16 April 2014

The Collage Week

Week 14 collage

Week 14 collage a

Week 14 collage b

13 April 2014

The Abstract Week

Week 13 was an abstract challenge and I loved it.
I’m also loving the new fine liner tips and bottles from AVG.  Perfect for lettering. 

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Week 13 a

Week 13 b

Week 13 001

And it was a week where the PVA bottle literally shattered in my hand.  Mmm, not so good :(  Thank goodness for having polythene to protect the tables.

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Now I’m away to write up the next Online Workshop - this one is a Tree of Life Goddess.
Join the mailing list if you want to be updated when it launches. 


6 April 2014

What you can achieve in a month



Has it really been a month since I last posted?

Guess it has.

So what has happened….. well let’s see;

1. DH has been made redundant and is at home digging more flower beds and altering all the possible combinations in my car every time he drives it.

2. As DH looses a job I gain one…. and realise that the ME is only lurking below the surface :(  Despite only working one day a week (and I am grateful for that one day) it’s a job on my feet all day and as I crawl into bed on the evening I know its going to take me three days to recover.  Darn it.  Writing this I’ve realised I’ve been working about 5 weeks and not doing much creative or blogging (or gardening or much at all apart from feeling dreadful).

3. My Dad turned 70!!!  Crikey, where did that time go?  

Birthday cake

4. My little boy is growing up FAST.  From looking too grown up in a new shirt and skinny jeans, to his cheek bones popping through, to “hanging out” in town with his mates to being 5 inches taller than mum.  All seems to have happened overnight.  I’m such a proud mummy :)

5. My greenhouse is bursting at the seams with seedlings.  Note to self; Do not sown so many at the same time in 2015.  Live ’n’ learn.

6. Whilst the south of England has been bathing itself in sunshine and warmth, Northumberland has been rocking its mean ’n’ moody image with dense fog, mist, clarts (that’s mud for the southerners), rain and freezing temperatures.  Today is the first warmish day we’ve had for…… nearly two weeks?

Black mIddens

View from Black Middens Bastle House.  " A bastle house is a type of fortified, or defensible, farmhouse peculiar to the Border country between England and Scotland.”  More information here

Tree mist

Moody looking tree.  

7. I’ve been invited to exhibit at Bellingham Heritage Centre 16th September to 31st October 2014.  I’m looking forward to this.

8. The Art Course.  Well the last few weeks have been stressful and rushed and I’m not very happy with my results.  It’s from feeling so washed out and “cotton wool headed”. But I have achieved!  Who hoo!  Here are the first semester paintings.  I’m learning a lot.


9. The RHS gardening course is on hold……back to studies soon.

10. Well, what else?  Some lovely times and walks with a much less stressed DH.

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Alnmouth Beach

2 March 2014

The Temple Dancer


This weeks mixed media is very different to previous offerings.

When I started I didn’t think I was going to like it but actually I love it, especially the red rose as an accent.
Who would have thought that tearing up bits of paper could be such fun?

You might be wondering where the textiles are?  
They will be back next week, sometimes you need to explore different media and different avenues to gain a deeper insight  into your own working practise.

Pushing the edges of my comfort zone is liberating, especially working in a  sketchbook and not on a canvas - these are not works for display or sale, just for me.
Now that makes a wonderful change.

Temple Girl

Temple Girl 3

Temple Girl 1


21 February 2014


Layers of acrylics, with hand cut stencils for Buddha and the circles.  
A wash of iridescent paint and a touch of gold wax.


Buddha 1

18 February 2014


More mixed media work for you to enjoy.  
These pictures are from my large A3 moleskin sketchbook, I’ve also painted another picture to use for the Wallington Exhibition sketchbook.

(OK, back to being mum and school holidays now….)

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Wk 6 d Poppies Helen Cowans

Wk 6 e Poppies Helen Cowans
Wk 6a Poppies Helen Cowans

Wk 6c Poppies Helen Cowans


14 February 2014

Running to Keep up

Is how it feels just now, the week before the school holidays is always busy. 
Yesterday we had a meeting of the Twyne stitching group in Rothbury and my lovely friends helped me to sort out where to go next on a piece of work

The fifth of six pieces is almost complete for the Wallington exhibition.
A dyed background of poppy red rayon. 

Poppy red

And drawings to machine stitch.
I’ve made lots of samples and now I know what to do next.
An idea also popped into my head (as they do) for a costume and I’m now really excited about it! 

Poppy red 1

But firstly I need to finish using this;

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And this.

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All the woodwork in the studio is in the middle of having a makeover.
Its chaos in there.

Blame the Interior Design Competition on TV.  (Though I really did NOT agree with the finalists!)

 Meanwhile the garden is looking all snowdroppy…..

Snowdrop garden 2


SNowdrop garden1

And my first ever Hellebore is flowering!



4 February 2014

More mixed media

This weeks artwork challenge was to create a tree and moon - I added in my Moon Gazing Hare as I’m using him a lot in my textile work atm.

Loving this freedom and learning process - and note to self - never draw a straight branch!!

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31 January 2014

Fire Red

Nothing better than choosing beads for a project (unless its choosing the threads).
These are my favourite parts of any project. 

Red beads 001

Grey light of janaury

I’ve had enough of this grey January light, doesn’t matter how many artificial lights you put on its still dreadful at this time of year.

Its really holding me back on photographing the workshop details.
Most frustrating.

Last week I tried out more rust dyeing, I set out the trays and my collection of rusty bits n bobs. 


10 minutes later the light had gone :( 

Dyeing 2

Here are muslin and scrims, washed and ready for wrapping around “stuff”.


And here they are all wrapped up and ready for the dye and oven.
Brrrrrr…… it was chilly outside, time to go inside.

The fabrics dyed beautifully and just as soon as the light comes back, you know, about APRIL... I’ll be able to take some pictures for you. 
Excuse the sarcasm about the weather.  
I wish I was working in the south of France. 

24 January 2014

Out of the comfort zone and into..... where the magic happens.

They say that if you move out of your comfort zone you might just make something wonderful happen.

We should all try it occasionally.

Comfort zone

I’ve embarked on a 48 week course of mixed media exploration.  More here. 

So far I’ve completed four weeks and I AM LOVING it!  It’s quite an investment, but I am SO glad I pressed that “buy” button.


48 weeks Course 001


48 weeks week 1

Week 1 involved an image transfer, working with stencils and “joint filler” (finding the equivalent in the UK is proving to be a challenge) and inks.

Week 2 web Helen Cowans

Week 2 was pop out vibrant!  I never follow the tutor exactly, never have.  So I have paisleys instead of daisies.

Week 3 Helen Cowans

Week 3.  My favourite so far.  LOVE it.

Swallows Helen Cowans 1

Week 4 I decided to draw a swallow rather than a figure.  
As a child I used to watch thousands of swallows come to roost in the trees, I can still remember standing out in the garden with my dad.

Week 3a helen cowans

 Some close ups for you.

Swallows Helen Cowans 2

Swallows Helen Cowans 3

21 January 2014

New projects

Two new projects to show you today.

Firstly the C14/15th peasant costume, it needs tweaking and altering a little (you can see I’ve cut down the left hand side overdress on the bust).
These historical costumes never quite fit as the dress form is a modern size 10-12 and not a form based on a boned and corseted female figure. 

Question is - would the underdress (kirtle) have laced up the front or back?  
If you had a servant you could wear back lacing clothes as you had someone to do the lacing.  
My pattern says back lacing.  I’m not convinced.  

This Northumberland peasant is unlikely to have had a servant.  
So are the kirtle and overdress both front lacing?  Can’t be for modesty…… maybe the kirtle is side lacing? 
Or maybe it was very loose and no lacing front or back or sides?  Just lacing the strap to the front.  Mmmm…. that seems more likely. 

Anyone like to offer any suggestions before I go any further? 

Peasant dress 1

Peasant dress 2

The next stage will be making up using the dyed scrim and muslin.  I will show you as much as I can without giving away my ideas.  
A difficult balance - one wants to blog….. but one can’t blog everything for security of ideas and artistic copyright.
Sad, but true. 

1 Fabric choice

And a splash of colour.  I’m writing the next online workshop you can see the first one on Mini-Towers HERE.  

There are just a few copies left at the special intro price.

Above are the fabrics I’ve chosen for the workshop and below is the original piece of work that I’ll be recreating - with some tweaks and changes.

(If you want to know when the workshop goes live join the mailing list)

Goddess summer tree 

20 January 2014

Monday morning.

Hello!  Welcome to a new week.

To get started here’s a photo I took last week on a walk into Wooler along the “back road”, I went over the river, up and down and up and down… you don’t notice in a car.
Unfortunately my walking boots rubbed a huge blister for some unknown reasons (they never have before) so walking has been out for a few days.

I took my Moleskine sketchbook with me and I did stop and draw - and yes, I got a comment from a dog-walker… I just said hello and smiled sweetly.
I was drawn to the colours and textures on the old buildings …...and the colours of the trees.

And the hills and the sky…..
Guess I just love Northumberland! 


16 January 2014


Gridded lines - the undercoat of a new sketchbook page I created today, I’m waiting on clear gesso to arrive before colouring.  

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Stitched dashed lines around a shisha mirror

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Circular dashed lines around a daisy motif.

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And from a friend of mine - Travel Lines.  Margaret has a wonderful blog and has produced a series of artworks based on her jounreys around London.

Her website is here where you can buy bags and sewing companions made in Travel Lines Fabric.  
Its a really creative way to use line and the “memory” of a journey across London.


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