Blog

Bucks open studios Exhibition 2016

My next exhibition of work is at Obsidian Art  in Stoke Mandeville beginning on June 4th. It's open every day until 3rd July so plenty of opportunity to pop in and have a look. The show is part of Bucks Open studios and will showcase the work of a variety of artists working in various media. Well worth a visit even if I do say so myself! 

Through Our Hands

I'm excited to have an article included in the winter edition of Through Our Hands, the online magazine devoted to all things textiles: http://issuu.com/laurakemshall/docs/tohmagwinter2015

I hope you enjoy it.

Rachel Wright article in Through our hands magazine

The devil is in the detail

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At the end of the summer holidays, I had to begin work on a commissioned piece which had been sitting in my virtual 'in tray' since the beginning of the year. Luckily my client is patient and was happy to wait.

So with the help of some photographs, I set about the task of sketching an image out onto my calico canvas. It became immediately obvious that this piece was going to be an incredible challenge. After some time, my arm was aching and I began to realise that the success of this piece would be 'all in the detail'. There were so many windows, doorways and characterful details in the buildings and then, there were the reflections in the water.....this was going to be a small embroidery which would take an awfully long time to do.

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As I started stitching I became quickly immersed in the piece, concentrating my efforts on small areas at a time, sewing for hours and then pausing to sit back and assess my progress only to find that the piece had hardly grown at all. Although a little disheartened by the painfully slow progress, I did at least feel happy with how it was going. I don't think I have ever changed my top thread or my spool thread quite as much as I did on this piece. People often ask me if there is some trick to getting so many colours in each piece. There is no magical answer....it is simply being prepared to change those threads as often as it takes. I'm actually pretty sure that I could thread my machine up with my eyes closed. On this particular embroidery it was vital to capture the many pastel colours of the buildings and the endless reflections in the canal.

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After many hours of head ache inducing concentration I finally finished and gratefully collapsed into the nearest armchair. There is no doubt that this piece was incredibly challenging and also in many ways a lot of fun. Above all though I came to truly appreciate and understand that old expression we all use 'the devil is in the detail'.

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Foxtrot

Allow me to introduce my new fox. I'm rather relieved to have finally got the end of this one as there were several hiccups along the way. The fox himself, though he should have been the trickiest part, came trotting along very easily. I was very lucky to come across the photographs of Richard Bowler who kindly allowed me to work from his brilliant photograph of this fox. Not being a very good photographer myself I am always grateful that others are skilled in this department and Richard's photos are exceptional. 20150427-202951-73791844.jpg So with this as my inspiration I began to draw the fox and to try to capture it's wonderful gait. 20150427-203149-73909872.jpg As I said the fox developed quickly and without any real issues and I was soon at a point where I needed to begin to consider the background. This is where the real problems began. 20150427-203459-74099696.jpg I worked very hard on the background but I just wasn't happy with how it looked. I always like to sit back from the work for a while and live with it. Usually if anything is going to bother me it will show itself quite quickly and sure enough after a couple of days I was sure I wanted to change the background. 20150427-204002-74402951.jpg In the end I felt the colours in the background should be more muted, softer and in harmony with the fox itself. I'm much happier with this final version. I'm sure not everyone will agree with me but I know I would never have been happy with the first version. Final Fox

T-weet to whoo?

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So this is the embroidery I've been working on the last couple of weeks. It's not particularly big but the detail involved has meant it has been slow going at times. The faces of the owls were particularly tricky. I always think facial expressions and especially eyes are vital to the birds looking right and being convincingly real.

I love Barn owls. They're a subject matter I've tackled before and no doubt I will again. They're so elegant, statesmanlike, beautiful and graceful.

This piece was inspired by a photo on twitter (hence the awful blog title...sorry!) I never thought I was the kind if person to enjoy social media. In fact I still haven't been tempted by Facebook (am I the last?) However twitter has sucked me in and I have found there, a community of artists, creatives and people who simply just enjoy art. I find that I get a buzz from sharing my progress as I work, through twitter and that the response is warm, encouraging and supportive.

Unexpectedly I've come to the conclusion that I would really miss my twitter community and that I'm actually very lucky to have them.

It was a great delight to me to be told by a National trust Ranger on twitter that I she really loved my barn owls embroidery and since she works closely with them, I felt particularly encouraged by her comment. It's interactions such as this that I find really valuable. As an artist working at home alone most of the time it is helpful to have an audience to share and discuss with and I'm am honoured to be asked my opinion of other people's work too.

This piece began with twitter and now it is finished, I've been seeking help with a title for it from my twitter friends too. So it also ends with twitter and the chosen title 'Do you see what I see?'

The joy of little red dots

Ok...so I know what you are thinking...'she's gone completely mad'.
Well, you could be right but little red dots are a joyous thing believe me! When you are an artist, there is a great buzz of excitement to be had when a little red dot appears on your work at an exhibition or show.

This weekend was one such time for me. It was Longwick Artshow, a local primary school event run by a parent and fellow artist, where artists from all over the local area are invited to submit work and sell it with a percentage of the profits going to the school.

It's a show I've taken part in for about the last five years and having missed the private view on Friday night I was keen to get along there on Saturday to see the show for myself.

To my delight I arrived to discover that all 4 of the embroideries I had submitted had little red dots adorning them. It's such a great feeling to sell work at any time but it was particularly satisfying to sell everything!

To know that people are parting with their hard earned cash to buy something I've made makes me very happy.

A good friend of mine is always telling me that I need to remember all the years of training and experience I have done when I decide on prices for my work. She tells me that every hour at college, every sketchbook page, every discarded piece which didn't quite make the grade...all of that has helped to make me the artist I am today and it is time and experience that just cannot be calculated when pricing work. She is right of course but until I become super famous and can charge whatever I like for my work I'll happily settle for the thrill of the little red dots.

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The seafront, Aldeburgh, Suffolk

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This piece was a private commission which I completed just before Christmas. My brief was to create an embroidery depicting the seafront at Aldeburgh in Suffolk, a place which the new owners of the piece are very familiar with since they holiday there almost every year. The familiarity of the seafront buildings, the steep shingle banks and the pretty fishing boats were all aspects I was asked to include. Of course I just had to add in one of my signature skies but I was under strict instructions to keep it blue and summery.

The great challenge of this piece was the seafront buildings. It felt as though I was only progressing by about half an inch per day at one point. However the detail of this element was crucial to the recipients being able to recognise their much loved holiday destination so I ploughed on. Once the buildings were in place the shingle banks developed much more speedily. I enjoyed the movement and shaping of this feature particularly.

New Year…new challenges.

January is a strange old month. It's cold and grey and we all begin to crave the early signs of spring and longer lighter, brighter days. It also always turns my thoughts to what the new year will bring and there are inevitably new challenges in store. There is excitement in considering the projects I might embark on. How many of those tiny green shoots of an idea will grow and develop and come to fruition? I'm also thrilled to be able to do some familiar things. I'm looking forward to another chance to exhibit my work at Obsidian Art again in June 2015 as part of Bucks Open studios. Work has already begun in preparation and it's exciting to be getting my teeth into some new work with this show in mind. Last year saw my first real attempts to depict wildlife in my work. It was a challenge that proved tricky but very rewarding and I hope to be able to do more this year so watch this space! I'm still working on ideas and planning for the year ahead but one thing I need to prioritise is my website and I hope to be able to do more blogposts and show more work in progress. So I look forward to what 2015 has in store and hope to be able to share more of it with you and keep you up to date with what I'm up to and where you can see my work.

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Bucks Open Studios

It has been an amazing two weeks participating in Bucks Open studios at two different venues. My embroideries have been at Obsidian Art in Stoke Mandeville for a third year running. It is a real privilege to be asked to show my work there and my favourite part is going to the gallery to demonstrate.

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I had a wonderful time meeting and talking with some lovely, interesting people who came to see me and to chat about my work. It was great to be able to let them handle a piece I am working on and get a real feel for how it is done. Their enthusiasm and interest was delightful and a real encouragement.

I was also able to show a different type of work in the old courthouse at Princes Risborough.

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This was a completely different experience with my work being on display over two weekends and I was there with it, meeting the customers and enjoying delicious tea and cakes served in vintage style by Elcie's Pantry.

The real pleasure for me was spending time with the other artists involved, getting to know them and sharing the experience. They were a fantastic group of people and it was great fun to be part of 'Artists in court'.

Well hello Mr Fox

A few weeks ago I took my eldest son to the local wildlife rescue centre; Tiggywinkles is a fabulous place in Haddenham, Bucks which looks after sick and injured wild animals. Whilst there we were fascinated by a small family of foxes and I just had to commit this handsome devil to stitch. I also thought I'd show you the process that I go through in order to take my embroideries from ideas through to completion.

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Sketching on calico in preparation for stitching. Always exciting to be starting a new piece.

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Only just starting to stitch but mr fox has snuggled down in my sewing box and made himself comfortable.

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Finished stitching fox today. Time to give some consideration to a background.

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Background added, curled up fox 'keeping his eye on you'. Take a look at the finished piece in my portfolio section.

Special Delivery

I'm very pleased today as I've delivered all my work to the Obsidian Gallery for Bucks Open Studios. Check out my diary page for more information.

If this blog was of interest and you would like to ask me a question, or to discuss a commission get in touch