Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Letter 2010

Hello and greetings of the season to you and your family,

Wow, what a year 2010 has been – when I look back I just wonder, ‘how?’ When I started to think about writing this year, I really thought I hadn’t achieved a heck of a lot, but my photographs and blogging across the year show a different picture. This year I have finished no less than six quilts, read 53 books, had two flatmates, two jobs, said goodbye to three friends, shed loads of material girl stuff that I’ve been dragging around for too long, abandoned keeping the door to my heart shut, welcomed new friends into my life, taken up learning to draw and a drawing challenge, connected with loads of people on Facebook, and shared love and joy and some sorrow with so many.

My year began with a word of the year challenge from a friend. This concept is from Its’ about choosing a word to focus on for the year. I chose ‘Abandon’ and it has helped me shake up and change patterns and stuff. My friend chose Holiday – she set a goal of a holiday for every month of the year! And wow it worked – for both of us. There is a list of questions to work through to get you thinking.
I went back to full time work in September and now work for a food ingredients company. We do natural flavours, colours and enzymes. Most people I tell, say they have never heard of such a thing. We do not manufacture, but develop beverages and food products which we then sell to customers for manufacturer for example, flavoured teas, alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks, fruit bars. Enzymes are used in the process of brewing beer, making wines or removing bad smells from waste products – they speed the process up and improve profitability of a product.

My family have been through their ups and downs this year. My mum gave us a scare with a racing heart beat. She went up to 170 beats a minute, which, for an 82 year old at resting pace is way too high. After a couple of months her health has seemed to settle back to an easier pace. My niece in England has won a regional art competition, Joseph changed his job and has been upskilling in a larger company. Michael met a lovely Chinese girl and was off to meet her family, and do a tour of the Wall, Shanghai and Beijing – but at the last minute she has changed her mind.

I lost some wonderful friends this year – Brookby Star. She was such an enthusiastic supporter of my quilts, always settling herself right in the middle of any quilt I had laid up on the floor.

The next picture of a quilt in  is called Last Breath and is a tribute to the life of my friend Peter Crosbie who died in August as a result of lung cancer from asbestos. He was such a goer for life and lived every second to the max.

I began the year with drawing lessons – the lessons themselves weren’t great, but I continued to try. Because I know nothing at all about drawing I signed up for the Brooklyn Art Library (New York) Sketchbook project and have until 14 January 2011 to get my sketchbook back. It’s a world wide project and my mum and Megan (my niece also are doing a book). When all the books are received back, they go on tour in the States and then become part of the collection of the library. It’s been a challenge, but has helped me focus on learning more about drawing. The best book I read this year is about drawing. Drawing Lab for Mixed Media Artists by Carla Soneheim.

In 2008 I started recording a list of books I read in the year, because I was living with a friend who read voraciously and I wanted to see how many I managed. In 2008 I read 28 books, 2009 – 41 and as at the beginning of December 2010 I’ve reached 59. Doing this simple exercise has completely been a revalation to me – especially when I look back over the lists and there are titles there that I remember absolutely nothing about. Of course its made easy by having interests such as quilting and drawing to read about.

The weather people tell us we are in for a long hot summer – As early as November we have had some days up at 30 degrees celcius – which I know isn’t hot for some, but for us it’s getting there. We already have water shortages in some areas, and properties with water tanks, are having to buy water already; where often they’d get through till mid-January.

You will have heard we have had our share of disasters in New Zealand this year – the big earthquake in Christchurch and the Pike River mining tragedy. I think the earthquake has helped us all realise that NZ learned some important lessons from our last big shake in 1931 in Napier. When I compare how we fared, and how we are recovering quickly and without subsequent outbreaks of disease, we have been really blessed. I periodically see news about Haati who had a similar size shake in May and they still have an aftermath to deal with. One of the biggest realisations here in NZ has been the aftershocks, which have been quite big earthquakes in their own right, which are still continuing. I guess that knowing our ‘Kiwi Ingenuity’ which we are famous for, there will be technological developments that will prepare us, and the rest of the world for events of a similar nature in the future. Certainly the disaster at Pike River Mine is requiring a ton of ingenuity to put out the underground fire, and it has brought to light that we have several mines here that have had fires going underground since the 1930’s! Like who ever heard of that before this happened.

I’m still living in Takapuna – only 10 minutes walk away from the one of Auckland’s most beautiful beaches which I continue to enjoy most days – although this second half of the year my energy levels have been down and I haven’t been half as good at walking everyday as I was in the first half of the year. Working full time and not finishing until 5pm has had an impact and I need to get a rhythm going for next year. I’ve set myself the travel aim of no less than a hike in the Grand Canyon and more time in Italy before I turn 60. I’ve been talking about doing the Grand Canyon for so long, its time to make it a reality. Just when it will be is yet to be worked out, but I guess spontaneity will grab hold of me and get me going when the moment is right – but one thing I do know is that I want to be fit before doing it, to get the most enjoyment possible.

I do hope that 2010 has treated you and your friends and family well and that we can expect an even more wonderful 2011, it is after all, the moments that take our breath away, the beauty of the world, and the joy that friends and loved ones share with us that enrich our lives. I wish you peace and joy for 2011.

Love always

Veronicah xxx

Monday, December 06, 2010

Earth From Above

If you are in Auckland, the Earth From Above photographic exhibition is on 24 hours a day in Aotea Square and it is a feast for quilters!  Lines, shapes, quilting designs, colour palettes for quilts.  This is an amazing miracle ... it's on til 19 December. 

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Christmas Shopping

Wow its been a busy day.  I worked at the quilt shop today and had quite a busy day.  In between I was organising a Christmas decorating suprise in the classroom upstairs as we have a customer party at the shop next weekend.

After work I headed into the city to get some Christmas gifts - managed to get three in about two hours, its always good going when you know what you are after.

I couldn't resist this photo.  This santa was always a part of my childhood.  Before the days of shopping malls, everyone in Auckland used to go to Farmers at Christmas.  This store began trading in 1899 and as a place for rural New Zealanders to shop via a catalogue.  It grew into a nation wide chain store.  In 1934 it innovated a Christmas Santa Parade for the children of Auckland, which continues to this day.  It was another thing of my childhood, to every year go to this parade.  My father's office was on the route and we used to go and sit high up in the windows above the crowds and get a birds eye view, hanging out windows and waving our 'welcome santa flags'.

In 1960 the store innovated again and this gigantic three store santa which was made of concrete I think, was placed on the outside of the building.  I remember reindeers being added with beautiful sparkling tinsel linking them all as the sleigh reigns to santa.  A further innovation one year was that santa's eye winked and his crooked finger beckoned.

With the sale of the flagship store and the birth of malls santa went into storage for a few years, until he was brought by another major retailer Whitcoulls.  Now again, every Christmas he sits on his corner in Queen and Victoria Street, somewhat less majestically than I remember from the magic of my childhood.  But he is still an iconic Auckland Christmas symbol, loved by generations.

I took another photo which I've uploaded to the 365 days tab on this blog - this one has triggered and idea for a NZ Christmas Quilt ... as if I need any more ideas ....  You can get there by clicking on the tab at the top of this page.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The same piece of road and 365 photographs

The same piece of motorway, and the fact that I'm determined to take a photo and blog it on my page 365 days in this blog, is forcing creativity out of me in unexpected ways!

For a couple of days I've been looking at a stretch where I'm in an on ramp queue for about 10 minutes.  This stretch has what I would describe as handrails that turn inwards to prevent any car from driving up over the edge in an accident.  There is a small piece - I'll have to try and snap it one night - were the "handrails" from two different motorways sit close to each other. 

Today it looked like a quilting pattern to me.

Why is it than when you finally see something, there are only seconds to capture it before the traffic moves again?

You may see the negative space first here.  If so, focus on the two shapes that I sketched quickly.  I think this could be done like the drawing with hard lines, or could be curved softer protusions, or even really the shape drawn with a curved edge.  Don't have time to sketch the ideas at the moment.  Perhaps will get to add them later.

Hope you had a creative day today as well.  :-)

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Quilt in my head

I woke up today with a quilt in my head.

A red line on a black background.

I allowed myself to follow the line and it revealed a picture.

Friday, November 19, 2010

The Rose Garden

Went to the Rose Gardens today with my mum - the pictures are today's words.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Colour inspiration for a quilt

Flax is flowering in New Zealand at the moment.  This is on a motorway onramp on my drive to work and believe it or not it is a minature yellow variety.  The colours in this image (the only one I got to take, because the driver behind was getting impatient about not "inching forwad") have yellow lime flowers which contrasted amazingly with the greens of the leaves and the dark grey of the morning sky.

Despite the look of the morning we had 30 degree temperatures in New Zealand today.

I'm intrigured by colour paletes at the moment so have put this together to reflect the colours of this morning.  I tried to do it quickly, and it made me realise that I have a limited pallet of colours in my stash - when I thought I had so much.  I don't think I've captured the dark sultry feel of the morning and the contrast of dark blue grey with kakhi yellow and dark olive.  I realise I need black as well to create the mood of the flax.  Maybe I've got all the proportions wrong.  It took me about 20 minutes to pull this selection together.  Might have a go at improving it tomorrow night - to tired to do it now.  I realised the next day that I am also using the information that my mind knows to be true about the yellow-green of the falx, rather than what my eye - the camera is saying about everything being dulled.

A couple more pictures from the next day - same time, but completely different weather conditions.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Updated Fabric

Here is my Devil's Marble piece with the three very light value fabrics replaced, by slightly darker ones - achieved with tea dyeing.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Images in Applique

I've just done a fantastic three day class with Australian tutor Jenny Bowker with my quilting friends at Village Green Quilters.  Here's my top almost ready to stitch.  I've got three pieces of fabric that I want to change out for better tones.  This is a don't miss class and you get far more than Jenny advertises.  Do it as a three day class and residential and most of the class get to the finished ready to stitch stage.  I could have stitched but spent some time designing extensions to make this a bigger piece.  It currently is A2 size - approx 70cm x 100cm.

... and how about these sunrise shots!

Monday, September 20, 2010

Birthday Gift

I finished this bag on Sunday for my Flatmate for her birthday next month.  The pattern didn't have bound edges, just overlocked - but I found that just too weird.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Working on my ANZAC Banner

I've been reading my Remarkable Symposium class book over this week.  Decisions, decisions.  One of them made is to enter the ANZAC Banner Quilt competition.  I designed a red and white one but didn't have the white fabric to commence piecing it, so I then sat down and made this one.  Doing two entries now.  The photo shows only part of the quilt - it has to have words added to complete it.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

She Thanks Her Lucky Stars

This is me this week - hanging up my stars.  Reminding myself how lucky and fortunate I really am.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Washing Day

My flatmate has never met anyone who washes so much fabric before.  It's washing day for fabric.  She loves all the beautiful colours hanging up, then watches as I iron them absorbing the colours and the patterns.  Here we have fabric for a table cloth, three bags, a quilt I'm acquiring gold/brown colours for, and various FQ's that I couldn't resist.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Colour Swap 2010 (ii)

Here is what I received from Carol in Victoria, Australia - in my chosen colour - Green.  I feel really spoiled and will enjoy using all of these gifts.

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Colour Swap 2010

I really enjoyed doing these small things for the colour swap for Carol who lives in the Dandenongs in Victoria, Australia.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Kangaroo Dreaming / Women's Dreaming

Kangaroo Dreaming / Women's Dreaming

These gorgeous fabrics from Country Bliss in Alice Springs were a birthday gift from my friend Elizabeth.  She knows exactly what I like.  I'm not sure what the Orange fabaric is called - I'll have to seek it out on the internet.  The flying Roo's remind me so much of the Qantas logo on the tails of their planes.

To Aboriginals the Dreaming is the the Gods/Ancestors that give birth to everything physical on the earth.  Each person identifies with a particular kind of dreaming symbolism.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Quilter's Academy

I'm also reading this series of books - both Volume 1 & 2 are out.  I asked my library to order them, which they did happily.  Written by Harriet and Carrie Hargrave, Volume 1 begins with the basics, and even after quilting for 20 years, there are still things to be learned from the basic level to help you improve technically.  Actually, 20 years on, I probably have more time to want to be techinically accurate, rather than getting carried away on the excitement of the design coming together.

This volume gives formulas for working out how much fabric you need for your design - something a lot of quilters struggle with.  I'd recommend this book to both beginners and accomplished quilters.  Harriet and Carrie have a blog, which connects you with others working on the projects in the book. 

Here's a tip from page 72 about choosing fabrics for a quilt- which would be good to hear thoughts on.

"Choose the darker fabrics first and the lighter fabrics last.
Medium and dark fabrics are easier to select.  There are also more of them available than there are lights."

It makes me wonder - "Why is that?"  I usually have one fabric that inspires me, then I select the rest around it.  I must watch to see if I choose the dark and medium before the lights.  I probably have fewer lights in my stash.  Why do we choose darks and mediums first?

Monday, August 09, 2010

Detouring and Learning to See

"There is a road from the eye to the heart that does not go through the intellect"   GK Chesterton
I couldn't help but detour on my way to work this morning - the light was so perfect for a few photographs.  The gulls were beginning to assemble at the end of the tank farm, waiting for the camper vanners who can park here for free to arise for breakfast.    
As promised - a couple of pages from my sketchbook.  I'm focussing on fairies and fantasy art.


And here's what I'm reading at the moment about drawing, by Carla Sonheim:  Drawing Lab.  I love its simplicity and easy instructions, great pictures and tons of different drawing styles and 52 exercises for drawing creativity - one for each week of the year.  I think I'm going to purchase this book.