Sunday, 19 October 2014

Biggar Arts Festival


We visited the Biggar Arts Festival today. The weather was a bit wild and windy but it cleared up towards the middle of the afternoon. It was most enjoyable, and I fell in love with a painting that I will show you very soon. I try to buy a piece of art after every exhibition of my own work in an effort to play it forward so to speak. I sort of knew I might find that art today as the artist in question came to my exhibition and my art resonated with her. The same was the case with her work for me. All will be revealed in the next few days.

I couldn't resist a quick visit to Biggar graveyard as you can see above. I played a bit with textures and the brightness of this photograph.

On the way home we stopped at a new place (The Big Red Barn) for tea and when we came out flocks of geese flew over, a very typical autumn sight here in the Borders. I randomly aimed my camera upwards and clicked away, and was quite surprised to get some decent pictures out of it.


Saturday, 18 October 2014


I drove past the hill we climbed yesterday and it was almost impossible to believe we were up there then. Today the rain was lashing down on the car and even in the middle of the day it was quite dark. So what else to photograph than this indoor cyclamen that has just started to flower! 

Now that the exhibition is over I'm going back to not posting here every day. As there are quite a few projects I haven't shared yet I anticipate that the frequency will still be quite high for the moment but there sometimes are days when I'm simply not in the mood or when I don't want to switch on my computer as that usually leads to all sorts of distractions from what I should and want to be doing i.e. stitch.

Finally someone asked me today about the phone problems. I haven't given you a progress report as there hasn't been any progress! We are writing a log (it's very substantial already) about every problem i.e. bad phone line, broadband being disrupted by both in and outgoing calls and the like. Our service provider (Utility Warehouse, and they have been fantastic!) will use this to put pressure on BT. Neither they nor we expect this to change anything quickly. Many of our neighbours have given up on their landlines but we have no plans to do so, specially as mobile reception is also rubbish. When I'm feeling particularly energetic I might even write to our MP and MSP, who knows!  So e-mail is the best way to contact either of us. 

Friday, 17 October 2014

Up the Pentland Hills

Amazingly the good weather is continuing, and as we had promised ourselves on Wednesday we set out to find the Loganlea reservoir from the other direction. What I hadn't taken account of in my calculations was that yes, the distance walked would be less but factored in that distance was a very substantial climb! We set off from a layby on the A702 just north of Silverburn. And you can see the path above winding it's way up into the Pentland Hills. It's called the Old Kirk Road as farmers and shepherds living in, over and beyond the hills used this path to go to church in Penicuik in which parish they resided. They must have been very pleased if the sermon was long because it gave them a chance to catch their breath. As it was, the journey to and from church must have taken the best part of the day.
This time we came well equipped, with walking boots and a rucksack containing warm jackets (so not needed!), water, and the OS map. The water was most welcome during breaks from the climb but everything else in there was unnecessary, at least today. Although it must be said these are serious hills and coming prepared is a very good idea. Fortunately for us it was sunshine all the way and although there was a fresh breeze that was in fact very welcome to cool off.
The hills are looking very autumnal now, with brown the dominating colour but there were flashes of colour such as the mushroom above that  I spotted in the grass.
 Eventually the climb levelled out and we passed over the brow of the hills so that we had views in a westerly direction towards Balerno.
We climbed over an impressively large stile and it proved a great vantage point from which to take pictures. You can see my shadow doing just that.
 John found a piece of fence to sit down on and take out the binoculars while the sheep paid us no attention at all. They must be very used to climbers passing by.
In the meantime I ventured far enough down the hill again to get a view of Loganlea Reservoir and the path that we walked on Wednesday. The parked cars probably belong to fishermen, or fishers as they seem to be called. Spot the power lines going across the hills. They seem to get everywhere nowadays.
Then it was back again over the hill and on a mainly downwards path back to the car. There are almost no trees in the hills so this little rowan stood out, somehow clinging on and not yet nibbled by the sheep who are the main inhabitants of these hills.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Don't Fear the Trees Journal Quilt

It's always quite hard to get back into the swing of things after an exhibition but in this case I was helped by the fact that a new theme for October was announced on the Sketchbook Challenge site not long before the show was over. This meant I could start thinking about what I wanted to do for that theme which was Trees. In fact last month's Journal Quilt would also have covered that theme but I wanted to do something completely different for this month both in execution and colour.
Photo taken by Lenna Andrews
I then remembered this photograph taken by Lenna when she was here, during our visit to Jupiter Artland. John and I had been several times before but had never noticed that we had missed out on seeing one particular piece of art. Lenna did notice and we then hunted it out. She deserves all the credit for discovering where to get to it. The art is called Coppice Wood and is by Andy Goldsworthy. It consists of: "Limbs coppiced from Badger Wood suspended together in a room". A very dark room! Above you can see how I ventured inside where it was almost impossible to see anything. A strange sensation although not a bad one.
I set to interpreting this in fabric. I used a autumn coloured fabric with leaves, for the background fabric which was layered up with a transparent fabric, also with leaves and machine stitched in straight lines with a variety of threads. Then I made the trees for the background using a dark coloured batik fabric which was layered with wadding and hand stitched, then cut to strips and machine appliquéd onto the background. The large tree in the foreground was also made separately using another batik fabric and a hand dyed turban cotton, layered with wadding and seed stitched by hand. I also added gold foiling. This piece was made into a tube and stuffed with filler. I needed someone in among the trees,  and although I thought about adding myself I decided I wanted to see more of the person I put in there. So I used an image from a Alphastamps collage sheet.
You can see just how 3 dimensional the large tree is above.  The title of the piece comes from a quotation by Richelle E. Goodrich. It reads as follows: "Life is a walk through the forest. Don't fear the trees; fear what lurks behind them".
The final step was to go back to the transparent fabric with the leaves, add Bondaweb to the back and cut out individual leaves and add them to the journal quilt and  then hand stitch the veins. And there you have my contribution for this monthe. Unusually dark for me but it still has sparkle!

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Alongside Glencorse Reservoir

After last Saturday's excursion we were quite keen to return and see some more of Glencorse Reservoir. So this afternoon we set out on a more serious hike alongside the edge of the Reservoir and beyond. We didn't quite manage to reach the next Reservoir but no doubt we will catch it at some future date as there is a shorter route towards it starting at a different point from the road. It was a wonderful afternoon with more blue skies although there was a stiff breeze too.
 I also was on a mission to take more meaningful (to  me) pictures for my photography class.
 The autumn colours seem to be getting more stunning by the day. There are a few very isolated houses (sheep farms, I would guess) along this path which isn't accessible for vehicles apart from those that live and work in the hills. On the left hand side you can see the Pentland Hills continue into the distance.
I loved this little shed and wanted to get some of the sheep in too, but they were pretty intend on moving out of the frame!
 Some views just make you gasp in utter delight and this one did that for me!
 I'm pretty sure that the word fishers doesn't appear in the dictionary but the meaning is clear!
 Another stunning view!
 Here we are in fairly typical stance, with me holding the camera and taking the picture.The shadows are long at this time of year.
On our return the light was more diffused and I love that long line of trees on the diagonal.  We were meant to look at our past pictures for the photography class and see if we could discover a theme; something we return to regularly and take pictures of. Trees are my theme.
I know I took a picture of these little boats on Saturday too but I like the light in this one a lot better as well as the addition of that red buoy.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

David Douglas and his red balloon

The weather this afternoon was unexpectedly lovely and sunny and we went to Dawyck with a special mission in mind i.e. to celebrate Blipfoto's 10th birthday this week. We are having a huge party by posting pictures featuring red balloons which Blip Central will tie together for us. I was sure that David Douglas (of Douglas fir fame) would want to join in the fun so we brought a red balloon with us and you can see him above holding it clasped between his arms while staring into the distance. We had a bit of a problem afterwards as John had tied the balloon up and couldn't untie it. He was not inclined to spend the rest of our walk hanging on to a red balloon and eventually managed to puncture it. It went out with a huge bang! We scarpered quickly from the scene.
So David will be my blip for today but he wasn't by any stretch of the imagination the best picture I took today. I was also taken pictures as part of my Photo Meditations course where this week it was time to put emotion into our pictures. As if it would be possible to take pictures in any other way! Every time I click the shutter I do so with intent and feeling. That might also be the reason why I repeat some images endlessly although of course each picture is completely unique in itself.
This little chapel always does it for me. Love how it is positioned at the end of a long grassy path going upwards and at this time of year it is also framed beautifully by the changing colours of the trees. It breathes an air of solitude.
Colour and texture are my main obsessions in making my art and of course that is reflected in my photographs too. That's why I love impressionistic leaf pictures.
And then there are the trees. Preferably bare and (very strange for someone as colour obsessed as I am) grey. They too speak to me of solitude, peace and tranquillity. I have entire albums full of pictures like these two above and below, and yet, each one is different and unique. No doubt I will add many more over the course of the rest of my life.
 The contrast between that luscious green bottom half and the greyscale top makes me feel serene.
I also love the way the light falls on the landscape above, putting the spotlight on Dawyck House in the distance.
And in the picture of fungi above, it's the shapes! Circles to be precise. Circles have been a leitmotiv in my work for many years now and I will never get bored of seeing them in art and the landscape.

Monday, 13 October 2014


Week 42 on The Documented Life Project (only 10 more weeks before this year is over, imagine!) brought the challenge of: Stars. I knew I had a large star punch and located it together with remnants of gelli plate printed papers. For the background I used a (for me) unusually subtle gelli ghost print that reminded me a bit of the sky.
I punched out the stars, glued them on and continued to outline them using a variety of markers and watercolour brush pens.
Finally I cut out meaningful (to me) words from a vintage book and glued them onto the stars. The final step was to spray the page with a copper glimmer mist which sadly can barely be seen on the pictures but makes the page sparkle in real life.


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