Autumn and potatoes

The present is a strange mix at the moment. It is a really busy for me at work as the academic year begins but we have just taken our son to college so home is still and quiet. The garden is looking full and green, but toadstools are appearing and leaves are turning. Seasonally and personally it is a real time of transition. 

 I absolutely love Autumn, it is my favourite season. The colours of closing down are always breathtaking; the smell in the air and the first sight of warm breath in the chill delight me. From being a small child I have also loved trees so as you can tell, I’m in my element.

Taking back all the goodness from the leaves and storing it over Winter is playing out before us in the show we all hope for at this time of year. It struck me that I have been very active over Spring and Summer, taking in workshops and events and reading my head off! I have reached the point where I think I need to store all that and overwinter it. Even for someone like me that enjoys thinking and ideas, a winter is necessary just to take stock. I am beginning to appreciate how creativity goes through its seasons.

 As a result, Autumn finds me trying to let go mentally and enjoy a more relaxed pace pottering with colours that excite me, and playing with smaller possibilities. I let go of a big idea recently which was another lesson for me. Many people have to let go of pieces of work, or stashes of fabric etc. but with me it’s often my ideas that have to be dropped, even if I have got some way to resolving something – hopefully not before some of the good bits have been stored away. I think I have finally been able to understand that this is part of the natural creative cycle and what sketchbooks are for, but it has been one big battle for me. It amused me to remember the name for a page in a book – ‘folio’ or leaf. It’s ok to have possibilities and let most of them become leaf litter for another season.

‘From these myriad possibilities, a few thoughts develop as front-runners. These prized ideas are then well worth the energy it takes to further refine, develop and utilise…
Grasping appreciation for the tremendous value in exploring ideas and respecting the function of play is crucial in developing a creative approach to thinking. For artists, it should not only be permission, but a downright insistence on trying out all kinds of possibilities with abandon. It’s not just that it’s allowed. It’s more the case that it’s essential.’

                         ‘The Art of Making Mistakes’ Melanie Rothschild 

Well, from the sublime to the ridiculous then…

I have mostly been mucking about with potatoes recently. Remember potato printing at school and the smell of the powder paint? This humble and unassuming vegetable has has me in its grip regarding its potential for exploring pebbles. Nothing new, everybody’s done it, but I just wanted to have a go and get it out my system. A small group of us are starting out together and exploring ‘line’. I have decided to follow my ‘rock, paper, scissors’ theme and look at the rocks and pebbles that interested me over the summer. I’m really looking at more stylised line and have some large print blocks at the ready but this was a little aside, or as my friend likes to say, an artistic ‘amuse bouche’.


 Pretty simple prints – they work best on ordinary cartridge paper so the paint can soak in and produce a crisp image.  Sometimes you can get away with printing straight onto hard surfaces, but unless you are a precision-cutting potato printer extraordinaire you will need a small pad underneath to get the best results. 

After mucking about with colours I like, I tried using the colours in the pebbles themselves.  The cloth that I dyed with rusty beach objects would lend itself well to these.   


To be honest, I think my potato printing will become leaf litter, but it has infused me with the pebbleness of pebbles and helped me observe more.  This little piece is definitely informed by my spud work.  It keeps one down to earth.


Finally, I did actually complete something recently, using Abaca tissue and hand-dyed fabric and threads.  I had to work backwards and put the white line in afterwards when I realised that the negative space just wasn’t going to be bold enough.  If I could have kept the texture from the paper initially laid down, I would have liked that.  Stitch changes things.



I’m writing this on a weekend break.  Meet our neighbours.  This just tickled me.

Ta ta!


7 thoughts on “Autumn and potatoes

  1. Another inspiring and uplifting post Rachael, you write from the heart but with intelligence and your thought processes are a joy to read. I need less heartfelt and more thinking !
    Love the pebbles ,I hope they don’t get discarded but even if they do they will be lovingly placed x

  2. Great photos. The toadstools or are they mushrooms I never remember, are spectacular. My workbooks are full of ideas I thought at the time would lead to a big body of work but sometimes you have to close the book on them. One day revisiting It all comes together, and something will spark that creative dust. Pebbles are very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

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