Looking through my painting, and what needs updating on my Painting Gallery, I did a quick count of what’s sold, been gifted, I’ve kept and want to sell, and the results were kind of interesting. Look at these numbers:

Landscapes & seascapes: sold/gifted 7, keeping 3, looking for homes for 2
Wildlife: sold/gifted 1, keeping 2, looking for homes for 5
Still life (mainly fruit): sold/gifted 1, keeping 6, looking for homes for 4
Nudes: sold/gifted 3, keeping 3, looking for homes for 2

Looking at this list, you’d think I’d be better off painting landscapes if selling was my aim. But I reckon I’d have sold many more of the fruit paintings if they’d been framed and I was willing to let the six I’m keeping go. Out of the paintings I’m having framed, I reckon the four fruit paintings are most saleable.

The nudes have been found homes far easier than I’d have expected, considering the subject and their size. The biggest sold to a friend along with another, but they sold it back to me after a few years when they wanted to redecorate – which was what we’d agreed to do. The two paintings I cut off their frames to sew into bags were nudes, so this category has the highest reject rate, too. That spate of paintings was quite varied – big successes as well as failures – probably because it was more experimental.

Some of my animal paintings might have sold if I’d had them framed, but I’m not as confident about that because the ones I did have framed never attracted a buyer and not as many people have expressed a desire for one. I suspect there are far fewer people attracted to wildlife art. Also, cute furry animals will always sell better than wet or scaly ones.

None of this pushes me toward deciding what to paint next, though it probably means I’m even less likely to revisit the wildlife art – at least in oils. I suspect what I do next is going to be completely different to what I’ve done before.

I’m picking up the first and biggest lot of freshly framed paintings tomorrow, and hopefully will have them photographed and added to my Painting Gallery on Sunday.

Llama on the Loom

I finally finished something on the table loom: the Llama Blanket

The yarn was bought at the Bendigo Sheep & Wool Show a few years ago:

Unfortunately, when I knit a swatch I realised that, while the yarn felt soft in the ball, it felt a bit scratchy to knit. Odd, that. I blame what looks like guard hairs. It also shed quite a bit. And it was a bit fuzzy. I got over fuzzy in the 80s. Especially white fuzzy. Who needs to look like a dandelion? Or a cotton ball?

All in all, the yarn just didn’t feel right to knit. But I could picture it woven so it went into the weaving stash. When I got back from overseas I took it out, washed it, did lots of measuring and maths to work out how much fabric I could make, and cut the warp for a small throw blanket. It took me a while to get to the warping, because I hadn’t decided what weave structure to use. Tabby was too plain for a plain yarn, and I wanted to move on from twill. I looked through Handwoven magazine and my books, and eventually took a deep mental breath and tried huck lace.

The first attempt to warp the loom failed:

Must have got distracted. My second attempt succeeded. Mostly.

Huck creates ‘floats’, where the yarn skips over the top, and the underneath threads tend to nestle together, creating holes. In between, tabby sections keep it all stable.

Once off the loom, a wash helps the yarn to shift into place, not unlike lace knitting:

Here it is ‘blocking’:

When I said the warping was ‘mostly’ successful, it was because on the second attempt I wound up with a side border that looked too narrow. The huck lace threading is a repetition of this: 1414123232 repeat across loom then 14141. I changed the first five back to tabby (plain) so it went 2323214141 with 23232 at the end. But I didn’t make the same change to the weft sequence:

But for my first attempt at huck lace, I’m pretty chuffed with this throw blanket. And though I’ve never been a lace kind of girl, and dislike lace knitting, I like the geometric look of this woven lace. The same weave structure would make a lovely shawl. Just not in this yarn, which would leave white hairs all over your clothes.

I’ve already gone through all my Handwoven magazines looking for 4 shaft huck lace projects. I can definitely see more lace weaving in my future.

Gift, Sell, Keep, Upcycle

The trouble with being an artist, is people want all your good paintings, so you get stuck with all the bad ones.

Well that’s not entirely true (and it’s not the only troublesome thing about being an artist!) The ratio of paintings I have is more like 20% bad or so-so, 50% good, 30% I-can’t-believe-how-good-they-turned-out-fabulous.

The good ones that aren’t snapped up by friends and family are the troublesome ones. They’re the ones that hang about, taking up space, because they’re too good to toss out. The ones I always think I should try to sell but never get around to because, honestly, selling art is a pain in the *rse. To sell them, you’ve go to get them framed, too, and then hope they’re saleable enough to at least recoup the frame price. Now that makes you reconsider how good you think a painting is.

(You can probably tell that the mood that’s had me review my to-read pile and rearrange the studio has found another target.)

I’ve come to a few decisions:

Firstly, I’ve taken a pile of paintings to a framing shop. Four are ones I want to keep, seven are ones I want to find homes for. Most of them I never got framed at the time because, well, that was back when I was a starving illustrator and I couldn’t afford framing.

Secondly, I’ve dealt with the bad ones. If they were on canvas, I’ve ripped it off the frame and are putting new canvas on. If they’re on board, I’m taking them out of the frame so I can use it for something else. (There are a couple of interesting uses old painted canvas can be put to, like these bags by Swarm. I’ve always wanted to buy some kitschy old oil paintings from op shops and sew them into a jacket, too, but for now I’m thinking I’ll try a considerably less ambitious tote bag.)

Thirdly, I’m adding hanging wires, signing those I forgot to sign, and getting them all hang-ready as well as updating my Painting Gallery.

Fourthly, I’m putting them up on the mantle piece, so friends have a last chance to adopt one.

Fifthly, I’m looking for community art shows to put them in.

I’m hoping that a little of the ‘out with the old’ will lead to some ‘in with the new’ when it comes to inspiration and ideas. But at a basic level, it’ll be nice to not always have the excuse of ‘why paint more paintings when I don’t have room for what I’ve already got?’.

Scarves, Scarves & More Scarves

Lately all the craft and art I seem to be doing is weaving scarves on the rigid heddle loom.

Of course, that’s not all I’ve been doing. I’ve also been slowly warping up the table loom, knitting and going to life-drawing classes. But the first two involve works in progress and the latter… well, I’m reluctant to post pictures of nude people in case that offends anyone.

Starry Night Scarf

A while back I posted that I’d set up the loom to weave a leno scarf. It involves a very interesting way of warping up the loom.

Unfortunately I had to abandon the project. The yarns were unsuitable, which is ironic because I bought them specifically for this project two and a half years ago and kept hesitating to try it since I thought the method would be difficult (which it isn’t).

The boucle warp prevented the thinner warp slipping around it like it was supposed to, and the sequins in the thinner yarn kept catching on the reed. I could see that the method would work better with smoother yarns, so I’ll try it again some time.

I rewarped and wove the scarf in tabby, which still made a very nice, soft scarf. Even if the troublesome thinner yarn turned out to contain a strand of ribbon yarn with an annoying habit of unravelling into a spider web mess at the fringe. (I had to knot the ends of every strand and trim off the mess.) I don’t think I could give away something with a fault like this, but it’s so soft that I certainly don’t mind keeping it!

Snowdrift Scarf

Using up the last of my own handspun, I made this scarf using the thick warp, thin weft method I tried out for the Ironwood Scarf and Warp Speed Scarf:

This one is lovely. Even if it didn’t contain one of the few skeins of yarn I’ve spun, it would definitely be a keeper.

Twisties Scarf

Then I went back to the method I’d used to knit the Loopy Scarf to weave some handspun I’d bought.

Um… those twists are supposed to be loops. See how it looked on the loom:

I know enough to understand that the yarn was overspun, but didn’t realise how this would effect the weaving. When I washed it the loops turned into twists, which are kinda cute.

I was pretty chuffed when my estimate of how long and wide the scarf could be based on the meterage of yarn turned out to be spot on:

Tempting though it is to keep this one, it’s going in the gift/donation basket. I can’t keep every scarf I make. Not when I’m making them at this rate!

And I haven’t got the scarf weaving bug out of my system yet. I’ve warped up the loom with more leftover yarn like I did for the Warp Speed Scarf. This time I’m using black, grey and white yarns.

Which will be the fourth scarf woven with this method. It’s definitely one of my favourites, now.

Art, Art, Art & Design

When we got back from overseas we had a list of shows and exhibitions to see. Some we never got to before they finished, one we decided not to bother with, but we managed to get to see the rest – and one extra one recommended by a friend.

The Archibald Portrait Prize at Tarrawarra
We hadn’t been to the gallery before. It’s a nice one – worth the trip out of town. Though I was dragging Paul along to this, he got quite opinionated about the artwork. He didn’t like so many self-portraits (thinks it’s a bit vain and lazy). I pointed out that when you do a self portrait, the model is always available. That’s not the only difference between it and a portrait of someone else, of course, but when the sitter must be ‘known’ or ‘famous’ then it could be even harder to pin one down to sit for you.

It was interesting and varied, so some I liked and some I didn’t. The ones I didn’t… well, I have a little gripe going about how much fad there is in art and photography. Bokeh, tilt shift and polaroid filters were interesting when they first appeared, now I’m sick of the sight of them. Especially the latter. We’ve gone from too much Photoshop filter abuse to too much sentimentality filter abuse.

How does this relate to the Archibald? Well, there’s clearly a fad for graffiti inspired drippy paint going on in the art world at the moment. Those paintings won’t just look dated soon, they already are. Whereas I can forgive a painting that is trying to be different but doesn’t quite work, or isn’t trying to be different and works.

There were some great portraits in there. Many that were even better ‘in person’. I loved the winner, a portrait Margaret Olley, not so much the packing room winner. My favourite was Ray in Paris by Lucy Culliton, because I thought it had probably captured the personality of the sitter beautifully. I liked Hugo at home 2011 by Nicholas Harding for the painterly style and satisfying composition. And I was surprised to be so charmed by Mother (a portrait of Cate), by Del Kathryn Barton, whose work hadn’t impressed me when I saw it on Artscape.

American Dreams at the Bendigo Art Gallery
This one was Paul’s choice, and he probably got more out of it than me as he recognised most of the photographer’s names. The exhibit’s purpose was to show the development of photography and succeeded fairly well.

I had issues with the format, however. Lots of small photos in one line at eye level, so people lined up along the wall and stood very close to the photographs. You couldn’t look over slow viewer’s shoulders discretely, so you had no choice but to wait in line. I found myself wishing there were more photos above the eye line, so I had something to look at while I was waiting for the queue to move. But it was a small gripe. It was a great exhibition if you want to see the real, genuine photographs.

The exhibition is over now, but if you want to learn about the development of photography, watch The Genius of Photography documentary series (available from ABC shops, I think).

Eugene von Guérard: Nature Revealed & Vienna: Art & Design
Paul bought us National Gallery of Victoria memberships for my birthday last year and they came with a free double pass. I’d been saving this for the Eugene von Guérard exhibition. But when I saw on the @ngv_melbourne Twitter feed that the exhibition would be free to members for a day, I took advantage of that and used the free pass for the Vienne: Art & Design exhibition.

We saw the Vienna one first. I found it interesting and thought the Klimt paintings, which I’ve never been a big fan of, were beautiful in person. Eugene von Guérard has always been one of my favourite colonial landscape painters and though my taste in art has shifted more toward looser, more modern style I still admire the incredible realism in them, and how, despite that, he never lost a sense of overall drama and atmosphere.

Design: Made: Trade: at the Royal Exhibition Building
Beky of Pivotal Xpressions posted about seeing this on her blog. It turned out we were going to be in the area, so we popped in to have a look.

There was a curious mix of stallholders there, from the handcrafted to the manufactured. Some lovely craftmanship and a few cool design ideas. If the show was anything to go by, then furniture made from cardboard, laser cut anything and sculpture made from flat pieces slotted together are all the rage – or will be. We both loved the frilly, flame-like rusty iron sculptures by Warren Pickering of a small art factory.

This glut of exhibitions kept us busy for about a month. Now we appear to be in the middle of a month of social get-togethers. This is all a lot of fun, but I’m starting to crave some time for creative projects. Work deadlines are fast approaching, too, and I suspect by the time I get to October I’ll be working on weekends. So in the meantime I’m determined to get some crafty, arty time into the schedule.

Certificate Portfolio

Paul and I have several certificates, both ours and his late parents’. Mine were framed but the rest weren’t. We were going to get them all put into matching frames at one stage, but we have so much art, photographs, vintage/retro stuff competing for space on our walls that the certificates really can’t compete. So I came up with the idea of a portfolio to hold them, that could be kept with photo albums, and it became one of my Projects for 2011. This week I finished it:

Most of the materials I used for it were from my stores. The black japanese paper is nearly 20 years old. Only the black card on the inside was new. I wanted to make sure it was acid free, since that part would be in contact with the certificates.

When I finished this one, I thought I’d crossed one of my Projects for 2011 off the list, but I was wrong. Turns out one of the certificates to go in it, which was tightly rolled up, is actually larger than this portfolio. So I’m going to have to make another one.

Looking at the rest of the Projects for 2011, I’m wondering how I’ll ever get the time to do them all. But it’s only August, right?

Dad’s Grey Socks

Every year I try to knit socks for my Dad, for his birthday or Christmas, or both. He’s a very gratifying recipient of knitted gifts – especially with socks.

Yarn: Patonyle (the new), nylon thread, Bendy 2ply classic
Pattern: my own toe-up with gusset increases and a short row toe

I also try to add nylon thread to the toes and heels of Dad’s socks, which he says helps with the wear and tear. Unfortunately the thread added to the thickness of the yarn makes for very stiff knitting, making my hands hurt. So with these socks I did a little experiment. I knit the toes, heels and cuffs with 2.5mm needles, and the rest with my usual 2.25mm needles. It did make the knitting a little easier. I’ll be interested to see how it affected the fit.

I didn’t have grey nylon, but I liked the marled look of black with what was a rather boring, severe grey. To replicate the look of it for the cuffs (there wasn’t enough nylon) I used Bendy classic 2ply instead.

And the stripes were Bendy Sock Yarn. Another little addition to stop the socks being too boring.

Warp Speed Scarf

I finished this one a week or so ago, but it’s taken me a while to get around to photographing it.

Warp: project leftovers
Weft: Bendy Classic 3ply
Finished: with hem stitching.

Projects like these are make me appreciate how flexible and forgiving the knitters loom is. Using different yarns for warp nearly always creates a problem with warp tension, due to the yarns having a different stretch factor. But with a project like this, the warp only needs to be tight enough to create a good shed, and the knitters loom had a nice big shed.

When I washed the scarf the yarns straightened, swelled or shrank at different rates, so there was a little puckering and the ends were uneven. The loose structure of the weave allowed me to tug and push everything straight again.

I’ve warped up the loom for another scarf, this time for a project in Rigid Heddle Weaving by Ashford. I’ve had the yarn for it for 2 1/2 years. It uses a form of leno, which looks easy enough to do, but I suspect I’ve chosen very uncooperative yarns to try it with. But I’ll elaborate on that in another post.