Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Other worldly...

There's nothing much creative about this blog post but it has some rather lovely images in it.

For starters - the sweetest blush of dawn yesterday morning.

A few weeks ago now (March 8 in fact but it feels like a lifetime ago), the family all headed to Canberra to celebrate my Dad's 80th birthday. We had outings and dinners but the main game was a ride in a hot air balloon.

Whilst a tad on the nervous side when I arrived, I soon forgot myself and delighted in the slow gentle movement through the sky and over the landscape.

It was stunningly beautiful and serene and I would do it again in heartbeat if I could.

Flying high over the city centre and Australia's Parliament House.

It was also the second day day of the fortnight-long international balloon festival and you can see some of the novelty balloons being blown up by the lake.  The winds were a bit too frisky for the dinosaur to go up that day, so they tethered it and let people play in it I think.

I followed this balloon for as long as I could - I love the dreamy image of a heart floating by in the sky...

The landscape looked so wonderfully different - we were close enough to notice lots of things, and slow enough to be able to really look...

The four different 'curves' of fence lines, road and cycle path...

The geometry of an industrial area

And then to a rather rough landing and packing the balloon back up!

The bottom of the basket - it falls over on landing and you all get tilted on top of each other and clamber out sideways, but it was fun!

And then to finish with more other-worldliness, yesterday morning, looking up our driveway as the sun rose and the mist evaporated...

It feels so long ago to have been able to stand next to each other; to spend an hour or more in close proximity.  We have all remained well since the adventure and with three weeks or more gone we were lucky to have had the moment.  Even the next weekend I don't think it would have been possible.

And I feel so fortunate to still have beautiful moments like the ones on our block.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Little printings

It has been a week of self-isolating as best we can, and simply moving between the house and the studio.  We are not sure how long this will continue - if we go into lockdown, we will try to bring bits of the studio back with us.

It seems a very long time since last Sunday - harder each day to remember what day it is!

So with my skittery mind and the occasional sense of dread I have found it best to go and do small things.  So it has been a week of stationery.

I have cut up heaps of cards - different papers and different sizes, and blind embossed decklededgepress on the back and then printed a couple of different ones and a couple of different colour ways.

Nothing too challenging, but I have been pleased to have had something to do and something to think about.

A while ago I was pondering these words and trying to work out whether to put new ones in or leave them out.  Finally I landed here.

I think these are grief cards.  They are certainly cards for when your heart is heavy; when you are aching for somebody you care abut as they go through something; and somehow you just can't find the words to let them know...

The beautiful old wood type I used inks up a bit randomly on the textured paper; but it makes them appear hand made (which of course they are) and hopefully heart-felt.

As ever, I am tickled by a deckled edge.

And so to virtual hugs.  Physical distancing has meant that so many of us can't hug each other when we meet; we can hardly touch an arm or a hand.  And so I am sending virtual hugs out across the world.

As a by-note it was harder to do than it looks, because the word is a certain size typeface; but to get the parentheses to wrap around the word that typeface had to be bigger.  And then I had to work out how to make it all level in a line. Technical I know, but it kept me puzzling to solve it for a bit!

So I have printed some cards, in periwinkle blue; but mostly I printed postcards on beautiful thick white paper (Gmund Cotton 300gsm).

 The next day I printed the postcards in spearmint green.

And today I printed them in rose pink.

I also did some DL cards with a simple "Thinking of you..." on them - so far in spearmint and rose.

It just felt like these are sentiments folk might want or need right now.

I will try to get them up on the DEP shop sometimes soon; but if you are interested in the interim; the cards are $8 each and shipping is free; and the postcards I am working out! Just drop me a line or a comment and I will get back to you.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Thursday Thoughts...

This is the time to be slow, 
Lie low to the wall 
Until the bitter weather passes. 

Try, as best you can, not to let 
The wire brush of doubt 
Scrape from your heart 
All sense of yourself 
And your hesitant light. 

If you remain generous, 
Time will come good; 
And you will find your feet 
Again on fresh pastures of promise, 
Where the air will be kind 
And blushed with beginning.

John O'Donohue (From Benedictus)

So yes, in times like these I turn to John O'Donohue.  His wisdom, deep understanding and heart-felt thinking about being in relationship with one another is peerless.

These words come from Benedictus - a book of blessings (called "To bless the space between us" in the US I think?). His background is indeed religious, but he has a way with words and ideas that for me, traverses the individual and unique landscapes of our lives without ever succumbing to preaching.

For me at the moment, these words carry assurance.  They carry recognition that yes, the weather is bitter.  Lie low and be gentle on yourself and remain open to kindness, to generosity and to renewal.

Somewhere, sometime the air will be kind and blushed with beginning...

In the meantime, we lie low to the wall.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

A skittery mind

I'm not sure if skittery is even a word but it feels as if it describes my brain at the moment fairly well. I seem to go here there and everywhere and then forget where I began or why.  Concentration is not a real strength right now!

Still. We are setting in place routines and things to do and things to keep us happy as well as busy.

I'll start with yesterday morning's sunrise.  The sweetest, gentlest baby pink and apricot drift across the sky.  A good start.

We have been going to the studio most mornings - trying to just get lost in making and it is doing a grand job of looking after us.  Some things I do there are great; some are just good therapy of a sort.

I have been cutting down old proofs of prints and duds and making them into book covers for small journals.  I had thought I might stitch them whilst sitting the EcoWomen exhibition; but like many other things, it has been closed so I didn't need to.  Now I have my stitching kit in a purse and am ready to take it and stitch anywhere.

I had also prepared some of my wee embossings to do whilst I was there if needed, and they too are now prepped and packed for doing anywhere...

These are not startlingly artistic things; but they are good things to do when focus is in short supply. I like their portability and the simplicity of the task when I might need it.

Some prints have turned into tiny note cards to pop in with a package of something. I really like this lot! They are only about 4-5cm high and about 3cm wide - teeny.

There have also been some good things made but I have some work to do to finish and prep them for release into the world!

This morning it was rainy, so no sunrise, but one of the small steps I have taken is to try and have fresh flowers or foliage in the house each day - to help remind me of simple things, simple times and beauty.

Barry collected some of our last rose buds and they are just gorgeous gifts.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

5 4 3 2 1

What can you say these days?

I feel as if I am walking a fine line between being open to information; trying to plan and prepare; adapting to new situations in a matter of hours or days; trying to imagine the future; keeping calm; being careful; cancelling things left, right and centre; worrying about family and friends; trying to sprinkle some money around town help out our small businesses; and having the occasional laugh at something ridiculous.

We are fortunate that life on the mountain is pretty stay at home-y most of the time; we have been able to spend vast amounts of time on our own; and even driving into the new studio and back involves no other folk.

So for now we socially distance as much as we possibly can.  We stay at home as much as we can.  Soon we may be forced to stay home; it's an evolving story for all of us, everywhere. Our world will be forever changed. We will be changed.

But over the weekend I went to the studio and printed some wee cards.  I had woken at 3am one morning - and no way could I get back to sleep. My head was churning, trying hard to think of all the things we needed to do; and trying just as hard not to think about the scenario we find ourselves in.

I had read a post by Elizabeth Gilbert on Instagram about some words that help her manage anxiety.

I wrote them down and the next morning when I woke at 3am, wide awake and worrying, I tried them out.

And for me, they worked.

One side of the card just has the numbers 5 4 3 2 1.

I decided why not test out a thing I have wanted to do - that colour blending thing.  I was barely capable of deciding which colours to use, so grabbed blue and green and went with it.  And I liked it.

Once I went printing, I realised I liked the dark original print, but that I liked the second and third prints (much lighter) just as much, so I did that.

On the back I was going to print the 5 things.  It took me a little while to work out the typeface and the size but it all came together and today I went and printed the words.

They are all about being there, and focusing on what is around you, using our five senses.  I tried it in the semi dark at 3am and it still worked (funny it was hard to do the first bit with your eyes closed trying to relax back to sleep!!!). I opened them for that, then shut them.

So the idea is to identify and say to yourself 5 things you can see; then 4 things you can hear; 3 things you can feel, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste.

It really makes you stop and be absolutely present as you strain your ears or your nose to discover them. I guess its about paying attention too.

I found they worked and I went back to sleep so that was good.  It may or may not work another time; it may or may not work for anybody else.  But it might.

So if you'd like one or two; or if you know somebody who might like some, let me know and I'll do my best to pop them in the post to you (hoping the postal service continues).

I might also be able to scan them and then you can print them back to back yourself on some nice card?  New times call for new ways and we shall find them.

Best to you all wherever you are and facing whatever you are facing. The world does have some magical people in it and we shall connect and do our best for each other in small ways and in big ways from here and from there.  Go gently, go well, stay well.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Thursday Thoughts...

“Exhibiting my art is like letting people take a look into my bag”. 

  Pipilotti Rist

I honestly thought I had pondered this before and forgotten to mark it as read so to speak; but I hadn't, so that felt like a win.

I oftentimes think what a conundrum it is for artists, who in my experience are mostly introverts, to work on their most intimate and interior work only to then need to put it out into the world. It is one of the strangest things - why aren't all artists extroverts who really enjoying sharing and showing to large groups?

No idea.  Whilst Rist uses the handbag as an example of the real me, or my true self, I think art on show is often far more revealing than a handbag.  And it feels more important.

Being judged on your handbag's contents is one thing - it can be humorous or there can be moments of recognition and shared funny habits.  Art that come from the heart and is often hard-won feels far more vulnerable-making.  It feels a lot like putting your heart and soul on show and asking people to like it.

I for one can show the contents of my handbag far more easily than I can put my work on show and say 'this is me'.

Goodness only knows what this lot says about me, but there you go.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Print exhibition and studio

I am fortunate to participate in the exhibition EcoWomen, currently on show 10am - 4pm at Mary Cairncross Reserve in Maleny, until Sunday 22 March 2020.

There have been artists' talk opportunities and I presented last week to a group of female Environmental staff from Sunshine Coast Council.

Mabel's Scrub.

I spoke about mine as well as my good friend Tory's print (Tory was unwell).  We all decided it was nice of me to colour coordinate with her print!

Tory's 4  plate etching tells these tory sea grass loss and its devastating impact on green sea turtles and dugongs.

She celebrated the work of Associate Professor Emma Jackson, Director of the Coastal Marine Ecosystems Research Centre at CQU (Central Queensland University) who has established sea grass nurseries and undertakes Seagrass Meadow Restoration.

Some other of my faves from the show include:

Rachel Lee's work Synergy celebrates the D'harawal Elder Aunty Francis Bodkin who "combines her indigenous culture's science of observation and experience with modern science of experiments and measurements in order to share a deeper understanding of how to care for our natural environment".

Sue Poggioli's work The Flower Hunter which celebrates Ellis Rowan (1848 - 1922) an Australian artist, naturalist and explorer who travelled far and wide to find and paint wildflowers, birds, insects and butterflies, often for the first time.

 Cathy Money's work titled For the Love of Wallum and Wildflowers celebrates Kathleen McArthur (1915 - 2000) who lived in Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast and taught herself to paint, specialising in wildflowers. Her knowledge of Queensland flora led her into nature preservation and political activism, and she made great efforts to stop the destruction of the coastal landscape by development.

Elyse Taylor's work  To Maria Sibylla Merian celebrates the woman of the same name (1647 - 1717) who was an early naturalist and artist whose lifelong project was to document and record the lifecycles of butterflies, and occasionally other insects, in particular in relation to their host plant.  She lived and worked at a time when art and science had not been cleaved apart and her work sat comfortable between the two.

Meanwhile back in the studio labelling continues apace

And a quick print run of some cards took place and was set up, printed and cleaned up and put away all within 3/4 hour!

The new space is great!

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Printing a rainbow

Printing is fun.

No doubt about it - it has been such fun to be in and printing in the studio; the two of us working alongside each other and working out how well the space works.  It's just grand.

We have completed our rainbow of kindness and it all worked out pretty well.

My next colour was green, and I tested the first layout.

From there, I decided the first part needed to be closer together, so removed some spacing, and left the bigger breathing space between the closing part.

May I say it is hard to photograph the green?

Barry turned to blue and its nice to see how the colour differentiation is working in real life.

My final colour was Indigo and if I thought green was hard to photograph the indigo showed me how hard it is to make it not look black.

In real life it is the perfect link between blue and violet.

Barry completed the rainbow with violet, and then there were seven.

Ta da!