Sunday, October 14, 2018

I'm still here!!! And new lino prints!!

I can't believe it's three months since I posted here, I didn't mean to leave it so long.

I haven't done any more of the life book lessons, but by the end of July, and the end of the index card a day challenge, I had some inspiration of my own, and started chiselling my first lino in over a year. I've done 4 new linos so far and started making them into cards. They are all inspired by plants in my garden, ferns and flowers. I've played around with some multicolour reduction prints, as well as hand colouring black and white prints. It was so exciting to peel back that first print, it felt like coming home. I've added a couple of my new cards to my Etsy shop, and I'm hoping to do an Xmas craft fair this year!

I'm trying to keep the ball rolling by making small actions each day - they might seem tiny or pointless but they gradually add up. For example, I got started by going hunting for a packet of coloured card I'd bought over a year ago. The next day I worked out what size I wanted the cards to be and cut up a few sheets, the next day I cut up a few more sheets. It was a few days before I sat down and drew a design onto a piece of lino.

I feel like the universe is giving me a helping hand too. In June I was made permanent part-time at work, so my hours are much more predictable than when I was casual, it makes it much easier to schedule in time for art making.

I feel like there's much more to say, but I'd better post this before another month goes past. I am posting some of my art and garden photos on Instagram @fernyhoughkate, but I don't want to stop blogging... hopefully it won't be three months til the next post!!

Friday, July 13, 2018

Getting stalled and getting restarted

Since I last posted I have ground to a halt with lifebook - the yearlong online art course I'm doing. I did a couple more lessons, week 12

And week 14.

Then I jumped ahead to week 20, because it was a lesson with Mystele Kirkeeng an artist I've followed on Flickr for many years. I was really keen to get some insight into her art making process. It was a lesson with lots of layering and markmaking, using lots of different materials to build up a wonderful abstract underpainting. I loved the freedom of this part of the lesson, but when I got to the point of trying to find a figure in all that wildness I was really resistant to covering up what I'd done and losing it. I worked on 2 pieces, doing one while the other dried. It took weeks to do all the layers, just spending half an hour here and there on it. Then there was a week or 2 of wrestling with myself about the last part of the lesson, and wondering if I was done or not...

By then I'd lost all my momentum, not to mention feeling like I'd failed at the lesson I'd had the highest expectation about.

In the meantime it rolled around to the month of June and the index card a day challenge (ICAD). You can find out all about it at daisy yellow blog or on Instagram @gypsy999. It's a really doable challenge of doing 'something's on an index card everyday through June and July. So 61 cards in the end. It only takes 5 or 10 minutes to doodle a mandala, or collage some bits and pieces from a magazine. Getting back into a creative habit is much more important than the pieces of work.

When my kids were little I used to make time in the evenings to sit at my desk and do a bit of drawing or writing after they went to bed. Now my oldest is 20 - still living at home - and the twins are 15, they all stay up later than me!! And there isn't really a time of quiet - unless I make it happen. It has to be said that the internet especially Instagram can be very distracting/time consuming, and though I don't usually watch a huge amount of tv, I'm hooked on the current season of (Aussie) Masterchef, which is on 5 nights a week and gobbling up too much of my time!!

Well enough of the excuses, here are some of my index cards, many are drawn from paused YouTube and Iview videos. The musicians are from NPR's tiny desk concerts. (I used to dream of coming back in my next life as an opera singer, but now I want to be a Scandinavian violin player!!) The tv shows I've drawn from are Gardening Australia and Endeavour. It'll be interesting to see where I grab inspiration from for the last couple of weeks.

Here's a little thing I wrote about the lifebook lesson that stalled me.

Lesson 20

The artist says
take an emotion
and express it with paint
on paper, then a layer of pastels
then collage, more paint
then wet it and scrape it back.
Hold on, I think,
I'm attached to that patch
of turquoise and that circle of red
and the dark blue that bled
with spidery marks
I've been careful not to
cover up.
All this layering and losing it.
How can I hold it lightly.
How can I take it seriously but carelessly
let it go.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Little things that are making me happy

Here are three little things that are making me happy.

Number 1. An artwork-a-day desk calendar. I bought this half price in the January sales and it gives me so much pleasure. I'm being super strict about not peeping ahead, so everyday there's a little surprise. Some days are an old favourite like this - Vermeer's Girl with a pearl earring - but often it's an artwork I've never seen before by an artist I've never heard of. I love the contrast too, one day a sentimental Victorian painting of a child and her dog, the next day a hard edged abstract piece... I'm also looking forward to when the year is over and I can glue the pictures into journals, cut up, collage and use for inspiration.

Number 2. A pot of flowers at my front door. This time last year I was in England in spring, the tulips were out and blossoms on the trees. We saw some gorgeous gardens in York and at Harlow Carr in Harrogate. When I came home I was discouraged about my overgrown, chaotic, tropical garden. I longed to have an English flower garden. I don't really think that's achievable! But I can have a pot of flowers by the front door and enjoy them every time I go in and out. These are vincas, the come in a range of pinks and reds, right through to dark purples, the are very hardy in Darwin's hot sun, and handle my not very green fingers!!

Number 3. Fruit in the park. The dry season is here,  (that's  a BIG reason to be happy, not a little reason!) The temerature's dropped a few degrees and the humidity is way down. So instead of rushing home from work to collapse under a fan, these days I stop at the park for 5 minutes and eat a mandarin, and try to relax and notice whatever's going on.

The dry season means more things are happening around town. This Saturday is the Seabreeze Festival, with stages and stalls all along Nightcliff foreshore. Then the last weekend in May is Wordstorm the writer's festival. I'm hoping to get to both!

Saturday, April 21, 2018

How I'm going with lifebook - April 2018

This is my 2nd year of doing the 'art course' Lifebook, I wasn't sure whether to take it again as last year I pretty much dropped out of the second half of the year. The thing that swayed me was lifelong access to the lessons, so even if I don't complete things through the year I can go back anytime and watch the videos and have a go.

One thing I'm doing differently this year is I'm not visiting the facebook group or posting my work to it - though I am posting on instagram. So I'm less influenced by the work other lifebookers are doing, and I'm not comparing my work to theirs. This year I'm much more on my own journey. Sometimes I follow the instructions closely. Sometimes I watch the first video and then go off on my own tangent and never watch the end of the lessson!! What matters to me is that I'm doing some art and trying new approaches.

I'm lagging behind, I've just started my week 12 piece, when the week 16 lesson is now available, and there are lots of lessons I've missed, some because they needed equipment I don't have- a gelliplate, or encaustic wax materials - some because another lesson grabbed my attention more. Some weeks there are 2 lessons. So as the year unfolds there's a real smorgasbord to choose from, you'd have to be very dedicated to do them all!!

The week 6 lesson was one where I went my own way - A heart full of happy with Tamara Laporte- was a whimsical girl in w/c and markers. The face was in 3/4 pose and I have a photo of my mum in that pose on my desk, so I used that as a reference for my piece, and it turned out very different in style and feeling to the lesson. Sometimes I think I'm just contrary, and that if the lesson had been to work from a photo of a family member I'd have decided to do something completely different.

The week 9 lesson - Friends are the flowers in life's garden with Effy Wild- was one that I followed closely except I left out the lettering.

Week 10 was a lovely lesson with (Aussie!) Laura Horn, laying down a loose background and then drawing in natural elements in ink using a satay stick. I loved the unexpected expressive mark making that reults from drawing with a stick, and I've been inspired to make some cards and do some sketchbook work based on this's exciting to feel inspired!!!

The week 11 lesson was Grateful Heart with Annie Hamman. Annie was probably my favourite teacher from last year, and this was another lovely lesson. It's a very simple composition, but the texture and layering bring such richness to the piece. Her philosophy is to allow the piece to unfold, that once you start intuition and the expression of feelings will change the direction the work goes in. As she says - let's be brave and go ahead.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Cyclone Marcus 17th March 2018

Last Saturday a cyclone hit Darwin, it formed on Friday a category 1 (the least strong). One of the girls at work described it as kite flying weather, and we laughed about customers who were rushing in to buy torches, gas bottles, tarps...

BUT on Saturday it strengthened to a category 2. I started the morning sitting on the verandah watching the rain and trees buffetting in the wind, feeling grumpy about missing out on my morning walk. At 10.30 the power went out, and by 11 I thought I'd better go inside as the wind cranked up and branches snapped off trees and palms in our yard blew over.

The track of the cyclone passed right over Darwin, winds of 130km were recorded the strongest for 30 years. The worst of the storm was for about an hour in the middle of the day. It quickly calmed down, and when I ventured out to the end of the street mid afternoon, I was shocked to see so many trees down in every direction.

I feel stupid that we were so unprepared - I used to have a cyclone kit but the tinned food and bottled water got too old, I threw it out and never replaced it. We had cheese sandwiches for dinner that night!

We were lucky that our power came back on the next morning, some suburbs were without power for 5 days. We were lucky that I had a little radio so we could listen to the news updates, and that we had torches batteries and candles kicking around the house. We were lucky that I'm a bad housewife!!! The fridge needed defrosting and had a big lump of ice up the back that kept the milk cool.

These photos are of the aftermath of the cyclone. My walk to work takes me past two parks, I'm not much of a photographer but I wanted a record of these fallen giants. I know that in a few months the memory will fade, I'll forget how extreme and frightening the storm was. Hopefully these photos will remind me of how powerful the cyclone was and to take the next one seriously.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Changing priorities

The last few months it feels like I've taken off a worn out, much loved, old coat, and now I'm wondering what to put on instead.

Art has been the meaning of life for me since I was a teenager, the thing that got me excited and inspired, the way I made sense of the world. I worked part time and neglected housework, etc, so that I had time to make art. But over the last year that has changed.

Maybe it's to do with getting older - I'm 53 - maybe it's because I strained my back a couple of times last year which put me out of action for a week each time, and moving gingerly ever since. But suddenly my physical health is a priority rather than something I take for granted. So walking at the beach and going to yoga come before making art. I have a strong feeling that I want to get outside - gardening or walking or whatever. When the monsoon arrived at the end of January and we had torrential rain for about ten days I was going stir crazy!!

I'm also curious to see what will happen if I don't fill my free time with the busywork of making cards or sewing birds for craft fairs, etc. It will open up a space and I'm interested to see what that might allow, what seed might grow there.

It's also lovely to live without the 'shoulds' - I mean the feeling that I should be blogging, should be posting to instagram, should be getting work ready for craft fairs....etc. I wonder if all those shoulds have strangled my artmaking.

I don't say any of this with any certainty, I might be back in another month with a completely different story!

I'm still doing some stuff, I signed up for Lifebook again this year. It's a fun, no pressure way to include some art making in my life. Here's some of the pieces I've done so far.

Week 2 colourful intentions with Andrea Gomoll.

Week 3 two hands one heart with Ivy Newport 

Week 5 the custodian with Juna Biagioni.

Best wishes to you, I hope your 2018 has started well.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Something new

I've been reassessing what I'm doing, kind of checking I'm going in the right direction. It wasn't a conscious thing - I guess I've been busy too - I stopped posting on flickr and instagram, stopped posting here.

I didn't do the xmas craft fair because I didn't have any new work to share and didn't feel good about taking all my old stuff. I didn't have anything to put in the Tactile Arts xmas show - little wonders. (Which is still on until December 10th)

It has been a bit scary wondering if I'll feel like making art again, wondering who am I if I  don't paint??

Then inspiration turns up - my teenagers make me listen to a lot of music, and sometimes I get hooked on something - I've been watching a YouTube video of DMAs singing Cher's Believe a lot.... and decided I wanted to paint the singer.

I can't really explain why. He's just this little guy in a too big shirt, he looks like that naughty kid who sits at the back of the class causing trouble, and then he opens his mouth and sings so effortlessly. Maybe it's because I have sons and the contrast between how they look and what their potential might be...

I'm so happy to be painting, just following my nose to what I'm interested in, and not worrying about whether it's suitable for a craft fair or whatever. I'm a bit scared to share it here in case everything stops again.

The paintings don't particularly look like the singer, I think of them as 'singing man 1' and 'singing man 2' hopefully there will be more.