sewing october

Wrap Skirt (detail) - Vintage Balinese Fabric - Melinda Blair Paterson - 2015
Wrap Skirt (detail) – Vintage Balinese Fabric – MBPblue design – 2015

Sewing?… Me?…. you’ve got to be kidding! This craft was not a priority of learning in my childhood home. It even became a family joke that if you ever happened to find my beautiful and glamorous mother behind a sewing machine, she was usually standing up, because she never planned to be there for very long.

Therefore, to my surprise I found myself sewing during the month of October. It started with a delightful purchase of two vintage cotton sarongs, found buried in the back of a fabric shop whilst on holiday in Ubud, Bali, earlier this year. I had the idea I would use them as skirts for summer. However when I got home I began to feel this wave of inspiration to make some simple summer garments for myself. No patterns, zips or button holes… just square zen shapes with some detail stitching.

I borrowed a sewing machine from a friend, bought a few cottons, heading tape, embroidery threads, a good pair of fabric scissors, picked up a selection of cotton sheets and vintage fabrics from the local op shop, and away I went!

Not knowing the correct process for sewing a garment or how to use a pattern, I just approached it like starting a painting. I’d lay out the fabric on the floor and see how it spoke to me. What could I feel or imagine this piece of fabric wanted to be? I cut out simple shapes, pinned them together and tried them on. Can I get this on and off over my head? Does it fit over my body contours comfortably? Does it hang ok? Oh blast I can’t be bothered with facing on necklines, why don’t I just leave it raw and add a bit of contrast stitching?

The first couple of garments were tabard dresses with low slung self-ties for belts. Next a piece of natural linen became a mini pinafore dress with white cotton curtain gathering tape for straps. Wow… I was amazed. Even managed to do french seams to keep everything looking very tidy, thank you very much!

A beautiful piece of navy chambrey denim became a reversable day/evening wrap skirt, leaving the narrow white selfridge as detail on the front panel. At this point I did teach myself how to make a handstitched button hole, mastering blanket stitch via the wonders of You Tube. Thank God everyone wants to share their DIY skills via home video these days.

And on it went… a straight skirt with self-tie in a crazy vintage fabric, a super wide leg pant from old cotton sheets with paper bag top when tied with pale pink heading tape. (A bit like the old fisherman pants.) My out-of-date coral maxi silk skirt (hardly worn) was reconfigured into a short strappy summer evening dress with detail stitching at the back to gather it into correct width.

It was at this point I decided to become brave and make a patttern from an old wrap skirt. Whallah! Two summer A-line wrap skirts from the Balinese vintage cotton fabric – one long, one short. OMG I was becoming a dressmaking machine!… and having so much fun. 🙂

I couldn’t wait to get up out of bed in the morning and make another garment. I wasn’t interested in catch up tv or cuppas with the girlfriends. I was flying on the joy of unabandoned creativity, not having a clue what I was doing and loving, relishing, delighting in every minute of it.

The pieces of fabric began to run out so the garments were adjusted in size and shape to what was available, hence a couple of crop tops were next, followed buy another wrap skirt in the first piece of new fabric – calico – from Spotlight. To this I added a crazy Carmen Miranda-like applique, cut out from the last piece of vintage fabric.

And that was it… four weeks… twelve garments… all ready to greet the hot humid 2015 summer of sub-tropical Byron Bay.

Absolutely Fabulous darling!

Mx

Here are some of my favorites from the MBPblue Shy Summer Collection 🙂

Tabard Dress - Reclaimed Fabric - Melinda Blair Paterson - 2015
Tabard Dress – Reclaimed Fabric – MBPblue design – 2015
Tabard Dress (detail) - Reclaimed Fabric - Melinda Blair Paterson - 2015
Tabard Dress (detail) – Reclaimed Fabric – MBPblue design – 2015
Cropped Top - Vintage Fabric - Melinda Blair Paterson - 2015
Cropped Top – Vintage Fabric – MBPblue design – 2015
Cropped Top (detail) - Vintage Fabric - Melinda Blair Paterson - 2015
Cropped Top (detail) – Vintage Fabric – MBPblue design – 2015
Wrap Skirt - Calico and Vintage Fabric - Melinda Blair Paterson - 2015
Wrap Skirt – Calico and Vintage Fabric – MBPblue design – 2015
Wrap Skirt (detail) - Calico and Vintage Fabric - Melinda Blair Paterson - 2015
Wrap Skirt (detail) – Calico and Vintage Fabric – MBPblue design – 2015

 

indigo september

Indigo Lotus Leaf - Monoprint - Melinda Blair Paterson - 2015
Indigo Lotus Leaf – Monoprint – Melinda Blair Paterson – 2015

Something changed in my art practice in September. I put down the paint brush and started playing with a cake (block) of natural indigo dye I had brought back from Bali in 2013. It had sat on a shelf in my studio haunting and mocking me for two years… “when are you going to stop being afraid and play with me!”

So after the clear out and burning of June, the pens and pencils and upscaling of July, and the cabin bound flu of August; Spring arrived and the indigo came down off the shelf.

I had no idea what to do with it. I read the indigo dyeing instructions that the kind Balinese man, Wyang, had given me needing paw paw pulp or banana skins for the dye vat and thought: “too hard!”.  So I meekly shaved a bit of powder off the hard cake and mixed it with a bit of water. Grabbing a few leaves from the garden I began the simplest printing technique I know – monoprinting.

Within a matter of moments I had produced a string of little prints quietly drying on the studio floor and felt the childlike play spring to life. Ahhhhh…. that’s the feeling I remember. The lost in the moment, ‘no me’ joy of just creating, having no idea of where it goes or how it ends up… the creative expressing being all there is.

Within a few days I was at an artist friend’s studio gratefully using her printing press, experimenting with larger pieces of paper and lotus leaves. Oh God… this was even MORE fun!

September finished off with exploring the addition of colour, pens and pencils, and working back into the monoprints.

Here are a few of my favourites from this little forage into the simplicity of leaves, monoprinting and indigo, which I’m happy to say I no longer fear. 🙂

Mx

Australian camphor and gum leaves - indigo monoprints - Melinda Blair Paterson - 2015
Camphor and Gum leaves –  Indigo Monoprints – Melinda Blair Paterson – 2015
Seaweed Indigo - Monoprint - Melinda Blair Paterson - 2015
Seaweed Indigo – Monoprint – Melinda Blair Paterson – 2015
Indigo Pen Pencil Leaf - Monoprint - Melinda Blair Paterson - 2015
Indigo Pen Pencil Leaf – Monoprint – Melinda Blair Paterson – 2015

 

up scaling

  IMG_7964-0untitled   66cms diameter   pen on paper   2015   melinda blair paterson

At the beginning of this year, during the Australian summer, I found it too hot in the studio for my art practice, located in a shipping container on the property where I live. So I switched to a cooler location, ie my desk in the cabin, and began creating spontaneous small pen and pencil drawings, whilst listening to Rupert Spira’s meditations ‘The Light of Pure Knowing’. The intention was to let the hand have it’s way, put the mind on pause, and see what comes!

Some of these drawings I have shared with you on this blog over the past six months. Each one bringing forth a sense of delight and love for me in the making, and a feeling of returning to, or reconnecting with, a more intuitive process in my artistic expression. More recently I’ve noticed the ‘almost daily’ practice began to disappear. The pull to the desk dissolved. So I waited.

With the summer months rolling over into winter,  I knew the weather conditions for studio practice were returning. However, another factor I must take into account is rain. You see if it’s raining I can’t go into the studio either, as the only access to light is by opening the container doors wide open. It provides a wonderful vista down the valley but not ideal for trying to keep artwork moisture or mould free. So with a week of wet weather approaching I decided to bring an easel, pin board, a large piece of paper into my tiny cabin, and ‘up scale’ my drawing practice.

Yes, it was a bit squeezy at home, but when you live on your own, it’s the kind of thing you can do. It’s also one of my favourite things… to be tucked up in the cabin creating when it’s wild, wet and windy outside. Bliss!

The above image is the piece created in that week. A drawing of spontaneous mark-making influenced by, and drawn from, the series of smaller drawings created over the past six months. It remains untitled and without colour, as I am unsure about either at this time. So I wait.

Mx

a circular nature

allow your mind to go to the forms, but allow your heart to remain in pure knowing- Melinda Blair Paterson

allow your mind to go to the forms, but allow your heart to remain in pure knowing – pen and pencil – 10mar15

we may go out into the world, but we never leave ourself

we may go out into the world, but we never leave ourself – pen and pencil – 18mar15

You, are that which is Aware of experience - Melinda Blair Paterson

You, are that which is Aware of experience – pen and pencil – 19mar15

the thought that was present two seconds ago has now disappeared - Melinda Blair Paterson

the thought that was present two seconds ago has now disappeared – pen and pencil – 27mar15

nothing prior, nothing after it, just vast spaces either side - Melinda Blair Paterson

nothing prior, nothing after it, just vast spaces either side – pen and pencil – 28mar15

getting back in the game - Melinda Blair Paterson

getting back in the game – pen and pencil – 07apr15

All drawing by Melinda Blair Paterson
Titles from words by Rupert Spira (except ‘getting back in the game’)

These recent works from my ‘contemplative doodling’ series seem to offer a theme of a circular nature. Mostly created whilst listening to Rupert Spira’s meditations, The light of pure knowing, and more recently my own internal musings. The life of an artist, especially for one with a strong intuitive pulse or inner compass as experienced here, is a constant source of wonder. Why is it I can just let the hand and pen have its way, or trust whatever chooses the next colour pencil; and who knows when the work is done? It’s all a mystery to the ‘me’ and a joy to the unknown. 🙂 Mx

contemplative doodling

Then I watch whilst the hand, pen, pencil, just does its thing. An effortless joy to experience.

IMG_7034-0

I live in a small space, a cabin to be exact, and my art studio is an equally small space, a shipping container. It encourages a zen-like approach to possessions, which I love.
During the summer months it is too hot to work in the studio, so this week I surrendered the small bunk bed in the cabin, which was becoming a dumping ground, and put in a desk. This way I can still continue my creative practice even on days when it is too hot, wet or cold to go down to the studio.
Whilst setting up the desk I found some old drawings from my post art school days of 2011 and felt inspired to play. It feels a bit like doodling and yet offers an element of the contemplative approach, especially whilst listening to Luke Howard. I find his music such a gift for letting go of thought and shifting gear into the heart. Then I watch whilst the hand, pen, pencil, just does its thing. An effortless joy to experience. Mx

IMG_7032
drawings from 2011

IMG_7033
the hope of orange – pen and pencil – 2015 – melinda blair paterson

IMG_7034
finding myself clinging to strange places – pen and pencil – 2015 – melinda blair paterson

IMG_7039
love’s structure – pen and pencil – 2015 – melinda blair paterson

IMG_7031
the hub 🙂

studio awareness

It’s the new year and the mind would say… time to get back into the studio!

art studio detail by melinda blair paterson

Yet there is no movement to do so, there is no interest to engage with canvas and paint, and it’s certainly too hot here (30 degrees most days in Byron Bay) to be in a container painting. Well that’s what the mind would have me believe.

You see I’ve learnt to let the mind’s thoughts on matters like ‘getting into the studio’ pass me by like clouds. I’ve learnt to sit and wait until the movement comes from the being or the body. It’s more like the experience of just finding myself in the studio painting and then realising… “oh I’m in the studio painting”. Somewhat like an out-of-body experience but it’s not. It’s just that the movement to create comes of it’s own accord, it’s own volition, and the ‘me-Melinda’ is just along for the ride. I love that.

It seems a bit uncomfortable at times, especially to someone who loves to plan her day, week, month, year, LIFE etc. Just ask my partner. His favourite saying when I start trying to plan is… “let’s just see how we feel.” It’s become a bit of a joke between us and I’m finding I’m learning to let go more and more in the moment. In fact I feel 2015 may just be the year of ‘NOT PLANNING’ or knowing what’s next for the ‘me-Melinda’. (God I hope that doesn’t sound like a plan!)

What a gift. The relief and resting this creates in my awareness feels fathomless. To realise I don’t have to know, to plan, to structure or to effort my artistic life is just so wonderful.

So in this moment I don’t know when I will step back into the studio, pick up the brush and pot to paint, create a little scribble on the beauty of a fresh new white canvas, play with colour until my heart squeals with delight, or test out some ideas that have been floating around for months in the back-end. It’s all a mystery and I’m just resting in awareness til the moment arrives.

Bliss Mx