A New Sort of Inspiration!

As part of  drawing class,  we went to view the 'Now Contemporary Exhibition'  at the Shoalhaven Art Gallery a couple of weeks ago .... our task was to pick one of the artworks and write a review. The challenge was then to develop and art work.  The brief was to .....

 "Consider the formal aspects of the art work, how elements and principles where used to make the work, in your own response, make a work that has been guided in some significant way by the study you have undertaken.   The work you make can be any subject, size, material, technique and approach you choose"

So I've been working on this project for the last couple of weeks ....  I chose an abstract painting 'Untitled' by Sivan Agam in blues and greens which has a wonderful sense of depth .. made me think of mangroves ...  so I decided to make a work inspired by the value placement  to see if I could achieve a similar sense of depth.

 I also wanted to try out using some silk in this project ....

Here's a photo of the original inspiration painting  and where I'm up to with my piece .... just the first stage ...  more work and stitching to do yet!! 

It certainly is a challenging exercise ... I'll post a photo when finished!!  

Thanks for reading ....CC

Adding Color & "Fugitive Media"

As I was finishing the latest Grevillea piece I wanted to add some extra color to the quilting design ... while there are lots of ways to do this,  my favorite media at the moment is the  NeoColor 11  Watersoluble wax crayons ..... 

 The question is ......  what is the best way to make them permanent on fabric?

This week I discovered an interesting article written for Quilting Arts TV by Kerr Grabowski with the intriguing title " Making Fugitive Media Permanent on Fabric" .   The article advises applying a layer of transparent base extender, normally used to lighten textile inks and bond them to fabric.

So for this exercise I coated the areas of Neo Color 11  with the extender using a paint brush ... the extender has the consistency of a thick cream ... so that makes it easy to apply!! 

This extender can be used to make NeoColor 11,  Soft pastels and charcoal permanent on fabric! So there is more experimenting to come!!

Thanks for reading .... CC




New Grevillea Artwork Underway

This week I 've had my head down,  working on the next Grevillea piece and specifically the stitching ....  

The design has come together with the applique and reverse applique completed.  This piece at 20" x 30"  is somewhat  larger than much of my recent work ... so its taken a bit longer to get to this stage and takes more time to stitch and there is a deadline looming!  Great motivation!!

The big questions now revolve around the quilting and choice of thread color.  After a few experiments,  I've settled on the stitching around  the flowers and the reverse applique shapes, but have yet to decide on the other areas!!  

                                  © CarolynCollinsArt 2017  'Grevillea 8  Detail'   

                                  © CarolynCollinsArt 2017  'Grevillea 8  Detail'   

So back to the stitching .....   Thanks for reading ....  CC

Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) 2017 Benefit Auction

This is the 11th year of the SAQA Benefit Auction,  which raises funds to support SAQA's exhibitions, publications and educational programs.

Last year more than 430,  12" square quilts were included in the auction ... the largest number ever!!   "When the auction started no-one knew how it would be received or how much fun it would be to keep creating quilts year after year"

SAQA reports that there are 15 artists who have donate every year since the start in 2006 andI thought it would be fun to have a look at some of the artworks donatedby these amazing artists ......

This is my second year of donating to the Benefit Auction ....

I've sent this piece for the 2017 Auction .......  it's one of the grevillea samples that I made earlier in the year ....


'Sunset Bronze'

CarolynCollinsArt 2017



You can find out more about the SAQA Benefit Auction and see all of this years donations at www.saqa.com

Perhaps you might find an artwork you love !!! 

Thanks for reading .....  CC

Good Art Books ?

This week two new art books arrived in the post .... 

The first was Martha Sielman's new publication 'Art Quilts International - Abstract and Geometric'  ......

While I always enjoy looking at art quilt collections, this publication goes one step further!  In addition to 300 beautiful images of art quilts the book includes interviews with 29 artists including many of my favorite artists ....Diedre Adams,  Fumiko Nakayama, Sue Benner,  Judy Hooworth ... to name a few.  The interviews cover the artists inspirations, techniques and challenges ....  most interesting reading!

The second book is Hilary Spurling's  'Matisse - The Master'  ..... this is the second volume of the Matisse biography ....


I haven't ventured into artist biographies before,  and while I have only read the first couple of chapters of this book, I can't put it down!  

One of the reviewers sums up the book as follows ........

" A superb read, and presents fresh and revealing material at every turn" ... Frank Whitford, Sunday Times

I'd love to hear about any recommendations you might have for other good artist biographies ...... 

Thanks for reading ....CC

Art on the Wall

This week I've been focused on getting 'art on the wall'!

The first task was to deliver artworks to Jing Jo's Cafe in Kangaroo Valley for the new show 'Still Life' which was hung this week.  If you happen to be in the vicinity I would highly recommend dropping in for a coffee and checking out the art!!

I sent across three of my framed and stitched 8" x 10" monoprints .....

as well as a larger, pieced and stitched monoprint  16" x 20"  mounted on a stretched canvas ....


Stitched Life in Blue 1

It's always a challenge for me to photograph groups of artwork on the wall  ... we have an old house with lots of timber panels and strips of timber dividing the wall space.  

So while I was browsing the internet for some ideas, I came across a free app called WallApp which lets you upload a photo of your artwork so you can see what it looks like in a room/living space - there are half a dozen room options and you can also upload a photo of your own room.

Here are a few examples ......

It's very easy to use and quite fun!!! 

This led me to thinking about the reasons for choosing a piece of original art/textile art for your home.  The following are my thoughts about the possible reasons .....

The textile art creates a mood or feeling that can evoke memories or take you to another place.  It adds personal character,  can provides a color palette for the room and makes a room feel finished.  It's something to look at and contemplate,  especially  if it is a work that speaks to you .....  and can inspire and foster creativity.

Textile art particularly,  adds warmth and a softness,  it creates a connection with the makers hand that has created the work and to a long tradition working with fabric and stitch.  

What draws you to a particular piece of art/textile art ... something you own or would like to??  Please comment on why you have chosen to buy a  particular piece of art....

Thanks for reading .... CC

An Afternoon with my Gelliplate .......

This week I spent an afternoon printing with my gelliplate!   I tried some experiments and worked  on printing some fat quarters of fabric for the next grevillea design ....

The experiments were inspired by a short online class with Carla Sonheim,  that I purchased recently. 

Carla's technique produces some lovely abstract monoprints with a landscape feel so I was keen to try it out.  Here are some of the results ......

I think  these have a lot of possibilities as backgrounds for a new idea I have .......

The fat quarters for the new grevillea design are printed using grevillea leaves and a couple of abstract stamps.  I wanted a subtle, blended print without too much contrast,  to use in the background.  Printing fat quarters means repeated placement of the gelliplate and sometimes this results in a build up of paint in some areas.  I tried lightly washing off the excess which worked very well and helped with the blended effect I was looking for .......

A good afternoons work I think!

Thanks for reading ......CC

A Bit of "Backward Design"!

I've discovered a new design technique ...  well at least a name for it!! 

I was browsing through on of my favorite textile art books "Stitch Stories"  by Cas Holmes and in a section on collage she talks about a process she calls 'backward design' .....  extracting compositions from a larger design .....  and that's just what I've been doing this week. 

I had a larger piece that I made a year or so ago and although there was a lot I liked about it,  something was missing so I set it aside (.... waiting for inspiration !) 

Inspiration came in the form of an idea from an old sketchbook .... putting the two together meant cutting sections from the larger piece as the basis for the new compositions.

 The result is a series of new leafline pieces on the design wall ready for stitching .....  here are three of them .....

I think this will be a very useful design technique for the future   ..... 

And I can highly recommend ............"Stitch Stories" by Cas Holmes,  Batsford, London 2015    if your are looking for inspiration !! 

Have you tried some 'backward design' ??      Thanks for reading ............CC  


New WindingWay Landscape

This new piece has been reworked a few times .... I was pretty happy with the landscape background but struggled to find a fabric for the overlay.  In addition,  this piece at 16" x 16"  is larger than the previous works in this series so that added an extra challenge for the composition!!

                                 'Winding Way in Pink'  © CarolynCollinsArt 2017  16" x 16"

                                 'Winding Way in Pink'  © CarolynCollinsArt 2017  16" x 16"

The larger size of this piece called for a rethink which resulted in the addition of some new elements ... a more complex landscape background and in this piece a digital image printed on organza which adds  a nice sense of depth.  

I thought it would be interesting to look at the development of this series to date ... starting with the first compositions at the bottom left   ......

The next step is to develop and refine  this larger design .......

Thanks for reading ...........  CC

Grevillea's in Review

My Grevillea Series has been rolling along for a while now and before I launch into Number 10, I thought it would be a good idea to review  progress.  Looking back and seeing the work all together is helpful with new directions and new ideas ... not to mention that it makes me get my photo files into order and update my art database!!

So here they are in sequence of construction .....

The first piece turned out to be a disaster from a technical point of view!  The issue related to layering fabric over the printed organza making for a very unstable piece when it came to the stitching!!!  However I like the color and design ideas and this piece remains on my design wall for inspiration.

After that experience,  I stuck to applique and reverse applique (with no fancy fabrics)  with a good result and second grevillea is part of the SAQA 2017 Trunk Show.  

In the Pink Grevillea piece I was determined to master the organza, because I really like the effect of printing on it,  and tried a variety of  flower shapes. This was a good learning experience but it lacks something from a design perspective!

In the middle row ...  the stylised fower design and development of the backgrounds by incorporating hand printed fabric has worked well and I am really pleased with these.  Peaches and Cream was part of an exhibition at Kangaroo Valley and now hangs in a new home!  

Recently I have been exploring a more abstracted flower design in the pink/purple pieces and have returned to the original idea of stitching the flower design ....... with much more success!

The final two pieces use the backgounds I made a couple of weeks ago,  now stitched and appliqued.  I think the blue/green/yellow piece is the most successful.

While I contemplate what next,  I would love to know which grevillea you like best??

Thanks for reading .....  CC

Art Date with "The You Beaut Country"

Had the opportunity this week to spend a couple of hours at the Art Gallery of NSW to see the John Olsen Exhibition "The You Beaut Country" an experience I can totally recommend!!

This exhibition provides a wonderful survey of John Olsen's career from his first exhibition in 1955 to his recent works and includes commissioned ceiling paintings, tapestries and decorated ceramics.

John Olsen's work has a very distinctive and personal style that definitely captures the uniqueness and energy of the Australian landscape.

I came away delighted with joyous use of yellow,  the expressive connecting lines and the way he combines a wide overview of the  landscape  with the minute detail of it's components like  fish, plants, insects ......

I love the yellows  in works such as 'Sydney Sun'  and 'Summer in the You Beaut Country'  and  'Seafood Paella'  below ... on the cover of the catalogue ... another terrific exhibition publication which I have added to my collection.

The use of expressive line is another outstanding feature of his work that is captivating.. it is sometimes bold and exuberant ... sometimes fine and delicate  .... sometimes dominating the work .... sometimes providing intricate detail at the edges of the work.    It seems to me that this is in  part how he captures the vastness of the Australian terrain as well as the character of the specific environment.  There is so much to discover and enjoy  in these paintings.

The exhibition also includes tapestries, decorated ceramics and some of the many journals he maintained over 5 decades.  These include his writings, sketches, photographs and ephemera - tickets, postcards, bird feathers! and provide a glimpse into the artists world.

The exhibition runs until June 12 at the Art Gallery of NSW.

Have you seen the exhibition?  What was your reaction?

Thanks for dropping by .....CC

A Question of Background ....

The most recent pieces in my Grevillea series have used strip pieced backgrounds ... a mix of hand dyed and hand printed fabrics to add some variation.  

This approach worked nicely but what if I 'push the boundaries'  a bit ...

Artists often create compositions from small areas of detail in a drawing or painting, scaling up the size to create and new composition.  We used this approach in my weekly drawing class recently.  

We started with a still life drawing and then using a small area of detail from that drawing created a new composition and then added tone and color ......

From one of my Grevillea drawings I made a number of detail sketches looking for compositions with 5 to 7 shapes.  I picked  3 to try out and made them up this week .....

I'm pleased with the way they look ... the shapes and the color combinations.  The plan is to stitch my Grevillea flower drawing onto these backgrounds ... so I'll need to work out the color and weight of thread and the best way to place and mark the design.   

I'm hesitating a little bit about the stitching so I keep telling myself I can always make a new background piece if I mess it up!!!!  

I'll let you know how I get on......

Thanks for reading  .....CC


On the Wall ... Turquoise and Green

My design wall is usually filled with work in various stages of design and construction ...   at the moment there are a couple of pieces.... monoprints in blues and greens .... basically complete with stitching and facings, just waiting for the next steps in the process.

I recently completed work on the latest Stepping Stones piece "Lake in the Clouds"  which includes some favorite turquoise fabric, the same fabric that I had use to complete the monoprints.

The two monoprints looked a bit unbalanced when I hung them as a pair because of the way I'd placed the turquoise fabric.  But when I set them with the new Stepping Stones piece and a miniature piece, I thought they looked terrific as a set .......

                " Turquoise and Green"  © 2017 CarolynCollinsArt   Set of 4 pieces

                " Turquoise and Green"  © 2017 CarolynCollinsArt   Set of 4 pieces

This got me thinking ....  while many of my pieces are relatively small they have the potential to work really well together in sets.  

 I've recently been working on upgrading my Pinterest site so I've added a new board  "On the Wall"  and  started pinning ideas for grouping art on the wall  ... here is a link to the board if you are interested ....


Do you have any tips or suggestions for hanging groups of art or photographs ?

Thanks for reading   .... CC

Stepping Stones in Greens

Over the last year or so I have been working on my Stepping Stones series and have recently completed a couple more pieces.....

I love making these pieces because they let me try out all sorts of ideas on a small scale within the parameters of the series,  but I often wonder what others make of this work ..... 

When I was reading the Introduction in the David Hockney exhibition (see previous post)  I came across a description of his approach by Simon Maidment, Curator of Contemporary Art at the NGV    " [David Hockney] does things his own way and forges ahead in the direction he finds most interesting"  and this encourages me to keep going  .....  

Having made a total of 16 Stepping Stones pieces I thought it would be fabulous to see them all in one place ..... like the David Hockney portrait series at the National Gallery of Victoria !!!

The best I've been able to do is to create this gallery block.  Here are a collection of the green pieces   .....

   © CarolynCollinsArt  2017 'Green Stepping Stones'  Hand dyed & printed fabric, batik

   © CarolynCollinsArt  2017 'Green Stepping Stones'  Hand dyed & printed fabric, batik

It's got me thinking about a larger Stepping Stones design .....

Do you have a series you are working on??

Thanks for dropping by ...CC



New Grevillea .... experiment

With all my new found Photoshop Elements skills .... I am doing the second module of the "Photoshop Elements - Essentials 2"  online class with the Pixeladies,  Deb Cashatt and Kris Sazaki ....  I've been playing with ways of creating simplified/abstracted grevillea designs!

This is terrific fun and as you might imagine I now have a stack of design possibilities!!!!   

The next questions is how to translate these into fabric!!

My first idea is to try a version of shadow applique ...  working from the abstract design  to create a base layout made up of geometric shapes and then combining this  with a digital image of the flower printed on organza,  as an overlay.

I found an interesting piece of fabric with a range of shades of  plum and pink .... not a piece that inspired me when I dyed it some time ago but perfect for this experiment and a soft mottled green to use for the background.  After fusing the geometric shapes .... some very thin and too small to applique with my usual technique ... I added to overlay of printed organza.  This is how it turned out ......


"Grevillea 6"

CarolynCollinsArt © 2017

8" x 16"

Hand dyed and printed fabrics, digital image


After some time contemplating the possibilities, I decided on a mix of hand stitching  .... a running stitch and some seed stitches  and a simple horizontal machine line to finish.   The overlay makes working with thin strips and small shapes very stress free!!!  

I like the results of this experiment .....  but there are more ideas to try !!!

What have you been experimenting with lately??   

Thanks for dropping by .....CC