Most people have heard of Leonardo da Vinci. Most will think of the Mona Lisa. But for me, its his drawings that capture the imagination. His sketches and technical drawings have a character and delicacy that just fascinates me. Da Vinci was one of the first artists whose work captured me, and it still does. Nottingham Castle is one of four venues across the UK and Ireland that is playing host to a touring exhibition of ten drawings from the Royal Collection. The drawings show the variety of da Vinci’s interests and curious nature, spanning anatomy, map making and engineering to botanicals.
Use a faux calligraphy technique to create a Shakespeare inspired quote art for your craft space. Nothing like the Bard to keep you motivated!
This month marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeares death. Now I love a bit of Shakespeare, it may not be bedtime reading, but there is something about the poetic writing and the worlds he creates that have always fascinated me. Who else remembers going to see the Baz Luhrmann film ‘Romeo and Juliet’ in 1996? I don’t know about you, but it changed the way I saw Shakespeare. I have since been to a couple of outdoor performances and was lucky to have watched the late Richard Briers in The Tempest. Read more
Most city centres at night aren’t exactly family friendly, especially on a Friday. But city councils all over the UK are trying to produce events that encourage families to stay in the city after dark and to brighten up the dismal winter evenings. Nottingham has been putting on Light Night every February for the past 9 years, with the city attractions open late and buildings lit up, and special activities across the city.
I don’t know about you, but my house always looks so bare and soulless after taking down the Christmas decorations. The lack of pretty sparkly things on my walls makes the dark and usually miserable British winter seem even more intolerable, so this year I decided to create some now artwork to hang up!
And trust me, you don’t need any special artistic talent for this, just pick a couple of paint colours that work with together (purple and pink, yellow and green, red and orange etc) and follow the steps! Read more
This weeks post is a bit different – I’m getting back to my Fine Art roots with an art tutorial! A quick series of 4 drawing exercises to help you begin to draw.
I have wanted to do this for ages and decided that as October sees the Campaign for Drawing organise The Big Draw (with events all over the world to encourage people to draw) this was the perfect time to get around to it!. The first thing people usually say to me when they hear I studied Fine Art is ‘ooh you must be very good at drawing!’ Well, I’m not. I actually find drawing really difficult, and much prefer to paint or take photographs. But I CAN draw. In fact everyone can. Read more
My visit to the gardens, shops and galleries at Logie Steading in the North of Scotland.
I’m still getting Scotland withdrawal symptoms, so to cheer myself up I am going to share another lovely place I visited, Logie Steading. Located east of Inverness and 6 miles south of the Moray coast, Logie Steading is a small complex of shops and galleries set in the Logie Estate and also offers a gorgeous garden and river walks. Read more
This updated version of string art uses bakers twine or embroidery thread stitched onto card, makes a wonderful Valentines card or frame-worthy piece of art!
As a kid, I remember a piece of string art hanging on the wall in our hallway. In string art, thread is wrapped between pins that have been stuck into a wooden or cork surface. Made by my uncle Charlie, it was a wonderful seventies number, all orange and brown sparkly threads. It always fascinated me, so I’m so glad I have found this type of paper embroidery is so similar, but much easier to display! And less seventies….
You will need:
-Bakers twine (or Embroidery Floss)
-Washi/Masking/other low tack tape
-Piece of thin foam or felt
1.Print out this template. If you print out on A4 without altering the scale, it will be just the right size for a A6 card. Trim template down to approx 1cm smaller than the front of your card. Temporarily hold in place with some washi or low tack tape.
3.Place the card onto your foam or felt surface and use the pin to punch a hole through each dot.
3.Thread your needle with 1metre of twine.
4.Leaving the paper template in place (you can rip it off later after all the stitching is finished) stitch from the back of the card to the front at point 1, leaving a 10cm tail. Hold the tail in place on the back of the card with a bit more tape.
5.Insert your needle in at point 2 and come out at point 3.
4.Take the needle in at point 4 and out a point 5. Follow this pattern of counting six points along clockwise to take your needle in and bringing it out another point along, going back in six points and out the next. After a few stitches, the pattern will become easier to see.
5.From point 13 you will be going through holes that already have twine in them (these points are numbered on the outside of the heart), just keep the pattern going.
6.Keep going until your needle goes in point 34 at the bottom of the heart.
7. Turn the card over and weave in the tail. Re-thread the start of the twine and weave this in too. Trim off any excess.
8.With another 1m of thread in your needle repeat the process on the other side of the heart, this time working anti-clockwise. So coming out of point one, counting six points along and taking the needle in, one along and stitching back 6, etc.
9.Weave the ends in as before and rip off the paper template.
Septembers modern birthstone Lapis Lazuli is a rich, opaque royal blue with speckles of gold. So it might surprise you to hear that technically, it isn’t a gemstone, but a mineral. Gemmologists consider a stone to be semi-precious or gem quality when it consists of a single type stone; but Lapis is made up of several, mainly lazurite, calcite and pyrite.That it is still considered a gemstone, says something about not only how rare it is, but how beautiful and coveted it is.
Many famous paintings use Lapis Lazuli as a pigment in the oil paint, where artists would crush lapis lazuli into a powder and mix with oil to produce the colour ultramarine. In the early 19th century a synthetic version became available, largely ending the use of Lapis as a pigment. One of the most recognisable paintings to use Lapis is ‘Girl with a Pearl Earring’ by Vermeer. The amazing blue colour on the turban comes from Lapis! You might have seen the 2003 film staring Scarlett Johansson as the ‘girl’ which tells a fictional tale about the creation of the painting.
The Sar-e-Sang mine in Badakhstan, Afghanistan has been producing Lapis for the past 6000 years, making it the longest working mine in the gem world. Just getting to the mine is dangerous. In 1862 an earthquake destroyed the road to the Sar-e-Sang mine and hasn’t been properly repaired. The mine itself is in the steep sided and often narrow Kotcha Valley, surrounded by high jagged peaks. The mine can only be worked between December and May because of the cold temperatures and lying snow.
I love opaque gemstones and have a thing for pyrite, so its no surprise I love lapis, and use in my own jewellery. In this bracelet, I’ve teamed 4mm lapis beads with haematite and carnelian.
I love that each year, my little corner of Nottingham has a whole week dedicated to art and craft. Sherwood Art Week creates such a wonderful creative community spirit that is so rare to find so near to a city.
On the first Saturday, the main street had been yarn bombed, with the highlight definitely being the bicycle from my friends at Sherwood W.I.
Then that afternoon was the Sherwood Craft Fair, a great range of makers, artists and food producers, all from in or near Sherwood. The quality of stuff being produced in the area always amazes me! There were bands playing, kids activities and the sun even shone.
Throughout the week, many of the shops on Mansfield Road display art and craft in their windows, effectively turning the shop windows into one huge art gallery. I had some of my jewellery in one window last year.
This is just a small selection of the great work on display. Again, the variety of techniques, disciplines and styles on display was wonderful.