll on the beach and I collected a generous handful to bring back with me. I find them on the beaches here at home sometimes, but where my parents live they’re washed up in great mounds.

Home – new watercolours

Back at home this week I blu-tacked a couple of art postcards above my desk, a reminder of the wonderful paintings I saw.  The beautiful red painting is by contemporary Scottish artist Barbara Rae. It was one of the first watercolours I was drawn to as I walked into the gallery, the red colours were almost luminous in the subdued light of the room.

Art postcards on a wall.  © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Art postcards from The Fitzwilliam Museum

Art postcard of a watercolour by Barbara Rae. www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Art postcard above my desk of a watercolour painting by Barbara Rae

We got back late Tuesday evening and I couldn’t wait to get out and do some painting myself. I finally managed a couple of sketches on Thursday. I sat in a field about 5 minutes walk from home.  I’d spotted it before we went away, but there’s something about it that’s been in my mind for a while.

'Kea Downs' Watercolour painting on paper.  © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Field, Kea Downs.  Watercolour of paper (approximately A4)

Right now it’s shimmering with a crop of barley.  It’s giving me ideas.  I love the way nature does that.

'Kea Downs' Watercolour painting on paper.  © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Across Fields, Kea Downs. Watercolour and conte on paper (approximately A4)

I hope you enjoyed my first Art Studio post for a while.  Hopefully I’ll get it back on track to being a regular Saturday feature from now on.

Hope you’re having a good weekend so far?

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Improv String Quilt: ‘Deepening’

Deepening

A strange title for a quilt maybe, but it means a lot to me.  Someone recently told me that they thought the second part of life (in which I now have a very firm foothold!) is “a deepening”.  It resonated with a lot of things in my life; not least asking myself  ‘what have I done so far that I can deepen?’. Knowledge? Self understanding? Creative practice? I think, for me, creative practice helps deepen self understanding; knowledge helps deepen practice.

'Deepening' 2015. Quilt top made from scraps and old clothes. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

‘Deepening’ string quilt top (approximately 58″ x 46″)

This is my finished improv string quilt top; I showed the 5 ‘string sheets’ that it’s made from in my last post.  I’ve not been able to get a photo that does the nuances of colour and tone any justice.  The light hasn’t been great and I confess photography’s not my strong point – the technicalities of it don’t interest me. I hope the images give you a flavour of it though.

It was a revelation to discover that I could capture a mood that was so strongly in my mind with fabric and thread (other people do, I just wasn’t sure it was my medium to do it in).  My intention wasn’t to create something ‘pretty’ or practical.  It wasn’t simply about experimenting. It wasn’t about pattern or fabric prints.  It was about using colour and line to evoke a mood to capture moments I spent sat in a field drawing earlier this year (these are a few of the drawings: Hedge, Paul Loder’s Field, It’s Complicated (Winter Birch) ). Or the way the light changed behind the bare tree branches as dusk fell. Or, more abstractly, a state of mind: the light and darks, the richness of fading colours, the dullness, the meandering lines going nowhere in particular. Rhythm.

Part of me feels ridiculous describing it like that. Pretentious. Lofty. Then I ask myself why. If it were paint on canvas it wouldn’t feel pretentious. Fabric and thread is still deemed feminine, and the feminine, it still feels, is not allowed to aspire to high art.  Instead it’s dismissed as ‘less’, somehow.

So, my thoughts are deepening. Still.

'Deepening' Finished improv string quilt top. © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Detail – thin slivers

'Deepening' Finished improv string quilt top. © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Detail – light and dark

Linking up with Finish it up Friday over at Crazy Mom Quilts.  By the way, have you heard about the new improv link party being organised by Ann and Kaja of Fret Not Yourself and Sew Slowly?  I believe it kicks off next week (1st September), so head on over for details.

If you’d like to know more about making an improv string quilt using some of the techniques I employed for this one, you need Sherri Lynn Wood’s book The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters on your bookshelf!   I’m using some of the improv ‘scores’ she describes to help build my improv repertoire so that I can express my own thoughts and ideas more fully.  Next up is the Patchwork Doodle. I don’t know if it’ll beat my feelings of string sheet satisfaction though… This improv string quilt ‘Deepening’ has captured everything I wanted. Even if my photos haven’t.

I’m linking up with Sew Slowly and Fret Not Yourself for the first Ad Hoc Improv Quilters (AHIQ) link party.  Head on over to discover other improv quilters and see what they’re up to!

Find details of my favourite link parties here:

Favourite Link Parties graphic © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Have a stitchy weekend!