Thursday, January 30, 2014

Thursday Thoughts...

“I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.” 

Anna Quindlen, “Enough Bookshelves,” New York Times, August 7, 1991

Oh so true. I think making sure one has enough bookshelves is an important part of working out how to decorate a home. Where the bookshelves should be? What sorts of books will be held in each area?

As we go about living in our home, we regularly re-assess whether we need another book shelf; whether the coffee table is still OK to use as a place for holding books; if the bookshelves in the office are not beginning to overflow just a wee bit; and whether the art inspiration books should be in the house or in the studio.

So many decisions! Laugh.

It really is one of those indelicate things but don't you love checking out other people's bookshelves when you visit?  Having books around a house makes it feel like a home to me; gives me comfort in the knowledge that I can pick up one of anything and have a look, a read, a flick through…learn something, discover something or just escape.

Studiolo from the Ducal Palace at Gubbio 1478-82.

This magnificent room is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The room is made of stunning wood inlay, representing cupboards and book shelves, all around. It is so clever in the way that it makes things appear three-dimensional even tho they are flat. One of my favourites from our day at the Met recently!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Travelling stitches...

Whilst we were away over Christmas I had figured I wouldn't do much calligraphy nor much book making, but I thought I should have something with me that would let me do something with my hands if I got tired of reading…

I signed up for one of Jude Hill's online courses (Spirit Cloth 101)and grabbed a few scraps of fabric, a needle and some thread and hoped!

I have found the course material really interesting and easy to use - and despite me having no idea what I was doing to start with, I have enjoyed letting my fingers find their way through the fabric and respond to what is happening.

Hand-stitching is such a lovely way to spend time and to sit quietly with needle in hand taking little steps, repeating…is all very calming and meditative.

I haven't gotten far through the course and am just testing out my own ideas and thoughts as I go - nothing really planned - but that too is good for me. I am fine with everything being loose, unstructured and not perfect.

Here are some shots from my travel stitches…

We have just had a few days away, and I took the stitching with me. I think it will become my story of travelling stitches...

Sunday, January 26, 2014

A Letter a Week begins again...

I missed doing my second alphabet for A Letter a Week last year, but have started on time this year and am looking forward to the challenge.

This alphabet is a little bit odd, but I have been wanting to play with the idea for ages, so here I go!

The story begins with our visit to Japan last year, where on our first day our friend and interpreter Hiro Kato san offered me a gift surprise. He wasn't sure  I would like them and he hoped it would all be OK and I was sure it would be.

He gave me 500 coloured pencils in beautiful boxes of 25.  Whilst it made packing to come home a bit interesting, I was pretty excited to have so many colours!

I kept wondering what sort of installation I could make with them, and Barry suggested letters…so after a fair bit of pondering I decided to make my letters for the first alphabet out of the coloured pencils.

Not that you'd know it from these shots…

But maybe now you can see what I was doing…

A - with an Amethyst theme…

B - with a Burgundy theme…

C - with a Crimson theme…

D - with a Denim theme…

I must say I have had some fun with these! Altho I am not sure just how I will go making some of the bigger/wider letters, I'm pretty sure I'll keep having fun trying!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Thursday Thoughts...

"Take a moment from time to time to remember that you are alive. I know this sounds a trifle obvious, but it is amazing how little time we take to remark upon this singular and gratifying fact. By the most astounding stroke of luck an infinitesimal portion of all the matter in the universe came together to create you and for the tiniest moment in the great span of eternity you have the incomparable privilege to exist." 

Bill Bryson 

Bill Bryson has written some very funny travel books - I have enjoyed a few, especially the one about Australia. Sometimes I get all hoity toity if I think he's being unfair in his assessment; at other times I laugh out loud and think he's got us in one!

This quote is one of those notions that I need to remind myself of every now and again.  How truly wonderful it is to be alive, to be here, to share this earth with fabulous people and wonderful friends; to be able to experience and learn so much.  I like the way in which he suggests it is an incomparable privilege.

I certainly acknowledge that I am fortunate to be born in this country, to have had the opportunities I have had, the education I have had and the love and support I have had.

There is something about the manner in which he places us within this vast eternity of time and as a small gathering of matter given the size of the universe that is also very helpful to me. One of the reasons I love our mountain top is that it helps me remember how small and insignificant me and my worries or problems really are. The sense of scale and breadth and majesty keeps me thinking that the world is a big place and I am but a small inhabitant.  But it also offers breadth of opportunity and possibility...

I like the ocean as well - gazing over the vastness of an ocean reminds me how small we all are in the grand scheme of things; and the sense of the tide going in and going out, relentless in its continuity, also helps me know that life goes on, it's rhythms continue, no matter what might be happening to me.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

A shop revival

One of the things I have wanted to do for a while, but for the last six months of last year was too busy, is to revamp my website shop.

I was thrilled and excited when I managed to launch it and have it go live; and then didn't do much else; just occasionally took a piece off if it sold.

I have been thinking a bit about what sort of work sells where and decide that my larger or more expensive books probably feel like a real gamble for folk to purchase online. When people see them and can hold them, they might have the chance for a heart-sell, but I do wonder if there is a limit to the amount of money we are willing to spend with on-line art-type purchases.

Anyhow, I put it in the diary that I wanted to do this by the end January and am feeling a wee bit chuffed that I managed to do it.  I have refreshed the site, put in a variety of my smaller works as well as a downloadable exemplar of my heartbeat script.

I think we have worked out that if you purchase more than one item, you only pay once for shipping which is a good thing I hope!

So if you click here or on the shop box in the sidebar, you will be taken off to see the things I have decided to sell on-line.

If you click here, you'll get see Barry's revamped shop as well!

Any feedback is welcome as I expect I will be tweaking things a bit this way and that for a while.

I have also updated my portfolio page to keep things current and up to date.

I am hopeful that I will manage to be more regular in updating and refreshing my website this year - a bit of a commitment to investing in myself and my work in a way...

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The story of Conversations

Having shared the get-together of our two books on Wednesday, I thought I'd take the time to show you through my book "Conversations".

These prints were never made to be seen together and I worried, no doubt as Susan did, about how to tell a cohesive story; how to make them seem as if they belonged in the same book.

I spent time pairing them up and finding ones which I felt spoke to each other, and could begin a conversation.

Then I had to work out how to present them, how to link them somehow to stop them looking they were just two prints stuck next to each other.  I know how important words are to me, and this notion just gets regularly re-enforced. It is natural for me to turn to words when trying to find a way through an artistic or design dilemma.

I am also quite regular and structured in my work - I am not a free-flowing organic shape kind of gal. I wondered about writing haiku that drifted across the pages, I wondered about words just dropped into pages…in the end I chose to write a few words about different conversations in a square, centred on the opposite page to the prints.

Detail of a conversation...

One of the warmer pages...

Print and embossing detail…

Each of the written conversations reflect a conversation type I have with friends or family, and which for me could be linked somehow to the imagery.

The end result, was too much structure even for me; staid, a bit sterile, a bit blocky.

I wanted to link the pages, to bring the words and the prints together as if they were conversing, to make them seem joined and connected.  I thought about marks, I thought about stitching and in the end I just chopped some squares and rectangles into embossing plates and hand embossed them in a free-flowing manner across the two pages, linking the imagery and the words. Ahh, now we're talking!

Some more pages…

Having done the pages, the next thing to sort was the cover - how much of the inside to reflect? More embossing? Prints? Free-flowing or structured? 

This is a detail of the cover - wee scraps of prints, both Susan's and mine. These are the same size as the embossed shapes inside the book; yet are structured into a square the same size as the calligraphy block. Somehow this holds...

The quiet 'title' page introduces the conversation, without actually stating a conversation…

So finally, I had a look I was happy with - simple, uncluttered, yet gently conversing across the pages...

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Thursday Thoughts...

“Go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.” 

Kurt Vonnegut

I think that any time we can encourage folk, children, young adults, old adults to be a bit creative is great!

It's probably pretty accurate that the arts are not a way to make a living (maybe the 80:20 rule applies; 80% need to do other work and 20% make a living?), but it is a great way to make a life.

The way in which it opens you up, lets you escape, feeds your soul, makes you feel so darn good - all of these things add up to making your life so much better, richer and more wonderful, just to experience the dailiness of life in a creative or artistic way.

Sometimes it's just a fragment of the day; sometimes it's a week-long workshop; sometimes it's every day in large doses.  Having art as a way of being in the world, seeing things and experiencing things is such a wonderful way to be.

Not the most coherent or cogent thoughts by me, but I love his enthusiasm for doing something - no matter what it is - the pay off is fantastic!

Blinds by Mary Heilmann, 1975, Brooklyn Museum
Once again I am playing along with Jennifer and Julie in their search for Roy G. Biv - aka the rainbow of colours (and more this year). The third Thursday of each month they choose to post on a colour and we have started the year with RED. Pop over to see more red, and or to join in!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The books meet and are beautiful

The days when Susan's and my collaborative books get together are always special. Today seemed particularly special as neither of us had seen or heard anything - not a hint or peek, nothing - since we first sat down together to see how we would work with our collection of prints back in November.

You may recall that Susan had boldly cut into the prints; whereas I was far more tentative.

I enjoyed that we both found our own way to have the prints work together, even tho they had never been intended by us as individuals let alone collectively, to be viewed together as a set or a series.

I paid my book scant attention whilst we were away, so had to really get my act together when we returned. Over the weekend I will show you the details of my book, but for today it's all about the books getting together…

I don't think Susan will mind me saying that we were both extraordinarily moved by seeing the two books together.  We hugged, and even shared the odd tear. The first time we've ever be so emotional in response to the getting together.

First of all, we just looked at the covers and could hardly believe our eyes - the similarities were so strong.

We went through each book separately and then turned the pages of them together, just to see how each story unfolded and held together, and how the two books complemented each other so well.  They were beautiful together. And equally beautiful as individuals.

My 'conversations' and Susan's 'daydreams' worked together so well; yet each told its own story uniquely and beautifully.

I don't think we've ever been so aware of our shared aesthetic as we were with these books. We talked a lot about our responses and how we were surprised, but not surprised when we saw each other's book; how we couldn't believe it, yet of course could believe it.

These books feel like companion pieces, or as we said a real pairing.

Of course we got a bit carried away with the lovely angle shots and shadows…

And despite me keeping the prints broadly intact (except for the cover) and Susan cutting them up into much smaller pieces; it was clear that they shared a heritage and had a common beginning.

We talked and talked about what had happened, and agreed that beginning with the same content and broadly agreeing to keep the size and shape pretty similar (Susan's is 22cm square and mine is 25cm square) both played big parts in the way the books looked and felt similar.  For the first time, our books felt biologically related, despite our obvious differences in mark-marking, writing, drawing and even embossing.

As ever, we learnt so much from the process, and we finished with very satisfied sighs.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The wall of small things

In recent times, Barry and I have found that we are purchasing less art, yet we still love to buy it! The slow down has mostly been because our house is filling up with lovely sculptural and 3-D pieces; and our walls are pretty much full with our Aboriginal art collection.

We have nonetheless bought a lot of small pieces and have been talking for a while of making 'a wall of small things' in our office.

Previously on the wall we had a triptych by Walala Tjapaltjarri, one of the Pintupi people who is about my age, but walked out of the desert when he was in his twenties, never having see a white person.  Not really that long ago…

And so because we have been planning and working out what we want to do and achieve, and how we want to spend our time, today we spent the afternoon creating our wall in the office.

Bits and pieces on our work table...

Barry screwing in D-Rings and other holders...

The two anchor pieces by local artist Katie Wells.

The top line organised…

Katie, Rob Natoli and Donna Watson

Rob, Thich Nhat Thanh, Donna, Massimo Pollelo, local artists Alex Bridges,  Kym Barrett, Jinty Stockings 

Annie Atkinson, David Paulson and Katie.

This is where we got to this afternoon.  We figure if you have to sit at the computer or the desk and work, then you might as well have lovely art to gaze upon!

We still have quite a few to be framed so the afternoon has encouraged us to act on that as well. It was fun, and really the best thing is that we discovered we have room for more beautiful small things!

Here is where Walala's triptych has ended up - on top of our linen cupboard! Still, we get to see them a lot when we come up and down the stairs…