Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Studio Goings On

 As mentioned on Sunday, there is such thing as a finished product in the studio the moment, just plenty of exploring, wondering, trying out and  building thought upon thought.  One never knows if any of this will get me anywhere, but it's just the way I do things it seems. 

First up tho, I had a visit from a fellow artist who wants to test out  a few ideas on the presses. He brought with him some simply beautiful brass stencils with a history unknown to us both.  I fell in love on the spot.

He ever so kindly gifted me a couple.

I loved the remnant handwriting on this one; and the lines marked on each stencil to guide the height of the numbers and symbols.

And I also love that the hand-cut nature of them...

I am working in a few different directions and trying to progress my thinking on all of them. I headed back to the eggshells, trying to work out what I wanted to say with them and how I might say it. Funny how a weird idea takes hold and you can't leave it alone. A bit like an itch that just needs to be scratched. To what end I wonder? 

This looks like two badly poached eggs I reckon! What this taught me was that trying to spray paint eggs that have been bought from a shop and have a stencil mark on them, does not work.

It also taught me that trying to cover an egg in a single spray also does not work - too much drip.

At Barry's suggestion, I sprayed them a few times in a light spray pattern. MUCH better. This is after having tried several other options - all sorts of white ink; and white acrylic paint in various strengths.  I almost went to try white nail polish when I sparkily remembered spray cans!

And thinking about how they might sit, should they rest open a wee ring? 

Or should they lie loosely and sort of tumble?

Sometimes work appears almost fully formed and I just do a few bits of this and that along the way. At other times I push, encourage, barter and try to weedle it out into the world...

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Home and Away

 Barry and I flew to Melbourne last week to attend our favourite Communities in Control Conference. It was a  very busy few days as we had our little pop up letterpress poster and card shop to set up and person. And some fabulous and invigorating and inspiring speakers to listen to and absorb, and then set forth once more with hope.

Some shots from the city...

The dazzling lines of tall city buildings, not seen here in Maleny nor in the Scottish Highlands.

A cute welcome note.

Not open for dinner.

Gingko leaves lit at night.

Hopscotch artwork on the wall of Our Community House.

The sun has shone the past few days and spirits have been lifted.  We wandered the garden a bit and pulled many a weed, and some fragments from there, appear here.

And a lovely couple days at the studio fiddling still, pushing a few different projects forward at a time, nothing much to show for lots of testing and trialling, but one part of Autumn/Winter I love is how the sun (when it shines) makes lovely dancing shadows on the concrete floor.

We have been back in the country for three weeks and have done a heap of things and been a few places. Yesterday I washed, and baked and ironed and we ate soup and watched a movie and it felt like we were finally settling back into our rhythm of our home here.

Thursday, May 26, 2022

Thursday Thoughts...

It’s a sad day when you find out that it’s not accident or time or fortune, but just yourself that kept things from you.” 

Lillian Hellman 

I think I have mentioned before that I often find a quote that clicks, but I know nought of the author. So it was with this one, and after  a quick peruse I think its fair to say that Ms Hellman was a colourful and interesting character, and who indeed knows where truth lies?

All that aside, this one connected with me today, when I am at the point of the Thursday Thoughts cycle where I am pondering art.

I spend a fair bit of time in my head wondering why I don't have more art in my days and my life? Why do I find it so hard to just go make? Why do I feel this massive obligation to do all the chores first? Why does going to the studio feel like a reward for doing the other things instead of my purpose?

I still don't have the answers, and I still don't have the strategies to move me there and I think that's why I responded to this one. It is indeed a sad day when you realise that the main reason you don't have this making life in the way you crave it, is you.

Or me.

It's probably me and a whole bundle of 'shoulds' that I seem to carry around with me, that stop me committing fully.  An interesting thought to ponder.

My egg stones from Scotland. Times like these, the studio really calls...

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Scottish inspiration

As I examine and investigate the things I tried to do in Scotland, the places we went, the things we saw; I have loved so many of them.

I did those rubbings of the cottage walls on a variety of papers and they made it back here safely. I flattened them for a few days, then sprayed a workable fixative onto them to stop the graphite simply transferring onto anything and everything. 

So lovely just resting on the table!

I think they offer so much. 

And then there is this thread I bought in Wick, at The Printers Rest cafe, where Karen also knits and sells fibres.

These colours sing to me of Scotland, and I am excited to think about what they might get involved in.

This lichen on a standing stone at Clava Cairns near Inverness, looks like an ancient map to me, and the colours like the threads a bit. 

And the stones that have me enamoured were the source of inspiration for this graphic layering image as well. 

Our time at the cottage may be a time of small making, but it is a time of large enthusing and inspiring!

Sunday, May 22, 2022

A hotch potch

 The weeks are full and moments of slow creativity hard to find; but there are always things happening.

I taught on Tuesday and had fun with two friends as they letterpress printed onto their own artwork. Too busy to take photos, but the results were heading places!

We have been hosting the live streaming of the Sydney Writers Festival here in Maleny the past few days and have had several great sessions. It is so good that they stream to community venues and enable rural folk to participate in city events.

Otherwise my moments have seen me doing plenty of odd little things...

Opening a box of art supplies to find these gem like watercolours.

Visiting a friend I found this wonderful piece of rusty wire and began imaging all sorts of things.

I started looking through old workbooks and came across this lovely fold that I had completely forgotten about.  Beginning to ponder how I might use it...

I'm looking to re-purpose a book where the pages had been damaged. Slow, but weirdly satisfying. Like going back in order to go forward again.

And then there's the weather still...

We did have a clear afternoon one day, and this lovely sky appeared.

But  heading to exercises in the morning is certainly dark and requiring real commitment!

So definitely a real hotch potch of things in my life at the moment!

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Thursday Thoughts...

"Books serve to show a man that those original thoughts of his aren’t very new after all." 

Abraham Lincoln

As ever, I replace a man with a person.

These words are so true about books (and also about art I think).  With books I think there are very few new angles, very few completely new ideas, very few utterly original explorations or understandings. Except perhaps for published PhD theses.

Original thoughts are often built on existing thoughts. They take some of the previous thoughts and add to them, or look at them from a different perspective. As people study novels and narrative, they have clearly defined thing like the narrative arc, the seven main archetypes of stories and the like.

To be kind to ourselves, I think we often come to an idea which we think is all ours, from a place of not knowing. Not realising that folk have considered this sort of thing before; have studied it, written on it and so on. We have simply been unaware, and now we are aware.

I used to think some senior managers were really really smart, until I became one and realised that they were simply in meetings and in places where these things got talked about so that's how they knew.

Not only can books remind us that our brilliant thoughts aren't necessarily original; they can also expose us to new thoughts we hadn't even thought about!

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

Playing with notions of home

 As ever, our trip to the cottage has made me stop and consider the notion of home. I have pondered this before, but travelling so far to a place so remote and so different, and yet feeling so at home, at times confounds me.

Home and Place.

I have returned with lots of thoughts and drifting words to try and express this experience; trying to gain some understanding. For the time being they remain a little bit misty, a little bit unformed. Occasionally some sunlight pours through, and I have odd moments of clarity.

So I am listening to each and every moment, no matter how small, and where I can I am using it to help me make sense of it.

As I was unpacking stuff and putting it away, I looked at the rusty pages I had brought back with me.

I enjoyed their wild, intense, yet incomplete marks. From the old hot plate coil.

A series of rusty nails.

A grid of wires from a cray pot.

And some random rusty metal washer marks. 

I turned the two washer/metal mark postcards over and picked up a scalpel. I started by cutting random squares and rectangles from behind - not knowing which parts of the marks would appear on the piece - random, no rulers, just go.

I followed this up by cutting random triangles in the same way.

Playing with notions of home...

They are quirky. They look nothing like where we live in Maleny. They look nothing like the cottage in Scotland, but universally, this form appears to Western minds at least, to signify home.

I love that I know of so many folk working with this form at the moment. All over the world, in paper, in fabric and in 3D. It is something. It is so recognisable. It is understood. And yet, the investigations are all unique. They are all attempting to discover and share some particular aspect of home and our relationship to it.

Where it goes to next is possibly anybody's guess - but the instinctive and intuitive slicing of paper without regard for precision, accuracy or placement was  good to do. That zone of doing without thinking, let my mind wander and drift across the idea of home a lot as I worked.

Using paper prepared with old materials in Scotland, back here, connected my two places. I love how the other rusted papers appear so wild and fierce - like the landscape there can be when the wind howls.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

Studio time with stones

 I  have managed to spend a few days in the studio this week - first up needing to unpack, sort, store and inventory things on return from Scotland. Secondly to try and get the mustiness out of it and undertake the odd search and desetroy mission to discover where any mould had started to grow given the amazing amount of water we've had. And thirdly to simply soak in making which has been grand.

A couple of quick statistics on the rain.

We have been back in Maleny for a week. During the week we have had 577mm of rain. That is 57cm, over half a metre of water. In 7 days. Our monthly average is 114mm, so we have managed 5 x the monthly average in just a week. No wonder we feel wet and damp. Today tho - the sun shone!

I had brought three cove stones back with me (maybe between 4 and 6 cm long), with thoughts of lettering in my head. Stones and pebbles and rocks are such a deep part of our home in Scotland; pebble beaches, rocks every time we dig, stones for carving...

They are lovely stones, and I wanted to trial some Letraset on them. But I had to work out why they needed words on them...what was the purpose of adding words? 

I thought about how I feel about the stones, and how I love having one in my pocket to roll around between my fingers. I thought about their quiet and calm presence on a desk. I thought about how much I love just looking at them. What would I say?

It came to me, that the stones act as memory keepers and reminders. They can settle and calm you. Strangely enough they feel supportive and caring. Friendly even.

I jotted down my thoughts and went to work.

I chose the darkest one first, figuring I could hide errors in it more safely than with the creamy one.

I moved onto the cream one and it had flecks of dazzling quartz in it I think, which may have made it harder to adhere to. I love how each stone has its own nature as well, and will work with you, or be a bit more independent.

And the final stone was the mid-light grey one.

I haven't quite got the name for this work yet, what they are or mean as a collective, but I know they feel right.

I deliberately chose to work on the underneath side (as I considered it) so that the stone could sit beside you, and your private thoughts would be there, but not on display for the wider world to see. 

The strength and support of the stone alongside you was just there when you needed it.
Of course you could show the words; or you could carry the stone in your pocket. You could rub the words like a worry stone, or you could bury it in the garden, or amongst plenty of other stones.

Quiet, companionable, caring stones.