Silver Crow Project

Uni Year Three - Round Up

(TL;DR Chronic back pain, lockdown, dealing with working from home. Happy with my mark but have deferred my MA until next year to focus on my health.)

Hello everyone - this is a bit of a belated post recapping the final year of my uni course in BA(Hons) Illustration & Animation though the University of Creative Arts - Canterbury.

Where to begin. For new readers of my blog I was a mature student now aged 43. I started this process aged 38 by doing my Maths GCSE (least said about that the better) with Kent Adult Education then at 39 progressed to the Art & Design Access to Education with the UCA but at their Rochester campus. This is a kind of intensive one year program where you do various modules combining Fine Art, Fashion & Textiles, 3D, Visual Communication and Photography. You do it alongside and in the same class as the people doing the longer Foundation course. Then I deferred my uni place for a year while Mister Bear was still half days at nursery and did my English GCSE as an evening class.

Finally at 40 I started the degree I had wanted to do ever since I had been at school the first time round. I left aged 15 because my art teacher said I would never get into a college or uni and so I thought - why stay? It was all I wanted to do and so I left to do a YTS (remember those?) in retail. And that combined with some pretty crappy and mentally abusive relationships - destroyed my confidence in art. I didn't return till my 30's thanks to my family and friends. So much support especially from Craig and my kids telling me to pursue my dreams. 

In the cyanotype room with my friend Andi (Yr2) 

I have recapped years one and two in previous posts - year two was my best by far. My tutor really 'got' me. He made me realise that something I thought was my weakness - my inability to settle on one medium, so easily distracted by new techniques - was actually my strength and makes me versatile. I discovered that all my art, even before uni was tied to  life, death and nature. Which I know comes as no surprise to many but it really did to me. I was encouraged to pursue my growing interest in textiles and print and I just generally feel like I flourished.

Year three. Well. I struggled. I was born with a chronic condition called Scheuermanns Disease. It affects my spine. During all the years at uni - I have progressively been putting on weight - around 6 stone in total. Slowly, slowly. It has played havoc, as you can imagine, on my spine. Within a few weeks of starting year three I was in debilitating pain. It got to the point I either wasn't going in or if I was I was strapped up in a back support and must have looked a right miserable sod. My two new tutors would tell me to get other students to help me in the print room. One in particular wanted me to go large with my work. I never did ask other students - third year is hard enough without someone coming asking to take your time away from your own work. Plus going large, covering entire walls, was not where I wanted or was able to go at that point. Maybe one day but not now. I want my work to be accessible to people more than galleries. I just tried to adapt what I was doing and ended up back with my love of monoprint and cyanotype because it was low impact but could still be used within textiles. My dissertation tutor was brilliant and so patient when I couldn't make it in to tutorials because just the mere action of getting two trains to campus was agony at times.

Then Covid19. 

I was lucky. I had already settled on cyanotype and eco printing as my project. All of which I could do at home. Many weren't so lucky and I feel so sorry for the people that relied on the specialist equipment and software that is at the university. I just adapted my project to be about documenting my surroundings, my tiny back garden and the weather rather than what I had planned to do - documenting my local area - the beach and fields etc. I wanted to show that site specific art needn't be art made to stay on a certain site but could be made OF the site and taken away - time capsules documenting seasons and surroundings.

Carmen Wing - Nature Cyanotypes on Fabric & Paper

I incorporated Silver Crow - I have wanted to do a proper project on her for years. So I did many, many, many, many prints. I even managed to develop a cyanotype by the light of the pink supermoon. I was so chuffed at that one. Talk about documenting an event. I incorporated some of the smaller pieces into a textile doll. Which I am still very proud of. All the textiles work - sewing, learning about materials, I have taught myself. Even the cyanotype - apart from one short workshop. I have taught myself - from books, from youtube, experimenting - oh how I love experimenting. I have even now taught a cyanotype workshop myself. With my friend. Can you believe it? Me! I loved it - was pooping my pants but I loved it and am so appreciative of the local art group for inviting me to do it.

Carmen Wing: Cyanotype Over Lino Print/ Wet Cyanotype and Rust on Fabric

So yes - I was super proud of my final piece. The tutors not so much. Oh well - can't please everyone. But I didn't include all my prints in my submission so I don't think they realised they were also part of my hand-in. My own fault... in-between being in pain, on high meds and just not thinking - I only submitted the doll. Thinking about it now - I should have hung them all up as I would have done in the final show had we been able to do it and posed the doll in front. Might have even been the large scale they wanted originally.
Carmen Wing: Cyanotype Textile Art Doll
Complete with wonky spine, like me ;)

I have to give kudos to the uni for the speed in which they got the course online when lockdown started. My daughter who is at the college next door didn't even have one zoom call for the entire lockdown. We still had online tutorials very regularly. That was impressive.

So - I came out of the uni with a 2.1 degree - thank goodness for acing it in year two as that helped me a lot I think. I applied for a Masters in Printed Textiles for Fashion & Interiors within the same uni at the Rochester campus. One of the tutors had come over before lockdown for a screen print on fabric workshop and she had suggested I go over, look at the course and visit the classrooms. It looked amazing - and I realised I had inadvertently used the course leader as one of my artist research subjects for my final project! Ha. I got accepted - they even seemed to like Silver Crow doll and called my print work painterly! YUS! Validation for my baby. I got funding and just waited for my back to get better.

And waited. 

And waited.

And it didn't. 

So now - I have deferred my place until at least next year. I am going to work on my weight and my fitness levels and my art in the hope I will get to do that course... and maybe, just maybe we will have learnt how to deal with Covid by then too.

In a way I wish I had done Fashion & Textiles as my degree. A friend from the Access kept telling me I should. It was the word Fashion. It put me off. I live in jeans and slobby jumpers. I was intimidated - not going to lie. I know now I could have focussed on sculpture and interiors but it also took this degree to make me realise that is the way I want to go. So I will always be grateful. If I had done another course I never would have met the people I did on this one and I have made some amazing friends and met some seriously talented people. I really do miss it.

Thank you for reading.

Carmen Wing: Cyanotype Textile Art Doll

Live Brief - The OffCut Project


The Print Block put out a call for artists to create a piece of art in no more than two colours showcasing a response to the current situation. The art would then be turned into an edition of 14 prints. One to remain with the artist, one to remain with the studio and two to be distributed amongst other participating artists. The remaining prints will be sold for £30 a print. £10 goes to the artist, £10 to the studio towards costs and at least £10 to food banks via the Trussell Trust.



My response to the subject of what's happening in the world was to incorporate nature and cyanotype. I have been spending a lot of time in my tiny garden either sat with a cup of tea listening to the birds or doing lots and lots of cyanotype prints, it calms me a lot while the house is so noisy. So it seemed only natural that that would be my reaction.

I did a couple of (gloved) hand prints and used the weeds from my pots and between the paving slabs to create these two prints.

whoopidooings: Carmen Wing Cyanotype Handprints

whoopidooings: Carmen Wing Cyanotype Handprints

After cleaning them both up in photoshop I decided the second one showcased what I was thinking the most so I sent it off to Suki at The Print Block
whoopidooings: Carmen Wing Cyanotype Hand Print
Cleaned up in photoshop

This week the screenprinted version of my cyanotype arrived for me to sign and number. I couldn't believe it, it was so lovely. You can even see the mesh print from the screen. It's on such lovely paper too. I've now sent them back and they can be purchased through the shop here along with lots of other artists from up and down the country. A great chance to get your hands on some original artwork for a really reasonable price and support both artists and food banks too.

whoopidooings: Carmen Wing & The Print Block Screenprinted Cyanotype Hand Print
Signing the editions

whoopidooings: Carmen Wing & The Print Block Screenprinted Cyanotype Hand Print

I feel really privileged to have taken part in such a great initiative and I thank Suki and the Print Block for the chance to be involved. It's also got me thinking as I never would have thought to try and screenprint a cyanotype! Hmm.

I hope you are all safe and happy. I will be blogging more soon including a year three end of uni round up.

What’s On Your Workdesk? ALL The Things!

It's been so hot here that I haven't ventured out to the stu-studio  much other than to use it as a dumping ground/cupboard. A slightly cooler day meant I had no excuse so I did a little tidying. This shelf unit has been done. (Really!) ... The rest of it.... wellllll....Carmen Wing: Whoopidooings: What's on your Workdesk Wednesday. Studio space.
Let's just say we are at the "it had to get worse before it gets better" phase.  That table under the window is hopefully going to be clear apart from my X-Cut Xpress which I use as a printing press.

That second table by the green shelves is not even my table - it's where my friend Andi works when she is over but I have kind of over spilled onto that too. Thank goodness she has been a bit busy and I have some time before she is back and using it.  
Carmen Wing: Whoopidooings: What's on your Workdesk Wednesday. Studio space.
Yikes. I need to get organised. I am working on my Summer Project which is research towards my dissertation (don't ask, I'm still figuring it out!) and it's made me realise I want to lean more towards print and textiles so I kind of need some space to do that. But I really realllllly hate tidying. Ugh. 
Carmen Wing: Whoopidooings: What's on your Workdesk Wednesday. Studio space.

If you'd like to see more creative desks and work spaces head on over to Stamping Ground for a full list of places to stop off at. 

Thanks for stopping by my messy place today.

Uni Year Two Round Up

(TL;DR: Year two was a blast, learnt so much about my work, influences, inspirations. Loving print, textiles and the uni in general. Don't want to leave! Waaah!)


Hello everyone, excuse me whilst I once again dust the cobwebs off of my little blog.

I am in my Summer break after finishing year 2 of my uni course. Illustration & Animation - just in case you are a new reader - though I laugh even typing the animation bit. I consider it an Illustration degree personally, I try with the animation but my God - the software and I just really don't get on. It was the closest course to home at my time of looking. Had I been young, childless and carefree I would have looked further afield. But you know what? I love my uni, the facilities available and I love my experience so far, having spoken to other people at other uni's I'm so glad that I ended up where I am.

I get asked what I'm doing a lot and when I say illustration people instantly ask if I'm illustrating books. I don't always know how to answer as I don't like the art labels and consider myself, like a lot of us, cross over into all the sectors. A pinch of Fine Art, a dash of  Illustration and Design - put it all together and you have a really freeing experimental approach to this brilliant past time... if I have to call myself anything then I prefer "Maker."

So, am I doing books? No. Not yet - maybe one day in the distant future that would be brilliant but right now it's not on my radar. This whole experience has been quite the revelation to me. I thought I was going to take advantage of the uni's facilities, get a better skill set, hopefully learn a good work ethic to start selling at the end. Having started to have babies very young I've never had a career and it's something I'm jealous of in other people of my age if I'm honest. The bubbies are growing fast and starting out on their own paths and I also wanted to show them that it's never to late. I've wanted to do this since I was at school myself.
Carmen Wing: Whoopidooings Blog: Hand Cut Paper Cut Graveyard Shadow Box (with added zombie!)
Hand Cut (Oh, the blisters!) Paper Graveyard Shadow Box
It's not been like I thought it would be at all - for a start, I thought I would flit from project to project doing something different each time. In fact - apart from a blip in year one when I had a kind of break down I have actually been on more or less the same subjects. I have really focused in on what my inspirations are. Death and nature and all the sub topics that they throw up - I know that wont be a surprise to a lot of you but strangely it was to me. Nearly every project I've done in the past can be traced back to those origins. Once I realised that then all my projects just seemed to feed into each other. Last year I was really interested in alternative burial methods, starting off because of over crowding but then looking at more natural, eco-friendly options. Then the Summer Project last year  and the first unit of this year had us looking at sustainability which made me realise how my own practice was quite sustainable already but could be more so. Also - so many of my favourite artists reuse, recycle and use sustainable methods which again, I didn't realise until I started putting them together in a journal. Must be some sub-conscious thing.

I held onto this theme through the rest of the year, I think it has had the biggest influence on my thinking. That and my tutor making me realise that you don't have to get really skilled in that one thing. That it is perfectly OK for your style to be experimental in ALL the things. Once I realised that it kind of  felt like I had finally found what I do - even though so many of you had told me over the years that you liked to see me chucking stuff at the paper it didn't click that that was something you could be known for if that makes sense?

This year I have been really drawn into eco-printing and cyanotype and am loving textiles. I have been investigating my local area and looking at using where I live as inspiration, using the land as my medium or canvas and just generally digging in to what interests me. I have become very aware that I need alone time for my own mental health and that being in nature for that alone time is the best medicine. And also the best food for inspiration. Really - how could you know you would get all this from an art course? I certainly didn't. I am starting to have a self confidence in myself and I am starting to not listen to that monster on my shoulder that likes to compare what I do with everyone else on my course (and find me wanting.) I am learning to flick that monster away more and more - we are all there for different reasons, at different stages in our life and we all have different aims, dreams and ambitions. I'm starting to see mine could be a reality now if I just keep working hard.
Carmen Wing: Whoopidooings Blog: Hand ewing, Free Motion Embroidery on Eco Print & Tea Toned Cyanotype.
Hand Sewing & Free Motion Embroidery on Eco Print & Tea Toned Cyanotype
Revelations so far from this Summer? I love print. So although I am still going to be experimental it's in that area that I am going to focus in on - all the different ways to print and use on textiles and to make soft sculptures... Oh and I've bought a Dremel! Wood carving baby! Oh YEAH!
Carmen Wing: Whoopidooings blog: Wood Carving & Pyrography Monster - Blue October Lyrics
Carved wood (On big uni saw) and pyrography monster - Blue October lyrics
I've said this before but I mean it this time - I'm getting organised and I'm going to blog more - time blocking is my friend. Hopefully, year three will see me update more regularly... dissertation here I come!

I would just like to say, as a mature student, if this is something you've considered doing... I wholeheartedly recommend it. I love my course, I love my uni - use the tutors, use the facilities. Not going to lie - The workload is HARD, there is a huge push for you to "take charge of your own education" which, once you realise what that means is actually quite freeing. I've been teaching myself the textiles, eco-printing and cyanotype (after an initial cyanotype workshop last year) but you are encouraged to use the tutors, technicians and facilities - go in on the non studio days, attend talks and workshops - just really make the most of what you are paying for. I swear my two tutors must have got so sick of my constant emails and the photography technician has been an absolute star for what must seem like really obvious questions. One of the TA's even gave up her own time to give myself and a couple of others a rundown on a workshop we'd missed due to train delays. (Sinead - UCA needs to hire you full time!)  But they do it and it's all part of you working out what information you need for what you want to get out of the course.

The house will just go to pot even more than it already did. You will disappear off the radar to nearly everybody. BUT... Surround yourself in support. I really, really couldn't have done this without my family first and foremost - Craig and Phoebe in particular for working out between them when they could cover me so I could stay for full days this year and that has made such a difference - my grades went up from C's last year to A's this year. My lovely friends who, when I come online and whinge what a fraud I am for being there have given me the virtual slaps I've needed to get back on track. I have never been so stressed, tired, inspired and happy all at the same time. I'm so, so sad that this is going to be my final year. I've made good friends and learnt so much - not just about art. Yes - I recommend it.
Carmen Wing: Whoopidooings Blog: Cyanotype Accordion Book
Cyanotype Accordion Book
If you made it this far - thanks so much for sticking around. What have you been up to this year?

Carmen Wing: Whoopidooings Blog: Eco Printed Business Cards
Eco Printed Business Cards


WOYWW - What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday 496

TL;DR: Short version if you just want to scroll the piccies - Cyanotype experiments at home on a cloudy day & also using my lightbox. Oh, and a bath full of beachy treasure.

Hello everyone - I'm late posting but decided to play anyway. I've been experimenting with cyanotype at home - not the best results because ever since I took delivery of the solutions it's been nothing but cloudy days!

All the tutorials I watched talked about contact printing frames - I googled them. They are really expensive. So in this first picture I have compromised with just a normal photo frame and some craft foam in the back to cushion everything then just laid it on my shed roof.
Whoopidooings: Carmen Wing - Experiments with Cyanotype on a Cloudy Day
This next one wouldn't fit in my frame and I'm glad I took that second picture because when I washed all the chemicals off it washed the image away too! Totally white page! That's what I was left with! Couldn't believe it! 
Whoopidooings: Carmen Wing - Experiments with Cyanotype on a Cloudy Day
Next is my set up in the living room, using my light box on it's highest setting and weighting everything down with whatever was to hand - so professional! Did work - had to leave stuff in there for a couple of hours but did work.
Whoopidooings: Carmen Wing - Experiments with Cyanotype Using a Light Box
So at the moment I am having most success at uni - with their ginormous light box that has a suction lid to hold everything to the light. I think when the sun comes back I will have much more success at home. I love cyanotype and wanted to make sure I could do it at home - I didn't want to fall in love with a technique and then not be able to do it when I leave uni. So I shall keep experimenting.

These next ones are what I did at uni - I'm doing a project about swamp monsters/mermaids. Trying to get an underwater feel. 
Whoopidooings: Carmen Wing - Experiments with Cyanotype
These ones are experimenting with cyanotyping over acrylic paint - I really like the effect. - Julia do you recognise the base of the first two? It's one of the calendar pages from that years ago workshop cut in half. How's that for hoarding and recycling?
Whoopidooings: Carmen Wing - Experiments with Cyanotype and Acrylic Paint
And here is the view of my bath. I've been beach combing to find treasures my swampie might have collected. The kids have given up asking what is going on now :)
Whoopidooings: Carmen Wing - Beach Combed Treasures in the Bath Tub
So that's what's going on in my work areas at home this week - if you'd like to see other work spaces in action why not follow me over to Julia's where you'll find a list to nosy through - maybe even join in yourself.
Thanks for stopping by today :)