Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Gate: It's Becoming a Series

So my big gate seems to have become a regular subject for sketching whether on paper or fabric. 

One of the ideas for last week's klass of Sketchbook Skool was about creating watercolor skies. Because I wanted to test out the ideas with fabric, I laid down a blue and white fabric for sky (stitched onto drawing paper from my binder), then added three strips for trees and vegetation with glue.

I went to my kitchen door and once again looked toward the gate. I used a green permanent pen to sketch the gate and surrounding trees.

Then I started to machine stitch the sky, beginning with white and then going to a light gray.

I had fun zooming on the machine, but, I'm thinking this is easier to do in watercolors...

Monday, April 28, 2014

Knotting French Style

This seems to happen frequently. A piece appears finished...and then it's not, or knot, as the case may be. Drat! French knots require time. 
Overall they will not be particularly visible on the Pomegranate Tree Quilt, yet they seem necessary to me, another layer that makes this work so rich. This may take quite a few more. I like the contrasts building up--the smooth finished parts with the raw edges and crooked lines, holding together yet almost falling apart...a good description of my life...

Sunday, April 27, 2014

More Blasting Hard Rock

Here's proof that I have been stitching leaves onto the Pomegranate Tree Quilt in a push to finish the top...with some help.

Then I put on the hard rock music cranked up to full-blast, so Bibi huffed out. Ahh, but, look what fun I had.

I looked at my Rainbow watercolor sketchbook (here and here) and started pulling out fabrics and cutting strips for the textile sketchbook page I've been wanting to do since the last one (here).

In the morning light, it looked even more exciting. Haven't tried this method of strips before. Now I have to carve them up...These colors have me rockin'!

Saturday, April 26, 2014


"Invigilate" is still the strangest word for me (British term for proctoring exams). In any case, I try to keep hawk eyes on students and sketch discreetly at the same time. If I stand behind them, they can't see me.
This is red colored pencil on a small prepared page (3"x6", green watercolor wash). Then I used a Stabilo permanent pen for the text and cross-hatching. I have been paying attention to slowing down, which allows for more accuracy. And this student barely moved, but, stared a lot at the paper in front of him...

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Gate, 2

The gate sits right in front of me so it has been coming up for subject matter a lot recently. The homework at the Sketchbook Skool has been watercolor washes and sky. 

I got lucky when a few clouds appeared yesterday. The sky is usually a happy blue. The light is usually intense and sparkling in Tunisia.

This is my fourth or fifth attempt at painting sky effects. Not as easy as the teacher makes it look. I'll probably do a few more.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The End is in Sight

Just adding a few circles and stitching a few holes in reverse appliqué, and then I think I can stop on this tunic.

No, wait! 

After looking at the photos (I so love my blogs for showing me), I see that I have to add some strands to get some flow from one side to the other. Drat! I was being optimistic when I said that the end was in sight!

Linked to Nina Marie's "Off the Wall Friday."

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Reverse Side

A thought needs recording so I don't lose it entirely. The reverse side of stitching is often just as interesting as the front so here's the burgundy and blue stitching.

I like the subtleness of it (because subtle I am not), the regularity mixed with irregularity, emptiness contained. As I stitched yesterday, I tried to figure out how to incorporate this look into a piece. I could do the needleturn on the wrong side of a piece and have it lead into the needleturn on the right side, sort of a shadowy growth. Some slightly larger pieces of fabric needleturned to the wrong side would also allow me to reverse appliqué from the right side. Hmmmm. Lot of possibilities there. My back burner is the size of a house!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Taking Out the Pieces

I'm in a finishing mood so I took out pieces of a project that may be near completion.
And took the time to admire the work. I "embellished" a commercial fabric.
The pockets:

A bit like talking to an old friend...

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Back to Stitching

I missed my needles, threads, and fabrics and they missed me (well, maybe). 

So pleased to be stitching again.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Yay! Last Day of Classes!

I'm feeling free, liberated, soaring like a bird--no more class preparation, only final exams to deal with. Yesterday (long teaching day), I only had time for a quick pen sketch of the last mandarine from my orchard that was in my lunchbox. I wrote around it and planned on doing watercolors to finish it when I went home.

However, the assignment for this week in Sketchbook School was to use colored pencils. The suggested technique was to have a very light touch and do many layers of color...I knew this was going to take time so I had put it off. But, I confess that I really like the process because of the subtlety and depth of color obtained. I mean, subtle I'm not and I really, really like the results. I used Stabilo colored pencils and ten colors (at the bottom).

As I noted on the sketchbook page, I haven't been able to stitch all week--it's killin' me. This evening I will stitch to my heart's content. Now I'm going to go out in the sunshine and talk to the plants in my garden...

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Gate

I've already "sketched" a gate in my textile sketchbook and I'm thinking of doing another. The subject of gates is interesting for they are beautiful, however, for me, the need for protection prevails.

As I had little time yesterday, I rapidly sketched my front gate on a prepared sheet of paper (green watercolor wash) with my Stabilo pen and added added some pencil afterwards.

So that's my front gate from the inside with olive trees and local cypress/pine trees. I'm thinking I would like to see this stitched. Or I may do it again and draw directly on fabric. Undecided.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


I should've taken my stitching because I would've gotten a lot done. However, I did do some sketching while waiting to see the governor of the region where I live.
The contrast between quiet waiting room and text knocks me over. The governor explained that he was having trouble imposing his authority because of a breakdown in the executive government. Everything seems to be paralyzed so it is difficult to enforce the law. This will most certainly go into a larger blog post over at MulticoloredPieces. Sometimes one is suddenly witness to history or the under side of history.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Across the Street

The homework for Sketchbook Skool is to go outside and draw. Ok, I was outside of my house, inside my classroom, drawing something outside across the street--a car in front of a boarded up building. I hope that counts...

I need practice drawing cars. This takes time. And I was upstairs looking down--an odd angle. One sees more roof, I suppose. I started with a page that I had prepared by painting a yellow wash on it a couple nights before. Then I added purple (with a bit of black) shadows at home with watercolors. I used a Stabilo OH Pen with a superfine tip. More practice needed and that means more sketching pleasure ahead! Now I need to get back to some stitching....

Monday, April 14, 2014

Creative Garden

Couldn't stand it anymore. While sipping my morning coffee, I went outside to talk to the potted plants in my terrace gardens...and I didn't go back inside for another three hours. The plants in the "nursery" had grown and were ready to go out into the adult plant world and I had old cement blocks (cinder blocks) that were waiting for recycling. I started with two cement blocks and an old piece of wrought iron fence. Doesn't look promising...

However, I ended up with this under my bedroom window:
Can't seem to get away from plastic as I haven't been able to mosaic any pots recently. I hide the clear plastic soda bottles in back. 

And now I'm feeling better.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Last Orange

The last week of school approaches resulting in a frenzy of activity to finish everything up. But fortunately, I can manage my "homework" from Sketchbook Skool, which is a sketch a day, quick or otherwise. 

The subject was simple: Last navel orange from my orchard (sooooo tasty). Now I'll have to wait until the end of October for another one. 

For my sketchbook, I like the small format (5 1/2" x 8")--It's easy to fill up. It's a recycled planner into which I put additional plain drawing paper along with the lined pages, which I like because they are yellowish as opposed to the stark white of the drawing paper.

Couldn't resist putting in blue shadows--just love those complements.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Quince Blossoms, 2

The morning was warm and sunny so I went outside to sketch the last of the quince blossoms on my prepared page (begun here).

It turns out that there is a whole world of people who are pen fans, so I include this bit of information. I used a Stabilo "OHPen universal" (permanent) with a Superfine tip. Fortunately, I'm not particular: I simply use what I can find. I really liked sketching in shaded areas lightly with the pen.  

And here is where I hesitate: should I continue with stitching or leave it as it is, just sketched with pen? However, I could redo the whole thing, if necessary (something I've never done). It is, after all, just a journal page. So onward...

I added more paper in back to stabilize the stitching [newsprint--I get it at the local hardware store by the kilo]. I used a dark green (almost black) thread to outline the leaves and added some light spots of fabric.

I stitched free-motion to create the light spots with a yellow-green thread.

Bibi wanted the attention that the machine was getting. Teenagers!

I used a blue thread for shadows on the leaves, maroon for outlining the pedals, and pink and white fill-in. I like the idea of palimpsest--the layering. The black pen marks remain vaguely present.
Scattered snippets found their way onto the page. I added my text with the permanent pen and frayed some of the fabric edges. As I'm playing around with ideas and techniques for Sketchbook Skool, I follow my rule of NO Expectations...just throwing sand around in the sandbox.

Linked to Nina Marie's "Off the Wall Friday."

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Quince Blossoms, 1

A couple of quince trees stand in my backyard. They're like an apple but very hard, best for preserves unless you want to commit dental suicide. 

The blossoms are fading, and as I find them pretty because they vaguely remind me of dogwood trees, I thought I'd better get them into my sketchbook/journal. 


So I started with a piece of fabric glued to a sheet of drawing paper from my notebook.

In addition to my rule about relative speed for my sketchbook/journal (no hand stitching allowed, only machine), there is a temporary rule about no use of pencil, and drawing from life, for the Sketchbook Skool, in which I am enrolled.

OK, I cheated. I lightly sketched in the branch I planned on sketching with pencil.

However, this is only to place the shapes of fabrics to prepare the background before sketching. Barely visible...I shouldn't have confessed...

I cut out fabric shapes, and glued them on.

Lately, I've been going off the edges--one advantage of working with fabric.

Then I stitched them down, adding lines that may or may not add some depth.

Background prepared--now the fun begins!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Journée de la Vache

There is always a story, it seems, and living in Tunisia, the stories are so different from what I would have experienced in the States. For example, yesterday was Journée de la Vache (Day of the Cow) when 3 cows invaded our citrus orchard. 
These huge animals just brush by and knock the blossoms off the trees. So I kidnapped one cow and held her hostage in my garden (she kindly mowed and fertilized the grass) until the owner showed up later in the day, worried and apologetic.
As you can see, turning a bad day into a good one, I attempted some sketches of this slow-moving beast. Actually, this was high adventure--do you have any idea how BIG a cow is?

Monday, April 7, 2014

End of Weekend

End of weekend, and Bibi made it into the news again. He came right up to the car door and greeted me as I drove in. Apparently, he meowed constantly for three days, looking for me. Nice to be appreciated!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Burgundy & Blue, 7

I visited my Sketch Club friend in a beach town and spent the weekend unplugged. Amazingly, all the lists that I carry around in my head simply evaporated and I found myself with enough time, more than enough time, to stitch and sketch. What a feeling! 

The end is in sight for this piece.

We began the online Sketchbook Skool lessons, for which we are enrolled (ok, I wasn't enitirely unplugged). 

For the next six weeks, I'll try to work everyday in a sketchbook. Here the assignment was to record your day in words and sketch. The paper is cream colored so I tried some white water color without much success.

More and more, I see some crossover. I sketched the right corner of my stitching in my sketchbook/journal since I started my day with some stitching. I had been thinking of doing this for awhile.

I'll probably sketch my stitching more and more. I did a slow sketch of my watch, since I had to proctor midterm exams, and a quick sketch of a student--I was trying to be discreet.

And what a weekend!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Coffee Break

The black stitching completed on this sketchbook page, I pinned on shadows.
Still ruminating on the possibility of slicing it and putting it back together.
I so love fooling around with the sewing machine--free motion wildness.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Pressed for Time, 4

The last month of school inevitably gobbles up a lot of my time. Must work fast, grabbing minutes here and there...
After the rainbow colors, I've played with blacks and color. I wanted to see how layering would look: Black watercolor laid down first and allowed to dry, then colors painted on top. Dulled.

Then black framing yellow. "Two" again.

Going in the other direction: "One" looking like "Two". Hmmmm....

Liking the vertical direction better.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Burgundy & Blue, 6

Getting there...