Thursday, September 29, 2016

Thursday Thoughts...

A book without women is often said to be about humanity but a book with women in the foreground is a woman’s book. 

Rebecca Solnit

I am happy to call myself a feminist and I find the older I get, the more I realise how entrenched so many of the ways in which we think of, and treat, women differently are.

Part of the trick for me is that so many of the moments I realise things are awry are relatively small when seen by themselves.

Like how we describe works of fiction.

Yet when you gather them all together a pattern emerges...

But today's post is about books so I'll head back in that direction rather than in the direction of a full on rant!

It intrigues me how often women read books with male protagonists and just think about them as books to be read; yet for men to read books about women oftentimes seems unusual. Perhaps women are more interested in understanding or exploring different worlds and experiences? Or perhaps we just assume men's worlds are more interesting?

Like all things that are generalisations, there will be exceptions, and one book I can think of that has a woman in the foreground that men really read was the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and the other books in the series. For which I am thankful - Lisbeth Salander is fabulous!

The fourth book in the series, this one written by someone other Stieg Larsson...alway interesting to see how that goes (and I enjoyed it).

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Play time!

After all of the left-brain work of measuring, calculating and planning that I am doing for the Melbourne job, I really wanted to just go do something light and breezy.

And I did!

This is a playful alphabet called the button alphabet, designed originally by Peter Thornton.

I picked up a 6.0mm parallel pen, popped in a red ink cartridge without rinsing to the nib from its previous black ink and started to see if I could write this alphabet.

I had such fun and will definitely do it again.

The alphabet with a few variations and lots of less than perfect looking letters.

 A quick go at writing names - not too bad.

And then a couple of phrases/words.

And on grey card as well.

Which I decided to make into cards.

A fun and very fruitful little while in the studio - it was good to get inky again and do some letters by hand and have so much fun doing it!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Old-fashioned cut and paste

I am an old fashioned cut and paste girl when it comes to making.

At times, I wish I were a modern graphic designer girl who could do all the whizz-bangery that would see my plans and designs appear magically and perfectly on the screen; that would let me move things around and change colours and the look and feel of everything.

But alas no, I am not that woman. And I don't really think I will ever be - I doubt I have the energy to study and learn in depth what I would need to know in order to do this.

So instead, I sit, I draw, I cut, I paste. I move things around. I stick things together and I blu-tac them to the windows!

This work is all part of the design work for the windows of a new building in Melbourne.

I am learning heaps as I basically design and then commercialise my work. As ever, my work is slow and I sit and I think, and I calculate and measure and plan and hope and test and try and ....

In  a while I will know if it all works!

I wrote some words and placed them on pages indicative of the size of the windows then laid them out on the studio floor to check.

Then I stuck a few on the windows to check size and how they looked.

Then I moved back to the house to do the serious number-crunching!

And laid them out on the floor there - this time having prepared pages that were the exact size of each window (each window is a different size) and added diamonds to break up the words and make them easier to read. Part A is about having two lines of words running across the seven windows

You can see how I even cut and pasted the paper to make the background pages the right size!

And then it was back to measuring and calculating. I have to create a printing schedule - advising the printers how long/tall each word should be printed at. This is after I wrote every word out, scanned it saved, it cleaned it up and then taught myself how to vectorise it so that I can send the files to the printers and they can cut the lettering out.

Part B of the job  involves having other words scattered through the rest of the windows, so it was back to drawing up seven windows, writing out the words, cutting them to scale....

Laying them out to get a feel for the spacial balance, the word length balance, the height balance and the 'having the right words in the right place' kind of balance as well.

And then I measured how high above the centre and how far below the centre each word should be - and how far in from the left hand hand side of the window. I need to send the printer a placement-layout Schedule as well as they will attaching the words to the windows and I want them to put them in the right place. Lots of detailed measurements and writing.

These are all my sketches and notes to myself - next I have to type up and prepare the schedules for both Part A and Part B - four schedules. I am sure it will all happen if I am patient, take my time and double-check everything.

If I was doing a proper and through step by step of the process, there would be another 3 blog posts needed to capture it all I think - I just thought to myself a lot about cutting and pasting as I did this work and thought I'd share my old fashioned ways!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Thursday Thoughts...

Taking time to do nothing often brings everything into perspective. 

 Doe Zabtamata

Sometimes the simplest words capture the most profound of understandings.

In our busy world - and don't we all seem to need to tell ourselves and others how busy we are - it can feel like a crime to stop and do nothing. I know I get the guilts even contemplating sitting down and staring into space for a bit; just opting out of my day and reading a book; watching a movie or anything else that doesn't seem purposeful.

I imagine I must be pretty goal-oriented, action-oriented and the like and yet I know in my heart that slowing down and simply being is important.

We have recently begun a period of stillness and quiet in the middle of our day - sure we set a timer and some days my mind runs down all sorts of rabbit holes and ponders way too many things; on others I achieve stillness and a quiet mind, paying attention to birds outside, the sound of the wind, the refrigerator humming...

It isn't a grand exploration of the art of meditation. It isn't an impressive amount of time; but I have already noticed that my mindset is shifting. I am less anxious about getting all the things done that need doing, and I find the time to do them in a far more relaxed way. Perspective has become apparent.

Taking the time to find raindrops on spider's webs...

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

International Day of Peace

Tomorrow (21 September) is International Day of Peace.

Each year since 2012, Barry and I have hung peace flags in the tree at the top of our driveway - and sometimes in other places around the block - to mark and celebrate International Day of Peace.

This year we have hung Barry's copper peace doves; and some of my imagine peace letterpress cards.

Lovely rough jute string works so well with the soft dove grey and creamy white.

Waiting together in the tray...

Some lovely details...

And then into the tree!

It was a grey old day when we hung them but they are fluttering away in the breeze, sharing messages of peace which is what we need.

This year's plus part of last year's...

 Barry's dove's silhouette so beautifully...

Tucked into the branches

And looking up from the bottom of the driveway

One neighbour has already stopped and asked is it time for the peace messages again? And yes it is, and yes it always is in a way...

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Collagraph workshop

In what has been pretty much a whirlwind of printmaking it seems, last weekend, I was fortunate to attend Day 1 of a two day collagraph workshop with the Maleny Printmakers.

I will miss Day 2, but I really wanted to learn bit about collagraphs and really enjoyed getting a better idea of how to make these interesting plates.

Jackie L and Kim H were our fearless guides; both know so much about what they do and it was great to be able to ask a million questions and photograph the materials they use - which glue for what for example.

One of Jacky's plates and a print (plate on right)

Delicious details...

 I was lacking somewhat in imagination, but did want to test different textures - so a basic old townscape.

With clouds! Laugh.

Experimenting with thick PVA and drawing into it

And then cutting into it after it had dried a bit

 And also playing with cutting out shapes, peeling back cardboard...

Susan also came along and talked to us about embossing which was a real treat - she does it soooooo  well!

And then it was on to encaustic collagraphs with Kim - heat guns and wax yum!
Here is one of Kim's plates and one of her prints

Here is one of my plates waxed, fund and scraped (the before shot)

And here it is a after a blast with the heat gun...

Delicious fun - now to shellac the plates and ink them up!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Thursday Thoughts...

He who works with his hands is a laborer. 

He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman. 

He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist. 

St. Francis Of Assisi

Once again, I read this as he or she; but didn't want to fiddle with a direct quote.

Semantics over; as I think about the content of these words, I think they are wise and may offer a simple way for me to understand the oftentimes fraught art-craft divide.

St Francis lived in the late 12th and early 13th centuries, so these words have travelled many years to reach me sitting here at my computer, after washing ink from my fingers from a piece of calligraphy I was writing in the studio.

Today my work felt like craft - it was a job, a skill I have, to make words looks beautiful.  I used my head to calculate nib widths, line lengths, and interlinear spaces; and my hands to craft the letters. The work is signage for a shop, and so a bit hard to imbue with my heart.

When I compare today's work with some more recent work where heart and head and hands were at play throughout; I realise I feel differently about work where my heart is involved.  And for me that work is artistic.

I wonder if it's that simple?

A glimpse of a piece with head and hands and heart...

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Garden gift

I love our block - it is a constant source of salve for the soul. It provides us with food, flowers, birds and beauty.

And last week it brought us another gift.

We came home to find this wee nest sitting on the chair outside our front door (made by our friend Ken) - a friend had found it down below when wandering and left it there to make us smile. Which it did.

Perfection in so many ways, and it is still sitting there making me smile when I come in the front door!