Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I made the top fifty in Lilla Rogers Global Talent Search!!!!!!!!!

I entered the Global Talent Search this year after some deliberation. It's a fantastic contest and the prizes are wonderful. There were a thousand entries from all over the world this year so the competition is fierce. You can read more about it here.  
However, I knew it would coincide with family holidays in Tuscany and England and wasn't convinced that I wanted to take the time away from my children to participate. I worked so hard earlier this year for Surtex and practically ignored them. I felt I owed them a work free holiday in spite of my career aspirations. I signed up, then decided to make a final decision based on timing (our holidays weren't yet booked or scheduled) and more importantly - the brief!! I knew I wouldn't be able to resist a great one. I took a sketchbook and some bits and pieces with me incase. 
The email arrived while we were in Tuscany and before I'd finished reading it I was plotting how I'd fit it in and what I'd do. It was beautiful. Wall art based on terrariums. 
I found an hour or two to draw when my children went to the pool with my husband. I also found a big box of Sicilian cakes and bottle of wine. Come on! Who wouldn't make time to sketch succulents while gorging on cakes and wine in a villa in Tuscany?
This is me, the cakes, the wine and the sketches. 

Fortunately, I arrived very quickly at a basic concept. A palette of rich blues, hints of yellow and pink - and neutrals. I wanted the jar to be a negative space, a framework, rather than an object - so I could fill it with vibrant, highly contrasting imagery - a contained world.
I like the idea of appreciating the small things in life, finding pleasure in them (like cake) - and that sentiment seemed fitting with this tiny world so I looked for a quote that would work in that context. A lot of my research for the piece was done on an iPhone by a pool - terrarium shapes, quotes, succulents etc.
When I got back I immediately launched myself into making the final piece. I did the whole thing with acrylic paint and collaged paper then photographed it and put it into Photoshop. The lettering and final touches were done digitally. I did it in on the afternoon we arrived home and the following morning, sat on it two days, fiddled with the lettering a bit, then uploaded. Then I packed and went to England.
I tried not to think about it too much while we dashed around visiting my relatives but failed! I couldn't wait to hear whether I'd made it through to the next round. 
And I did!!!!!
We were advised to not share our artwork online before the submission deadline so when the results came out it was really exciting to see everyone else's artwork.  My Mom and I went through every single one, discussing them all in great detail.  There were so many staggeringly beautiful pieces, among both those that were selected for the top fifty and those that weren't.
You can see the top fifty here and the gallery of all the entries here. You'll enjoy looking at them I promise!
I'm just so thrilled that Lilla chose my art to go forward and I'm so glad I found a way to make it possible for me to enter the competition.
The next brief is a beauty too so wish me luck!!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Embroidery for Bootcamp!

I started embroidering this Summer.  I used to embroider and embellish frequently as a fashion textile designer but the only stitching I've done in the last few years was while making Christmas ornaments with my children.
I've been collecting old  fabric for years (lots of old bed Italian bedsheets from my mother-in-law) and they were all stashed downstairs in a plastic box.  One day in June I had a sudden stroke of inspiration (brought on by the fact that I bought two embroidery hoops and a small pack of threads from an art shop in New York a month earlier) and decided to use the fabrics  to appliqué.
Then along came Lilla's July Bootcamp assignment!  Create a piece of artwork based on beverages in any way you like.  Make it personal to you - a gift to yourself or a friend!!!  I was sat there reading the assignment with an embroidery hoop in my hand and a coffee right in front of me.  I was drinking from one of my beautiful cups that my Mom bought me.  Most of them are shades of blue, green, mint and aqua - as are many things in my house - and so were my old Italian bed sheets.  I thought - I know what I'm going to do.
I didn't sketch or plan.  I just chopped out my shapes, stuck them on with glue stick and an iron and stitched away.  It just grew.  I parked myself in front of the telly and found myself truly relaxed and happy.
I love Lilla's assignments.  I love the variety, the ingenious subject matter, her ability to draw you away from the tried and tested and try the new, the exciting.   This brief enabled me to rediscover a way of creating art and develop a real enthusiasm and passion for it.  I can't stop!  I'm carrying that embroidery hoop wherever I go.  So far it's been to Ponza and Tuscany and tomorrow it's coming to England with us.
On the way home from Tuscany last week, just me and the kids, I saw a sign for Orvieto and asked the kids if they'd like to stop by on the way home.  It's an old walled Medieval town.  I've been there before years ago.  It's beautiful. They, of course, said no.  So I ignored them and drove there anyway.
The main street leads up a steep hill and they moaned incessantly as we trudged along in the midday sun.  In the end they forced me to turn back round and head back to the car.  By this time I was carrying my three year old.  As we plodded down the hill I noticed a shop window full of sewing equipment.  You don't see that often in Italy so we went to have a look!  It was an Aladdin's cave!!!  I asked for embroidery threads and the lovely old shop owner started to show me drawer after drawer of threads - every single color in existence.  Isadora suddenly became interested when she saw the colours and Leo was happily chatting to some accessories on a stand behind us.  I thought I'd pick maybe 15 colors at first and was fairly restrained throughout the blues but by the time we'd reached the orange drawer I was  deranged!!!  By the time we'd been through all 400 of those in stock, I'd picked 80.  Isadora was beaming at the decadence of it all - at me grabbing handfuls of colours and the little old man bringing out more and more!
Ha ha!  Look at these beautiful colors.  This is my new stash!

And this is the lovely shop owner and his wife.  I wanted a picture to remember the moment.  Orvieto's Willy Wonka of embroidery threads who turned our crappy day into a beautiful one!