Jazz Age inspiration & Art Nouveau updated

During November I celebrate my birthday and past years I have never really enjoyed myself, for many different reasons which are not of importance right now. This year I and my partner really needed a break and so a planned short trip to London had been arranged.

There are always many exhibitions I want to see in London and sadly miss, especially if the timing is not right and I do not have any free time for a journey to the capital.

This trip really would be a quick visit though so we did not have much time to see a whole lot. I decided on the fashion and textile museum’s1920’s Jazz Age fashion & photographs exhibit. This seemed an ideal theme for my recent interest and obsession with this era’s style.

jazz-age

The museum is fairly easy to find from the London Bridge tube stop. Interestingly though we stumbled upon a building on our way which is painted in the exact same colours as the museum which confused us somewhat.

museum

The museum inside is quite small so dedicates its whole space to each display. It is Lovely and spacious to walk round and for exploring the delights presented. These 1920’s delights did not disappoint either. I took a few photo’s of dresses with fabrics and designs that appeal to my style the most. In fact the gold looking velvet garment looks very similar to an outfit I already own.

A gallery gift shop is always a must for me to, more often than not, purchase postcards which I add to my growing collection.

This time, because in a birthday treat buying mood a small pack of Fashionary mini sketchbooks found their way onto my person.

These sketchbooks are pretty helpful for the budding fashion designer and would make a great gift for a student I imagine. Each page has a template with a very handy textile dictionary and measurement end pages.

fashionista-book

I can highly recommend a stop in their cafe too, I follow a gluten free diet so had been happy to discover a few cake treats I could actually eat.

A stroll through China town, for dim sum and baked goods followed by the Lion king (a musical I had wanted to see for years) marked the perfect evening and rounded off the days activities nicely.

A sketchbook touring exhibition opportunity (www.sketchopen.co.uk) has fired my passion to get creating and produce a completed sketchbook/journal.

I am, sadly, not the type of artist to keep sketchbooks other than during my college student days. Most of my work is drawn on loose paper and filed into folders.

The mini fashionary sketchbook is an ideal size for me to realistically complete one to a standard I will, hopefully, be content with when submitting to meet the deadline (28th feb 2017)

So onto another daily drawing challenge I go. Follow my Instagram https://www.instagram.com/elizabethblades/ to keep updated on my #18daysoffashionillustration.

Inspired by inktober I have thought up 18 prompts/themes with suggested mediums which I will endeavour to keep too.

challenge

I have begun a drawing project, on a topic which I have wanted to explore through my art for a while and have not found time due to a full year of planning and teaching workshops.

I am making time now using Christmas as a perfect excuse to create some beautiful gifts. I have always adored art nouveau and the strong style which artists such as Mucha adopted as his technique.

The general white washing, to put it bluntly now, in everything from Hollywood films to children’s illustrated books is something that is far from representative of today’s society. I find this trend boring and think changes are desperately needed, especially considering the political year the west has had.

Notably when looking through past art nouveau designs they are always depicting females who are European in appearance and largely fair haired.

If you have read any of my previous blog posts you will already know I have a very mixed heritage including white and brown nationalities. I don’t relate to a typical blond and or blue eyed female, so why should I only draw them. I am also wondering why do we tend to draw face’s that are not too different from our reflection? At least that is what I had been doing. Only really having reference from life model’s, magazine’s and other publications which are most of the time prominently European looking faces. I think this is very limiting and is another way for us to not further progress as a society.

I am also an artist who is fascinated with faces, a variety of beautiful shapes and structures. Beginning with a design for my partners mum, who is a Kenyan Goan, My composition incorporates a lions head, Lupita Nyong’o (a Kenyan actress) and vine leaves which are typically seen in art nouveau pieces.

kenya

I still don’t have as much free time on this project as desired so I have joined up with my very talented, and if I am honest more skilled colourist, partner who lives and works as an artist too.

He and I will work together I will design and do the line work, he will paint and add the colours.

I have a few unfinished illustrations that will develop over time, pictured are snippets from my previously mentioned loose papered ‘sketchbooks’.

art-nouveau

I am feeling very inspired by imagery and patterns from this style of art So I am integrating art nouveau arrangements with the feminist symbol.

I am teaming up with International Women’s Day derby festival committee to lend my creative hand to an exhibition they are creating for the festival day in March 2017.

These symbols I have designed will, hopefully, be coloured in an array of methods and names will be written across the fists.

The IWD derby team have been researching and discovering women from derby’s Herstory archive to collate a time line and I am volunteering to help transform the findings into an exhibition.

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Rag Doll Project

Just before 2015 drew to a close the Lichfield city festival did a call out for textile artists to submit CVs for consideration for their rag doll trail concept. I had been shortlisted to present my proposal at the end of January 2016.

Luckily my idea had been the only no sew method making it inclusive for all (including those struggling with dexterity). I had a bold concept that utilized recycled materials that would work well along side the home made dolls (sewn) that would also be on the trail.

The concept appealed to me because the theme would be recycled fabric which is something I endeavour to promote throughout my work. After the festival the dolls would be donated to refugee charities, a beautiful way to end the project. I loved that so many of these toys were hand made, by children, for children who have very little.

I live close to a recycle and play centre in Derby which provided all the fabric needed to create the dolls. I prepared for 6 or so workshops which would run during April and May. After a month’s prep I had bags of fabric cut into strips, ready to be made doll shaped!

The concept was that members of the community would make the dolls, which would then become the rag doll trail. To encourage young children to part with their newly made toys I created a ‘how to’ zine 1 so they could make their own at home (or whenever they wanted!).

The project was fun, exciting, rewarding and a big reminder why I do what I do and that I love my job. Despite the stress I can get myself into, every project I work on I am learning what does and does not work which makes me continue to improve as an artist and tutor. 2

I met many lovely people during my time in Lichfield and the surrounding area, and it is looking likely that I will be working on another project at next years festival so watch this space!

The following is the rag-doll project journey in pictures:

Every trip to Lichfield began with bags and trolleys stuffed with resources.3

Cannock chase museum, my first ‘drop in’ workshop. A Large doll made by women seeking refuge from abuse at a local centre, and a few of the many dolls created at the Cannock chase drop in session.

Following a drop in session at the Lichfield Garrick theatre, these large dolls posed in front of a very showbiz backdrop.6

Possibly my favourite location to work in was a beautifully decked out shop in Wolverhampton. A sea themed doll and beautifully designed smaller ones were created.

I had the most fun though running a workshop for a very welcoming breast cancer support group at Burntwood library. I adored the garden queen doll and small dolls that they lovingly made.

My last workshop on the last weekend of the festival. Set up in front of the hauntingly beautiful Cathedral.

Finally a chance to take a look at the rag doll trail… and I spotted one of my favourites, a mermaid!

Storyteller

I am a bit of daydreamer. I can quite easily become distracted by all the thoughts and ideas whizzing about in my brain. I used to get told off in school for staring out the window, quite literally, at the times when the teacher seemed to be speaking endlessly about a topic that did not interest me in the slightest.

A short attention span could be put down to my dyslexia, but I like to think it is because there are so many things I want to do, make, draw and invent. My passion for what I do is the thing that drives me to finish all of my creations. Even though dyslexia effects my numeracy and literacy I have always been encouraged to write even if you can’t spell a word properly.

I adored books and reading, and I would pretend read aloud to myself thinking up a story of my own following the pictures. Eventually, the encouragement spurred me on to write and illustrate many books throughout my childhood, which is what birthed my passion to study Illustration as a degree. Through my drawn lines I am describing what I can not put into words.

However… I would like to announce that I have written a story! one that I am pretty pleased with too.

RD front cover

Despite my love for the traditional book lay out my story will be presented in comic format. The decision for this came about when I went to Comix Creatrix: 100 women making comics, a fantastic exhibition at the House of Illustration in London.

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Inspiration flew at me from all angles after reading the HERstories and viewing a vast array of styles. After postcards, zines and gifts were purchased at the shop I knew my story would be in the format of a graphic novel. After postcards, zines and gifts were purchased at the shop I knew my story would be in the format of a graphic novel.

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I have joined a writers group, the Rewrite Bureau, which encourages me to write regularly. The group is filled with people with varied interests but we are all in the same position – in search for inspiration and motivation with our writing projects. The first draft of my story has been passed around friends and the other members of the writers group to gain valuable feedback and assistance with editing.

My story has been written simply, sentence by sentence, sometimes split into sections so that I can add ‘directions’ for myself. These prompts help me to plan out the images, a stage in the process I am very much enjoying. It is helping me to properly visualise exactly how the story will flow.

The story is based on the first example rag doll I created for an exciting project I have been involved in recently.

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The project is a rag doll trail as part of Lichfield Festival, happening from July 1st to July 10th. More about my work on this project will be explained in the next blog but for now, if you can, go check the festival out!

http://www.lichfieldfestival.org/

The rag doll concept for my story presented itself so vividly in my mind. I saw the whole thing mapped out before any words were formed.

Ever since the end of my studies on the Illustration degree I have wanted to have a book published, I am determined to make this happen with this story – A Rag Doll Fairytale.

Marching On

This month has been all about celebrating women and the power they hold. Since my childhood a huge inspiration of mine has been a character known as Buffy the vampire slayer. The whole show sum’s up feminism perfectly, for me anyway.

The concept demonstrates hidden strength, sometimes a strength that may not be realised.This show helped me through many difficult times growing up and still does during adulthood. The characters have become like old friends who I revisit whenever I re-watch it.

The time has come again when I aim to fire episode after episode into my eyes, not for seeking comfort. But to act as a distraction whilst I make exemplars (teacher word for example). Strips of fabric, rag dolls, zines, sewing and lesson planning are just some of the prep work that need to be done for the next few months…Buffy marathon it is then.

This is one of the reason’s why I love being an artist though guilty pleasure ‘TV watching’ can be easily done when creating. (This mostly only works when it is a show previously seen and concentration is not mandatory).

My big 30th birthday gift was a 2 day corset course. A dream of mine is learning to work with more delicate fabric’s and difficult patterns. Why Corsetry? because I would love to eventually create couture clothing.

I discovered that once understood, corsets are a lot easier to make than what I previously expected. My dyslexic brain had been daunted by consuming so much information in just those 2 days. During the course I met many other students who were more experienced in dress making but I am proud to say that I managed to produce a finished corset by the end of the 2nd day. corset 6

I think I may have made a few errors which may or may not be obvious, but I am keen to get started on making more to perfect this new skill. Future idea’s of embroidered and screen printed/fabric painted corset designs will have to wait… for now.

The 8th march was international women’s day. IWD Face

I had been commissioned back in November by women’s day derby festival committee, to run a bunting workshop. Themed around the suffragette colours and images of female empowerment, I designed stencils ready to demonstrate a simple stencil printing technique. IWD derby

I was very impressed with the prints that were produced, they were all inspiring. Here are a few of my favourites. IWD bunting favs.jpg

After an additional workshop to print the last of the bunting squares last month, the time had come to sew it all together. I did not realise how long it would take to sew it all. I have learnt from my mistakes though, having had approx 20 meters of bunting in the biggest tangle…never again (#firstworldproblems)

The results of the finished bunting hung up at the festival were amazing.IWD fest  I felt very proud to have facilitated decoration that is both beautiful and empowering. Although march is drawing to a close it is important to note that is has been women’s history month. A time for recognising and remembering inspirational women throughout #HERstory.

I have created a zine detailing 3 female artists who inspire me and my work. I strongly feel it is very important to recognise women who contribute to the art world and incorporating this into education is a necessity. As is teaching art as part of the curriculum, but that subject is for another blog post.  Pictured is the exemplar for two #HERstory zine workshop’s I had run earlier this month.12718394_1012336132180185_2807574299606816858_n