Sunday, May 28, 2017

Cactus Country

A visit to Cactus Country -  friends' gardens hidden on a farming property at Strathmerton (on the Victorian side of the Murray River).

Click here for  a u tube for a bit of a look see as Jim talks about how he came to have acres of cactus.

The garden had more than enough flowers and lovely spiky plants to make our visit memorable. There is lots of inspiration for some textural embroidery and painting.    And an upcoming exhibition of art for the garden or comprising fibres from it in January 2018.  😍  

Also exciting - I will have an exhibition of garden art and some workshops in the garden in January 2018.

Here are some flower photos to wet your appetite:

Friday, May 12, 2017

The value of play

I have been very strict with myself recently.  I have not let myself digress from a big project which must be ready by the end of the month for photographing.

The project is comprised of three disparate parts which I have been working on irregularly over the past year and a half.   I have spent so much time thinking about the project and collecting materials that I thought I was much further on than I actually was.  Add to this a measure of procrastination and boredom (because I had over thought it all) I was feeling over the whole thing!  The project seemed to take forever to come close to finishing.   Drag on execrably in fact!

Anyway, the long and the short is that I decided to give myself a play day and do anything I wanted to – have a play 😊.     And I did.   I made some very simple doll forms (cat shapes) and stuffed them and painted them with gesso.   All so I could play with a bit of paint on cloth.   And I started to paint.

It was fun to do and took my attention away from 'The Project'.  

What I discovered was that whilst I was working on the cat forms I solved problems I was having in the design of an astronaut doll body which is to accompany one of the parts of the series of works.  
As the cat forms had to dry I had time to start the astronaut.  And I was happy to do so .  At this time all I had was an ear less head with no neck or body.

The day flew.  In the time I stuffed and painted the cats I worked out how to progress with the astronaut. Here is a photo of him in his skin so to speak.

His head is sculpted from polymer clay.   His gloves from Makins clay.    I have added some aluminum wire (which is baked into his shoulders) which allow me to pose his arms. I will paint is boots and gloves and I have some lovely aluminum foil snaffled from leftovers of a recently installed ducted heating system which will make his suit.  He will float in the air in front of a mixed fabric and felt “spacescape”.     And I worked out I could make a papier mache helmet and to stop fussing about a glass visor.

Conclusion:   Play gives you time to creatively solve problems.

Resolution:   Let myself play at least once a fortnight so I can step away from bigger projects which go to make a body of work.

What do you do to keep yourself happy and on track with your projects?  I'd love to hear.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Playing with paverpol

Had a play day with my daughter and we made diva's.   Well that's what they looked to me :-).

Materials -  Timber, wire and alfoil armature, interlock body, lace and braids all stiffened with tinted Paverpol.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Working towards exhibion, visits to Melbourne and Sydney

Part of Grandmother's Garden Installation for exhibtion in mid 2018

What have been up to since last post?   Not really hands on in the creation stakes.   Spent time in Melbourne keeping appointments and dodging rain.

I did get to op shop though and was pleased as punch as I picked up a lovely vintage tea pot, sugar bowl and milk jug which will complement the Grandmother's Garden installation I am working on. I am recylcling old and vintage embroideries  and playing with the hexagon shap which us the basis for the quilt pattern Grandmother's Garden.   In doing so I am remembering special times with my own grandmother who always set a "proper" table with embroidered table cloths and napkins.

And I picked up a couple of books on drawing fantasy figures.   Thinking they will have some inspiration for sculpting faces and different body forms.   One of the books set out its drawings based on the skeleton – much the same as the life drawing classed I had been going to.  Sadly the classes have missed out as they are on a Sunday and I seem to have been away from home for about the last five!!

And this last weekend I went to Sydney and caught up with an exhibiting group I am part of to finalise plans for our joint exhibition in 2018.    The deadline for finalising works to photograph is 1st of May – only a month away!    There will be a bit of panic between now and then as I have looked at my calendar and a lot of time has been blocked out already.   But I am a long way along and  when I review what I have done much closer to completion than I thought.

Whilst in Sydney I was taken to Designers on Show exhibtion.   It showcased and sold work of  Australian artists and designers in all mediums and included fine art, jewelry, homewares such printed designs on linen, hand made one of a kind hats, bespoke shoes and knitted items.  I could go on.  But instead I will go again next year.  It was inspiring.  I purchased a couple of cards of works by Jane Stapelford and one of her peg people.

I have been reading up on Olmec, Maya and Aztec civilizations and got information and a couple of sketches into my visual diary.    It has been fun and I have started a collection of ideas for a body of work.  

I am intrigued by the saying “as drunk as 400 rabbits”.   A group of Aztec gods called the Centzo Totochtin (also known as 400 rabbits) were associated the agave plant from which an alcoholic drink called maguey was made.  They partied hard it seems!  It was belived that the rabbit first discovered maguey by nibbling on an agave leaf.  Maguey was a ritual drink in Aztec times and the population at large were not permitted to drink it.    If you are interested you can find a little more information here .

My mind is humming with the thought of cartwheeling and leaping rabbits and how to make them😊

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Up date on doll making

In November last year I posted that I had become interested in doll making.

Whilst I haven’t written about it since but I have been slowly progressing with my skills.     

I got two craft orientated presents from my better half this last Christmas a: doll pattern by Cindee Moyer and an online course  with art doll maker Deb Wood through A for Artistic (no affiliations).   Deb's course was polymer clay face making over four weeks  I haven’t quite made the soft female faces that Deb makes but my faces have improved leaps and bounds.

Meet Arnold -  not quite the beautiful smiley girl I set out to create.    But he is alive with humour and is patiently waiting for a body.

The next face I made was more like an old crone.  But Deb kindly said she reminded her of one of her fairy godmothers.  I have made a few more and there are more faces in the pipeline..

Cindee's pattern was called "the Gatherer" and involved simple needle sculpting and a a lot of mixed media :-).

In the past I have resisted courses because I didn’t want to duplicate other peoples’ work or replicate their projects.   Silly me!   Very rarely is anything ever exactly the same.   And now I realise that have missed opportunities to learn.   But most importantly I have missed making friendships and connections in the creative community.  

And of course like everything in life, if you want to get better one must practice, practice, practice.  Which is fun, fun, fun when it comes to creating.  

To this end I have been working on a small series of cloth dolls which I have called Garden Girls.   They are simple skittle shape and the  purpose is to practice painting faces  and designs on cloth.  This is Lily who is singing in the garden.

I have heaps of idea to work on  - recorded in my visual diary   The trick is to remember to look through it occasionally :-).

So where am I going next in this doll making adventure ?   I will keep at the faces and bring embroidery back into the bodies or the costumes that I put on them.    I have ideas tucked away in my visual diary for garden girl variations and will remember to look at them.

And I am finalising pieces for a group exhibition with Six Running Feet.   We are five textile artists who have each worked on pieces which reflect what "off the beaten track" means to us.   We have a date next year and I will tell more next week.


Thursday, March 9, 2017

Reasons to write and draw in a journal

I write just about every morning and record my thoughts.  It’s a habit I kept after reading and completing the exercises contained in The Artists Way by Julia Cameron.   I haven't quite got this discipline with the blog and when life is full, as it has been the last few months, the blog loses out .

Sometimes my pages are meaningless… verbal blah about family, garden and domestic chores.   But I keep writing.  There have been occasions I write about the fact that I don’t know what to write about for 2 pages.   But by keeping writing the subconscious bubbles and ideas rise to the surface.

A very recent example  of this relates to a discussion with a Garden and Cafe venue I have been having about mounting an outdoor show .

The garden is are broken up into subcontinental regions such as Africa, the Americas etc and I had got caught up in trying to do something which would reflect the whole of the gardens.  My ideas were becoming too broad and my research for inspiration too far reaching!   The solution came out of the blue when writing one morning.  So obvious – stick to one region!   I had got so caught up with the idea of capturing the whole the gardens I couldn't get past that point.

I have an interest in pre-Columbian history so the Americas became the obvious choice.   Since then I have narrowed the theme down to Mesoamerica: early settlement in the Mexican basin and south to the areas which encapsulate Columbia and Peru.

Ceramic figure of seated woman (AD50- 200) – trace of red pigment 

Serendipity also played a part in this choice.   I am an op shopper and if given the chance will not pass up the opportunity to visit and op shop.  Very recently I came across (and away) with a publication called El Dorado Columbian Gold.  This book accompanied an exhibition of a selection of ancient gold objects from the Museo Del Oro, Bogota, Colombia in the major galleries in each of the States of Australia in 1978.    It is full of amazing photos and very good text.    This complements  other books in my library which focus on textiles, architecture and sculpture in the region. 

An anthropomorphic Tairona bat pectoral (AD900-1600) . Photograph: Museo del Oro, Colombia
Now I am chock full of ideas that can be interpreted in both assemblage, contemporary clays and metal work embroidery.  Bliss.

Image result for peruvian textiles books

Next step is to go one further with recording and start getting ideas from a text format to sketches.   The hardest part for me.   This is, I think, because I have been mulling ideas over in my head for quite a while and just want to get on with it and get my hands dirty or stab some cloth.   But I have learnt that my design and execution is almost always better when I do this step.

I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Inner City Vibes

I have forgotten how vibrant and busy an inner city is.  Not only the traffic and people but the streets:

Banksy in lane way in inner Melbourne

Lane ways in Brunswick East

Bicycles near a cafe

Surpise in a shop window

Art work by 23rd key outside Banksy exhibition

And the old and the new juxtaposed in the streetscape

After six weeks I will be glad to be home to the quiet of my country town.

Not quite a self portrait

Not quite a self portrait
small 8' quiltlet with embroidered hair

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