It Could Be Worse

I still have Valentine's on the brain. I have quite the extensive 50s/60s kitsch Valentine's card collection, which originally I'd hoped to cover a bedroom wall in.

Most of my cards came as job lots, but the one I've adapted in this drawing I had to buy as a single card, because, well... look at it. Originally it bore the legend "Need-le Valentine? SEW be mine", but I just wasn't going to let a pun that diabolical stand, so I've paired the imagery with a phrase I've been trying to find adequate imagery for for a while. I'm not entirely sure it works, but I'm going to plough this furrow for a while and make more altered Valentine's images.

Oh, and does the little lady look familiar? I just couldn't resist getting the chance to stab a heart with my needle...

Sensitive Plant

It's Valentine's Day, and I am about to have a romantic meal with my mother.

On the off-chance that there's a cutie out there wishing I was wining and dining with them instead, I have outlined my ~dream date~ below. Of course, we would have to wait until April at the very least, but that's ok, I'm fine with being my own Valentine for now (drawing on that theme to follow).

Bad Plant Mama

My colleagues got me a fancy Magma sketchbook for my birthday, and I've been filling its pages with some speed. It's a revelation to me how quick sketching is compared to the labour of love that is embroidery.

I've been feeling a little glum this past week. First and foremost, I hold the weather responsible; it has been grey and drizzly most of the time.

A symptom of depression which I didn't expect and which I didn't experience before I entered the world of work was feeling constantly tired. It is increasingly difficult to get up in the morning; the thought that gets me through the day is the possibility of sleep soon.

There are other side effects; over the last few weeks my bedroom became what I can only describe as a "depression pit". It got to the stage where I knew there were things I needed to use in there somewhere, but where they were was another question, as was summoning the energy to find out. I didn't want to see friends (especially of an evening, when doing so would take me away from the bed base camp), yet felt intensely lonely.

This was by no means a very serious depression, only impinging slightly on my life, but I thought it was best to be mindful and act. I took a duvet day on Thursday, went back to bed for an hour or so, then tackled the detritus of my room, and felt considerably better.

My plants don't seem to be enjoying the dark days either; several are rather droopy. To turn this on its head and avoid depression-exacerbated feelings of guilt and inadequacy as a #plantmama, I did a little drawing in my sketchbook.

I might do a series of related drawings; this one could be a good fit for several zines in the works. For now though, it's back to embroidery.

Self Care Series

My brother got me Posca Pens for my birthday and I got straight to work with them.

The first little sketch I completed was an idea to be embroidered and eventually wind up as a t shirt design. I may still do this, but with Valentine's Day coming up, I began to think of other ways that you can show yourself a little love (I fully intend to buy myself some roses and eat something heart-shaped on Valentine's Day, by the way).

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It's so easy to be a workaholic or put all your time, energy and love into relationships with others. It's so easy to not extend that care to yourself. This series is a little riposte to that. I might make a slightly personal collage/illustrative/stitched zine featuring the series called "Quiet Enjoyment" after a covenant of tenancy which tickled my fancy... I'm collecting unusual phrases and intriguing etymologies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wallflower


I have read the clickbait phrase "25 is the hardest year of your life" at numerous points over the past year. I can only speak personally, but I would tend to disagree; I got my quarter life crisis out of the way early (at the age of 19).

I think I know who I am and what I want... it's just a question of how to get it.

That's not to say things haven't been, and aren't, difficult - they are. But I'm willing to do the work and I know that things will get better. Life has been busy and hard and so I haven't posted on here since July (wow), but I have been making and doing and I want to share all of it with the world more.

And so, here is a piece harking back to my eternal occupation with language around flowers and negative connotations.

To find my wallflower, I literally typed "plant that looks sad" into Google. It came up with this rather pathetic looking hydrangea. I translated it into a pen and ink sketch and then this embroidery/pencil hoop art.

If you would be interested in purchasing the piece, it is £50 posted to the UK, and is backed with black felt, and can be hung on the wall straight away. Drop me a line at katerolison@googlemail.com if you'd like a wallflower for your wall.

Next will come a fungi-themed hoop in a similar style.

After my lengthy absence (and only NINE blog posts this year compared to 78 last year, crikey) I really would love to write more often, but I don't want to put any pressure on myself, either. Attention spans, including my own, have become so much shorter in the short space of a few years, and it's so much easier to Instagram everything than be considered and exploratory and think things through. I think it might be helpful and fulfilling to begin doing so again, though.

Plans for blog posts in my inimitable old 1000 words+ style include a post considering poet and lunatic John Clare and his incarceration and escape from the asylum that is incidentally now my mother's place of work (though no longer an asylum!), and round ups of a few work shops I've run of late.

Watch this space; good things are coming. I write that as much for me as for you.


Drawing

My new year's resolution for 2015 was to get over my fear of drawing. Despite going to art school, as of January 2015 I had seldom drawn since my A Levels save to sketch an outline on to fabric to be embroidered over.

Life drawings from my A Level days

The resolution got off to a slow start, with just the few sketches below completed in a very amateurish way, even with my Mum booking us both on to a four week life drawing class recently.









Below are the sketches completed solo and in collaboration with others on the four week "Mark Your Mark" life drawing class, which I heartily recommend to artists of all abilities.







These sketches are designs for screen prints, which I will share here soon.





Myself and artists Katrina Bautista and Cheri Smith have started something of an artist's salon to exchange ideas, collaborate, and draw together. The most recent session resulted in the drawing below, the first drawing I am truly proud of since my A Level days. I sometimes find being with such talented artists intimidating, but these two inspire me, and I'm really excited to share the zine we are working on together.






Complimentary

I am trying to draw/collage in my visual diary more. Partially this involves continuing to design labels for #secretsofselfpreservation, but I have also included sketches from the Daily Life Ltd Expert Advisory Day, below:



Pip and I have taken a shine to a pink-boothed greasy spoon down the market, and I have visited with my dear friend Ruth a couple of times, most recently on Monday. The cherry pie is particularly special.


My friend Rohanne gave me a "complimentary" ticket she'd stashed from working in the box office. I love the simple, bright design, and wanted to surround it with the sorts of compliments I like to give and receive.


We all went to see Belle and Sebastian play in Westminster a couple of weeks ago. It felt like we were the only people dancing in the venue. The fox paw prints are to signify Fox In The Snow, and my general love of foxes. The sketch of the pram is very very old from when I was first taking antidepressants and thought it was hilarious that they were called citalopram. I've always liked its metaphorically and literally sketchy quality.


Last but not least is the label to accompany my I need art like I need God potion. I have recently got myself a fancy sketchbook and sketching pencils, and will be getting back to more "trad art" soon.




Labels and Fables

The pages of my visual diary are filling up in earnest now. I've been doing a little diaristic doodling and collaging, and decided to design labels for the #secretsofselfpreservation potions, to give them a bit more unity and make the outside of the bottles more appealing.

I have designed labels for Week 1: Pox Potion, Week 2: ROAR Don't Mewl Potion, Week 3: Cadbury Purple Mantra Potion and Week 4: Emergency Glitter Potion, though I forgot to add the weeks for those last two, so will need to put them in digitally! I may rework the labels digitally too, using my rudimentary Photoshop skills.





It feels good to be working on paper again; I will have to take the plunge, pick up the pencil, and draw, and to hell with how it turns out. I can only get better with practise.

Fortune cookie wisdom and winsome tear stains

I am so behind with my visual diary. There is a backlog of photographs in an envelope waiting to be incorporated into the next few pages. Gradually I am doing a little (little being the operative word) more freehand pen drawing, but I think joining an art class will help me loosen up and draw bigger and more consciously.

As the diary develops, it's really becoming a record of how I was feeling at the time. I visited the A to Z of the Human Condition exhibition at the Wellcome Collection a couple of months ago. Ever interactive, the Wellcome Collection invited us to take a fortune cookie, but not open it until we had left the exhibition. Well, on the train home I discovered that mine advised "The harder you work, the luckier you will get".


This rings true, but now that it seems we are in the depths of winter I'm finding it somewhat difficult to locate my drive. At this time of year I often just want to burrow down and hibernate. I wonder if I should give a SAD lamp a go?

In spite of this I've just started a very interesting commission which will keep me pretty busy for the next couple of months. That's all I'm prepared to reveal about it for now!

When and if I earn a bit more cash, I shall also be having Treasures For Your Troubles (my first curated zine) printed. I have plans for a second, which the contents of this page from my visual diary are an overture towards. And before you ask, yes, it is based on a true story.




Star-like





These are sketchings and stitchings for a project I'm really hoping I'll get the opportunity (and funding) to do. More will hopefully be revealed over the next couple of weeks... for now I'll just say that I would be returning to the themes of the Constellation Quilt; and about time, too!

I'm off to Brighton for the weekend tomorrow, hoping to swim in the sea and peruse the (rather excellent, so I'm told) vintage shops. See you on the other side.


Protect The Wild Flowers

I came across this image on Tumblr (via the lifestyle blog The Thinking Tank) and immediately felt compelled to turn it into a sketch for blackwork. As I found it on Tumblr I've had difficulty locating it on the blog that originally posted it, and so I'll never know if there's any more information about such a captivating, whimsical image (with such an important message).



I may not have rendered the children's faces perfectly in stitch, but I am mostly pretty happy with the results (and with my choice of ivy-embroidered handkerchief!)

I think of this as a companion piece to my Melancholyflowers:




Skin and Silk

Here is page seven of On Being Soft, about sensuality (one of the qualities of women listed by Lily van der Stokker in the quotation of hers I stitched) and the feminine form. I stitched a sketchy nude from a life drawing I did at A Level (I seem to be recycling a lot of my Art and Photography A Level work!).

The life drawing
The life drawing translated to stitch




I chose orange/magenta two-tone rough silk for the curved pocket, for its sensual lustre. Inside the pocket is a departure from all the handkerchiefs I've been embroidering recently. To go with the themes of sensuality and sexuality, I wanted to explore "pillow talk" - through "talking pillows"!

The conversation is an exchange between a man and a woman - lovers. Whilst lying in bed together, the woman says "I like your lines", and the man replies "I like your curves".

The words are stitched on to speech bubbles blanket-stitched on to one side of the miniature pillows.

I was recently interviewed about my work by a journalism student, and when I mentioned to her that I was making On Being Soft, she mentioned that the word "soft" made her think of the female body.





One final page to go and then it's time to put the book together!