I think this is week ten of the new normal for our household. We isolated earlier than most due to concerns for our son who has Down Syndrome. I have not been to the shops at all during this time, and become quite good at online ordering. ???? I rarely leave my house, other than for my morning walk. I spend quite a lot of time at home working in the studio, and that hasn’t changed, however due to the cancellation and doubt in my 2020 exhibition calendar, my enthusiasm took a dive. Like many people, my emotions were all over the place for the first month or so. Gradually we have set new routines in place and weekly events to look forward to. We now have a weekly movie night among other things, and as I write this my son is having a cooking session with his support worker via zoom.
On my Groundhog Day morning walk each day (a walk for the hills and exercise, not the view) I have time to think and I have started to notice the gradual changes over the past few months, the weather (cooler), the smells (more fragrant), the increased number of birds and various plants blooming and then fading. This beautiful Banksia flower slowly blooming got me inspired.As I work in the studio, I’ve been listening to the fabulous The Great Women Artists podcast.I’ve enjoyed reading Threads of Life by Clare Hunter, The Birdman’s Wife by Melissa Ashley and most recently The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell (if you’re a fan of Blackbooks…)This one below reminds me of the state of my Covid 19 hair 🙂
I love reading the acknowledgements in the back of books. I find it a satisfying finish to a novel, especially when I’m not quite ready to let go of the story I have been absorbed by. It is also telling of the process of creating something, that many others are often involved in getting the work to completion either through the physical production; research, editing, reading, or support; often a loving partner supplying the writer with cups of tea and the space and freedom to work.
Contrary to this, one of my favourite acknowledgments is from a book I read many years ago by Lisa Evans in her book Odd Socks. I have a photocopy in one of my journals. It starts –
Despite the efforts of the following:
Lately I have come to realise that books are written not so much because of the efforts of many, but despite the efforts of many. Therefore, here is my list of those people/animals/inanimate objects despite whom this book was written.
This book was written despite the fact that children expect three meals a day…
…This book was written despite the fact that these children, although very lovable, are all a tad faulty and therefore require regular visits to optometrists, speech therapists, podiatrists, dentists, ear, nose and throat guys, etc. And don’t forget the mandatory activities! Tennis, karate, saxophone, swimming, pottery, chess…
…This book was written despite bloody housework – and the bills to pay, washers to replace…
…This book was written despite the ongoing battle for “me” time and all things, like tennis, champagne, good books, friends, family and the occasional convivial lunch, which lure me away from what I should be doing…
The truth! I can completely relate to this! There’s a million distractions and jobs to do before you can ever see yourself getting to do your creative work. It’s not all smooth sailing sitting undistracted working in a studio, it’s a myth!
As a wife, mother, female artist, I constantly feel the pull of other commitments and the commitment to others. My work needs to be made despite the busyness of life, I just need to fit it in where I can.
All this stuff is not going to go away just because you try to be an artist. There is never a right time AND its never too late to start. Nell Painter talks about starting a new career as an artist in her 60s.
The images in this post are progress shots of my latest piece of work.
The next step is to start cutting away the top layer.
All these steps have been made despite the interruptions!
And for those who still have fantasies that you can spend all day in the studio. Here is a great series What do artists do all day?
I recently signed a Letter of Agreement confirming a solo exhibtion for November 2018!
This is my first solo show in a very, very long time, so it’s very exciting and naturally a little daunting.
My proposal was for a completely new body of work with a change of focus, and I’ve really enjoyed spending lots of time researching and exploring (and going/googling slightly off track). My Nan’s Anne of Green Gables books are part of this research for ideas and images. This set was published in 1928 and have been loved by several generations of our family.A lot of my work over the past few years has been on the theme of Silver Linings and I am very ready to move onto this next body of work, one that I have been thinking about for a few years now.
I started working on one very large piece in mid December and I am delighted that it was completed over the weekend and is now wrapped ready to go! One tick!
In between this I have been sampling other ideas, various forms of printing and stitching samples and ideas still partially formed. Other works are mostly a mystery…every now and then I get a great idea in the shower, out walking or when driving somewhere, but more research and testing of these ideas will prove whether or not they will work.
When taking on a project this big, many other things need to be put aside. I am amazed at how many other really interesting exhibitions/projects/opportunities have landed in my inbox since I made a commitment to this exhibition. It’s taking a dedicated effort to say not now to many of them.
Beyond the art, fashion and design books with beautiful images I lust over, and the instruction, technique and how to books I’ve learnt so much from, there are other books that have been very beneficial in my art practice.
Here are a few of my favourites, the ones I want to read again and again. I go to these when I get stuck, wonder what on earth I am doing, or lose purpose in my work:-
A very easy read, simple steps to getting started and keeping on going. I follow his weekly newsletter, it’s full of great links to all sorts of creative stuff and takes me in directions I wouldn’t otherwise find. Many that I have shared on this blog.
“Ask anybody doing truly creative work, and they’ll tell you the truth: They don’t know where the good stuff comes from. They just show up to do their thing. Every day.”
Art and Fear, Observations On The Perils (and Rewards) of Artmaking
by David Bayles and Ted Orlando 1993
The classic book that you see so many quotes from and makes you go yes, yes…yes!
“The seed for your next art work likes embedded in the imperfections of your current piece. Such imperfections. . . are your guides to matters you need to reconsider or develop further. It is precisely this interaction between the ideal and the real that locks your art into the real world, and gives meaning to both.”
“Artmaking involves skills that can be learned. . . In large measure becoming an artist consists of learning to accept yourself, which makes your work personal, and in following your own voice, which makes your work distinctive. . . Even talent is rarely distinguishable, over the long run, from perseverance and lots of hard work.”
Big Magic, Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert 2015
I never would have considered this book, as I’m not a fan of Eat Pray Love. Only on the recommendation from a friend who opinion I value did I borrow it from the library. It’s good – I went and bought my own copy. Chapters on Courage, Enchantment, Permission, Persistence…
“Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions, and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.”
Following a link for Austin Kleon’s newsletter I found Frank’s website and this book. You can read it online which I did and then bought my own copy
On the back cover “A clear, strong voice…If you create things, the book’s insights will inform the way you think about your work, regardless of how you make your living”
Finish: Give Yourself the Gift of Done by Jon Acuff 2017
Another Austin Kleon link. Lots of great counterintuitive strategies for getting things done. Releasing perfectionism, taking the pressure off and having fun!
“Accomplishing a goal is a lot less like taking a train across country and a lot more like driving a bumper car.”
I re-read some of these over the Christmas break, not because I felt stuck, but simply because I had a gap between finishing my WAM garment and starting a whole new body of work in 2018. New theme, new directions and lots of unknowns. From these books I know that if I start, then keep going, and explore, question and stay open for possibilities along the way, it will work out…with lots of hard work…and NOT necessarily as I had planned 🙂
A week away to relax and refresh. We have just had a holiday in Busselton, one of my favourite beaches and only a few hours drive from home! I have been there so many times from childhood onward that I don’t need to go and do anything…just relax, read books…
It was far from swimming weather for the first few days, much to the disappointment of the teenagers, although a luxury for me to lie in and read a novel and then Art and Fear by David Bayles and Ted Orland. I had seen reference to this book on several occasions recently, so decided to get a copy. It’s old – 1994, although still completely relevant. If you are not familiar with it you will be surprised how many quotes and references about making art come back to this book.
The only book I have ever really felt like underlining sentences and paragraphs and saying YES!YES! (Books to me are precious things you don’t write in, my husband is the opposite, underlines, asterisks etc)
The weather improved, allowing us to venture out. A delicious lunch at Bunker Bay Cafe and even a swim!