Whilst at home during Lockdown Deirdre not only finished the designs for her 2021 rug collection but also found time to create an artwork for her home.
Here Deirdre describes, in her own words, the process of creating this painting, inspired by one of her carpets and shares her photographs of the painting as it developed.
‘There is a shallow alcove in the stone wall of our orangery which has been crying out for a mural for some time. When lockdown happened, and I knew I had a stretch of uninterrupted time, I decided that I could use this time for painting one on a pre-prepared board in my studio.
One of my earlier carpet designs called WINDSWEPT (pictured above) depicted leaves being swept from one end to the other. I decided that falling leaves as if outside in a breeze would be simple and would require no background setting except sky. I could aim at painting just a couple of leaves a day and hopefully finish it before the lockdown ended.
It is especially appropriate too as the leaves I used in both the carpet and painting all come from my garden so the panel would be perfect for its new home.
The panel was really tall so I had steps to reach to top and climb up and down all the time to reach my materials – good for fitness! I painted the whole background as a graded sky from a deep cobalt blue fading to a whiter sky at the bottom.
I had kept all the sketches from my original research and collected many more leaves too. It wasn’t too difficult painting them against the sky as they really seem to float but I also painted a step at the bottom to tie with a real step in the orangery, and these leaves each had to have a shadow to anchor them to the ground which took quite a bit longer.
They also had to look a bit dry as if aged, and as if they were lying down instead of floating which added a bit more of a challenge. It will be finished soon I hope, and after varnishing with matt varnish, installed in its home amongst a variety of tropical plants.’
Last summer I found myself mesmerised by everything I could see through glass and water, particularly on holiday where the sun made everything glitter.
I decided to try to make my designs seem ‘glassy’ even though I was working in wool! If I failed, I might create something unexpected – I love the challenge of the unknown result and you only discover if you explore.
I started with two little rectangular vases of different colour, photographed them and analysed the colours they created when they were overlapping each other.
I designed two simple geometric shapes representing the cubes and inserted the exact colours from my palette of wool poms to represent where the two colours overlapped which gives the illusion of looking through glass.
I finished the piece with wide silken borders to add the shine and glitter of glass. I was hugely surprised and excited at the finished carpet which really looked glassy and also very three dimensional. This encouraged me to explore several different ideas about glass.
The next attempt led on from this overlapping idea. I didn’t even need real glass, I just created four shapes, selected four colours and overlapped them creating the colour I imagined would occur if they existed.
What made this carpet successful was the grading I decided to do within each piece. I had to select about 8 grades of each colour to grade from dark to light, and from the outside in, to give the illusion of seeing through the glass.
This was the first time that we had tried to grade within a random shape which was very difficult to specify for our craftspeople and a new challenge for them too. Again they succeeded and have given me a new skill to work with in the future.
TRANSPARENT was designed from an existing vase with various shapes and colours in the glass.
I created my own shapes and colours and again looked for the overlapping colours that I knew would occur. Because the inspiration was a vase I added some silk highlights to represent light against the outside of the vase. Each of these highlights was a paler colour of the colour underneath.
I have a very simple water flask and thought of two different things that I could do with it. One was to paint exactly what I could see inside through the water which were random abstract shapes and colours which looked distorted and bent through the water and also to add highlights again of paler colours and in silk as seen on the outside of the vase.
The second idea was to paint what was behind the vase ie. boat rigging and blue cushions with reflections on a shiny table and then paint the distortions of these within the flask without drawing the outline of the flask. I knew from exercises in my student days that without trying, the flask would slowly appear and it did, and it does in the carpet, although I made the colours within the flask a tiny bit paler to help it reveal itself.
I had used a great deal of colour in the collection so finally decided to do some monochromatic grading with a path of light and two simple glassy bars in silk that you feel you can see through as they pass over the greys and light between.
This was an accidental idea caused by placing a plain glass bowl, which had a glass ball as its base, on top of a patterned glass plate. This created a magnification which I decided to represent in silk with just a tiny lightening of the colour inside the area.
On a visit to the Amalfi Cathedral and in one of the small rooms at the back behind all the magnificence of marble and gold was a small plain window high up with beautiful, simple pale colours. The light behind it made it impossible to photograph but the colours stayed in my mind and I thought that in silk, it might make a lovely wall hanging for a windowless room.