Monday, February 19, 2018

Ebb and Flow


“Emerson, I am trying to live, as you said we must, the examined life. But there are days I wish there was less in my head to examine, not to speak of the busy heart.”



It's been a while since I completed a painting, and I'm trying to not be hard on myself about it. I'm just not in the right head space or heart space right now. I have plenty of crochet projects on the go, another exciting collaborative yarnbombing project with the Yarntopians, and an Etsy shop to look after, so I'm not short of things to put my creative energy into at the moment.

All of this creative busy-ness isn't enough to quiet my inner critic, though. She wants me to be painting, and she values new ideas over comfort zone projects.


I know many other over-thinking creative souls will relate to this: 

I am in my studio, hand-embellishing prints for Etsy orders. It's a task I love, so I'm feeling happy and relaxed. Music is playing, and I am enjoying the satisfaction of providing myself with some self-employment. I'm grateful that my customers still love and continue to buy my older pieces. I take a break for a minute to share this contented feeling on social media.

The inner critic interrupts. She rolls her eyes and points out that I've shared those pieces, that process, those thoughts or similar ones before. She asks me what I'm doing to challenge myself lately. What have I got that's new?

I turn the music up, and tell her to be quiet. I get back to my work, but the contentment has been interrupted and it's not quite the same. I make a few sketches and notes in my art journal, ideas that might turn into a painting on a day in the future.


Later, when I return to my social media, I read that I have just shared the same artwork that is hanging on a customer's wall, and that this particular piece always makes them happy. I get an email from a school teacher who is using a tutorial I created several years ago to help plan a class for her children. All is fine in my creative world again. For now.

How about you, my arty, crafty readers? I need some ideas. How do you quiet your inner critic, and allow the creative process to experience its natural ebb and flow? 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Rett's Flower Square Pattern




Here's another pattern I have been working on. I'm making a granny square sampler blanket at the moment, making up my own designs as I go. This sunny flower has been one of my favourite squares so far, so I experimented with it a bit more, made some improvements, and ended up with this pattern.

Here's a picture of my blanket so far. I'm having so much fun with this project!


Anyway, back to the pattern. This is a similar design to my Flower Bunting Pattern. As I explained in that post, I'm very much a beginner at this pattern writing thing, so if you try it I would love your feedback.


Rett's Flower Square (UK terms)

I used 8ply (DK) yarn, a 4mm hook and 6 colours.

My finished square measured 15cm (6 inch).

This pattern uses UK terms, and the following stitches:

(US terms are in brackets)

sl st - slip stitch

ch - chain

dc - double crochet  (sc)

tr - treble (dc)

dtr - double treble (tr)
dtr4tog - double treble 4 together (tr4tog)
htr - half treble (hdc)
hdtr - half double treble (htr)


I haven't explained how to do these stitches, or join colours, as there are plenty of tutorials already out there for these things!




FOUNDATION RING: Using colour number 1, ch 4 and join with sl st to form a ring.

ROUND 1: Ch 3 (counts as 1 tr), 11 tr into the ring, join with sl st into 3rd ch of ch 3. Fasten off. You should have 12tr altogether.


foundation ring and round 1

ROUND 2: Using colour number 2, ch 4 into any tr from round 1, 1 dtr into same stitch. 2 dtr into each stitch to end, join with sl st into 4th of ch 4. Fasten off. You should have 12 pairs (24 dtr altogether).

Depending on your yarn and tension, this round may curl up a little. Mine "cups" a bit, but flattens out with the next round. If you find your circle curling too much, try using hdtr instead of dtr.

round 2

ROUND 3: Using colour number 3, ch 3 in the space between any two of the dtr pairs, 1 tr in the same space. 2 tr in space between each dtr to end. Join with a sl st into 4th ch of ch 4. Fasten off. You should have 48 tr altogether.


round 3

ROUND 4: Using colour number 4, dc in the space between any two of the tr from round 3 (I make a dc standing stitch to start this round), chain 3, *skip the next two spaces, dc in the third space, ch 3, continue from * to end. Join with a sl st to the top of the first dc. Fasten off. You should have 16 dc.


round 4

ROUND 5: Using the same colour as the last round, starting in any 3 chain space, ch 3 or 4 (to form first dtr of the cluster - usually ch 4 is used with dtr, but for these petals I find ch 3 fits the shape better), dtr3tog in the same space (this forms your first dtr4tog), ch 3, *dtr4tog, ch 3, repeat from * to end, join with a sl st in the top of the first cluster. Fasten off. You should have 16 petals.


round 5

ROUND 6: Using colour number 5, *4 dc in any chain space (I use a standing dc for the first stitch here too), 2 htr and 2 tr in next chain space, 2 hdtr, 2 dtr, ch 3, 2 dtr, 2 hdtr in next chain space (this forms a corner), 2 tr and 2 htr in next chain space. Repeat from * three times to form the rest of the square. Join with sl st to the top of the first dc, fasten off.

This part of the pattern is similar to Round 5 of the Flower Bunting pattern, so the diagram there might help, but please note that there is no ch 1 in between the sets of four stitches in this pattern.


round 6

ROUND 7: Using colour number 6 and working in any corner space, ch 6 (to form one tr and ch 3 corner space), 2 tr in same space, 1 tr in top of each stitch to next corner space. *2 tr, ch 3, 2 tr in corner space, 1 tr in top of each stitch to next corner. Repeat from * to form next three sides. Finish with 1 tr in the first corner space beside the starting chain. Join with a sl st in the 3 ch of ch6 (this becomes the 2nd tr of that set). Fasten off. You should have 24 tr along each side.


round 7

And that's it! I have made several of these now, so I think I'll make a cushion out of them. I'll share a photo of it when it's finished.

I used Biggan Design 8 ply wool for my square, in the following colours:
Scarlet, Coral Red, Bright Orange, Saffron, Turquoise and Deep Turquoise.




I would love to see what you do with your squares!

Share them with me at:


Please tag your pics #rettsflowersquare so I can find them :)

Friday, October 07, 2016

Rett's Flower Bunting pattern

I've been playing around with new designs for my Hippie Granny Bunting, and was pretty happy with this cute flower one, so I thought I'd share it with you!

CONFESSION TIME:

This is actually my first "published" pattern! I have been procrastinating about writing patterns for a couple of years, and have lots of almost-finished ones that I need to get tested and out there.

A big part of my problem is perfectionism, but if we wait until we are experts at doing something before we do it, when will it ever get done? So I'm setting this one free, as is, untested (except by me)!

Please try it out and let me know how it goes. I usually make up my own designs and don't actually read a lot of patterns, so my crochet language is a bit awkward. I'll keep working on it, but in the meantime I'd love your feedback and suggestions. It will be very helpful to me in getting my other designs out there :)


Rett's Flower Bunting (UK terms)

I used 8ply (DK) yarn, a 4mm hook and 6 colours.

This pattern uses UK terms, and the following stitches:
(US terms are in brackets)

sl st - slip stitch
ch - chain
dc - double crochet  (sc)
tr - treble (dc)
dtr - double treble (tr)
dtr3tog - double treble 3 together (tr3tog)
htr - half treble (hdc)
hdtr - half double treble (htr)

I haven't explained how to do these stitches, or join colours, as there are plenty of tutorials already out there for these things!


FOUNDATION RING: Using colour number 1, ch 4 and join with sl st to form a ring.

ROUND 1: Ch 3 (counts as 1 tr), 11 tr into the ring, join with sl st into 3rd ch of ch 3. Fasten off.

foundation chain and round 1

ROUND 2: Using colour number 2, ch 3 into any tr from round 1, 1 tr into same stitch. 2 tr into each stitch to end, join with sl st into 3rd of ch 3. Fasten off. You should have 12 pairs (24 tr altogether).

round 2


ROUND 3: Using colour number 3, dc in the space between two of the tr pairs (I make a dc standing stitch to start this round), chain 3, *dc in the next space between two tr pairs, ch 3, continue from * to end. Join with a sl st to the top of the first dc. Fasten off.

round 3

ROUND 4: Using the same colour as the last round, starting in any 3 chain space, ch 3 (to form first dtr of the cluster), dtr2tog in the same space (this forms your first dtr3tog), ch 3, *dtr3tog, ch 3, repeat from * to end, join with a sl st in the top of the first cluster. Fasten off.

If you look carefully at my photo below, you can see how the first petal at the top is actually made up of 3 chain and a dtr2tog, but the rest of the petals are dtr3tog. If you know a better way to do this or explain it, please let me know :)

round 4

ROUND 5: Using colour number 4, *4 dc in any chain space (I use a standing dc for the first stitch here too), ch 1. 2 htr and 2 tr in next chain space, ch 1. 2 hdtr, 2 dtr, ch 3, 2 dtr, 2 hdtr in next chain space (this forms a corner), ch 1. 2 tr, 2 htr in next chain space, ch 1. Repeat from * twice to form the rest of the triangle. Join with sl st to the top of the first dc, fasten off.

PHEW, there must be an easier way to say that! Does it make any sense at all? This is where we turn the circle into a triangle, and I promise it's much easier to do than to explain! If you're a visual person like me, the picture might help.

round 5

ROUND 6: Using colour number 5 and working in any corner space, ch 6 (to form one tr and ch 3 corner space), 4 tr, ch 1,* 4 tr in next chain space, ch 1, continue from * to next corner space. **4 tr, ch 3, 4 tr in corner space, ch 1, 4 tr in next 4 chain spaces, with ch 1 between each set of 4 tr. Repeat from **. Finish with 3 tr in the first corner space, join with a sl st in the 3 ch of ch6 (this forms the 4th tr of that set). Fasten off.

I start this round in a corner as it looks neater to me, but you can start in any chain space, and adjust the pattern accordingly. This round is pretty much a basic granny triangle pattern.


round 6


ROUND 7: Using colour number 6, 1 dc in every stitch and ch space from round 6 to form border. (I use a standing dc for the first stitch here too). 3 dc in each corner space. Join with sl st to the top of the first dc. Fasten off.

round 7

And you're done! The finished triangle might be a little wavy along the edges, so you can block it into a neater triangle if you like.

My crocheting is quite tight, but if you are a loose crocheter, you might be able to skip the ch 1 between your granny clusters to make a neater triangle. Experiment, and let me know how you go!

When I have enough triangles to make a garland (mine are usually between 9 and 11 triangles long, but that is totally up to you), join them with dc along the top. I use two to three rows of dc.

joining the triangles

If you want to add tassels to your bunting, I have a tassels tutorial that might help.



I would love to see pictures of your finished triangles!

Share them with me at:


Please tag your pics #rettsflowerbunting so I can find them :)

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

time and light



Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.        

As Winter approaches and the days get shorter that uncomfortable feeling of never having enough time can infiltrate my thinking if I'm not careful.  I find myself trying to make up for it by attempting to work on too many things at once.  I end up feeling scattered and overwhelmed and struggle to actually finish anything. 




Vladimir Nabokov had a wonderful concept he referred to as unreal estate - an inheritance from his mother of an appreciation for the beauty of intangible property.

'Vot zapomni [now remember],' she would say in conspiratorial tones as she drew my attention to this or that loved thing in Vyra - a lark ascending the curds-and-whey sky of a dull spring day, heat lightning taking pictures of a distant line of trees in the night, the palette of maple leaves on brown sand, a small bird's cuneate footprints on new snow.

Vladimir Nabokov,  Speak, Memory

When I think about the unreal estate I have inherited, I remember all the unscheduled time I enjoyed as a child - playing in the backyard, swimming, reading, drawing, cloud-gazing, making wishes on dandelions and sitting in the grass looking for four leaf clovers.  As an adult, when I allow myself to "waste" a little bit of my own time, suddenly it feels like it's not such a scarce commodity.  I'm reminded of the days of my childhood that somehow always seemed longer.

Sweet childish days, that were as long
As twenty days are now.


William Wordsworth, To a Butterfly

So this morning I rearranged my priorities; putting time and sunlight at the top of my to-do list, and enjoyed the ephemeral beauty of the Autumn leaves in our garden.  The result was a little bit of Andy Goldsworthy inspired art.  I cheated a bit by utilising the holes in an old garden chair to position the leaves, but it still wasn't long before the breeze took them away.

   



The Word 
Tony Hoagland

Down near the bottom
of the crossed-out list
of things you have to do today,

between "green thread"
and "broccoli," you find
that you have pencilled "sunlight."

Resting on the page, the word
is beautiful. It touches you
as if you had a friend

and sunlight were a present
he had sent from someplace distant
as this morning—to cheer you up,

and to remind you that,
among your duties, pleasure
is a thing

that also needs accomplishing.
Do you remember?
that time and light are kinds

of love, and love
is no less practical
than a coffee grinder

or a safe spare tire?
Tomorrow you may be utterly
without a clue,

but today you get a telegram
from the heart in exile,
proclaiming that the kingdom

still exists,
the king and queen alive,
still speaking to their children,

—to any one among them
who can find the time
to sit out in the sun and listen.

"The Word" by Tony Hoagland, from Sweet Ruin. © University of Wisconsin Press, 1992.

Monday, May 04, 2015

It scattered the night


It scattered the night is a companion piece to Still I Rise, and has been on my desk for a month or maybe more.  I've been collecting ideas and bits of imagery about sunrises, sparkling skies and warm light, and this is what came out of them.  Rather than try to gather my scattered thoughts today, I thought I would show its progress from start to finish, along with the quotes I've collected in my journal while working on it.


  

The sun - the bright sun, that brings back, not light alone, but new life, and hope, and freshness to man - burst upon the crowded city in clear and radiant glory. Through costly-coloured glass and paper-mended window, through cathedral dome and rotten crevice, it shed its equal ray.
Charles Dickens, Oliver Twist



Daylight, full of small dancing particles
and the one great turning, our souls
are dancing with you, without feet, they dance.
Can you see them when I whisper in your ear?
Rumi


Images of broken light which dance before me like a million eyes
John Lennon



All this he saw, for one moment breathless and intense, vivid on the morning sky; and still, as he looked he lived; and still, as he lived, he wondered.
Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows



I love the colour legends in old atlases, and often use them for inspiration in my paintings.

It is not down on any map; true places never are.
Herman Melville, Moby-Dick


It scattered the night, Loretta Grayson 2015
Gouache on cotton rag paper, 23cm x 28cm

 
It was only a sunny smile, and little it cost in the giving, but like morning light it scattered the night and made the day worth living.
F. Scott Fitzgerald


Monday, March 30, 2015

liner notes

To add to the inspiration I find in poetry, literature and song lyrics, I've recently been rediscovering liner notes - a treasure trove of beautiful writing I had almost forgotten about.  Most of the music I buy these days is digital, and it occurred to me that I was missing very much the experience of listening to a new album while reading the thoughts of the songwriter from the CD booklet or album sleeve.


Fortunately, these thoughts can be often found online.  Glenn Richards of Augie March wrote eloquent notes to accompany the poetic, melodramatic lyrics of his latest album. I enjoyed reading his thoughts on finding your own, hard to express feelings echoed in another's writing:

"It shouldn’t have surprised me, my favourite writers become my favourite because in a seemingly tossed off sentence they will communicate in simple, elegant terms one or another of the big "feelings" I’ve had hovering over me in my waking hours and mocking my honey-slow reasoning. Incapable as I so often am or afraid even to try to reach up and grasp in the aether for a solid - it’s not just that it requires an intellectual flex I can’t make but there’s that songwriterly fear that if you tangle too directly with the nebulous and look to strip it back to what is almost always just a common idea you also strip it of its mystical song birthing power."


I  discovered the music and writing of Joe Henry via a very interesting On Being conversation.  He has some wonderful music, but I've been appreciating his liner notes even more. Sometimes I feel self-conscious about the recurring themes in my work, and he helped me realise that it was ok to continue to use my own faithful imagery; to have a thread that connects individual pieces, just as a great album may be "...singularly of a piece: ranging, though all cut from a single bolt of coarse cloth."
(Joe Henry, from his Invisible Hour liner notes


Which leads me to this painting.  It could have been included in my last blog post, as it is most certainly cut from the same cloth.  That persistent breeze is passing through again.  I posted it, nearly finished, on my Facebook page recently, and asked for help to come up with a name.  Its companion piece had the unwieldy title of I have set sail on a fast mountain, from a favourite W.S. Merwin poem, but naming this one I have set sail on a fast mountain II just seemed silly. 

My dear friend Ngaire suggested Still I Rise, and as soon as I read the Maya Angelou poem she shared, I realised it was the perfect title.  I spend time living in each small landscape as I am painting it, and this one had felt like a joyous place... a celebration of the human spirit. 
May we all keep rising, just like the moons and the suns.


You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.







Still I Rise, gouache on cotton rag paper, 73cm x 53cm framed



Still I Rise will be hanging in the Southern Downs Regional Artists Exhibition at Warwick Art Gallery, from 2 April - 3 May, 2015.
 

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

like something is brewing

 
 


There seems to be a lot of  weather in my paintings again lately.  It's not uncommon for a weather system to move in while I'm working, bringing clouds and wind and rain, and completely changing my original plans for the artwork.  I wonder what changes are in store for me when it passes through?


Sweet Unrest II, gouache on cotton rag paper


 
December, gouache on cotton rag paper


Festival II, gouache on cotton rag paper

 

 
Oh My Stars, gouache on cotton rag paper

 
As usual I've been finding inspiration in other people's beautiful words, and I have gathered quite a collection of weather quotes and poems in my art journal.  Every book I have enjoyed lately has provided a new one... here are a few of my favourites at the moment.


I could tell the season was changing because in daylight the air moved, moved ceaselessly, not what you would call a wind, but restlessness and unease which were delicious to the bones and skin.

Helen Garner, Monkey Grip 


Ah, not to be cut off,
not through the slightest partition
shut out from the law of the stars.
The inner - what is it?
if not intensified sky,
hurled through with birds and deep
with the winds of homecoming.

Rainer Maria Rilke
 
 
This memory moved like a weather system through my body.
 
Karen Joy Fowler, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves


It was dark outside, and spring chill was in the evening air. He breathed deeply and felt his body tingle in the coolness. Beyond the jagged outline of the apartment houses the town lights glowed upon a thin mist that hung in the air. At the corner a street light pushed feebly against the darkness that closed around it; from the darkness beyond it the sound of laughter broke abruptly into silence, lingered and died. The smell of smoke from trash burning in back yards was held by the mist; and as he walked slowly through the evening, breathing the fragrance and tasting upon his tongue the sharp night-time air, it seemed to him that the moment he walked in was enough and the might not need a great deal more.

John Williams, Stoner