So apparently these are the best nine images on my Instagram account for 2016. I guess that’s one way of looking back on the year.
To be perfectly honest though, I’m glad to see the back of 2016. There are so many things that can’t be shared via a pretty picture (or that we choose not to share!). What stands out for me when I look back is an overactive mind frustrated by an ‘under active’ body. Much of my focus this year went to dealing with severe adrenal fatigue and related complications. A major requirement was to relax more and reduce stress. For someone who has always thrived on being busy with many different things, this is challenging!
And yet there where still so many good things in this past year! God carried us all through another year. I am deeply thankful that He gave me a husband who encouraged me through the tough times and helped me to do the things that were good for me. He was patient through all the frustrating moments, as he experienced me fighting against the challenges placed on my path. I was also blessed with many very dear friends who helped to carry me through this year – putting up with my frustrations, providing listening ears and encouraging me along the way.
As far as my artmaking goes, highlights from this year include making botanically inspired art quilts with my daughter Hannah’s class, the annual Armadale Hills Arts Trail, participating in the Illustrating Children’s Books workshop, and creating a very special custom childhood textile portrait.
I have no idea what 2017 will hold. If God allows it, I plan to teach at the Quilt Symposium in Christchurch in October (more details will follow in a separate post. Other than that, I hope that there will be faith and health and quality family time and faith-building relationships and of course, drawing and stitching and creating in between it all! And I especially hope and pray that it can all be done to God’s glory!
Thank you so much to all of you who have shared in my journey here over the past year. The fact that you take the time to read, comment and enjoy means so much to me. May God bless you richly in 2017!
Seeing as most of my blog readers don't live locally and can't pop in to visit my studio during an event such as our arts trail
, I thought it might be fun to take you in a studio tour via my blog (it's been a while!).
Before we head upstairs, I'd show you my drawing table down here in the lounge. It's my little creative space in the midst of the family chaos, and perfect for fitting in some creativity (i.e. sketching) even when I don't have time or energy for sewing. The three youngest boys all love to sit on the couch next to me, or pull up a stool to watch me draw.
To the left of my drawing table are the steep winding stairs that take us up to the studio. At the top of the stairs to the left is our office.
Phil will tell you that it's not an office, it's the art storage room. It used to be the office, though, and I'm sticking with 'office'. It's also the guest room, so I refuse to call it the art storage room and would rather live in denial of the fact that my art making is now taking over many spaces in this house!
The office houses framed artworks, assorted supplies, and my beloved art and sewing books!
If we turn right at the top of the stairs, we find the studio. This is a large space which continues around the corner out of sight. It is a space that is shared with the kids (note the table tennis table hidden under those quilts, and the couch for occasional movie viewing). My design wall is there behind the couch, which is not ideal (I'm currently plotting a reorganisation of this space!).
The table tennis table is an ideal surface for spreading out bits of fabric that need to be painted!
Looking from the green couch towards the table tennis table, you can see that the studio has internal windows that open up to the downstairs level – I need to be able to hear what the children are up to down there while I'm working in the studio!
Continuing through the studio and around the corner past these stairs, we come to my sewing table. This is now right next to a window, and I'm loving the natural light I get there!
My wall of sewing cotton and shelves of hand-dyed fabric are always a welcome sight when I turn this corner.
There is always a work-in-progress on the sewing table!
One of the best things we've done here in the studio was to set the sewing machine down into the table so that I have a large flat surface for quilting at. This makes it so much easier to manoeuvre the quilt (and is far preferable to the commercial alternatives that I've seen).
Still further around the corner, on the left you can see my printing table. It is a hollow-core door wrapped in batting and fabric, and set on two trestles. It is ready for printing and painting whenever the urge strikes. When the fabric is well-covered with bits of screen printing from various projects, I replace it with new fabric, and use the marked fabric in new quilts.
I suppose nothing replaces a real life studio tour, but I hope you at least enjoyed the little glimpses! And yes, I am very blessed. When we built this house, a functional and family-friendly studio was a high priority. It has helped a lot with enabling the art-making to happen within and around family life, and I certainly don't take it for granted!
Follow me on Instagram for more regular glimpses into my creative spaces!
We are halfway through our second annual local arts trail
. It's been great to welcome people here to share my artwork, and where and how I work. A big thank you to everyone who has visited so far! (It's very motivating for us as artists, to see others enjoying our work!)
Our studios are open again from Thursday this week (10am – 4pm). Please note that while most studios are open on Sunday too, mine and Jack de Vos' studios will be closed then.
If you're thinking of visiting, you can download a PDF of the trail map here
, or pick up a copy from the Armadale Visitors Centre, or from one of the artists' studios.
For those of you who can't make it, I hope you enjoy the little glimpses in these photos!
With these three, the day usually starts earlier than the agreed 'rising time'. It used to bother me a lot, but I've learnt to just roll with it.
My school kids make their own sandwiches for lunch, and prepare their breakfast, while we wait for everyone to gather around the table. (Aaron and Hannah both practice two instruments before school, with breakfast occurring in between the two practice sessions. It calls for a fairly tight morning routine!)
Jason is currently rather particular about having his breakfast with pencils and a colouring book on the side (no, he doesn't have bread with sprinkles every morning, although it is pretty hard to resist that face!). With regard to the pencils, I may be partly to blame, as I usually spend a bit of time at my drawing desk before school drop off…
Today Marcus and Jason were out for the day, so I actually had the school hours to myself. Part of the morning was spent helping out with maths in Caleb's class, after which I indulged in a real treat – lunch all by myself at a local cafe!
Lunch was delicious, but by that time there weren't very many hours left for working through my various jobs for the day. The biggest task was attaching Velcro to several recently completed artworks so that they can be inserted into frames. This is always a bigger job than I imagine. First I made a whole bunch of Velcro thingies as shown above. Hand-stitching through Velcro is really difficult, so I sew Velcro onto pieces of felt, and stitch through the felt instead.
Sewing the Velcro was a chore. What I'd really hoped to do today was some more hand-quilting with those wonderfully coloured threads there. I think I'll finally get around to it once this post is completed!
And here is one of the quilts in it's frame. Job done.
While I stitched, Daniel kept me company with his home-reader. Usually we try to do his homework in the car on the way home from school, but we forgot today!
Now though, the house is finally quiet, and it's time to get on with that hand-quilting. Yes, that is one asleep on the couch – we'll move him later on!
I hope you had a good day too!
I post more regular little snippets of my art making journey over on Instagram. If you're on Instagram too, come and join me! Here are some posts from July.
“Another little person in the making. I now hand-piece all the faces instead of machine-stitching them. I'm much happier with the results, and the process is also less stressful.”
“A new blossom quilt… (There's a stack of completed childhood quilts waiting to be photographed and shared – after the school holidays – for now, I'm hiding out in the studio while the kids fend for themselves for lunch. “
“Hmmm… A little more psychedelic than I was intending, but I'll refrain from forming a final opinion until it's companion artworks are completed… #ilovestayathomedays “
“Hooray, the show can continue! I ran out of this fabric several weeks ago, and it's been holding up my quilt making progress. #happymailday #cottonlinenblend”
“The final seam.”
“The big school holiday wish from my boys was to go to the skate park. So here we are. Jason is munching on crackers, and I am sorting through my calendar/to-do lists etc, trying no to see all the near-accidents. I see outings like this as the perfect opportunity to regroup and rethink the projects I'm working on at home. #lifeasamother #lifeasanartist “
“Another day, another delivery. So many incoming business-related packages in recent weeks. So blessed to be allowed to undertake this creative adventure that is Ruth de Vos: Textile Art! This time, a set of 50 cards featuring images of my art making process. Thanks @origrami! These will be on display here for the @armadalehillsartstrail coming soon. #littlehelpers “
I'm on Instagram as @ruthdevostextileart. Come and say hello over there!
And stay tuned for some brand new artworks. All being well, I'll post them here tomorrow.
Did you follow the Tour de France? If you've read along here for a long time you probably know that the tour features in our annual calendar here at our house. Phil loves cycling. A lot. So we've developed a bit of a tradition where we take time out from our regular schedules to enjoy the tour for three weeks every winter. The timing here in Perth is quite perfect – from 8 or 9 pm until somewhere between 11pm and midnight. It's the only TV we watch all year. (No, not kidding). So we stay up far too late and enjoy a glass of red wine and some chocolate along with it. All together, it feels like a bit of a winter getway without actually getting away – and it doesn't use up any annual leave!
I should clarify: Phil watches the tour, while I spend the time sewing furiously. I love the fact that for three weeks I get to sew long into the night for nights on end. I always make sure I have plenty of art projects lined up to keep my busy. The TV is set up in the studio, along with a comfy couch, so I still catch a fair bit of the commentary too. Hurray for cosy studio nights!
This time I spent the three weeks piecing. So now at the end of the tour, I have a stack of pieced artworks waiting to be quilted.