Sunday, August 30, 2015

Produce and little bits of peace

I have very little to show for my artistic endeavours this week; rather more to show for my kitchen efforts I'm afraid!

I have spent the week doing a lot of writing for my art - two articles, a letter to be included in an exhibition and an exhibition proposal. Barry and I often note to each other that it's never just about the art is it?  We often find ourselves spending time at the computer writing the sorts of things I have been writing this week, or updating items in our shops, or writing out price lists and images of work to be delivered somewhere or entered somewhere.  So whilst it has been an art-filled week; I haven't got much photographic evidence of it.

But the garden is beginning to really let us know that winter is on its way out and that Spring is headed here!  I picked cherry guavas earlier in the week and made cherry guava jelly; we had spinach and fetta pies from our spinach and the bananas have been ever so bountiful (and they always all ripen at once and suddenly you have 35 bananas to work out what to do with).

Our bananas will never win any beauty contests but they are full of flavour. So banana muffins are in the freezer and a banana- pecan loaf is just out of the oven - using our own pecans as well.

Fresh out of the oven.

The rhubarb was glowing and so it has been stewed with apple to become a rhubarb crumble; and the rest of it has become a rhubarb and macadamia cake (our macadamias as well).  A couple of before and after shots.

So all in all a successful week with the garden, and at least in some small way I have been creative.

And to fill in a few moments, I began making my annual peace weathergrams to hang in the tree at the top of our driveway for International Day of Peace on 21 September.

I have cut, punched holes and tied the string for them all.

And written a few quickly.

At least I've begun!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Thursday Thoughts...

"Books take you under the skin of life, and into all the layers of the wind. Once you’ve seen that, it’s so hard existing on the ordinary surface. You’ve got to keep reading, to stay in the deep". 

Sarah Elwell

What a remarkable way of describing how books can affect you, where they can take you and how they can make you feel. "...and into all the layers of the wind". That stopped me in my tracks and made me wonder about the layers of the wind, and in my mind I could see them!

Every now again I read an article about reading - how it happens and the multiple processes that are at play as we not only translate the typed or written characters on a page, but then transform them into imagined experiences, places, people and events.

Some times my head hurts after I try to really grasp what is going on, and I have to go back and back again to re-read for a proper understanding. In these moments I am grateful that folk like Ms Elwell manage to capture the essence of reading so well, when the intricacies of its process elude me!

Wind in the grass in Tatebayashi, Japan. I can almost see the layers...

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

An alphabet book

I mentioned that there was an added extra in my gift pack from Lesley - and here is the wondrous and splendid book that was like gold.

Alphabets Old and New
For the use of Craftsmen, with an introduction essay on 'art in the alphabet'
By Lewis F. Day London, 1906.

Apparently there is a companion volume to this  Lettering in Ornament  an enquiry into the decorative use of lettering . past . present . and possible.

Worth hunting for I imagine!

The essay runs for 44 pages and is a delight. It is almost conversational and written by an observer and admirer of letter forms, rather than a scholar of them.  Which is to say that she describes letterforms and their variations over time in a perfect manner, yet without using the language we often employ to describe things.

Two examples "There is something very whimsical about the character of Anglo-Saxon capitals; at times mechanically square in form, at others exceptionally flowing and even frisky" p20.

"The mediaeval German version of black letter was stronger than that of other countries, the French more fanciful, the Italian more refined, more perfect, but perhaps never so Gothic" p.23

The book contains over 160 plates with various alphabets, numerals, and ampersands. Here a few that surprised and delighted me.

I was quite astounded at the variations in this book, some very individual styles and exciting design moments.  I have already identified a letter form I want to use in a workshop next year which is fabulous!

A great gift indeed. Thanks so much Lesley.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Gifts and generosity

Some weeks have you smiling for the gorgeousness and generosity of folk.

I recently completed a commission for a friend's father - to update his family tree with a few more generations. My friend was at a meeting and I gave her the completed work (on a large A1 page) and she swapped me for a rather large bubble-wrapped parcel. I had no idea what it was or who it was from and just took it home - it was beginning to rain and things were a bit mad!

I read the thank you card from her dad, and went on to open the parcel. Imagine my delight when I discovered an old type drawer was the gift!  It is in such good condition with all the right amount of wear and use.

It has such lovely little nails in the dividers.

I was beyond belief thrilled. This thank you was in addition to payment, so how gorgeous was that?  It was the perfect gift for me for sure.

A few weeks ago I was the lucky winner of a give-away on Lesley's blog - Printed Material - and during the week the prize book arrived.  It was all that I had hoped for when I had peered through the screen and wanted to touch the embossed pages...

So many lovely edges.

As Lesley and I exchanged emails - she asked if I had noticed the end pages.

I had looked but not seen.

Here on the inside of the front cover is the word book.

And here on the inside back cover is end. How perfect!

Lesley also included some gorgeous book marks. I have struggled to work out whether I can bear to share them or not - but I will!

Embossing, de-bossing, cyanotypes and etchings. Sigh. So, so beautiful.

In amongst this loveliness Lesley included yet another gift - but it is so special I have kept it for its own post. I have spent ages poring through it and admiring it and can't wait to share some of its glory - soon!

What a special time it has been, to receive such gorgeous, generous offerings.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Thursday Thoughts...

“Empathy is sometimes just a glance. Because in a glance, one can convey ‘I get what you’re feeling. I’m not judging you. I’m here with you.’” 

Brené Brown

Empathy is such an important virtue or characteristic or expression. I'm never really sure how best to describe it, but it is an important part of being human, and of being kind.

It possibly defies proper  definition because it appears in so many guises.  Empathy can be sitting in silence. As Brene Brown says - it can be a glance. Empathy can be the right words, or reflecting back to somebody that you recognise their sorrow, their pain, even if you don't fully experience it.

Empathy can simply be acknowledging that you walk a different path to others and that your experience is not their experience. It can be making sure that somebody feels heard and not judged. It might be shedding tears with somebody. It might be sending a small gift or token that touches a person heart and let's them know you are thinking of them at a time when they are struggling.

So many ways it can be expressed, and I am ever so glad that it does get expressed. Sometimes I do it well, sometimes I don't, and sometimes I forget to make it a focus of an interaction I might not be understanding. But is a great gift that enhances us all.

We have completed the monthly search for the rainbow with Jennifer and Julie, and are now underway looking for other colours. This month is brown and here are a bunch of daily words, and even tho you can't see it clearly I am sure empathy is in there somewhere. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

More fun with feathers

Having sent my five wall pieces to the framers last week; I have turned to actually finishing the books for Under Construction.

I was pleased when I had finished the print-making and the stitching, twigs and additions to the pages, but now I need to make the covers and to make the actual books.

So I have covered my boards with a beautiful book cloth.

I have stitched my feathers onto fragments of vellum.

I love the featherishness of this one in particular!

And I have even attached the vellum+feathers into the niches I had created on the front covers.

It was a fine day playing with feathers, now to attach the pages to the covers and we shall have five books...

Sunday, August 16, 2015

This, that and the other

Sometimes I can't really believe the multiplicity of directions my life has going - especially my art life.  I am beavering away trying to finish work for the exhibition at Noosa, getting pieces framed, getting Perspex and aluminium cut, getting photographs taken, finishing a commission, trying to prepare for the Queensland Literary Awards, writing an article, installing a major artwork of Barry's, preparing a 5-day workshop proposal and ...
and they all seem to need to be progressed at once!

Still, life is full and wonderful.

So here's a smattering of things that happened throughout the week...

Checking that book cloth and linen papers match my Under Construction prints.

Cutting boards for covers for my five Under Construction books - love the architecture of the cut outs as I lay them down...

Finishing a commission for a friend's father.  He had a family tree in tiny tiny writing and he wanted to add on some of the more recent members. Luckily for me, I only had to work on cartridge paper and then it would be photographed and reduced 200% then photo-shopped into a file with the original. Nonetheless it took hours of practice and layout to make sure it fitted and will be sympathetic to the original.

Through the week, Susan and I spent an amazing morning with photographer Anastasia Karyofillidis at a professional studio space, having our collaborative books photographed.  It was an amazing set-up and we were thrilled with how gorgeous the books looked when shot by a professional in a pristine setting.

Yesterday morning Barry and I visited Recyclerama at the Maleny Showgrounds for an hour or so of rest and relaxation - and I came home with some lovely goodies!

Now to get going and get the house ready for visitors...never a dull moment.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Thursday Thoughts...

“By all means break the rules, and break them beautifully, deliberately and well.” 

Robert Bringhurst

I have always appreciated this idea and I often use the mantra when I teach - "you have to know the rules to break the rules". When I started to take my calligraphic journey seriously, I was fortunate to be taught be Gemma Black.  Gemma is highly skilled and a great teacher, and also keeps you focused on getting the fundamentals right.  At times you wonder if you will ever achieve any sort of accomplishment over a serif or an arch, or the ellipse in an o, but you just keep practising and practising.

I love expressive and abstract calligraphic art. I really don't like cheap efforts to be expressive that are simply ugly to my eyes.

The difference for me is always that somebody has learnt the rules about the rhythm of writing, of good letter forms, of spacing and weight and balance and layout, and then they have broken them. Deliberately and well.

Which in my mind is different to ignoring all the rules and just doing  your own thing.

I did a wonderful workshop with calligrapher Massimo Polello a few years ago - he is a true master at starting way back with the original scripts (15th century or so) and then busting them open to create beautiful expressive, abstract calligraphy.

This is a work sheet he did - from Sydney to...Sydney!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Finished fragments

I went to the framers today.  I took quite a few pieces in preparation for our exhibition at Noosa Regional Gallery.  In particular I wanted to see how it would be to frame my works "Under Construction".

They are mixed media, with twigs and feathers and fabric and thread and prints, so it was going to take a bit of time.

I spent just over an hour working through what to do and working out what choices I really had given the height of some of the pieces, my desire to 'float' the pages and so on. It never ceases to amaze me how hard it is to find a mat board that matches the paper you work on - so many whites and creams and not a one that matches.

Still. I am hopeful.

Here are some fragments of the finished work...

One of my 'haiku-poems' about building nests...

All the feathers have been found on the block or on our walks - but I honestly don't know who they all belong to.

Every piece has hand-stitchign on it.

These twigs come from a nest that fell and almost disintegrated in the garden.

A pigeon pair perhaps?

I do love bundles.

Another haiku-poem and words and stitches and...

I am hopeful that they will be wonderful when framed and that folk enjoy gazing at them once they are upon a wall..