I have always loved History, Literature and Art.........................................................................................................
beautiful things, the stuff of dreams..................................................

flowers, butterflies, fairy tales, embroidered fragments, Chinese blues, Botticelli angels, Blake's visions, Burne-Jones pictures............................................................................................

amongst many other hints and wisps of the past..........................

to catch in my net and weave into mydesigns..................

which I hope others might find as beautiful as their inspirations.

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Painting boards!!!

Instead of using paint for trying to produce beautiful designs,spent the morning painting boards for our show. The preview is next Thursday and it is open to the public for a week at Hartlepool Gallery Church Square. There will be some lovely designs on view. My year is very talented and have produced amazing designs for fashion and interiors.  We have a large number of design competition winners so....if you would like to see their brilliant work DO COME ALONG!!!!

Monday, 30 May 2011

The Lady Of Shalott (1 of 2)

For those who do not know the beautiful poem which inspired many Victorian artists, here is a taste.  It is accompanied by a musical version I have not heard.  I designed most of my Minor project to another version, by a symphonic rock group called Autumn.  Unfortunately I couldn't find that one .  However, this pretty folk style song seems pleasant enough!
Some years ago I read this poem to a group of 7 yr olds.  You could have heard a pin drop....they loved it too

The Lady of Shalott by John William Waterhouse

William Waterhouse was a third generation Pre-Raphaelite.  This u-tube clip shows his artistic response to  my favourite poem.

Visit to York

Had a lovely day in York, chilling out with a spa treat that my daughter gave me :-) 

Little Toby was a very good boy...his first city visit ever. He loved the birds and squirrels in the park. 

Dropped into Easingwold on the way home and discovered a fellow Elena Deshmukh lover and designer at Angel.  The owner of this lovely card and gift shop runs her own design business from her farm,used to work in Hartlepool and sells her products at Cloud Cuckoo too.  Small world!!!! We had a very interesting conversation about trade shows etc etc !!!

Have had difficulty with comments over the last few days....can't comment on my own or anyone elses blog!! Hope Blogger resolve the problem soon...

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

The Tree of Forgiveness-Edward Burne-Jones

In case anybody is wondering what all the fuss is about, regarding beauty/ Pre-Raphaelites,  I thought I would post my all time favourite picture.

I discovered this artist when I was studying Geography (both scientific-Hydrology,ecology and conservation, as well as arts orientated) at Durham.  Having worked very hard  at school, to make up for appalling teaching I had sickened myself of Geography- so spent most of my time at uni, first time round, reading  Modern Art History books, plays and Russian you do....but wouldn't now!!!
Came across this picture in Mugwump, a card shop in Durham that is still going strong today (card and gift have been my thing for a very long time). As a result I became a fan of B-J and his fellow artists, mainly due to their amazing lifestyles, rather than some of their Art.  I still am as enthralled by the Pre-Raphaelites group today as I was when I first discovered them................if reincarnation were true then I must have been a Victorian !!!!
I am not someone who particularly  likes nudes, although I have enjoyed doing life drawing in the past. An earlier version of the  picture caused a furore when it was first exhibited.  Although it had been ok to paint full fontal women nudes this was the first time a full frontal male had been exhibited. B-J withdrew his picture and reworked into this MUCH  better, chaster version.  Another reason the earlier version caused problems was because the woman was so obviously his mistress Maria Zambuco.  This later version is a more generalised female and the male has a wisp of gauze to cover his offending parts!!!!!!!!

What I love about the picture is the wonderful white blossom, the beautiful models and the look of intense emotion passing between the two figures, as well as the legend it is based on ( Phyllis and Demophoon-the woman was turned into a tree by the gods, when she thought she had been abandoned, but regained human form when her lover returned after all -ahhhh!!!:-) ) I also like the da vinci and Michaelangelo elements/influences. Foregiveness is a concept I wholeheartedly and finally embrace after a dreadful divorce and many years of being unable to..........

Well, you either love or hate this kind of thing but if you love it and want to find out more there are many internet sites devoted to this group and it's individual artists- first, second and third wave. My favourites are B-J, William and Waterhouse , all their pictures are beautiful, mainly based on lovely old legends stories and poems, incredibly detailed,and painted in wonderful colours.

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

The Cult of Beauty...

As my last post said, all I have ever wanted was to produce beautiful images (although beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder).  This exhibition at the Vand A looks WONDERFUL with many of my favourite and inspirational artists work on display and a feast of decorative arts too.  If I can find a dog sitter and finance (!!!) I am hoping to go, before it closes (17th July I think).  There is a lovely book to accompany the event and Liberty, one of my target markets and most favourite shops is sponsoring the event, as it played an important part in the Aesthetic movements marketing.

Check out the V&A website for more details and related events and literature.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

well guess that's it................

So, I have posted all my work. Although I am pleased with my imagery, as it depicts 'Oriental' exactly the way I wnted it to, is me to a 't'  and I even think the odd one has achieved what I see as beautiful, I am not sure others would agree.  Not very hopeful about the outcome now.

The imagery that is currently in vogue is not me, I freely admit I'm different and 'follow a different drummer'-guess always have and always will.  I gain comfort from the fact that my Art heroes, Rossetti, Morris and Burne Jones were the same, in that they questioned the Art of the day. They were 'true to nature', returning to a brighter/truer past as Pre-Raphaelites. As a result they produced , in the case of the last two, beautiful imagery and Decorative Art. From being slated in the press by the critics they were championed by Ruskin and became the artists of choice of the buying public. Don't expect that accolade but do feel slightly like them in going completely against the mainstream, with my work whilst trying to fit it to trends!!!

Well time will tell- all I know is I couldn't have tried any harder whilst finally studying Art after waiting for all those years and at least I have remained true to myself and what I believe to be beautiful, however others may judge it.

Not sure whether I shall be doing much more blogging, despite having become a bit of an addict.  So GOOD LUCK , HEALTH AND SUCCESS to anybody who has looked at any of my posts....your support has been so much appreciated over this past year.  

Tracy Franklin Durham textile and embroidery courses.

Just incase any one is feeling lost after their course have just been sent latest info on City and Guild as well as Hampton Court Master Embroider Tacy's own workshops.  They look amazing and just wish we were taught techniques as well as process with the odd 'masterclass' thrown in .  I did want to attend a goldwork workshop there last year, for my FMP, but there were no dates available.  So, I went to a local, very good/experienced embroiders' for a workshop and supplies-Dinsdale Embroideries, they do internet sales- and had a go at a few different stitches.  It was interesting but in the end I used gold single thread and stitiches I knew that suited the designs (see Snetterton pine sprig/ snowflakes and lazy daisy posts)

So, if you fancy more textiles/embroidery the contact is Tracy Franklin Fowlers Yard Durham

My last and favourite product boards

Strange to think it was only a week ago that I was still trying to tie up loose ends! These are my last two boards featuring a bird in a branch image.

They are my favourites....because they are pretty.... and fit my home and me perfectly!!!

I had wanted to do a 'bird in a branch' design, as it is something that has been associated with the Orient since time immemorial-with wallpaper designs for big country houses and recently Fromantal being awarded a prize for its modern twist on the theme.

I used colours I love- old shades of blue mixed with gold.  I have goldwork sleeve bands in this colourway on my walls at home and a modern/old style chair, as you can see in the photo (haven't got a Pekinese... but ...Dog Tust adoptee ,Toby, looks very like a chinese fu/luckydog, when he is sitting beautifully!!)

As I said, in a previous post, I used my Bonsai drawing again for this design and placed a bird on the image. This was put into a larger scale repeat than Chinoiseri Madam Butterfly. I just loved the way the image coloured blue (like willow pattern designs) looked on vaarious papers.  I also loved gilding it with gold foil and the way it looked when cut out with a scalpel and placed on a subtle gold paper. There is also something rather Victorian ( like me) about the last gold design , reminding me of the Aesthetic Movement (initiated by Rossetti, one of my Art hero's) and the Peacock Room, designed by Whistler. Wonder whether anyone would agree??!!

Saturday, 21 May 2011


To Mavis, Bev, Coleen  (plus Joy in reserve)on their selection for New Designers , Coleen and J oy for their Bradford Textiles success and for Coleen for her selection for Texprint!  What a very talented group of people to have studied with....

Friday, 20 May 2011

Chinoiserie Mme Butterfly!

Having produced papers and gifts with the chinoiserie paper I decided to develop it a little further and so produced a second board that I like even better than the last one.

This is probably what I would regard as my best board, due to the amount of design that went into it as well as the designs themselves.  They convey just the feeling I wanted of the past but with a modern twist-the altered art image. The papers are the same as before but are printed on subtle gold and silver and embossed with gold and an irredescent sparkle that is brilliant for conveying the whimsical/romantic imaginary view of the women of the past as well as being very similar to the original green tropical butterfly I used to draw Madam Butterfly's wings.

The first card is a 3d figure placed against this sparkling background.  The card in the middle is an attempt to replicate the antique pith/rice paper picture I used as inspiration and from which I obtained an authentic antique Chines lady's head,  Madame Butterfly was printed on thick tracing paper, which was perfect.  then she was placed in a plain surround with two tiny butterrflies-again to represent freedom.

The bottom item is not a card, it is a photograph frame or could be a mirror if one were inserted.  I was pleased with this as it was a completely the result of  experimentation/development.  The paper developed from the bonsai, when closely inspected had a perfect circle formed by the leaves. I embossed two different magnifications (after some trials) of the same image with rough gold, mounted it on black and-hey presto /abracadabra- I had created the most chinoiserie thing ever !!! I couldn't believe it!!!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Madam Butterfly flies again......................!!!!

Couldn't sleep as worried I may have handed in part of the PDP in for the wrong module so decided to put my next post up a little earlier than usual!!!!:-(((

In an earlier post I showed the design process for the  Altered Art influenced Madam Butterfly.  Having created her and developed a few cards I then left her until she was used for some designs I made for PPF (shown a few weeks ago at hand in time ).  However, she was very much how I imagined those tiny trapped rich Chinese women of ancient times and what I had in mind when I wrote the brief. so long ago.

I produced a fan and bunting as they seemed appropriate to tiny butterfly women fluttering in the breeze, or creating a draught with their little wings.  The card represents the lives of the women of Ancient China, trapped behind fret work windows (cut by scalpel) by their circumstances and by their tiny broken lotus feet.  I have put a tiny 'real' butterfly in the top right hand corner of the card to represent freedom.

The paper is a composition of multiple Bonsai branches which magically (so it seemed to me !!) formed a lovely (I think???!!!) chinoiserie framework into which I placed images of real butterflies alternately with Madame Butterfly! I am amazed that I created something so intricate and am really pleased with this wrapping paper design.  I am extra pleased with it because it conveys my subject Oriental with just the slant/feel I wanted which is totally 'me' and I think innovatory (I've never seen one like it!)

Oriental butterflies....

As every man and his dog decided to include an on trend butterfly in their collection I wasn't sure whether to do so too.  However, butterflies are one of the things I have always loved, and it is old Chinese textiles, usually blue, embroidered with butterflies that I collect.  Also, they are another of my links with my Oriental past-I used to sit on my vedrandah and watch some beauties, flying in the jungle at the bottom of my garden in the New Territories.  So I have tried to produce a different/innovatory slant on the theme.!

I wanted to represent the clouds of butterflies as well as the collection feel.  My dense paper designs seem to do that.. 

The first card shows items of ephemera collected from my time in HK. They include a card from my best friend Sue (then and now) when she revisited it and a picture from an old book that I love (showing scenes of life in China that remind me of my visit). 

The second card represents the butterflies I watched.  It uses a different kind of background to show I can use a variety of techniques ( as well as fitting the design as the colours went). It was constructed by tearing up a picture I had done, but disliked, of bamboo and constructing a rough branch from the bits.  I placed it on a brusho washed paper and then put an number of 3D butterflies on it. I think the contrast of detailed fineliner drawing and rough torn paper is quite unusual but hopefully effective?

The third picture is rather Victorian ansd so forms a bridge between my Minor Project and my FMP. However, it's Oriental twist is the use of HK banknotes of similar colour to the butterflies as a backdrop to the 3D butterflies.  This represents HK perfectly- beautiful, exotic but all about money.....

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

And another..... Chinese Kung Hei Fat choi board

I used a lucky symbol, from an old worn Chinese textile to create a variation on a current trend spots for my first New Year board posted a few days ago.  This one uses the same symbol but as a minor player when combined with a very detailed drawing of my Bonsai tree. It is therefore 'oriental' as it combines both Chinese and Japanese elements, although much of Japanese culture is derived from the Chinese. Bonsai trees were always available in HK-which is why   Ialways have them in my house, especially at Chinese New Year.  I was really pleased with my drawing but love it with the gold embossing, which brings out the woody nature of the trunk and means the whole pattern can be felt by a blind/partially sighted person.

I have used gold and red papers and combined the design with coloured Oriental style cords and knots as well as replica ancient Chinese coins.The latter are not only decorative in their own right but also fit the concept as money is a very important part of Chinese New Year, with prosperity and good luck being required from the gods for the coming year. Blossom trees (see a previous post and Chinese/Japanese/Oriental design cherry blossom) are used as we use xmas trees, flowers are bought , feasts eaten with carp/gold fish and oranges being particularly auspicious, and gifts, particularly money, given, as well as new red  (lucky colour)outfits being worn.

It's a bit late for this year but ....Kung Hei Fat Choi for next year and all the new and wonderful things I hope it brings us all/we will have done by then, after our degrees have finished!!!!!:-)

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Now for the next one!

I did three different designs based on the pine twig ;the twig, a star/snowflake and a Christmas tree.  I liked my Christmas trees and the variation in black and cream for men.  However, felt they weren't quite up to submission as final designs.  However, I have loved developing the sprig as a star/snowflake in a similar way to the twigs shown in the last blog, as well as using some suface embellishment. I liked it so much I used two of this collection for my Photobook cover, front and back. Hope you like its final product board format?!!!

These papers and card use a bespoke random design of stars/snowflakes made up from six superimposed sprig images. I have then layered prints and papers by hand with silver leaf and an absolutely beautiful (my favourite) gossomer paper to give the impression of a snowstorm.  I have cut into the image for the card as I did for the scented embroidered pine sprig card.  I could embroider this too. I chose to embroider a different colourway just by way of contrast and releif from the usual winter white.  Blue, as I've said before is my favourite colour and I love this.  I used metallic thread, one strand.  Its not an easy thread to use and even worse on paper but I am pleased with the effect which is subtle but seems to me to convey a wonderful crisp idyllic winter day with a flurry of snow ! I also really like my simpler, cheaper and less time consuming embellished star paper

P.S. I noticed the blue sheet was skewed after this photo was taken and straightened it up!!!!:-)

PSS whilst chilling last night had teatime tv on and saw a programme I'd never seen before ( where Art work is selected for the RSA).  Such a coincidence a lovely young chap, who's work was selected turned out to be from Middlesbrough and had studied ceramics at CCAD!

Another final board.........that you may have seen before/one I did earlier!!!!

This is the Snetterton Pine twig, completed for hand in.  It was this design that gave my project a truly 'Oriental' rather than just a Chinese feel, being in my opinion a very Japanese influenced set of imagery. It uses  a pine sprig, picked up at Snetterton Dog'd trust (see earlier blo post!!!) at around the time of the awful Japanese earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disasters.  Pine is a symbol of fortitude and endurance qualities prized by the Japanese and displayed during this terrible time. The Japanese also prize ancient crafts and have continued to practice them.  This is represented by the hand made papers, corrugated paper and gold work/beading on both cards and paper.  By way of contrast the Japanese have not been bound by the past and have embraced modern technology. Their designers lead the world and are not afraid to use different techniques and materials, especially in fashion. This is represented by the acetate print card and the revit style eyelets. Lastly the Japanese have a very minimal style of interior design and the simple one image card and tote bag design try to emulate this.

This card also was designed with the partially sighted/blind in mind. It can be felt and smelt due to the gold thread and beads embroidered image, which I soaked in 'Seasonal Spice'.  As a result the card smells of pine and could be a Christmas card.

I hope you like the final products I produced for this design, as I feel it marked a turning point in my F.M.P. and upped my game , from the simple paper and 3d temple jar designs I started with..........wonder if you agree?!!!!

Monday, 16 May 2011

The final choice....

I've been so busy producing  I haven't posted any pictures of my final product boards.  Some of my earlier designs were demoted to development-blue an d white with yellow orchid and both cherry branches were some of the ones I decided weren't good enough as I felt my last designs were my best!  They were also closer to what I had imagined and much more 'me'  I kept China tea, having added a blue  and red colourway.........More to follow!
P.S. Anyone who lived in Hong Kong a couple of decades ago will recognise this china (Ellis'?!!!!!!! -Hi!!!:-) )

End of an era.........................

Handed in my last degree module this morning.........

This wasVERY fraught as hand in had changed to 10 from 10.30 and that extra half an hour mattered because,despite setting off at 8, I got stuck behind a road making machine from  a couple of miles on the Darlington side of Stockton.all round Stockton/Norton to the A19 THEN there was a major road delay outside of Hartlepool (so took a turn off after a stressed quarter of an hours crawl to spend ages going round Dalton Piercy/countryside basically LOST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Never mind made it in plenty of time in the end...thank goodness I had followed the time management advice I used to give my students!!!!

Now the house....doing the garden.....washing the car.....walking the dog and having FUN !!!!!!!!!!!! :-) :-) :-)

First shall catch up on last few days of lost sleep, then will put up pics of final boards and what I decided were my best designs.

Friday, 13 May 2011

Evaluation-how could it take so long to do so little....

Took all day to produce the dreaded module evaluation...So evaluation stopped creation again it has in the past during this module, unfortunately....roll on the end of the course so I never have to do another WRITTEN evaluation  ever again (I hope!!!)............................wooooooooooo.  Definitely the worst part of the course.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Lazy Daisy!!!!!

Another of my last design developments to be mounted first!!!

I have a small collection of old lacquerware (papier mache in the style of) boxes.  I was given the first by my Grandmother, many years ago and I loved the daisies, forget-me knots and butterfly printed on the lid. As I had obtained a few more piece of genuine old oriental lacquerware over the years , as part of my oriental interior decoration, I wanted to include a lacquer look card with a modern twist. Hopefully I have managed...........?!!!

The daisy is very like the originals but its leaves are mor feathery and so even more of a cutting out night mare.  I found it growing wild, i.e. a weed (!!!!), where I walk my dog  and could not believe my luck.  I drew it then, last Autumn and it's been waiting until now to be developed into what I imagined all those months ago.

I had printed the image onto a yellowish background which I cut away for these designs.  However, I really liked the yellow with black so I developed another set of designs to show this colourway. As lazy daisy was one of the easiest and so one of the first embroidery stitches I learnt as a youngster (such a mispent youth ;-)) and the image is like a daisy I decided to do a simple stitch with a simple image and simple plant (although  a favourite childrens hymn does say 'daisies are our silver.............that misspent youth again!!!)

'and the last shall come first'!!!

How true this is, have finally committed work to a board (although could still be deselected!) and have mounted the very last, simplest and most Chinese of my designs Kung hei Fat Choi.  It is perfect ...garish red and gold not me at all, my least favoutite but the very best choice for a Chinese New Year card/gift/party! It so reminds me of  my 'home' in Hong Kong,with firecrackers, joss sticks, lai see envelopes full of money and red and gold everywhere!!!!!

P.S. No mounts this time...much better

P.S.S. (clash of cultures here!) and wouldn't it be wonderful if  one day 'the meek shall inherit the earth' too............

Sunday, 8 May 2011

I shall let you all in on my secret......

I am not a tidy worker!!!!!!!!!!! As Coleen was brave enough to show the frenzied state of her amazing STUDIO I thought I would let you see my little kitchen workspace as it has been for most of the year and especially these last few weeks!!!!

As you can see every surface is covered!!!. I 'cook'....well open packets in a very small space next to my almost unused cooker!!! Well actually it is used but as another very useful suface as it is next to the plugs so I can emboss etc.. When things really heat up and a deadline is fast approaching...LIKE NOW ....SEVEN....DAYS AGHHHH....then every inch of floor is covered. ......and I look so organised at college!!!!!:-)

P.S. Another reason why I find working  at college hard!!!! I'd need half the studio and a dedicated printer and plug to do my card design work!

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Pink and BLUE cherry blossom!!!!

I managed to beg a piece of beautiful cherry blossom from my neighbours a few weeks ago and did a drawing ready for development.

Well , it was now or never!! Knowing I had this image I showed total 'flexibility and openess to new ideas' (well colourways) when I fell in love with some  pink papers in yet another very expensive visit to Hobbycraft on Wednesday (their profits and Staples are going to take a plunge when this modul,e finishes!!!). I just had to produce the ideas they gave me for my blossom branch.  So here they are, although probably to remain as development as they compliment my Minor Project and its vintage/pastel shades. However, after I had got all that girly pinkness out of my system I got back to the real world and ,using my Chinese carpets colours as an inspiration produced an oriental blossom card an paper in my FMP colourway of Blue and yellow/old gold.

It's amazing how different the same image looks in another colour combination.  this card matches my home (which has provided most of my inspiration and primary resources) PERFECTLY :-) I coloured it all by hand, a combination of watercolour pencil and emulsion paint-a very bespoke paper!

Apologies for the photos they don't seem to be as good as some of my others, not sure why......

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Work stops blogging!!!!

Have been so wrapped up in developing/experimenting/producing designs and outcomes that I have totally forgotten to record the processes for my blog...many apologies.  I am at that brilliant stage where ideas come thick and fast and I am so carried along on a huge raft of enthusiasm and mental concentration on the task in hand that I forget what time of day it is (even what the day itself is!)or when to eat!!!

I have been applying all sorts of techniques to my drawings and long in the planning but at last able to be used to make final products.

I am SOOOOOOOO looking forward to being able to do this all the time, when my degree finishes in a few weeks and I won't be continually held up/interupted by meetings, getting to and from college (all the boring but necessary stuff) etc.etc.

CREATE, CREATE, CREATE will be my mantra and its object will be what it has always been, since I started this blog.........................