Friday, July 30, 2010

Book in a box

I am continuing to explore the idea of journeys and home, and the magic of the humble accordion fold book. As well, I am really enjoying stitching on paper and keep wondering why I never did it much before.

This little book in a box is another one in this 'series' of books that are emerging from this time.  Again I hand wrote the words, then stitched them on, with travel lines in running stitch and some spirals as well. There is movement, there is going home, there is journeying, there is wandering all held within this box.

I glued the first and last pages of the accordion to the lid and base of the calm shell box. This book is bound to its box, its container, its home.

The  words read " My journey is my way home".

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thursday Thoughts...

The artist never entirely knows. We guess. We may be wrong, but we take leap after leap in the dark.
Agnes de Mille

I like this quote. I discovered Agnes was a dancer and choreographer and I guess that's where the imagery of leaping comes from; I see her lifting lightly into the dark space, twirling in the air, repeatedly looking for the perfect moment, the perfect place.

It seems to me that it encourages us to sit quietly with the discomforting sense that sometimes we don't fully understand the driving force for what we do; the process we are taking or the result we have produced. It says try again, and try again and then give it another shot as well. Keep leaping without knowing where you will land. It will all work out fine.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Encaustic -DIY!

I have been looking at  a lot of images of encaustic work recently and seeing some beautifully rendered pieces in galleries as well.  So of course, I wanted to try it.  Only thing is, living in a small town not many people are advertising encaustic workshops that I could attend.

So I bought a book and I bought some damar resin and we picked up an old frying pan at  a garage sale. Whilst in Portland, I bought some wax already mixed with damar resin and a pot of coloured encaustic wax as well.  Slowly I was building up to it.

The weekend was bit misty and mizzly, so the time was right to head to the studio and play. I tried a few different things and lacked a few key tools I think (like a really wide brush) but generally speaking had quite a bit of fun mucking about.  I would now like to spend some time with somebody who actually knows what they are doing!  Here are the two bits I played with and the studio mess whilst playing.

I think I played with bottom one too much before it was dry - what do you think!?!?!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Letter a Week - back on track - 27,28 & 29

My last post was all about my frustration with not being able to find my way this time - but I am now happy with where I am heading with the second alphabet.

I have ended up with elements that feel like me and the opportunity to be a little bit creative each week, even tho I am following a slightly more standardised format this time around. In the end life's all about balance.

I have chosen to use my own heartbeat scrip (as mentioned, the final product will hopefully be a little exemplar or sampler); hand stitched onto rusted braille paper; with a small bit of decorative suggestion done  on the paper each week.

So here are the 3 weeks' worth I had to catch up, along with a picture of the stash of paper I will be using. I am also toying with the idea of only outlining every second letter just to add another bit of interest/difference within the final piece.

A - I traced a few lines in pencil around contours I found in the paper
B - I drew some running stitch lines in black marker pen
C - I left alone as the rusty blob down the bottom was enough

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Letter a Week - blocked!

I was pretty happy with the way I managed to stay on top of my experimental letter a week for the first alphabet.  I thought about it each week, made time for it and really enjoyed playing with the letters. My problem with the second alphabet is, I have been dithering about what to do - maybe this, maybe that, what about this? what about that? Honestly, I can't recall ever being so indecisive about something so simple really.

I tried using my made up alphabet list of collective nouns for colours (I can explain if necessary...) and even went thru all my coloured pencils to match them to the colours (and bought a special silver one)  but it didn't seem right.  I have in the back of my mind that I want the finished piece to be an exemplar book of my personal calligraphic "heartbeat" hand, so I used that. I then tried to write in ink on rusted paper - but it looked too boring. Oh me, oh my...I was going nowhere fast.

And then...I think I found it! I'm not 100% sure yet, but I think I might have something to show later in the week. And boy will I be pleased if I've cracked it this time!

Anyhow here's the evidence that whilst I haven't actually produced anything yet, I have been exploring and discarding options if that counts in any way.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Jumpers & Jazz in July

Over the weekend we travelled to my dad's home town Warwick for its annual winter festival of "Jumpers & Jazz in July". The trees on main street have all lost their leaves, and are looking bare and wizened. What to do? Dress them up in 'jumpers' and make them bright and happy and smile-inducing!

As soon as we got out of the car, the smiles appeared on our faces and didn't really leave whilst we walked the length of the street and around the parks. Lots of fun interpretations and lots of really talented artists at play alongside children, community groups and businesses.

It's a great community effort, and on top of all this we got to enjoy the jazz being played around town AND some pipe and drum bands (that is lots of bagpipes!)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Earth, Dreams, Magic

I can't believe I haven't mentioned this beautiful book before! Luckily our fabulous local Library is again hosting an exhibition of some local artists whose work appears in it.

We live in the Sunshine Coast hinterland which is a beautiful and majestic landscape - ancient volcanic mountains; lush sub-tropical forests; fields of green grazing dairy pasture and populated by lots of artistic and creative folk as well. The Hinterland Business Centre (a not for profit enterprise) seeks to promote the creative industries in the region; and to encourage the hinterland as a creative destination for tourists.

They produced this magnificent book Earth, Dreams, Magic - A journey through the Blackall Range region which profiles artists along the Range as well as creative industries and the beautiful countryside. It is visually rich and delicious to look at and is a fabulous promotion of the region and its people.

Both Barry and I appear in it and along with several excellent and talented artists from the book we have a small exhibition opening at the Library on Monday 19 July, running for a couple of weeks.

The book is a great gift  and a great read; lovely to dip into now and gain and discover some more of the magic.

Friday, July 16, 2010

So many ways of returning...

Creativity, the right side of the brain and the subconscious seem to work along together so quietly and then the left brain catches up and notices that something is going on. For me, it's this notion of travel lines, my place, home and returning.

I was fortunate to sell my lovely piece "Returning" this week and I know it is going to the best of homes where it will be loved and treasured.  Whilst it has still been in my care I have been experimenting a bit with it - more of that to follow later - but we have also just had it sitting outside where we see it every time we come home. Each time we return.

I popped the cut-out letters on some timber that was lying around next to it, and when I went to pack it up this morning I discovered these beautiful marks and letters.

Perhaps the piece isn't really leaving, it's essence is remaining with us. Perhaps there are so many ways of returning - into the timber to gently fade away, returning home no matter where that is. It hadn't struck me how much returning resonated with the travel lines, home and my place until these letters emerged today. Serendipity is a beautiful thing.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


As mentioned recently I have been exploring the notion of home and my place in the world a bit more with my art.  I have also been playing with different forms of accordion books and the two have come together somewhat serendipitously in this piece.

It started out as a trial/practice book - I wanted to do this double-fold accordion book and I planned to simply use interesting heavily textured paper as the insert - nothing on it, it was going to be all about the process. I prepared the concertina bit and played with the insert until I thought I had the engineering right.

In the end I felt the insert needed a bit more interest, so I began to just stitch travel lines onto it, in different directions and with ambiguous starting and finishing points. After a day of that we went away.

I returned to it after we got back, with some new ideas -  I wrote on it in my own handwriting; then hand-stitched over the handwriting. Next I added the crosses and a few more travel lines of stitching. Oh, and I also burnt incense holes - again!

All good - but when I went to put it into the concertina bit - it just didn't work. I pulled it out, tried it this way and that, checked the instructions, looked at the pictures again and then figured - actually the design is simply fundamentally flawed. Begin again.

I played with a couple of options and chose this slotted accordion option and really like it.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Ice inspiration

Our recent trip is continuing to provide lots of inspiration - ideas, thoughts and images.

Whilst in Banff we headed up to the Columbia Icefields for a day and walked on a glacier.  It was sunny and very cold and very wonderful!

The glacier was majestic, surrounded by mountains and snow and crevices and most folk were busy with the beauty of the big.  I wonder what they thought of us - utterly consumed by the beauty of the small and the bits you pass by or walk over.  We must have looked a sight - out there in the wonder of nature with our cameras pointed straight down to the ice below our feet!

As it was summer and there was a sense of some thawing beginning as a stream flowed across the glacier, we were able to photograph these small holes in the ice. Rather gorgeous don't you think?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Accordion fold books

When I attended the Libris Artist Book Awards in Mackay earlier this year I surprised myself with how much I enjoyed the accordion fold type books. Something in the simplicity of the form perhaps? Or maybe the manner in which the format unfolds and reveals things? Possibly the many varied forms it can take; as well as the interactive and play-like nature of some of them.

Reading the most recent Bonefolder (an e-journal devoted to book arts) I came across an essay that made me smile and re-connected me to this book form. By A. Kendra Green of the University of Iowa - here are a couple of excerpts...

In most endeavors, and accordion books are no exception, it takes a lot of skill to make a thing look easy.

If a page in a spine-bound book ever seemed constrained, finite, split from its brethren, the accordion offers a nearly endless run of paper.  Open one page and you may open the whole book, your arms held wide and a story swirling at your feet. Pages may spill like waters. In a thicker stock, they will slap and fall like shingles of a Jacob's ladder. Rigidly interdependent, each page is a push or pull on the next, a sequence, a reaction. Like dominoes. Like a house of cards.

Closed, the accordion is a roof shingle, an armor plate; opened it moves, it breathes, it plays. Its bellows fill like sails, like lungs. It flirts. It laughs. it sings.

She says it so much better than me! Her descriptions imbue the accordion book simultaneously with gravitas and whimsy and give permission to love this simplest of bookforms.

There are four other of her essays in the journal, and a great article about Adele Outteridge and Wim de Voss from West Ends Studio in Brisbane, along with an article featuring Barry's book "Censored" which was bought by the Southern Cross University last year. Enjoy!

Friday, July 9, 2010

A thought for art...

I am in a great little book group here in Maleny; we meet monthly and read books and talk and eat cake!  Earlier in the year we read "Shantaram" by Gregory David Roberts. It was an intriguing choice and people had diverse reactions to it. I loved it and I loved much of his writing.  

I found much of it poetic and beautifully descriptive; and also enjoyed many of the concepts he explored throughout. Of course there were dull bits and parts where I thought he lost the plot; but it was worth it for me.

One passage has really stuck with me:

I'd lost Prabakar and Abdullah and with them I'd lost my mark on the psychic map that says "you are here". Personality and personal identity are in some ways like coordinates on the street map drawn by our intersecting relationships.  We know who we are and we define what we are by references to the people we love and our reasons for loving them. I was that point in space and time where Abdullah's wild violence instersected with Prabaker's happy gentleness. Adrift then, and somehow un-defined by their deaths...

I keep thinking about how we exist in relation to others, especially the important people in our lives; and how their losses leave us untethered and unsure where our point on the map now is.

I have begun exploring this theme of maps, marks, points in time, home etc in my art. I am not sure just what I am trying to express or capture; but the making of the marks is helping.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Light stitching

When Barry and I were in Las Vegas recently we stayed on the 50th floor of a posh hotel. We only had 'city views' not 'strip views' but we were OK with that!

At night as the lights played out for miles around us we mucked about with photographing and the funny effects we could create (note to self; gotta get out more).

Anyhow these ones were my favourites.  They look like running stitches against the night. Somehow there seems to be a bit of magic of poetry hidden amongst these thoughts - of light as stitching and holding together; of the night being imprinted and held by lights. Something for me to ponder anyway.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

More beautiful rusty stuff

Whilst Barry was doing his fold-forming course in Calgary at the Alberta College of Art & Design, there were several other summer schools and residencies on the go. He let me know about some fabulous fabric that had been hung in a corridor, with the textile artist seeking feedback and comments.

Her name was Karin and she was rusting her fabric and then seeing how she could work into it. Comments and thoughts were being left by people; and I hope she found them helpful. I definitely found her work inspiring!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Excitement plus - a portfolio collection!

A very exciting package arrived in the mail today.  We have been pondering for a while the need to get a more professional look to our portfolio and artwork.

So we committed and made our first 'blurb' books. You can find portions of mine here. We spent about 3 days full on designing - downloading software, retrieving and sorting photographs, choosing layouts and styles and working out what to say alongside the images, editing and then uploading the book file.  It was an intensive but very rewarding task.  We were both thrilled with the product and can now go in and order as many as we need for different promotional purposes.

Its the kind of thing we might update annually or if we were super organised, do for each major exhibition we take part in.  We chose to sell the books for the price they cost us, rather than include any mark up for profit, given that they are really a promotional tool rather than an money-making venture.

Self promotion is hard, but having a beautiful book of your work, makes it a lot easier.

We had really hoped they would arrive before Lucas Parklands; and then before we headed off overseas; but they didn't. It was still nice to pick them up today tho!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

A Letter a Week (ALaW) 26

Ahhh...that's the satisfied sound af an artist finishing their first alphabet and on time!  For my last letter I chose to write on leather. We have a stash here for book making and covers but I'd never really written on it.  I had a few practices with acrylic ink and metallic ink and wasn't too thrilled, so as a last resort picked up the trusty old black Japanese ink and off we went. It went on beautifully with a mapping pen dipping, and it also seemed to stay.

I filled in the background to make it  bit more interesting as well. Shame about the wobble on the outer down stroke...