Thursday, February 22, 2018

Thursday Thoughts...

"A library is a hospital for the mind". 


I imagine in the most basic sense that a library could contain within it the world of medicine and therapy and treatment such as you might need in an actual hospital.  Yet I am sure the quote by persons unknown is really suggesting that no matter what ails you; there will be a book in a library that will aid and assist you.

Time spent gazing at gardening books can be so soothing; poring over architecture and grand home designs can be uplifting when you think about beautiful spaces in which to live; cook books can definitely help most issues; and of course self-help is there when you need it too!  Art books can fill holes in your arty soul when you can't be making and so many other wonders are there.  You name it; there's a book for that!

Just search the catalogue...Prague.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Waiheke artwork

You probably couldn't get further away from each other in terms of the weather - from Waiheke Island off Auckland in mid-Summer to the northern-most tip of Scotland in mid-Winter; but the landscape is similar - islands, water, and beauty.

When we visited Waiheke for Barry's birthday, I was truly taken by a piece of public art.  We first came across it outside the fabulous Library - it was on the windows of a Learning Centre. At first I didn't really think of it as public art; it looked like something nifty an enthusiastic tutor had stencilled on the window.

The words "Before I die..." were big enough and bold enough to grab my attention. I moved in closer to see what had been written in the dash.

It says "learn something new."

I loved it and felt positive and uplifted by it.

The next day we wandered past the same building, but on another side, and came across more stencils. They were smaller this time but equally intriguing. 

By this stage I was still thinking it was a clever engagement idea by the Learning Centre; almost marketing and promotion in a way. All about learning something new, learning Italian and how to use Google Drive. It made me smile.

The next day however, we walked around the building in a third direction and I was bowled over the boldness of the work.

In many ways, the first three words could be part of any creative writing course, but something changes when you stencil them boldy onto a wall; and offer chalk and markers for folk to use to fill in the dash.  It becomes interactive art; it becomes a way of sharing hopes and dreams; it changes, morphs and is renewed.  People come back to see what else has been dreamed of; people tick off their dreams.

There were  a few cheeky ones in there; but mostly they spoke about hopes for families and children; of dreams for individuals to live happy and love-filled lives; and to care for animals and the environment.

I loved the positivity I saw on the wall and on the windows.  I loved that those three words had encouraged folk to think about what mattered to them and what they hoped for.

It made me think how would I fill that dash?  What things are so important to me that I'd dare to write them on a public wall and 'say them out loud"?

Whoever designed it and did it (no attribution I could see) - my thanks.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Rust on the block

It has been busy start of the year for us with lots of travel - some expected and planned; some not; some just rather serendipitous.

So here we are, far far away from home, yet before we left I really enjoyed a good wander on the block and found all of this rust perched here and there.

It somehow always feels right to me to come across rusty things, weathering away.  I love the story they tell, I love how they nestle in the landscape; they certainly feel like home to me.

Rusting cogs on an old tree stump.

Rusty bibs and bobs on old posts near the studio. We plan to actually make this a 'proper' artwork; just have to find the time to play with and secure all the pieces

I think these are old oil cans - again perched on post outside the studio, surrounded by draping rusted chains.

And some stunning barbed wire spheres - I love these so much!

And so to the typewriter sculpture...

Here it is in the rain a few weeks after putting it outside.

And here it is a month or so later, after more rain...

Little leaves landing in the keys.

 The rain washing words away

I love how thin the paper is getting in places.

And lovely rusty details.

I love travelling, but I really love being at home.  Whenever we return, we head off on a 'boundary ride' to re-familiarise ourselves with the plants and the sculptures and the view.  It is always interesting to see what's happened next with the rusty bits...

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Thursday Thoughts...

“Through loyalty to the past, our mind refuses to realize that tomorrow’s joy is possible only if today’s makes way for it; that each wave owes the beauty of its line only to the withdrawal of the preceding one.”

 Andre Gide

Oh my. 

I think it is hardest to think about life and its cycles when you are in the midst of toughness and hard times.  It is hard to recall that day follows night; that tides go in and tides go out; that the moon waxes and wanes.  That things pass.  I have never really thought about the way in which a new wave can only happen if the former wave releases all its energy and creates space for the new one to come into being.  

What an amazing way of thinking about life; about our days; and about our hope for the future.

Darwin sunset.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Cooking, Baking and Writing

The days are full of this and that at the moment.

The garden is busy offering lots of food that needs to be turned into other things; being in the kitchen makes me want to try new things, and there is the occasional wee commission to complete.

So tomato and corn relish has become the big winner of this summer - I have almost lost count of the number of bottles that Barry and I have made; it was certainly bumper tomato crop!

Time in the kitchen got me to thinking about baking bread, something I have always wanted to do so I gave it a go and was thrilled with the results.

And then to get out of the kitchen and back to the studio it was time to do some practice and a small commission.

Getting the hand, and the size right. And caps versus lower case.

Then the colour...I started with the FineTec metallics, but none of the lighter ones seemed to be just right. We were going for warm, soft, elegant, a hint of grey... etc.

The top one was almost invisible; and the bottom one too gold.

So then I tried to knock the metallics back a bit by adding tiny touches of black ink; numbers 3&4 here.

Still not quite doing it, so we turned to gouache, which was also going to give us a more matte look.
Here's the final trial list - from the metallics at the top through the metallics plus ink down to the final selection at the bottom. I used white gouache, black gouache with a hint of Schminke gold gouache.


Sunday, February 11, 2018

When your mind goes a'wandering

As I mentioned last weekend, it seems I have something in mind but yet nothing in mind. And so again, I was tempted to just try this out.

I headed to the studio and sat there gathering the things that I had thought I might need as I followed this random though about stitching and circles...

I played with my circle cutters - and patted myself on the back for having taken the time awhile ago to do a bunch of templates describing which bits ti use in which way to get a circle the size you need.

Here I wanted a 3.5cm diameter circle, and learn that I had to use the small template, inner tracks with the red cutter! Yay.

I founds some offcuts of paper (easier to do after sorting out my paper drawers - oh the bliss and sense of righteousness I felt after all that sorting and tidying!!); worked out where on a 'page' the circle might sit and cut one out.

I selected a series of embroidery threads, separated the strands out and used a single strand of this baby blue.

I always pierce the holes in paper before I stitch it - too much risk that I'll use so much force to push the needle though that I'll rip the paper. It is highly resistant and disasters can happen.

I like that the holes are aligned, yet slightly haphazard.

So around I went in blanket stitch; must be my all time favourite stitch. Does anybody else have a favourite stitch?

And the first row was complete.

And then I wanted to test a few ideas - how did running stitch go? leaving alternate lines and gaps. How did back stitch go? creating a single line.

They both offer quite different effects.

And then I punched the next row of holes; getting slightly more haphazard as I go!

 The next day I did another row of blanket stitch, enjoying solving the problems of the wobbles.

It is early days yet. It is in response to one of those fleeting notions; that you can sort of see out of the corner of your mind's eye yet don't really know what form it takes.

I am enjoying going along for the wander tho. 

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Thursday Thoughts...

“There are poems 
that are never written, 
that simply move across 
the mind 
like skywriting 
on a still day; 
slowly the first word 
drifts west, 
the last letters dissolve 
on the tongue, 
and what is left 
is the pure blue 
of insight, 
without cloud 
or comfort.” 

Linda Pastan, “There Are Poems”

As an artist using words, turning to words, slightly in love with words, this poem about unwritten poems thrills me.

The words are so beautiful, and they evoke for me those moments of staring at the sky, when messages appear, drift, disappear, dissolve, reunite...and you are never really sure what was there before what you can see now.

Sometimes those drifts occur in our minds, when we experience ideas and designs, passing through, possibly something; maybe nothing.  Sometimes they are beautiful but we just can't catch them. Sometimes we have to accept that we had them for a moment and that was all that is needed. Sometimes they are held as memories, which then become sparks for something else.

The ability to describe these moments as poems that are never written...oh my.

Skywritten messages in the big blue, Stockholm 2017.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Waxing and waning

With lots of talk of the blue moon, super moon and red moon through the week (which we missed because of cloud cover), the notion of waxing and waning really came to the fore for me when I was playing on the weekend.

I love my wax-wok; an electric wok which lets me manage and control the temperature of the wax beautifully and which means I don't burn myself if I also dip my fingers...

As mentioned in my last post it all happened pretty quickly, so I turned the wok off and kept pottering about.

I walked past the wok and went oooh; now that's nice!!

And so began a series of photos of waning wax.

As the wax cooled it made beautiful marks.  I couldn't get great photos because of the light and shadows if I went right over the top of the wok, but I did enjoy the ones I got.

Here's a short and sweet record of them - enjoy!

If i were any kind of scientists I might have returned every minute to watch how much happened in a minute; as it was I sometimes got distracted (now there's a news break!) but the result is still rather lovely I think.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

The smell of beeswax...

I'm at that point in the arty times when I feel like I have nothing in mind; yet something in mind.

I managed to disappear off to the studio for few hours on the weekend, and decided to just sit down and play with wax.

I have loads of cups of beautiful beeswax in my cupboards. They smell is divine and I am wondering to myself why I haven't touched in ages. Life I guess.

But now I have a few niggly thoughts running about in my head, so I started to just play.

I made some marks on a variety of different papers, grabbed some scraps and offcuts and off I went.

I heated the beautiful wax up in my wax-wok and the dipped to my heart's content.  It surprised me how quickly it happens - I had forgotten that you could make things happen pretty quickly, which is a good thing to remember when you are trying to find something to do with a few stolen moments.

The results were rather lovely.

I was hoping to get the see through of both sides and it happened.

Pencil crosses on one side; ink crosses on the reverse.

Different results where the way didn't go (the central ovoid shapes) seen from both sides.

I like where the wax and the paper meet here - like surf and sand.

Heavy letterpress paper printed one side and pencil circles on the other.

On some old photocopy paper I got lovely bleed through letters.

Things begin to take shape, to take form... possibilities emerge.

And the smell in the studio is wonderful!  Here's to more playing and exploring and wondering what if?