Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art School

What a way to spend a Monday evening. If you get a chance to go to a Dr. Sketchy's event I would highly recommend it!


What is is you ask?! Well, the original events started in Brooklyn in 2005 by a USA artist called Molly Crabapple and the evening consists of a cabaret act interspersed with the opportunity to do life drawing. There is a bar for drinks to get your creative juices flowing (if you need that sort of thing) and the host of the evening provides commentary and dishes out the odd prize or two! I went with my friends Mel and Rachel and we all absolutely loved it.

My friend Rachel sketching the Cabaret Rouge act.
The London Dr. Sketchy event was hosted as part of the Wonderground festival on the Southbank.

This is the outside of the Speigeltent where the Dr.Sketchy Anti-Art school was held. The seating area is like a dodgems at the fair with wooden dodgem cars as little seats and tables! Very surreal and fun!
Our cabaret act for the evening were three lovely dancers called Cabaret Rouge who started the evening in daring black and silver outfits and danced to the Moulin Rouge version of Roxette. Very striking moves. They used chairs to dance around and when they came to do their poses (for the life-drawing element) they used the chairs as props to create bold and interesting shapes. There was a 20 minute interval where you got a chance to get a drink and in the second act Cabaret Rouge had changed into some fabulous flapper costumes and danced the Charleston and other 1920's style routines.

I have to admit some of my drawings were slightly suspect - I haven't really done any figure drawing since art college over 20 years ago! A bit like riding a bike though, once you know the basics of figure drawing it's just practise! My drawings for the second act were better for having a bit of a warm-up.
I was slightly embarrassed but pleasantly surprised to win a little prize (blowing bubbles - such a cute gift!) for my 10 minute sketch in blue crayon.

My 'prize-winning' blue sketch. I used negative space you know.....
It's a pretty niche event but if you like figure drawing and cabaret then you would absolutely love Dr. Sketchy's Anti Art School!

A selection of my 5, 10 and 20 minute sketches from Dr. Sketchy's Anti-Art cabaret event

Friday, 25 July 2014

Dolores Pocket Skirt Summer Stash Bust & Tate Modern exhibition

Wow! What a crazy two weeks. First let me introduce you to a new skirt pattern that will be available for PDF pattern in the not-too-distant future called the Dolores Pocket Skirt. It's from the lovely Beth at Ready Ruthie who asked for pattern testers for the Dolores. I was excited at the prospect of being a pattern tester and the basic requirements of having sewn PDF patterns before and being close to the skirt sizes and to be able to feedback your experiences in the space of a month were the only requirements. I happily received an e-mail with links to the PDF soon after I e-mailed Beth.

At the same time as agreeing to pattern test Beth's skirt I decided that the final art-piece for my 'Cutting into Colour' Matisse collage course at the Tate Modern would come in the form of an appliqu├ęd garment - killing two birds with one pair of scissors! Oh, and I also used ALL stash fabrics, so I have stuck to my self-imposed fabric buying ban for the Summer Stash Bust 2014!

Onto the skirt.... You have seen little peeks of the decoration in my previous post, so here is the full skirt.


The skirt was quite intuitive to sew together and I think when it is publicly available as a PDF pattern it would be a great basic wardrobe staple to add to anybody's pattern stash.
The only thing I need to practise for my next version is the slight angles on the waistband which I haven't really managed to achieve very crisply.
Overall I am pretty happy with the applique and hand embroidery on my abstract decoration inspired by my work based on Matisse's cut-outs. I used bonda-web to adhere the fabric shapes then sewed a machine zig-zag and also some simple hand-stitching around the blue shapes.

Machine and hand-embroidered applique decoration
I also hand-stitched the pockets for decoration and to ensure the lining doesn't peak out either.

hand-stitched pocket detailing
I finished the Dolores Pocket Skirt in time to wear to the Private View of the collage course 'Cutting into Colour' at the Tate Modern inspired by Matisse's Cut-Outs. I can now say I have exhibited my work at the Tate!...OK, it was 'only' in the Cloires Gallery in the basement of Tate Modern. But still... it's the TATE!

The final evening of the course entailed us creating an exhibition space to showcase our work. We all brought nibbles and refreshments and were allowed to invite friends and family (unfortunately my f&f were otherwise engaged so could not make it). It was a fun evening and I enjoyed wearing my Dolores / Matisse skirt as part of my exhibition. Below are photographs of my exhibition space and a picture of me in front of the group inspired lire-size collage.

My Matisse inspired Dolores Pocket Skirt in front of the group Matisse inspired collage.

The Private View exhibition for the Cutting into Colour art course at the Tate Modern 13th July 2014
My art exhibition at the Private View. I created a free-standing mount to display my 3D paper sculptures.

I was pretty happy with the fact that I 'almost' finished a whole sketchbook of Matisse inspired collages in 5 weeks!

Sunday, 13 July 2014

More Matisse inspired collages

I bought some fab Japanese Washi tapes from the Tate Modern shop in insanely bright colours that spurred on the next collection of Matisse inspired collages during the Tate workshop on Monday.


I have been abstracting and simplifying the peacock feather motif then moved away from that entirely towards a more linear direction in a fresh new palette of red, yellows, green and black. I used quite a number of the 'left-over' sections of paper to create this new collection of collages; which is something that Matisse did himself to create a wider range of negative images and motifs.


I had made the decision that I would make an item of clothing using my Matisse sketchbook work as inspiration for some applique / embroidery decoration. Last month I volunteered to pattern test the Dolores Pocket Skirt by Beth from Ready Ruthie. I am going to share the full write up next week because I need to send Beth my comments and findings by the 20th July, so you will only be able to see some sneaky peaks at the work-in-progress and the collage that partly inspired the design is top left of the photo montage below.

The added bonus to this current skirt is that its made entirely from stash fabrics including all the coloured appliqued sections too!

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Versatile Blogger Award

Teresa from Navy Blue Threads kindly nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award. Thanks Teresa!


The VBA is similar in principle to the Liebster Award and is a lovely way to reach out to celebrate fellow bloggers and find out a little bit more about them. 
If you choose to accept your nomination there are a few rules:




  • Thank the person who nominated you and create a link back to their blog
  • Share 7 things about yourself
  • Nominate 15 other versatile bloggers (I have nominated 10)
  • Tell the bloggers that you nominated them
  • Share 7 interesting things about yourself
Well here goes; you can decide if they are considered interesting or not.....
  1. My day job (which just about keeps me out of mischief)  is an art teacher at a seconday school in London. I teach the hormonal age range up to A level. I love teaching art, textiles and photography and have been teaching for over 15 years and can honestly say that I have never, ever been bored in my job!
  2. I suppose the day-job may give it away, but one of my main passions in life is art and textiles. I love looking at art, teaching art, making art, writing about art.... I think you get the picture...
  3. I am a keen DIY'er and am currently renovating my house with my boyfriend which has turned into a pretty epic under-taking. We are currently living without a kitchen so its salads for every meal....
  4. Luckily, I do enjoy a bloody good salad, especially when paired with a char-grilled steak (sorry veggies out there!)
  5. In 2009 I set up and am Captain of a virtual indoor rowing team called Empty the Tanks... what's that you may ask? You can find out all about it on my another blog (which I set up about five years ago) that I use to communicate with my fellow team mates about indoor rowing challenges, team competitions, training information and general encouragment and support.
  6. I have an obsessively geeky love of Le Tour de France and have followed it on TV every year for over 20 years. I have also seen it 'live' in London in 2007 and travelled to Rotterdam 2010 for the Prologue.
  7. I am currently studying for an MA in Educational Leadership (such fun!) and I have only 8 weeks left to complete my 20,000 word final dissertation. It would be sooooo much easier to get on with it if there wasn't so many amazing things to sew, fabric to buy, art courses to attend and FABULOUS blogs to get endlessly lost in. That is why I have nominated the following bloggers for joyously keeping me distracted!

Katherine from Bernie & I
Such a lovely blog. Katherine has an awesome collection of the most sassy shift dresses that have a modern yet 60's vibe.

Sue from Lady Stitcher
A wonderful fellow blogger that has some beautifully sewn makes and fab photos on her blog. She has recently branched out into knitwear and looks pretty amazing at that too!

Sarah from Fabric Tragic
Sarah has a vast array of fabulous makes ranging from basics to some delightful tops in beautiful prints.

Sara from Gladys and Liv
Sara has a passion for vintage garments and has a wonderful collection from a wide range of eras.

Marilla from Marilla Walker
Marilla also has an interest in arty things and has made some gorgeous things for herself and her family.

Emma Jayne from Clipped Curves
I met Emma Jayne whilst on a Tilly (and the Buttons) workshop to make her Mathilde blouse. Emma Jayne's sewing skills are very professional and has some beautiful makes including knitwear. She has a great collection of handy tutorials too!

I met the follwing sewing enthusiasts at the NYLon 2014 sewing meet-up at the Victoria and Albert museum back in May and have had such fun reading about their sewing adventures via their blogs since then. 

Claire from The Panda Sews
A really fun blog with some creative makes. Claire always includes great humour in her posts too.

Janet from Kitchen Table Sewing
A delightful blog that covers some fun makes, family adventures, gardening tips and sewing tips. A fun insight into Janet-world.

Alex from My Creative Experiments
A newbie sewer Alex is making great progress in her hand-made wardrobe. Its lovely to read about her makes and how her confidence increases after every me-made item.

Tamsin from Pimp my Curtains
An exerienced sewer, Tamsin has a fun approach to sewing and has made some great garments.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Matisse inspired mobiles

At the Tate Matisse Cut-Outs course this Monday Sarah (Tate tutor) set us the challenge of creating a 3D object or mobile inspired by the work of Henri Matisse and the sculptor Alexander Calder.

Alexander Calder's kinaesthetic sculpture 1960's
Whilst I got my head around what I wanted to do sculpture-wise in the workshop I completed a couple more collages in my sketchbook. I wanted to continue with the loose theme of birds from the images at the start of the sketchbook and used a peacock feather as inspiration for the following collages.



After completing the feather collages I knew how I would tackle the 3D challenge - I chose to collage onto both sides of a square piece of card then cut out a 'square-spiral' a bit like the below diagram:


And then you get this!




I created on larger stand-alone hanging sculpture then created a second more complex version by producing four mid-size square-spirals and attaching smaller square-spirals to those with fine wire.

Its amazing how quickly time goes when you are having fun!