Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Letter a Week 46

It's most unlike me, but I have actually done my "Letter a Week ' on Saturday so I think I should mark the event by posting on Saturday!

Here is the letter 'T'. It is from my 'heartbeat script' and is stitched into rusted braille paper. This time I chose to use one of the woodburning-poker-thingies (technical term!). It has a couple of interchangeable heads and I used the square one. I managed not to set the whole page on fire which was good; nor did I melt the underlying surface.

You can deduce from those two comments that I have successfully managed to achieve both those outcomes in earlier attempts!

I usually go for odd numbers of design elements - but this time, the evens seemed to work so I left them.

In case you are interested, here is the sampler of my heartbeat script that I am using as the basis for this alphabet. Only 6 letters left and I should probably be thinking about next year already!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thursday Thoughts...

For masterpieces are not single and solitary births. They are the outcome of many years of thinking by the body of the people so that the experience of the mass is behind the single voice.

Virginia Woolf (a room of one's own)

I followed an interesting 'conversation' over at Velma's blog Wake Robin through the last week. It was discussing how some folk attempt to trademark their art or particular techniques.   Somebody added this quote from Virginia Wolf and I thought it captured so much of it for me.

Each piece of art I create is built up from my skills, from the lessons I have learned, from the books that I have read, from my explorations that take things a bit further in a different direction; by some images I may have seen or a piece of art I have responded to; by an email exchange that tests an idea or explains another way of doing something; by adapting or using a favourite tool in a new way; from a fleeting moment of inspired creativity; from a conversation with Barry; or...... the list can go on.

In many ways our personal art is the expression of so many inputs.  That is not to say that we are not producing original works - for we are - but to suggest that we have done it all on our own with nothing learned from anybody else or inspired by anything else seems to me to be a bit on the arrogant side.

On the other hand, never do I think its a good idea to directly lift an idea from somebody else's work and think "I'll do that". And I am never sure if I have a rule in my head when judging art about how many steps away from somebody else's work or inspiration makes for a comfortable sense of originality in the work. I expect I will ponder these issues for a long time yet.

Detail of calligraphy - Tatebayashi City Hall, Japan

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Encaustic - fun with text and paper

I mentioned in my last post that my next step was to explore how to bring text into play with my rusted tissue paper pieces.  I have torn the pages from an old book and painted the encaustic medium onto both sides.

I love the effect created here - where the paper sort of disappears and the inked text on both sides of the paper remains - so you get a fabulous backwards printed shadow effect.  I had drawn some scribbles on one side of the paper in pencil and it was fabulous to see that they also came thru to the wrong/right side after applying the medium.

I am enjoying where this little exploration is taking me, but am still working on how best to bring text and the marks together.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Encaustic - journeys and places

Noela and I attended a one day encaustic workshop in Caloundra earlier this month and explored the fun and joy of working with beeswax combined with damar resin.

We typically headed off in different directions to the rest of the class and each other; but both really enjoyed finding ways to bring this lovely technique and its gorgeous effects into our own work.

In preparation for our exhibition in March next year, I am continuing to build a body of work around "Journeys, places, marks and traces" and was keen to use encaustic in some of the pieces.

I have bought some encaustic medium where the wax and the resin are premixed; probably less trouble for me altho I still have my damar crystals and blocks of wax waiting for me when I want to make my own. I melted the medium in an old frypan I picked up at a garage sale, and then painted it onto some rusted tissue paper. When it was dry, I made marks on the paper with ink and a silver pen. Little traces, here and there.

The next step is to incorporate text somehow.

Here are 3 of the 15 pieces I did - I love the glossy richness the encaustic imparts to the papers, as well as the translucency. It somehow enables the papers to be stronger, and yet still appear fragile.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Letter a Week 45

It was a busy weekend on the mountain with lots of friends dropping by and staying and lots of lovely times. I still managed to grab a brief moment to stitch my 's'. I'm lucky it was an outline letter I guess!

I chose to decorate it with horizontal panels below the letter - it felt a bit ethereal and flighty and as if needed to be anchored a bit.

A Letter a Week is still discovering some fabulous and imaginative approaches to letters - it's worth a look on the ALaW blog to see some of the creative alphabets that are emerging.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thursday Thoughts...

Reading has always brought me pure joy. I read to encounter new worlds and new ways of looking at the world. I read to enlarge my horizons, to gain wisdom, to experience beauty, to understand myself better, and for the pure wonderment of it all. I read and marvel over how writers use language in ways I never thought of. I read for company, and for escape. Because I am incurably interested in the lives of other people, both friends and strangers, I read to meet myriad folks and enter their lives - for me, a way of vanquishing the “otherness” we all experience.
Nancy Pearl (Book Lust)

I think Nancy has captured nearly all of my reasons for reading; and all of the things I enjoy about reading and books. She is a spirited advocate of books and just so you know; has her very own Librarian Action Figure modelled in her likeness!

I guess I would add just for pleasure, for escape and for the chance to simply disappear for a few hours.

Books allow me to be alone; yet feel connected. I never feel alone when I am reading a book as I have a real sense of companionship with the book, the story, the words. In addition, Barry and I often read in companionable silence - with one or the other occasionally interrupting to say "listen to this; what do you think about that? haven't they put this beautifully"? So in our separateness, we are still connected.

Books connect so many of us across the centuries and across the world - the original interweb thingy perhaps?

The photos is courtesy of storiesofwordsonpaper. I have called it "heart reading" in my head.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The journey and home

As part of my ongoing exploration of home, journeys and places I have started another book.  In keeping with the style of previous ones I continue to make marks and stitch my handwriting onto the pages.

I wanted to see how white on white would work for  a book where you tried to understand the story. Would it be possible to get a sense of the thoughts and messages or would it be so subtle that they disappeared and were missed?

I haven't yet finished this one but it is progressing nicely.  In this piece, white allows lots of textures and subtle shadows to enhance the story telling and mark making on the pages. White doesn't necessarily hide things, it sometimes lets them shine softly and gently.

The journey continues...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A facelift for my blog!

After talking to myself about it for ages, pondering, and then tentatively exploring possibilities and options for quite sometime, today I finally sat myself down and said "you have an hour to redesign your blog"!  And I pretty much did within the hour.

I was too scared to publish it at first, but then played for another hour and got it to where we are now. Phew.

I am not sure it is finished - lots of opportunities for fiddling and fine tuning I think, but the new look is trying to bring together the identity; and make things look a bit similar.

I mentioned we had new business cards, the website is underway here; and the soft grey is going to play a part in an ongoing way.

I have also introduced myself to tumblr, courtesy of Robyn Gordon from Artpropelled; who wrote this post which got me intrigued (enchanted, besotted, addicted...).

I think about tumblr for me as a modern day version of cutting out images from magazines and sticking them in my book.  My archive page is restful and soothing (for me) and each of the images speaks to me. Quietly.

Burnt text ©Fiona Dempster

Monday, November 15, 2010

Preparation and the joys of multi-tasking

Barry and I are working our way towards an exhibition in March next year and I get the feeling I'm really going to have get down and do some things very soon!  So yesterday in the studio I did a range of things - I  stitched my Letter a Week letters, I stitched and progressed a white on white book; I scrubbed and prepared about 30 rusty metal pieces that will be used in books/hangings and I dyed some papers in preparation for overprinting and adding embellishments.

I am often most comfortable doing a range of things all at once - progressing this, testing that, moving that along and keeping that on track. It seems to me that if I focused on one thing for too long I would run out of time.  This way I keep myself kind of calm by knowing that lots of things are moving.

I know managing lots of things at once would make others ill with worry; but I find it works for me. Perhaps I also fear getting bored just doing one thing at a time. Who knows!?!?!

Here are some of the papers I dyed and then threw salt flakes onto to soak up some of the ink.  The pages will be about a map and I love the marks the salt left.  Oftentimes the backs of pages are just as exquisite and I like the soft waviness of these 'behinds'.

©Fiona Dempster

©Fiona Dempster

©Fiona Dempster

©Fiona Dempster

Sunday, November 14, 2010

ALaW letters 43 & 44

I have been slipping behind with my making of late - for all sorts of reasons, but have spent today in the studio getting lots of things happening. Yay!

I also caught up on my two letters - Q and R.

Q is a simple outline letter I stitched, then I got a punch, a piece of endgrain timber and a hammer, and punched a couple of nice round holes in the background; referencing some of the braille dots.

Q ALAW 2010 ©Fiona Dempster

R got be filled in; and I then just pencil-marked around the shapes that appear around the groups of braille dots; and in the background generally.

R ALAW 2010 ©Fiona Dempster

And here is the book emerging...

Alphabet 2 book ALAW 20120 © Fiona Dempster

O&P ALAW 2010 ©Fiona Dempster

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thursday Thoughts...

Art is not about thinking something up. It is the opposite - getting something down.
Julia Cameron
Barry and I often approach our art in different ways. He has often conceptualised and designed it quite quickly and when we talk about it, he just goes and starts making. Me I sit and ponder for quite a while.

I have realised that I spend a lot of time in my head before actually creating. I go around and around, listen to the quiet voices, let the new connections and ideas arrive and after a while, the work can appear. I know I can't force it, it has to arrive when it is ready.

On the other hand, I also know that sitting and thinking about art is a long way away from creating and making art. I am conscious of trying to make sure that thinking time isn't an excuse for not doing; that spending the time is actually profitable and not wasteful.

Sometimes it also works to just go do something - to doodle, to draw, to splash some ink around, burn some holes, stitch some lines, just do something! In the end, I guess what Julia's saying is that if it's still in your head, it isn't yet art.

Doodling a beginning © Fiona Dempster

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Rainbow Stack

After so many lovely shared thoughts about colour-coded arrangement of books, I thought I should show you what I really get up to with the rainbow books.  They are just a whimsical art piece that grows as we come across the right coloured hard cover books at book sales and so on.  So here it is in our house - edging closer to the roof. I will stop when I reach the ceiling. I think.

Rainbow Stack © Fiona Dempster
Rainbow Stack © Fiona Dempster
Velma also alluded to the fact that a whole book store had done this at some point so with the help of the interwebby thingy I searched and found the story here. How fabulous - 16 people stayed up all night to re-arrange 20,000 books into colour groupings as aprt of artist Chris Cobb's temporary installation. Inside each book was a tag saying where it belonged (if you chose to arrange by category). Here is a quick video of the process...

I also discovered that I am clearly not alone in my quirky little penchant for rainbow books - over here on flickr there is a whole bunch of people arranging their books in rainbow collections.  So far I haven't found anyone going vertical, but then I also haven't trawled thru the whole group!

Orange-Yellow © Fiona Dempster
So today is really a homage to arranging books by colour and having  a smile!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thursday Thoughts...

That's what I love about reading: one tiny thing will interest you in a book, and that tiny thing will lead you to another book, and another bit there will lead you on to a third book. It's geometrically progressive - all with no end in sight, and for no other reason than sheer enjoyment.
Mary Ann Shaffer & Annie Barrows

This is a quote from a Book Group book - "The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society" which most enjoyed but which also produced some angst amongst others; overall making for a good discussion!

Anyhow, I wrote this quote down for the discussion as I really agreed with the way you pick up a bit here in a book which leads you over there to something else, and then to follow up with that and so on. Books offer a journey of exploration which you don't even know you might want to go on when you begin.

Whether it is fiction, poetry, art, biographies, the author, gardening, cooking - nearly every sort of book offers a connection to something else worth exploring or investigating or checking, either as you go along or once you are finished.

In some ways they are the original internet! Nowadays we hop from one blog to another and can't remember where we began; I think books offer the same opportunity, but in a slightly slower manner and you can usually remember where you began.

I don't think I'll ever lose the habit of having a notebook with me so that as I read something worth following up I jot it down...

Here is a shot of the books in the rainbow stack - indigo to purple. You can tell I choose by colour not title!

Monday, November 1, 2010

A Letter a Week 42

I managed to stay on top of my letters this week and so here is the lovely 'P'.  I am using my own 'heartbeat' script to embroider on rusted braille paper, and 'P' is an elegant and long letter - about 6 nib widths down in fact.

Once again, not a lot of excitement in the background decoration - pencil running stitch lines - but probably just enough and not too much.