Monday, September 19, 2016

Podcasts and other stuff I like

I'm probably very late discovering the world of podcasts, but now I've found some I like, they are great to listen to while I paint or sew, and make a change from the radio.

The one I discovered first was Magic Lessons by Elizabeth Gilbert. She interviews people who are stuck or struggling to get started with their creative work, and give advice 'nudges to get them unstuck', she seeks advice from special guests and a few months later checks back in to see how they are going. There are now 2 seasons to listen to - I've only listened to the first of the new season. I love anything about the creative process and always get something inspiring or useful from these.

After that I tracked down Happier with Gretchen Rubin - I'd been reading her blog for years and finally worked out how to get to the podcast! The content could be described as - how to make the best of modern life - some of it I don't find that relevant, but it's lovely to hear the relationship between Gretchen and her sister Elizabeth who present the podcasts - the little trials and triumphs of their lives, it's like having a cuppa and a chat with friends. I haven't listened to them all but my favourite episode so far is #69 An interview with the musician Moby.

Just in the last month I discovered an Australian podcast Brilliant Misfits with Aesha Kennedy, these are interviews with women who are artists, creatives, and on the business side of it too. The first one I came across was with Wendy Sharpe an artist whose work I love, and now I'm slowly catching up with some of the other episodes.

I'd also like to shout out for a few sites/blogs I've been hanging out at lately - Julie Fei-Fan Balzer has been blogging for a long time and has a huge archive on art journalling that I've been dipping into.

Andrea Schroeder has a blog called Creative Dream Incubator, she has heaps of free resources and videos about journalling and getting to the bottom of what you really want to do.

iHanna has a cute blog including a great post about starting an altered book journal which helped me get started with my new project...there is almost nothing to show you yet but here are a couple of pages with more than just a base coat on them!

I hope all is well wherever you are. We've had early rains which have caught us by surprise!!

Monday, September 5, 2016

August paintings

So better late than never, here's a look at what I've been doing in the studio in August.

I wanted to try to keep up the momentum of the ICAD challenge, but also to change things up a bit. So I decided to work on some index card dividers using acrylics, and trying to work in a non-representational way playing with colour and mark making. I certainly haven't done one a day, but have worked on 2 or 3 at a time, once or twice a week, often going back over them with more layers (painting over things I don't like). I have maybe a dozen done. It has been great to get the paints out and play even if I'm not thrilled with the results!

Once there's paint on the palette I hate to waste it, so I'll base coat some journal pages, or get a little canvas out and start painting...

These little 4x4 inch canvas boards are both of begonia plants I have in pots in the garden - could be an excuse to go shopping for some new plants if I'll get some paintings out of them!!!

This one (actually painted in September not August) is of an agave baby, I've potted up a few that were sprouting from two big ones we have in the front yard. So gardening and painting are going hand in hand which makes me happy!!

And a bonus, 2 haiku after a long, long drought of no poetry.

High tide is splashing
the sea wall, seagulls perch on
the tips of mangroves.

My yoga mat spread
on the verandah, geese cross
the sky honking.

 Best wishes, and thanks for dropping by my blog, have a great September.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Growing tomatoes in the tropics

Warning- a rambly gardening post!

I grew up in England and moved to Australia in my mid-twenties, and even 25 years later I'm still getting used to topsy-turvy seasons and the challenges of gardening in the tropics.... So even though it's mid-winter, here in the tropics this is the best time of year to grow the kind of veggies you'd grow in an English summer.

I was late getting my tomatoes in this year - I usually plant them around Easter or May Day at the latest - but this year I was wondering whether it's worth the effort, I didn't get many tomatoes last year. It turned out to be a good thing I waited as May was very hot and humid. I think I ended up planting at the end of May, our cool weather kicked in in July, at long last. For a while the tomato plants were flowering but then the flowers were dropping off, then suddenly a whole lot of them set fruit, which was very exciting!! I'm not sure if that was to do with the cooler weather, or because I was off work for a couple of weeks and gave them extra water if they looked droopy in the day. So now the first one is starting to ripen - these are 'patio tomatoes' so the plants don't get too big and the fruit is bigger than a cherry tomato, but smaller than a regular salad tomato! I got them as seedlings from my local hardware store.

I've also had an experiment with growing from seed. I bought some locally grown cherry tomatoes from the markets and we didn't eat them all, a couple started to go squishy in the fridge so I put them outside in the warm, still in the plastic bag. I left them for about a week until they were completely mushy, then I planted the lot (even the skins) in a pot. Heaps of seedlings sprouted, and I've transplanted 4 into a bigger pot. I knew it was possible because a friend grew a tomato plant by accident out of her compost bucket... Here's her beautiful photo on flickr. I'll be interested to see how they go, as the weather will start to get hotter and more humid next month. I've heard of people managing to grow tomatoes in the build up, so I'm hoping this is one of those varieties...

My mint plant is still surviving, it struggles through the wet season and comes good in the cooler months.

I haven't had much luck growing flowers over the years, so I'm trying begonias as they are a tropical/subtropical plant, the thick fleshy leaves made me think they might cope with the heat. I'm hoping to take some cuttings from these once they get established.

I hope you're having a great weekend maybe spending some time in the garden too!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

ICAD = awesome !!

Today is the last day of the index card a day challenge. I'm thrilled to have got all the way to the end. I just uploaded 2 weeks worth of cards to flickr, and hope to upload the final 5 tomorrow.

The joy of the challenge was that it wasn't about the results, but about making a little bit of time to be creative, to play everyday, some days I wasn't inspired and did a bit of a doodle, but that became the stepping stone to the next card, and the opportunity to create again.

In the batch that I just uploaded there's a group that are based on a memory or from the imagination, that seem to hang together. Here are some of them. Here's hoping I can keep the momentum going tomorrow and the next day...

Sunday, July 17, 2016

ICAD = Unexpected

I'm still keeping on with the index card a day challenge (ICAD), and I've just uploaded all my cards up to day 35 on my flickr stream.

After I took the gardening books back to the library I've had to look for inspiration in other places... Most unexpected was a series working from photos of artists, some from books and some searched up online. First was Picasso

some of Matisse

and Chagall.

Also this one, which I love, that's loosely based on the Matisse painting 'The Conversation'.

I wrote something in my journal about these -

I don't know what to think of them except fandom! But it's lovely to have this arena to do them in where it doesn't have to be for a reason, it doesn't have to be so they'll turn into cards or linocuts or work for an exhibition - they are just for their own sake, for the value of putting paint on paper and seeing what happens, and in this case to spend a moment thinking about artists I love...

It's not too late to join in with the ICAD challenge, it carries on 'til the end of July, you can find out all about it on the daisy yellow blog.

Friday, June 24, 2016

ICAD = daily art making

I'm glad to say I have jumped onto the index card a day challenge. It runs right through June and July and you can find out all about it at the daisy yellow blog. I've been uploading all my ICADs to my flickr stream, so you can see them all there. Here are a few selected ones. 

This was my first, a warm up card I made in May, and a reminder to me to enjoy the process and not to make it a chore - which is how my art making has felt this year.

Tammy (daisy yellow) provides daily prompts and weekly themes which you can use or ignore. 

This one was for the pyramid prompt. Most of the time so far I've been working with gouache. I have a pile of gardening books out of the library at the moment and kept thinking I should do some drawings from those - so this is the perfect opportunity. I have a bunch of index cards done now based on those books ...and probably still more to go on this theme. 

What's working for me is that the commitment is small - a little gouache sketch can be finished in 5 minutes, but it makes me feel like I'm making a tiny bit of progress each day. Because it's a small commitment it means there's less pressure on the result, yesterday I did two attempts at the same image and don't like either of them, but who cares it was 10 minutes wasted (or not, maybe something learned, maybe in a few weeks I'll look back and see something of value in them). Today is a new day and a new card. 

What's exciting is that some of these little playful things are turning into 'real' work. I've been inspired to make four little gardening theme lino prints, just in the nick of time, to be included in the memory, dream, mythexhibition which opens today at Tactile Arts (photos of these to follow!)

Hopefully I haven't jinxed the whole process by writing about it! I'm excited to see what comes out in the next month or so..... 

Monday, May 30, 2016

Ebb and flow of art

I think I've mentioned a couple of posts ago, that I haven't been feeling like making art for the last few months. I'm still doing little stuff, making cards and jotting things in sketchbooks, but have no enthusiasm to get paint on big ideas!!

I'm trying not to stress out about it too much. I have a great quote in my journal for times like these.
I've quit and started again and again and I now know that starting is not better than quitting - it's just different. It's a circular dance of quitting and starting over and over again. - by Sark from her book Making your creative dreams real.
That's in my journal from 2009, so I know I've been here before!

The downside of this is that I'm part of a group show next month - Memory Dream Myth at Tactile arts, I have a handful of little paintings that I made at the beginning of the year, and they will have to do. Luckily there are 9 of us in the exhibition and everyone else is madly creating, so more wall space for them! I'm sure it'll be a lovely exhibition.

Here are a couple of journal pages on the memory theme that never made it out of the sketchbook!

Romford Rd mid 1980s. The day I bought my first Doc Martens and walked until I had blisters!

Gotts Park rose garden, part of the park we visited often as kids, now apparently neglected and possibly to become a community veggie garden if things I've read on the internet are correct.

Now it's the dry season I'm really happy to get outside as much as possible, walking at the beach and pottering in the garden - there are a lot of wet season weeds to deal with! I'm also thinking about taking part in the ICAD challenge (an index card a day challenge) which should be small enough to be doable, and no pressure to make capital A art, just to get back in the habit of doing a little something everyday. You can find out more about ICAD on the daisy yellow blog. So with any luck I'll be back with more of that soon!