How do you start making a new work of art?

Have you ever thought about where an artist gets their inspiration from? Our blogger this week comes from Kate Findlay who runs Arts Findlay, a local artist who tells us her favourite places to gain inspiration from.

My inspiration comes from the countryside around me; the hills and fields, trees and streams and wildlife too. I love going for walks, and sometimes spot things from car journeys too. A journey I have always loved is the road from Wantage to Streatley as it is so picturesque. The winding road over the hills near Starveall Farm is the bit that has particularly caught my eye this year and a recent storm gave me added drama for an exciting composition. 

I take photographs and do thumbnail sketches, then back in the studio I draw up my composition actual size. Then comes the fun part of raiding my fabric stash to find just the right colours and textures. I dyed a piece of fabric specially for the stormy sky in a technique known as tray dyeing. Cotton fabric is soaked in soda, then scrunched up tightly and placed in a shallow tray. Dye is then poured onto the fabric or into the base of the tray depending on the effects wanted, but of course, you never know quite what you are going to get until you have washed out the fabric and ironed it.

Having got some lovely stormy greys I wanted a bright acid yellow to contrast with this – I love those fleeting moments of brilliant sunshine you get with a dark storm sky behind. To me it is one of the most spectacular effects we get in our British weather.

I cut precise templates of the shapes I have drawn, and pin these onto my chosen material.I collage these fabric shapes onto a felt backing, which gives stability, and then use free motion stitching to hold everything in place and add detail too – the stitching is great for field lines or foreground plants. Finally, the work has to be ironed then laced onto a board to keep the work completely taut and smooth before it is framed and glazed.

Arts Findlay will be showcasing her fantastic work in the Craft Marquee over the Show weekend.



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