Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thursday Thoughts...

Fight evil. Read books. 


I'm not sure if the brevity of this quote appeals simply because I am weary - but I do know I smiled when I first saw the T-shirt!

Inherent in this quote is the thought that reading books must be good for you. That books are on the side of the good-guys and that books will help good triumph over evil.  I like to think that books do help us find the way; do let us access truth and information; and do help us be properly informed, and that maybe this combination of things is what we need in our fight against evil.

Even if you want to ignore the sense of fighting evil (whatever that may be), you are still left with the idea that reading books is a good thing to do and I have to agree.

It almost says to me - when in doubt read a book. Which is pretty much what is top of my list (but not always something I can actually do) whenever I need to answer the question "what to do now?"

I'll head off now with the virtuous thought that any time I read a book I am fighting evil. Yay me!


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Real Food art

Our town is hosting the Real Food Festival again on 8 & 9 September 2012. Last year everyone was stunned and thrilled when about 3000 appeared and wanted to explore and understand real food - food that comes from nearby, is organic, and carefully prepared. And of course, much more.

To coincide with the festival COMA is holding another one of its themed exhibitions at Maple 3 Cafe from 4 to 25 September. This time, the theme is "Food as art".

We were asked to work with 30cm x 30cm canvases (or to have framed work within those dimensions).  I bought a canvas and I tried a few things, but I don't know what it is about canvas, but I just freeze.  I can't think of anything that appeals, and everything I try is truly awful.

Barry suggested to just work on paper and get it framed to size. Suddenly I could think of dozens of things to try that felt quite nice and quite me.

So we began with rusted metal and an apple.

I took turns doing different things with it. Clearly I had to try tea...

And then I played with just embossing  the same shape (albeit reversed)

And then I tried the two together!

I am yet to work out which arrangement I shall use - there are four pieces at the framers for me to consider on their return.

I guess I could also just have framed the rusty apple couldn't I?

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Studio preparations continue

Barry and I have been in Melbourne for a few days with work-work, and today my sister-in-law-to-be and my brother visited so that I could teach them how to make their own hand-made book for their guests and photos at their wedding.

We had a lovely time and Lorraine made a great book!

I snatched a few hours yesterday and again as Lorraine sat stitching this afternoon, to keep making wee things to sell at the Open Studios in a few weeks' time. I have been making my own cards and in synch with the plan for the next book in Susan's and my collaboration, I have also been making my own envelopes.

As a minor distraction, Susan and I are planning to make an envelope book next time - stay tuned for just what that might mean and how it might look.

But back to the cards, here are a few of them to date...

These are envelope made of paste paper, with cards using paste paper cut-outs, sealed with a little black velcro dot.

These are a couple of sets of rusty-tea cards, with hand decoration.

And here are some rusty tea washer cards.

It is good to have few little projects on the go, so that when I have a spare few moments I can sit down and cut, paste, draw or stitch and feel as if I am contributing to the 'for sale' options when we open.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Thursday Thoughts...

“I carry silence with me the way others carry snapshots of loved ones. I offer it and wait for a response.” 

 Stephen Dunn

When I ponder on life I realise that life and art can get beautifully intertwined.  This is supposed to be about life, but my head also jumped to my art, but in today's post I'll try to stick to life.

What I liked most about this thought was that it gave strength to the notion that holding onto silence and being quiet is a strength and maybe a gift. At the very least it is an OK way to be and for this confirmation I am grateful.

We had a good discussion at Book Group the other day and I mentioned I had just bought "Quiet - the Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking"(TED talk here).  Nobody at Book Group really believed me when I said I was an introvert.  They looked at me, the one who happily talks about books, who queries and questions and will always add something to the conversation, who will debate or disagree with other views; and they thought 'no way'.

But silence and quietness and solitude are my place and my way of being.  I can always do the other things - speak in front of people, circulate at a party and make people feel welcome if needed; but that always seems to cost me so much. I am exhausted by it. I can do it, but it costs me.

The quietness of the mountain top, my studio and our home offers me so much. When I am away I long for the silence and stillness and quiet that I find here. Even when I move about and travel, I take silence along with me for most of the ride.

I like the notion of walking thru the world with silence in my wallet or my pocket, and offering it to folk. Letting them spend time without words and in peacefulness and reflection.

I guess some people can feel uncomfortable with that silence, but I think its good to learn that silence can be OK.

©2009 Fiona Dempster - Temple garden, Kyoto

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A booky distraction

I cannot lay claim to creating any of this bookishness, but I did so want to share these images.

We recently had a few days away (well maybe 5 weeks ago...) and we stayed near a place called Maroochydore, and very nearby us was this book shop.

It sells secondhand books, stacked in general selections of "biographies" or "sport" or "romance"; and it just always makes me smile. Total chaos reigns but books are simply everywhere...

The front counter is hidden behind this stack...

Arrows direct you through the maze...

Turn a corner and try to find your way past this pile...

Sidle sideways along this row...

 Even the windows are filled with books...

The Duporth Book Exchange is always a must-visit on our trips to the coast - we always find something we need to read and want to buy.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Modern Romans in Brisbane

Well I am just back from a great day in Brisbane, teaching the Calligraphy group down there my version of Modern Romans.  The title makes perfect sense to calligraphers who work with Roman Capital letters all the time; but may sound odd to others who could be inclined to think we were talking about fashionable young Italians visiting Queensland!

©2012 Fiona Dempster - Donnie's ink, pen and brush
The full day (and full-on) workshop looked at a style of writing (a hand) that I had developed to write on David Linton's log.  We explored together what I had done to 'modernise' the traditional Roman Capitals.  It was great to be able to describe the things that made it look more informal, and made it more flowing to write, and it helped people see how to make that transformation.

This hand is really well suited to weight variations, and the group seemed to enjoy testing the different nib widths and heights of the letters.  People felt it was easy to write, it flowed and showed spontaneity. All the things I had been hoping to achieve.

Jenny's practice
Susan's practice
Barbara's practice 
Anna's practice
To finish off the morning session we made a quick folded pocket puzzle - perfect for gifts and greetings - written in a Modern Roman hand of course!

After lunch we spent time looking at a few other pieces where something like a Modern Roman had been used.  We talked about the things people had done to modernise the hand and how they all differed from one another, and then people began to explore if they could create their own style of Modern Roman.  Thinking about the principles they wanted to apply - write on a slant, high cross-bars, low-crossbars, wide letters, compressed letters, different serifs, loops and twirls, exaggerated diagonals, strokes not joining the letter fully, letters dropping below the baseline and a myriad of other options.

We spoke about not choosing every option, and also having some consistency applied throughout the alphabet.  Some simply stunning alphabets appeared.

Greg's explorations and designs
I really think if people have created something they are comfortable with, where they like each letter and are familiar with its form and its rhythms, then they will use it  and they will enjoy writing with it.

The last little while we extended the modernising of Romans to Skeleton Romans with ligatures (serious calligraphy speak for mono-line letters and connections). We referenced some of Jo Miller's work and people worked on monograms, their own names and words, and also then tried to work within a square or a circle.  This work really showed that as soon as you try to join things up, you make the letters more lively, they dance and move away from a straight baseline.

I think I could have played with these for a lot longer!

Perhaps a tad too much to cram into a single day, but I always like folk to get a lot out of workshop. I was too busy to take shots of the afternoon sessions which is a shame...

A final big thank you to the GCSEQ Calligraphy Group - who made me feel so welcome and who always show such enthusiasm and willingness to explore and play. Go well.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thursday Thoughts...

"In this there is no measuring with time, 
a year doesn’t matter, and ten years are nothing. Being an artist means: not numbering and counting, 
but ripening like a tree, 
which doesn’t force its sap, 
and stands confidently in the storms of spring, 
not afraid that afterward summer may not come. It does come. 
But it comes only to those who are patient, 
who are there as if eternity lay before them, 
so unconcernedly silent and vast. I learn it every day of my life, 
learn it with pain I am grateful for: 
patience is everything!" 

Letters to a young poet
 Rainer Maria Rilke Letter 3, Viareggio (near Pisa Italy) 
April 23 1903 (
Stephen Mitchell translation)

I think I am getting better at not being in a hurry. I was pretty bad in my twenties; for some unknown reason I thought I had to do it all before I turned 30. I've done heaps since then and enjoyed it. And to be perfectly honest I don't have much of anything on a bucket list now - I'm in no mad rush to see this or do that.

In terms of my art I think in some ways the quote means trying to have less angst about the future.  I understand better now how art things unfold, how they have their time and that rushing them isn't going to necessarily help make them better or make them great.

Rilke seems to say that patience is everything - that letting things take their time, trying to put things into the perspective of a lifetime is a good way of being, and possibly for him the only way his art of poetry and writing could unfold...

I really like the idea that having confidence in your work is like a tree withstanding storms, never fearing that the warmth of summer will follow.

Interesting words to read a century or so later when we are all consumed by instantism and immediate responses to things.  Perhaps we could all do with a little more patience; even tho being keen and decisive and action-oriented is also a good thing!

Once again I am taking part in Jennifer's search for Roy G. Biv (aka the rainbow...). This month we are up to green in case you couldn't guess. We saw this gorgeous summer greenery in the Japanese Gardens in Portland, Oregon, during a visit there back in 2010. Probably not the trees Rilke thought about or wrote about, but still they speak of patience.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Beautiful pages

One of the commissions I have at the moment involves celebrating the Friends of the Library in a town a little bit away from us. So we are working with books and words and I am making a 3-D piece to sit within a glass cabinet/coffee table in the Library.

Part of the work involves folding a book and I became quite enchanted by the pages the other day...

I love the myriad of patterns that emerge as parts of words and letters are revealed. I love the waviness of the page numbering. And just the general gorgeousness of folded pages!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Open Studio preparations

There are only four more weekends until the month-long celebration of artists and their studios begins here in the Sunshine Coast hinterland.

Most of us are getting our studios tidied and cleaned, making sure we have lots of interesting pieces around for people to look at and buy, and also working out what activities we'll be doing when people drop by.

For me that is one of the really fun parts of opening our studio - letting people in to watch what we do and how we do it. It's always fabulous to be able to hear an artist talk about their work, what it means to them and the like, but it is even better to watch somebody at play (or work) I think!

As part of the lead-up to the studios being opened, all the participating artists are contributing works to an exhibition at Main Street Gallery in Montville.  The exhibition is open from next Wednesday 15 August until 29 August.  The official champagne opening is on Friday 17 August from 4pm - 6pm. It is a really great opportunity to see work from each of the artists in one place.

I'll be sending along one of my favourites - Learning my Lines...

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Thursday Thoughts...

There is nothing quite so intimate as the space between a page and the reader’s eyes. 

Thinking and pondering about books today I enjoyed the image this quote created in my mind's eye.

Stopping to observe somebody reading is such an intimate thing. Watching their intensity, their concentration, their total absorption. Seeing them grin or giggle or chortle a little bit at a humourous piece of writing.  Wondering what the book is about, what they think about it (it if you have read it yourself).

As a reader the space between our eyes and a page is also a space which connects us to another world. Within that short distance words are reaching out to us, entering our minds and understandings, and changing us, adding to us. We are absorbing learning, interpreting feelings and reacting which are all pretty personal things.

That space between eyes and pages feels very private and any interruption can seem like a violation of sorts, some breaking of a code or rule, some intrusion across an unseen boundary.

I must admit that I feel at one with my books when I am reading - that somehow they are an extension of me and that we are joined invisibly across that space.

Altho I guess its not just books is it? That same intensity shows on many people's faces as they observe their phones for signs of their own existence...

I can't credit this photo sorry. It accompanied the words on tumblr and I couldn't find a better one to illustrate this thought...

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Little bits of loveliness

I have a couple of commissions underway at the moment and am enjoying exploring some quite creative options within the briefs I have been given.  This one is looking at using cut out words, and/or embossed words running in different directions on vertical folds.  The idea is that if you stand to one side you see some of the words, but if you stand on the other side the other words are revealed.  We are still deciding between embossing and cut-outs which is why I have done a bit of both here.

Barry and I are also busy preparing for the Open Studios which begin on September 15.  We had over 300 people visit last year over two weekends, and this year we will be open for three out of the four weekends.  We get the third weekend off because my brother is getting married which is quite the excitement!

I have been trying to pull together lots of little things that might be saleable.  Some people bought big items last year - but mostly folk were happy to spend a little bit and take home a memento of their visit rather than fork out significant funds for a major artwork.  We'd still like to sell some of our bigger and more expensive pieces, but we also know we need to have quite a few things that people can afford.

So I have been making some small notebooks. These can fit in most bags and be used for shopping lists, notes to self, or sketching as they all use the beautiful papers I work on for my calligraphic and book works.  Here are a couple of them...

Sunday, August 5, 2012

A bibs and bobs weekend

We are experiencing the most stunning winter weather at the moment: cool-cold mornings with crisp, clear blue skies and loads of sunshine. Very welcome after the first half of the year's rainy, misty days.

So we were out in the yard a lot, and in the studio a bit.  Yesterday was the first real test of Barry's return to fitness when we decided to move the wood around. We have lots of lovely pieces of timber, old fence posts, great big blocks of wood and many lengths of the posts that built our house.  The time had come to tidy up and put them all together - over where an old water tank had lived.  We lifted, carried, towed, trolleyed and dolly-ed the timber all around and up some slopes and as a result I slept the sleep of the righteous last night!

Anyhow what I meant to say was that the best part of it was discovering this whimsical landscape on one of the timbers. All the work of Nature - yet looking remarkably like a sketched tree, and rolling earth, or rocks or a dried creek bed even.


And here you can see it as we found it.

Oh and then there was the continuation of the great potato hunt. I still love how potatoes offer you a treasure hunt every time you go to collect them!

And in between I started to get my indoor Flags for Peace flags underway. Here I have run out of red ribbon; but have five of the seven sets up and hanging.  These ones will hang indoors around International Peace Day (September 21) as they are just printed onto tracing paper in rainbow colours spelling PEACE and they might run if it rains.  My outdoor ones are still in my imagination...

Please hop over to the Flags for Peace 2012 blog and if you'd like to be part - just send me an email and I'll get you started!

I also managed some studio time - more on that later.