Thursday, December 31, 2020

Thursday Thoughts...

“Lock up your libraries if you like; but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” 

Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

As the year draws to a close, and we reflect on so many things, my ponderings cycle back around to books.

And libraries, but also to learning and to minds that investigate, explore and enquire. 

For I imagine these are the minds Ms Woolf has in mind.  It seems to me that learning through reading and exploring the world gives us breadth, gives us empathy and gives us understanding.  The capacity to think for ourselves, to consider and weigh differences and information that runs counter to our understanding holds us in good stead; and so much of that capacity comes from reading. And books.

As we face whatever 2021 has in store for us, and no doubt there will be more of what we are facing and have faced, we hope there will also be good news, progress, healing, improvement and change. 

To all my blogging friends and reading friends, best wishes as the new year dawns. Be safe, be well and go well.

Detail, Bet Low "In the Hoy Hills, Orkney"

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Getting ready

 As we wind down 2020 we began to think about our new year cards for 2021.  Our tradition of sending new year cards rather than Christmas cards began way way back (15 years ago?) when we found ourselves just too busy at work in the lead up to get organised enough to buy, write and post cards.  So we gave ourselves a break, and said let's do them in the down time between Christmas and New Year and make them NY cards and so we did.

This week we went to the studio and quickly got going on our cards - inked and printed and now they are drying.

Here are a few glimpses of mine. Partly because they aren't ready to show just yet; partly because I just love all the side glimpse imagery!

I went for a sunny yellow this year - just figured we could all do with some cheering up and there is no doubt that yellow is cheery.

Because I was inking, I was wearing one of my aprons and looked down and thought you know, these things become artworks in themselves.  I love the way the apron marks the passage of time and of the various prints made...

And one of the pockets is looking particularly fine.

And to finish with - a magnificent shot of our Scottish Highlands Village - Armadale.  What a cold but sunny day it must have been (taken just this week).  I love that we can see our wee cottage and it makes me wish to be there. I know we can't be; and I don't know when we can be; but the place sings to my heart and my heart replies...

Right in the middle is our wee cottage, facing the road, opposite the frosty field.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

An end of year theme emerges

 It is true to say I think I have found my end of year theme! Not that I was looking for one, but there you go, one has emerged nonetheless.

No real surprises here, but it is small, tick-offable tasks of tidying and other accomplishments.

Today I present - sorting my embroidery threads.

As I have been stitching more of late, it has become clear that I had a few boxes with threads in them; the odd plastic bag; some dodgy paper bags; some wrapped; some still in their little holders. Fundamentally all over the shop as we say.

So I gathered them together and began to pop the little circles out of my cardboard thread holders, and took the paper tags off the threads and began to wind.

I didn't do a true before shot, these are more work-in-progress shots.

A couple of the boxes mid-review.

Deciding if this goes with that.

A bundle of greens. The collective noun for greens I wonder? 

Quite the fun grouping!

A close up of corals.

Ta da! A place for everything and everything in its place.

For how long, we do not know; but for the moment, order has been restored.

And my Christmas flowers with fairy lights.

Hoping that all have had some quiet days, some days of joy, some days of gathering and sharing and some days of renewal.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Thursday Thoughts...

Peace Is not something you wish for; 
It’s something you make... 
Something you do...
Something you are...
Something you give away. 

John Lennon   

Here, I think John Lennon finds a way to make peace personal; to make peace something within our grasp, and within our reach, as he encourages us to think about what we make, what we do, who we are and what we give away.

Peace is possible within all of those. 

My yearly wish at Christmas:

As Christmas arrives and we turn towards family, friends, community, rituals, and gentle remembering, I wish for peace.

Peace within, peace between us and peace between nations.

To all my blogging friends who share so much and support each other so much, thank you for another year of magic.

Wherever you may be, and however you may spend the time, may your Christmas be bright and beautiful, may you be safe, and may you find and celebrate moments of peace.

Imagine Peace.

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Printing, stitching and tidying

I feel as if I am running out of puff a bit as we skid towards the end of 2020, and I find myself doing small manageable, tick-off-the-list type tasks.

But first up we had some young visitors to the studio on Sunday - they were in town visiting their granddad before Christmas, then heading home and then flying off to live in China for three years! Big adventures, and it was fun to play with Christmas themes in the studio.

Experimenting with inking up various colours - a base and then lines of decorations - created some fabulous gift tags. 

The proofing press allowed for some wood type A5 sized prints - and the gold and copper dust got a run as well. We enjoyed not re-inking and seeing the softness emerge.

And as ever, black created drama and a bit of magic.

When my head hurts and I feel heavy, I turn to stitching and so it was recently. This is the wee sampler pouch I made, and I have turned it into my sewing project pouch.

I am working on another small project - a needle case. And here it is halfway in and halfway out.

With the inside part I decided to pull some threads.  I really do love pulled thread work and nothing has changed my mind since I started this little one. More the worry is when to STOP pulling threads!

And so to tidying - I have that creeping feeling that things are not in such a great state of control and tidiness in the studio as they could be, and my sense was confirmed when I checked in on the book cloth that I was thinking of using for a new small book.  

Chaos reigned and they were rolled within rolls within rolls (so I couldn't see what we had); they were lolling all over each other, half undone and rightside out (and getting marked) so I just sat and re-rolled the lot of them, inside out and then cut a sample of the colour and taped it onto the freshly rolled cloth.  And now they sit happily in a box and I can see them all at a glance. Simple.

The amount of satisfaction I get from tidying up always amuses me - it calms me and makes me feel as if all is well in my studio world (for the time being only of course - there is plenty more to tidy!) and it's tickable off the list.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Festive, Flowers, Fights...

 An odd kind of heading, but bear with me...

Low key festive has begun at our place.  A poinsettia in a pot with a gift tag at the front door.

Our minimalist Christmas tree is up...

Candles are lit on wet days to give warmth and glow.

And flowers.  Maintaining my goal of fresh flowers throughout every day as best I can, here is a selection from the past few weeks.

My dad left this posy at the front door and let me know via text it was there!

In a serendipitous moment I found this bunch of fabulous flowers at our local IG for $10.  Two and a half weeks on, they are cut down to a single vase, but still looking great!

Inside a magnolia...

Evening sunlight on white lilies...

And so to fights...

These are a pair of male wallabies - good sized - photographed thru the lounge room window and at quite a distance/zoom. It would seem as if they are trying to work out who's number 1 in the pack and the fight for territory is underway.  One of them ended up dominating and the other went away to the side, a tad defeated (but not injured as best we could see, more embarrassed!). 

We continue to be amazed by the amount of wildlife we can see from our new place and are really enjoying coming to understand the different territories and pecking orders...

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Thursday Thoughts...

“We have to incubate inspiration…we need empty spaces for musing and preparing, experimenting and reflecting” 

Mirabai Starr

Ahhh. Empty space.  It is good be reminded at this time of year that we need empty spaces.  We need blank pages in our diaries; we need time away from routines for meandering and wandering afresh; we need to take time out to allow things to percolate, join up and peek out from behind the busyness.

So often I wonder what an artistic life is all about and worry that if I am not spending time actively creating, then I am not doing it right.  And yet, these words remind us that we need fallow time, that the emptiness and blank spaces that may appear to be 'wasted' time are not.  That they are necessary and important and valuable.

From these wellsprings can come forth the tiny ideas; the shy notions; the wee possibilities. And from here something can take root and grow that would be otherwise dismissed or crowded out by all the other activity.

Time for musing. Time for reflection. Time for preparation. Time for experimentation.

This one feels as if I should have it tattooed onto me somehow. I am at risk of forgetting it time and time again, so a permeant reminder could be useful!

Apologies - no ability to upload photos to Blogger today. No idea why - but I just laughed because there you go - an empty space!

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Indexing and memories

Workshops are reciprocal things.  Yes, you are being paid to share your knowledge, wisdom, skills etc; but you always, always learn.

During the lunch break at a recent workshop I mentioned I was trying to colour code my notebook entries to help keep track of a variety of projects that were underway.  I would write notes on one project, then start work on another, come back to the first a few pages down the track and add more notes, and colour coding was a  way for me to be able to see the different projects at a glance.

One of the participants said - I do bullet-journalling.

And so I learned a small part of this world - about indexing your work.  Light bulbs were me!

So simple - just number your pages and write down a heading and then note every page where that project appears. Seriously, how could I have missed this?

So of course, I immediately started to index my new notebook; then went back and did the one before that and before I knew it a few hours had been whiled away over a couple of days indexing my journals.

Brilliant to be able to access things; but the second thing of particular value was the reminiscing and being reminding of good ideas that went somewhere; sometimes went nowhere; but with fresh eyes could maybe go somewhere again.

Notebooks from 2013 - 2020 I think.

My next to most recent book, indexed. I need to probably do a few joinings up - where something started as one thing, then morphed in to another; but I can see at a glance what I did.  Most helpful when people ask me to re-do something for them; or one just like it...

One of the things I enjoyed most was seeing how much lettering play I used to do; and to realise how much I like it.  The letterpress has taken me way from hand lettering and these journals reminded me that is a rather lovely thing to do .

I kind of also like that little note to self - no idea what it referred to; but it has potential!

This sort of thing always makes me laugh - so typical.  I was doing feather ghost prints over some handwriting and clearly had forgotten to put the feather in once (or maybe twice).

Playing away with  the notion of cutting up prints and putting them back together.

Popping come collage bits into embossed markings - I love it yet it has never appeared in any finished work.  Might be time to play with this idea again.

Making up a hard to read lettering style - love these words.

(be brave with your life)

Experimenting with wax over old book pages and stitching rusty bits onto and into it. These ideas became a book, and the book sold!

This tiny strip of paper stuck along the margin of page was the foundation for the book Silence Helps No One. One glance at that paper play and I have the whole book in my head again; the intricacy of the binding and the difficulty of the messages held within.  This book was bought by the State Library of Queensland. Nice rememberings.

I am thrilled to have discovered a simple way of keeping track of my work which can be easily retro-fitted; and have loved the unanticipated bonus of rediscovering notes and ideas. Win-win.