Sunday, February 12, 2012

Back to business

We are home safe and sound after a fabulous trip - sitting here sweltering in t-shirts and shorts and trying to remember how cold we felt in New York.

We have had a couple of catch-up days, settle-in days and sort yourself out days, along with a very busy Saturday. Barry headed off to Baroon Pocket Dam for the annual Bunya Dreaming Festival (here is my last year's post), whilst Noela and I headed off to Cooroy for a workshop with Glen Skien of silent parrot press.

We were doing collage, printmaking and book making - a good combination.  I was keen to try and incorporate some collage into my work - I rarely do - and I deliberately decided I would be as free and thought-free as I could be in the pages I developed. It helped that Glen spoke about letting there be no pre-conceived narrative, no page 1, 2, 3 developed in order or sequence; instead let the narrative emerge from the images you create.

Quite the permission to let go that a sequence gal needs!

I had armed myself with lots of options and materials for the day and as Glen said it was interesting to observe which materials we discarded and which we chose to work with - it was quite an instinctive way of working.  I had also decided that I would try to inlcude some very free, gestural, non-legible text which I would try to do using a brush marker.  So a few little tests for myself, and lots to explore.

Marks on a blank page. Words, text, letters still form the basis of my work I discover!

The left-over cutout letters from my pieces for the nuns emerged and were used in collage and printing.

Some of the printed pages. I also wanted to work with the warmth of brown paper for some reason, perhaps it felt less precious and gave me permission to play.

A couple of the pages folded into sections, ready to play around with and choose their sequence.

The day flew by as we observed his wonderful books and prints; and then got into the making ourselves. I was absorbed by the process and surprised at how I limited my materials right from the start. Choices and discards.

Glen also taught us a new binding - the silent parrot press journal binding. A quick and simple, yet sturdy stitch that holds both small and oversized books firm.

Given that the book we were making had only pages, no cover, I also wanted to make a quick soft cover that could slip over the book.  I used some photos from the trip, printed onto brown paper and glued onto the Fabriano Rosapina paper I had used for printing.  My first attempt was wonderful; then in a moment of madness I cut off the ends which meant that there were no bits to fold in and around the book!  So I taped it back together as a prototype reminder and made another cover today.

A couple of the page spreads. We were only printing using a roller - there wasn't a press - hence the softer, more muted and less crisp imagery.

Some of the details on the pages - hidden words, letters and swirls; and some lovely hints of gestural writing.

All in all a really fun day, a few challenges explored and a great way to ease myself back into making, after so much observing. Thanks Noela for organising for me to go!


  1. Fiona, I first came across Glen's work a couple of years ago when I bought a copy of an Australian Crafts magazine. I fell for it big time and have followed his blog and exhibitions ever since so I would have happily swapped places with you on this workshop!! I love the images and book you have produced. It still has your inimitable personal style stamped on it and it makes me want to rush to the scrap box and do something. Glad you're home safely too!

  2. Absolutely wonderful pages - I especially love the use of the brown paper. The markings come across so mysteriously...

  3. Looks like busy times since you got home!!

    I love these pages. Something reminds me of dreams....So what is it about brown paper? I've always loved drawing on it.

  4. ahhh I'd love to have been there with you - I think glen's work is yummy (who doesn't like drongos and umbrellas?).... brown paper is yum too wot! some delish looking stuff you've got there ma'am!

  5. That Glen's a busy boy! I went to a workshop with him last week at Logan and really enjoyed the day. He's a very generous teacher & artist isn't he. You certainly hit the ground running after your trip away.

  6. Some beautful free mark making. Just makes me want to play too.

  7. this is all wonderful... would love to learn about printing...

  8. Gorgeous work Fiona, love the softness of the roller printing. Glad you're reaping such wonderful benefits from your holiday.

  9. Oh, I love Glen's work and am so envious you got to to do a workshop....sounds like it was delightful and a wonderful experience for the results! Cheers!

  10. the juxtaposition of the white and brown pages is brilliant. what a delightful way to ease back into creating!

  11. Adding more skills to your already abundant stash Fiona.... looks great. Love your random mark-making... mind you it still shows your control over the brush.

  12. What a beautiful book you have made. Poetry without words.

  13. this is great, in so many ways. i follow glen's blog with great interest, and seeing where his teaching pushed you leaves me fascinated with where you're going, fiona. really really nice marks in the page spreads.

  14. Beautiful and sophisticated, I love it!

  15. These are beautiful pieces, F - some of them have that "newly fallen snow" look as marks begin to appear. Not that I'm seeing much of that lately! Hope all is going well with you and B.

  16. Lesley - thank you! Glen's work is so beautiful, he is so nice, so it's a real win-win to do a workshop with him. Have fun in the scrap box!

    Thanks Stregata - the brown paper was an inspired choice I think! Glad the markings work.

    Annie - I don't know the answer to the brown paper question; but I think things look nice and friendly on it it for sure. Go well.

    Thanks Ronnie - yes Glen is a good guy and his work is wonderful and whimsical, yet serious.

    Robyn - he must be getting around before uni starts again!

    Thanks Jac - I sometimes struggle to be free; so it's good to use a workshop opportunity to try!

    Mary Jane - thank you. The printing was done with an inked up plate (mylar) and then a roller; I love the mystery of pulling the paper off the plate and seeing what happened.

    Liz - thanks! I quite like the lack of definition in the prints too.

    Patti - pretty lucky aren't we?

    Anca grey - thank you; it was the perfect re-integration for me - a play day with purpose.

    Ah yes Jo - I doubt I'll ever really really really let go!

    Leslie- what a beautiful way of thinking about it - thank you!

    Thank you Velma - he is a real talent and lets you find yours. I enjoyed the mark making - will see what happens next.

    Thank you Wanda and Jane - glad you like them!

    Thanks G/TT - yes there is something fresh and emerging about some of the marks.

  17. This is Really inspiring!!! I love essential colors, they have a great allure!!!


I appreciate your thoughts and comments; thanks for taking the time.