6/27/2016

Life Long Learning and a Giveaway!



My old dad left school at the tender age of fourteen to begin life as an apprentice engineer. He used to say "you are never done with learning" and he was right. The very last thing I did for him was to return his library books, he was ninety seven when he took out books on European history. I guess I inherited his sense of wonder and a desire to learn. Much of my recent activities have been wrapped up in education.



I attended a one day workshop run by The Prince's School of Traditional Arts, the venue was in a very beautiful building-The Art Workers Guild and the teacher was Farkhondeh Ahmadzadeh.
We learned so much in one day; how prepare the paper and how to paint in the style of traditional miniature painters. Here is my humble effort, a flower painted on paper stained with walnut ink, burnished, sized and burnished again until the paper looked and felt like vellum. We used tiny paint brushes to draw the image and then we used water colours made from traditional minerals and stored in shells. To complete the image we used gold paint applied with a ruling pen. Of course this was only a taster which served as an introduction to the art of Persian Miniatures, a truly inspirational day in the company of wonderful people., I wish I could do more.




I enrolled on a slightly longer course with my local calligraphy group, starting with Uncials. As many of you will know, the art of calligraphy is as old as civilisation and as broad. I have only dipped my toes, or should I say dipped my pen into this vast subject. You know how it goes, the more you know the more you realise how much you don't know. I found that using some of the materials from the miniature class worked very well, the walnut ink and a lovely gold gouache have been pressed into service.



My husband has been doing some work connected to The University of Cambridge and was required to attend a meeting there. Of course I jumped at the chance of keeping him company, especially as we were offered accommodation in a beautiful Arts and Crafts Building called Westminster College. I sat at a desk overlooking the garden and practiced my Uncials- still a long way to go but the peaceful ambience of the building was very conducive to study, neither of us wished to leave.




The little gallery in my home town has started to run workshops and I was asked to teach a lino printing class. I have run two classes and have had full bookings so far, meeting some old friends and making new ones. We used Japanese green vinyl rather than lino and printed and burnished by hand using wooden spoons and a marble rolling pin. The results were impressive, many people had never done anything arty since leaving school and a good time was had by all. I did find it a little strange to be the instructor after having taken part is a multitude of workshops in the past.




Whilst on the subject of lino, I was thrilled to have one of my lino prints included in this gorgeous book on owls called The Elegant Fowl, available from Mascot Media. They publish a series of printmaker books alongside other art titles. I have a small selection of prints available in my Etsy shop if anyone would like to take a look. You will find a link in the sidebar.




And last but not least, the giveaway! Well two actually. The July edition of British Patchwork and Quilting features my book and fabric "The Dream Quilt" The magazine is giving away a book and a fabric length, one yard is enough to make a mini quilt.

I am also giving away a copy of the book, all you have to do to enter is leave a comment below and tell me what you have been learning or what you would wish to learn. If you would rather not enter the contest please leave a comment anyway, it's always nice to hear your thoughts. I shall announce the winner on the 22nd July. 

You can find The Dream Quilt book in my Etsy shop and you can buy the fabric in my Spoonflower shop. I would recommend Kona Cotton if you are considering making a purchase. One yard will make a mini quilt and the fabric is printed in such a way it needs no piecing so you can quilt straight away. The fabric is printed to order so allow a couple of weeks, if you live in the UK the fabric will be printed in Germany, otherwise it will be printed in the USA.

19 comments:

  1. What fun experiences you are involved in. I, too, would love to learn calligraphy, most of my free time is spent slowly learning to paint in watercolor. I'd also like to get a better camera and have a College course on that. I have been using a high end point and shoot for years and feel it's time to properly learn the mechanics and photo-shop! ;)

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    1. I'm sorry! Not sure why my comment triple posted! Perhaps I need to learn blog commenting! Lol. ;)

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    2. No worries, that happens sometimes. I could do with a photography class too. I did an evening class learning Photoshop, almost exclusively young men! Money well spent. Thanks for your visit.

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  2. Calligraphy is something I would love to do but think I have left it a bit late, age and arthritic hands, but I did do a metal workshop not long ago. Hard on the hands but fun. Love your work.

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  3. Penny, thank you for your kind words. A metal workshop sounds like fun!

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  4. Dear Valerie,
    How splendidly and usefully busy you have been. Yes, I love both teaching and attending classes.
    I'm very interested in calligraphy.
    A friend in Morocco is learning traditional arabic calligraphy. It takes 5 years to master it - you do not pay the teacher but have to hand on your knowledge to a pupil. Sounds an excellent scheme.
    Wishing you a lovely summer - don't need to go in for the giveaway as I am so far away.

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  5. Hi Elizabeth, that is a wonderful idea, passing on knowledge is something that interests me too. I would love to visit Morocco one day. Wishing you a lovely summer too. x

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  6. Val, I loved every bit of this post so much. The classes that you have taken and those that you've been teaching would all be experiences I would treasure. I might add that I am trying to learn, or practice, patience. There is so much going on around our world that can feed negative reactions, I am trying to avoid being drawn into those shadows, while still being mindful of learning from the temptations.
    And meanwhile, also playing around with new knitting techniques, color schemes, still on the outskirts of doing some paper pieced quilting. Oh, the oil paints are calling, too. xo

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  7. You are so right Frances, the world is full of shadows and sometimes it is hard to stay positive. I look forward to seeing what you get up to with your paper piecing. I should answer the call of the oil paints too. x

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  8. I really love the look of that book on owls Valerie. It would make a good birthday present for a friend of mine.

    Your learning days sound marvellous - but really you have a head start taking into consideration the beautiful work you do already.

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    1. The owl book is part of a series, there is also one on hares and chickens, all featuring the work of various printmakers.

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  9. I did a diploma on Western Calligraphy about 15 years ago, getting time to practice is the killer. You need to just keep practicing, problem is I have too many hobbies, and not enough time in the day.

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    1. I know the feeling all too well, practice makes perfect I suppose but any skill requires discipline and time. Thank you for visiting.

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  10. I love such art. It's delicate--too delicate for my shaky right hand, but I savor a small packet of stationery cards that remind me of your card here.

    I like the idea that traditional arts will be preserved. Have you ever used woad? I tried to make ink from lamp black when I was a girl but my grandmother nixed the very idea.

    Gouache and acrylics were m favorite paints in art school. Turned out I am allergic to acrylics. I want to try gouache again, especially the newly discovered gold. Thanks! I enjoy your posts.

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  11. Hi Limner, I have never used woad but recently Used walnut ink which I love. You must give gold gouache a try, I am sure you will love it.

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  12. What a beautiful post. I was particularly touched by what you said about your father learning history. In the last few years of my own father's life, he was consumed with reading history...he felt that his time was running out and that there was still so much to learn.

    I am about to begin a 2 week Indian miniature painting workshop with Ajay Sharma. In September, I intend to begin a 6 month online course in Egyptian art history with Exeter university. The learning never ends.

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    1. Hi Celeste, you know how much I envy your Ajay workshop!

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  13. I enjoyed your post. what a treat to stay in that building. I love trying new things. I am sure learning helps to keep your mind sharp but I don't know if it does. It is good for my soul though. I started learning caligraphy at Christmas although I have not done much recently as the garden takes up my time. I was able to download a couple of manuals which contained worksheets which were really useful. Last week I visited a craft fair and tried stained glass by make a suncatcher. It wasn't pretty but I am glad I tried. I also stumbled on a stand belonging to a papermaker and made a sheet of paper with his help. I loved that and I am definitely going to do more. I have also become interested in dyeing fabrics with plants, hopefully using my garden plants. Again, I have downloaded a manual and I have been given a pan to get started. I just need more hours in the day! Gill

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    1. Thank you for your visit and comments GB. I agree there are never enough hours in a day! It sounds as if you have lots of inspiring projects, stained glass fascinates me too, also gardening. You should try making paper using leaves and flowers from your garden, maybe even staining the fibres too?

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