Knitting for the impatient beginner

This video shows how to quickly knit a jumper with GIANT needles and thick, gorgeously tactile wool.  It shows absolutely every stage, clearly and pleasantly – from taking that first ball of wool and finding the loose end (tucked in the middle) to begin, then how to cast on that first row….. right to sewing it up together.



Embroidery, poetry, photography

Maria Wigley combines embroidered handwriting with poetry and photography.  If the thought of that excites you half as much as it thrills me, then don’t miss her website

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© Maria Wigley

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© Maria Wigley


As an arts college tutor, Maria has thought much about her art and is able to pull out of her bag the quote:

“Painting is silent poetry and poetry is painting that speaks”


Also, she is refreshingly honest about how her art received a new influx of life when she was balancing artwork with looking after her young daughter – seeing her joy with mixing the colour and putting it onto paper, without trying to make a particular representation.  Maria joined in.

Now, although her work is different, it still resonates from that place of sitting on the kitchen floor with her daughter, markmaking together, and becoming drawn into embroidering.

The art I produce now focuses on the connection between writing, stories, people and places, particularly the relationship between place and memory. Poetry and songs have a huge influence over my work, as well as listening to anecdotes about other peoples’ lives. The use of photography and drawing, features heavily in my work as it helps builds the relationship between the visual and the text. 

Excitingly, when you look at the list of her c.v. and recent projects, Maria’s embroidery text work is being used in book jackets, film, group exhibitions, artwork for a Paris hotel, handmade books….. there is a sense of her being on the cusp of about to be better known and even more sought-out.  In other words, if you like her work, seek it out now.


Creative Takeaways

Do you have a favourite photo, a place to remember, a favourite family quote or few lines of poetry which never go away, but keep resurfacing and still ‘speak’ to you?

How about combining them in a picture, then framing it?

Encourage curators!

I’ve just been very encouraged to get this feedback on my exhibition, “Signs of Life” (currently showing in Edinburgh at St Andrew’s and St George’s West):

“I spent almost an hour this afternoon at the Signs of Life exhibition with the audio guide on my phone. I had looked at the paintings/photos before, but the explanations, readings and poems brought the whole experience to life and gave a powerful message in a most imaginative way. (The lovely sunny day made it easy to linger!). I do hope that many people will look at it. I shall recommend it to as many folk as possible.”

For those of us not living in Scotland, you can swing by online and view thumbnails of the picture and hear the full audio guide mentioned, here.

Here’s the Takeaway:

Curating an exhibition takes weeks/months of preparation, putting up, taking down.  And it is immersive: you imagine it, physically put it together and wonder if anyone actually notices – and you also eat it, in a way, too – because you end up eating quick and unhealthy food just to get enough calories to keep going!

But every exhibition will, somewhere, have a book or place to make a comment.  Almost no-one does.  But I can tell you, hand on heart, write something therein.  It will take almost no time, and you may feel like it’s a quick not very deep comment – but it is an encouragement.  It’s a proof that someone else enjoyed seeing those pictures together, in that way.

A really good exhibition should show you art that you haven’t truly seen before, or make you engage with art that you’d normally walk past – or at best, takes you on a journey so you spin out the other end, thinking “What was that?!”  And a truly stupendous exhibition will have at least one piece that you can’t tear yourself away from, or you find yourself responding to, powerfully, or you go home and still remember it with fascination.  Sometimes, a picture or collection can change someone’s life.

There are interesting examples of this – such as Wassily Kandinsky who, while waiting to begin formal art studies, was smitten by an exhibition of Monet’s Haystacks series, despite himself (as recorded in Wikipedia):

That it was a haystack the catalogue informed me. I could not recognize it. This non-recognition was painful to me. I considered that the painter had no right to paint indistinctly. I dully felt that the object of the painting was missing. And I noticed with surprise and confusion that the picture not only gripped me, but impressed itself ineradicably on my memory. Painting took on a fairy-tale power and splendour.

— Wassily Kandinsky
Angie Lewin, exhibition

Scottish nature drawings – Angie Lewin

There will be a new Angie Lewin exhibition:

Wednesday 2nd May – 2nd June 2018

The Scottish Gallery, Edinburgh

“Spey Path and Strandline”.


Circles, feathers and feather-like leaves abound in this collection of watercolours.  Also known for her strong graphic images as a printer, Angie recently exhibited at City Art Centre, in a group show with a few friends, “A Fine Line”. Previously written about on this blog here.

Read the exhibition catalogue for her new show, here.

And to see Angie at work with her printmaking, pop over to this earlier page in this blog.


Fashion, Art, dance, music

Here at ,& we are all about the arts mixed, and the arts mixed with life – hence our tagline “,& the continuing conversation between life and Art”.

So we love this.

Tracie Cheng‘s drawings on flowing fabrics, dance across a field in fashion by Arret Studio, Shanghai.

Video by Derryck Menere.

Subtle, beautiful, moving.


Creative Takeaway

Do you write words or paint or draw?  Take that into another dimension by putting your work on fabric and placing it in different ways.

How about flying it as a flag?

Wearing it as a t-shirt?

Printing it onto fabric for a dancer?

“That’s what a de Koonig painting sounds like: liquid, fluid, runny”

If watching paint dry sounds boring – try listening to it.  The Museum of Modern Art has developed a whole series of “How to paint like…..” famous painters whose works they have.  This video is how to paint like Willem de Koonig, presented by Corey D’Augustine.

The comment about the sound came from the mixing of the yellow paint with medium – it sounded a bit like cream does when whipped.  I don’t even paint with oils, but the mixing of the materials has me intrigued.

Still interested?  Here’s the followup video:

Creative Takeaway

Already painting with oils paints but feeling a bit stuck?

The series of “Paint Like….” invites you to go through the process of another artist, with the knowledgeable curator.  Then you can take what you like into your own process, and ignore the rest.


Portable Sketching Kit

Sketching daily is a great art discipline and finding 20 minutes to sketch is fairly do-able even in the most hectic of schedules.  Grab yourself a few basic tools (set out by tutor Nina Weiss) and you’re good to go…

  1. A box of coloured pencils
  2. a small sketchbook (her hands give an indication of its scale)
  3. 20 minutes

Nina finds it’s important to have these basic tools to hand at any moment when inspiration strikes.

Soon, this blog will feature her on a much longer drawing assignment, working from a photograph she took while travelling.


Portable Takeaway

What drawing/sketching/writing tools do you currently have?

Pool them together – you might be surprised.

Now pack them in such a way that you can have them with you, easy to get hold of, for as much of each day as possible.