Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Artist Series - 002 Taman Sheikh

The other day while logged into my gmail, I was happily surprised by an IM by a former student of mine Taman who is now studying for her textiles degree at Chelsea College of Art. Taman was that rare but much appreciated student who would listen, had talent in abundance and worked unbelievably hard. At the same time she was funny and extremely polite. As an example of her generous nature she has been loyally dragging Stanley her FTB to Amsterdam, Kenya and more recently Turkey for which I am very grateful.

So when I asked to see some of her work and she sent me these photos I asked her if she wouldn't mind me posting them. Aren't they just fabulous ? They are currently on sale in Fabrication
I am so proud. Above is Taman's piece from AS level.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Summertime and the sanding is easy....

What a glorious weekend of sun filled weather. Apparently the rain is coming back mid-week so I'm enjoying it while I can. For me sunny weather is the equivalent of inducing copious amounts of caffeine, so it was on Thursday night that I found myself on my hands and knees sanding a table. Dan and Angel our lovely neighbours will soon be moving to Denver and have been having clear outs in preparation of the move. On Thursday I find Dan outside of his garage with a stanley blade and a very shiny looking table. Curious, I wander over. "What are you doing ?" I ask. " Trying to get rid off this resin coat?" I offer my nickel's worth of suggestions which include use of a hammer. It transpires that they will be getting rid of this table and I put in my claim and offer to chip off the rest of the resin, which is strangely satisfying. Dan is no stranger to projects (he is a carpenter pro) and beneath the layer of resin, is a very thick coat of copper paint, a layer of primer and some remnants of black paint. The table has had a few makeovers since it's days as a naked rubberwood table and it's time to take it back to bare. With the aid of a sander I spend about an hour and a half slowly removing the stubborn copper layer before I'm pooped out. Where I stop my husband picks up and over the weekend we have it stripped. Off to Osh to buy some stain and the transformation is almost complete. The similarities between my dream table and the the one I got for free (with some elbow grease) is uncanny. I am very happy. While it is relatively easy to pick up old stuff in London, not so here, it's antique with an antique price tag!!
The table I wanted (which was in Oregon !) note weathered surface.
 My newly stripped almost finished table. As I said, uncanny. (those are sun rays not weird patches)

 Sanford and the coffee table.
The excitement at using the sander didn't stop there and we set about giving our coffee table a revamp too. This was a second-hand find and the coffee ring stains on it had been annoying me of late, but they are gone now. Due to the sun however a few spots were missed so a bit more sanding is required it just feels much cleaner now and it will be getting a natural wax coat.

So, in craft news I've been working on a new design for a Matryoshka plush, I made a speedy mock up but I need to make the head a softer curve. It is only after stuffing that you make these discoveries but I'm confident I'll get there. I also started to use my gargantuan felted jumper stockpile, I have recently come to the realization that most of it is too thick to comfortably fit in the sewing machine which requires hand stitching and well frankly I'm all about the machine!! In an effort to diversify my range of products for the show, I made some sample flower pins but I'm thinking I can put them on headbands too.

I managed to find some time to go surfing and quite frankly I got pummelled. I took myself on a time out as my ears were hurting a lot from being pounded. I did consider calling it quits but I figure you can only learn and become better by sticking at it (if you don't drown that is...) I had the weirdest dream last night which featured crocheted cushion covers, Johnny Weir at an airport and David Beckham. I don't know what it means, maybe I should watch less TV.

Oh and here are some paintings in progress. Before sun and after sun. I'll take better pictures once they are finished.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Here comes the Sun

I've been restless for the last few days but finally the wait is over and confirmation that I have a booth at UNIQUE LA finally arrived on Friday night. Hurrah and boo at the same time, I must hit the brushes and sewing machine in every spare minute, which boo means less surfing time and general lounging. This week has been productive, two paintings a diptych I guess are in progress (ocean) as well as a pair of cushions. I also attacked a 2 year old never worn French Connection dress with a pair of scissors, while this may seem rash it's taken me two years to take the plunge. A little history.... I bought this dress and foolishly never tried it on, purple silk with a navy pattern it was long and boho ish. I got it home and not only was it too big but was unflattering from every angle. So, in the wise words of Tim Gunn I made it work. This involved a lot of pinning and chopping of excess fabric all the while pacifying myself with the thought that I never wore it anyway. Any change could therefore only be positive. I am glad to report that the transformation is almost there, it fits and is a much better shape for me. I may even wear it to an upcoming wedding, note the confident tone, ha.

I spray painted some more coffee tins and transplanted an incredibly hardy lavender plant. I kill plants, not deliberately but they just don't last. Add to that I get hayfever and it seems that gardening and I just weren't meant to be. I finally bought one of those trigger things that stop your finger from going numb that you attach to the spray can only to find that it didn't fit 75% of my collection.

The never ending birthday flag project continues, I've sewn all the requisite letters but need to finish the flag bits. I definitely need to be printing and not appliqueing everything. I have officially given up fizzy drinks (not including carbonated water) there is just no nutritional value to it and while the same could be said of coffee I have to start somewhere. It's amazing what a difference sunshine makes, my energy levels have doubled and I actually went for a run on Saturday. Legs are still sore today Monday but I went, and hopefully its the first of many. I made a pact with myself if I didn't go surfing I would have to go for a run, needless to say come Sunday I went surfing and chatted to a teenager who'd just moved to the area. The waves were fairly non-existent to begin with but it picked up a little, nowhere near as painful as the running.

In the afternoon I whipped up a set of coasters, I hadn't found any in stores that I really liked so inspired by an old designsponge post I made my own. That's it for now, expect more as I get busy.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Polar Babies

The latest kids on the block Polar babies are here and child friendly too !

Ice Skating and Polar Bears

Oh, its been a full week since I got back from Colorado and I attributed my lethargy to the 7 day working week. Turns out however that I had a bit of a cold which was not going to stop me from an overdue surf on Saturday. It was supposed to rain on Saturday I might add and on cue as I approached the shore little droplets started landing on me. But, don't you get wet anyway ? I hear you say. Obviously you do, its the paddling part that's trickier with a downpour getting in your eyes, like swimming with no goggles. Still, it had deterred a large crowd from forming and the waves were bigger than the 1-2ft surfline forecast. More 3-4 with the occassional beast. When faced with a big wave I often pause for an instant, which is the worst thing to do, because that's when I get caught in no man's land and get dumped on. I resolve to make a decision one way or the other the next time a big one comes along and I'm in the wrong position.
After the surf, I was fully animated to get some creatures made, I've designed a polar bear, beaver and boss dog and managed to make 2/3 prototypes. There were distractions along the way I was fascinated by the Jonny Weir Series airing on Sundance and watched 4 in a row. (Commercial free.) I didn't know much about him while the Olympics were on, I just thought he was really good and deserved to place higher than he did, not that I know anything about scoring Ice dancing. I did work a few Holiday on Ice specials at Wembley way back when, which makes you appreciate the physical effort that goes into it. I got to watch Torvill and Dean doing the Bolero probably one of the most famous ice dances of all time.
In total contrast to the ice skating, we had a movie night and watched Law abiding Citizen I wasn't expecting the gruesomeness and I covered my eyes on occasion. It was definitely uncomfortable viewing, fictitious as it was. Pics of polar babies coming soon.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Need a portrait ? I know a man

Family Viewing, Oil on Canvas 60" x 72"Dreaming California, 2009 60" x 72"Oil on Canvas

There was a time when I was the only painter in the family, that was until my sister got married to Ben Hughes and I had some serious competition. Back then I had completed my fine art degree and he was an accountant (an extremely good one I might add.) Ben is one of those multi-talented braniacs that rarely falters at anything he tries his hand at. HTML coding, check, unicycling, check, book writer, check.... you get the picture.When he decided to paint professionally it was no different, over the years he has just refined, pushed and perfected his technique. He has won prestigious prizes along the way. I wish there was a chink in his armour but annoyingly he is as humble and down to earth as they come. If you would like to commission a portrait of yourself, family, pet or loved one he will do an amazing job.
You can also follow his adventure filled blog  BLART