Sunday, June 26, 2016

Journals journals journals

One of the things we get to do as tutors at Wrapt in Rocky,  is to have a table of small things for sale - things that students might like to purchase, and our sales night is tomorrow night.

Before I left I spent some time making small journals - I figure you can never have too many notebooks.

I used some of my friends' feathers - I have good friends who collect and share them with me - as well as some of my white on white work.

 I stitched the feather onto 300gsm watercolour paper for the covers, then included 180gsm watercolour paper for the pages.

I always love a guinea-fowl feather...

The subtle colours in this one are so beautiful.

And then I stamped some letters... a b c

 Embossed a map...

 And rolled some tiny indentations across a cover.

Which left really subtle patterns on the covers and I like the way you have to investigate further...or you just get a nice surprise when you realise it isn't blank!

And I found a peacock feather to throw into the mix.

And then packaged them all up for sale.

 Hopefully folk will like them.

And last week, before I left, we had this fiery sunset - a stunner!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Thursday Thoughts...

“I remember the first time someone told me that many artists with apparently thriving careers and gallery representation still had day jobs. It was the first of a very long series of realizations that the art world is at least 50% smoke and mirrors. At the time I felt an almost personal betrayal at the realization that artists I had already perceived as incredibly, unattainably successful still had to find another way to pay the bills. Many years later, I still haven’t really gotten over it! Tons of brilliant and well-known artists (and curators, and critics and art dealers) are utterly broke, working full-fledged outside jobs, relying on money from their families, or some combination of the above. The art world is a hard place.” 

artist Jennifer Dalton, in the book Living and Sustaining a Creative Life: Essays by 40 Working Artists, edited by Sharon Louden

On my computer (like many others) I have a sticky note function which lets me put computer-based sticky notes on my screen - things to remind me or words to inspire, books to buy and paper to explore.

This book has been at the top of one sticky note for quite some time - I think I'd like to buy it, but I don't know whether others have enjoyed it or if it is really useful helpful (perhaps I shall see if our library can get a copy for me) - but I do like the passion in this quote!

As a person not steeped in art schools or education; on the fringes of anything really considered arty; and with no career path ever in mind, I have no idea if/how people make a living from art. My sense is that very very few can make their living from art with its periodical payments, long droughts between successes or simply low prices for hours and hours of investment.

I imagine many successful artists make a living through grants from foundations or governments; from touring exhibitions or showing in public galleries where they receive a fee; some through teaching; some through sales; some through licensing their designs...

I expect most artists supplement their art income with other jobs; with family income; or government support.

I know I would be starving if I had to rely on my art to feed me; but it does in a completely different way.  Barry is busy work-working at the moment - that will help feed us; I am about to go away and teach and receive income for that; that will help as well.

As I've said before, Barry and I don't make a living from our art, but we do make a life....

And others, appear to make little or no money during their lifetime and then after their death their art sells for millions...

Vincent van Gogh at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Celebrating Books in Maleny

It's that time of the year again, when folk head to the hinterland to sit by log fires and read books - and join in the Maleny Celebration of Books.

Maleny is a great town for books and booklovers and our small festivals been running now for five years! This year's theme is around women writers and readers.

I will be away teaching for part of it, but one part I have been involved in is selecting the books for, and setting up the display of, the  First Edition books by Australian Women authors.

We are fortunate that a local, Neil Glover, has the most astounding collection of First Edition books and he kindly collected the best of his women's writers books for us to display in Maleny Library.

There are a load of children's books and fairies feature a lot which is gorgeous.

And Oodgeroo Noonuccal's poetry and a children's book.

Blinky Bill and Jacko.

There are some famous books and some rare and unknown books. I think what I loved the most about working with these books was doing the research into the women writers and discovering what amazing women they were; what adventurous and ground-breaking lives they had led; and how they went about being a woman writer when it was not fashionable nor really welcomed.

Judith Wright, Eleanor Dark, Oddgeroo Noonuccal, Emily Bullock, Edna Walling, Dorothy Wall, the Durack sisters Mary and Elizabeth, and the Outhwaite sisters Ida and Annie are just some of the women we researched and their stories are told alongside their books.

It is shaping up to be a great weekend, with a children's authors' workshop; a children's film (Peanuts) and an adult film (The Daughter) both based on books. There will be an Outspoken event on the Friday night following an artists' book projection on the trees on the main street.

The Library will have children's bookmark-making activities and a Bumper Book Sale as well. The  Big Book Club will discuss "The Natural Way of Things" and the Sunday gathering will feature some serious Australian women writers - Jane Caro, Susan Johnson, Ellen van Neersen and is hosted by another write Krissy Kneen.

Tired just thinking about the feast of bookish things coming our way!

On a lighter note, I am also proud to say that I was involved in the winning window for the Maleny Show Society last month! The theme was recycling and our fabulous book shop Rosetta Books asked if I would contribute some of my folded books for inclusion in their display. Along with the many other wonderful ways they recycle in the shop it was lovely for the books to get another outing. Last seen here at the 2013 Celebration of Books!

It is very hard to photograph a shop window on a sunny day - but you get a hint of the books and best of all, the blue ribbon!!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Getting closer to Quietly and Gently

This time next week I will be happily ensconced in Rockhampton, getting ready to start teaching on Monday morning.

I have a full class (12 people) for my Quietly and Gently workshop being held as part of Wrapt in Rocky.  Twelve is quite a large number to prepare kits for, and given the most folk are travelling a distance and can't carry everything they need I am supplying quite a few things.

I have spent much of the week cutting paper, lino, embossing materials and so on to make sure everybody is ready to go and to get into things when we begin.

I have also been working on my own samplers for the sampler book which folk will be making.

I have been astounded in a way that there are so many ways to work white on white...

The analytical part of me has been thinking that you can work above the surface, on the surface, through the surface and within the surface.

That sounds a bit esoteric, but stick with me.

Above the surface means you can add depth by cutting out shapes and and attaching them to the page. or by stitching things onto the page, like this feather.

You can work on the surface with the marks you make on the surface - here some with gouache and with gel pens.

You can work through the surface when you cut parts of the surface away - like these letters and shapes - or by piercing like these holes and this sewing.

And finally you can work within the surface (creating texture by pressuring the surface, not cutting or piercing) as we do with embossing and de-bossing. Some metal letter stamps debosssed randomly into the page and some tracing wheel indents.

What delightful few days of exploration it has been - I can hardly wait to get people involved and having fun.

Given that one of my strengths is NOT the ability to remember names easily, I thought I would also make up name tags for everybody in case they didn't bring their own.

A little bit of light graphite and pencil work - entertainment for this rainiest of Sundays.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Thursday Thoughts...

“I love ebooks. I love the idea of storing books in “The Cloud”, because honestly, reading and rainy days go together like peanut butter and umbrellas.” 

 Jarod Kintz, This Book is Not for Sale

I have no idea why umbrellas and peanut butter go together (altho I am very happy to hear suggestions), but I do think reading goes well with rainy days.

I was tickled by the notion of storing books in 'the cloud' and the link to reading on rainy days, and began imagining all these book up there, coming down with the rain so we could sit and read them.

Today is a rainy day and we have been busy hosting a group for a play day with Barry; but we are inside now, bunkered down and I am drawn to read.

Honestly, curling up with a cup of tea, a cup of coffee, a glass of wine (depending on the time of day) and a good book as it becomes grey and damp outside seems like the perfect recipe, forget dinner!

Just popped outside to photograph this book on our wet deck.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

It hasn't all been print!

Despite an absolute flurry of printmaking and print-related events of late, there has been time to push a few small projects forward.

I am preparing to teach Quietly and Gently at Wrapt in Rocky (class full!) in a weak or two and went and bought some lino for participants to emboss with.  I thought it was the same as I usually buy but of course it wasn't quite and and I had bought it in bulk.

I thought I had better do a test plate and see if it would work or if I had to go out and buy more.

For reasons best known to my subconscious brain I chose this fluid question mark, made with a  handmade comb pen as my image. What was I thinking?

But I kind of like how it worked out anyway.  The lino is manageable for cutting and embossing so I think we are good to go.

I have also been preparing some backgrounds for words - calligraphic and letterpress. Nice soft colours with a bit of movement.

And doing a few calligraphic drafts of the word Lexicon - to see if it will work for a friend.

And around town there has been a bit of action too - we had Knitfest here on the weekend, and amongst other things, they yarn-bombed the police station with the Tardis!

And today we went out in the rain to the offical opening of Barry's sculpture for the Unity Water wetlands.  The work looks so gorgeous in situ.

A lovely corner of the post.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Printmaking events continue

We have had another whirlwind week with printmaking events helping to celebrate the 50th birthday of the Print Council of Australia.

We had our 'committee' meeting on Tuesday - where the six of us who have been busy pulling it all together took a short breath and thought "wow" after the success of the previous events, then put our heads down for some more.

Wednesday night saw Tory Richards, Judy Barrass and I presenting to an interested and enthusiastic crowd at the Caloundra Regional Gallery. Tory spoke about her passion for intaglio and etching and showed just how skilled she is at this difficult and time-consuming work. I spoke about my passion for letters and letter press and Judy completed the evening with a talk about the frontiers of printmaking and how we are constantly pushing the boundaries of what can be called print.

It was all very fascinating and so interesting - I learned so much as I listened to the others.

Ac couple of slides from my talk.

Then on Saturday morning we had two more events - I gave a letterpress demonstration at the University of the  Sunshine Coast Gallery, and this was followed by 12 of the participating artists doing a 'Meet the Artists' event where we each spoke breezily about our work, our inspiration and our processes.

Both events went really well - people got engaged with my hand-waving enthusiasm for letterpress and the beauty of the machines and type; and again it was wonderful to hear from other artists about their passions and their work.

I did mention the hand-waving enthusiasm didn't I?

And the apron - made with scrabble letter fabric.

Image by Tory Richards
Showing folk some metal type

Image by Tory Richards

And a locked up chase - people really did get up close and personal with the work.

Image by Tory Richards
I decided it was time to have a go at locking up chase in public - a bit stressful, but important to do. I successfully locked the chase up and none of the type fell out! I got everybody up to look over my shoulder as I did it.

Image by Barry Smith
Image by Barry Smith
It stands up and no type falls out!

Image by Tory Richards
I mixed up beautiful blue ink.

Image by Tory Richards
And then everybody had a go at printing.

Image by Tory Richards
And we made small thank you cards.

Today I took the plastic bag off the ink  that I had left on the glass plate so I could think about doing some more.

And of course, just had to do a mono print!

I was intrigued how the lettering on the bag actually printed - I wonder if the ink reacted with it somehow over night? It's a mystery.

Sunday has been much quieter - packing and putting away and fiddling a bit here and there...Ahh.