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Saturday, February 24, 2007

Bagging A Bargain

I was out in Norwich yesterday, with my friend Moira. She wanted to know where to buy beads, so I took her to various places that stock them...a real hardship for me, you understand!! I also wanted to buy a book...well, okay, several. I've been reading the Crown of Stars series of books by Kate Elliot. I bought the first four recently, enjoyed them muchly, and wanted to continue. In Waterstone's, we got the penultimate two of the seven, but had to go to another two bookshops to find the third. Dirty work, but someone had to do it... And on the way to the checkout, I found this lovely thing, Milton Glaser's 'Art Is Work', in Borders in their Remaindered section, but with no price on it. So, I took it to the counter and asked. £9.99, was the answer. When she rang it through, though, she said, my, that was a good buy, it was priced at £45 originally...

It's an interesting book, strong visuals as you might expect, not the kind of book I would normally buy, but it was reduced, which made me look, and I found I really liked the writing, especially the introduction. He says;

There seems to be much confusion about what we mean when we use the word art. I have a recommendation. We eliminate the word art and replace it with work and develop the following descriptions:

1. Work that goes beyond its functional intention and moves us in deep and mysterious ways we call great work.

2. Work that is conceived and executed with elegance and rigour we call good work.

3. Work that meets its intended need honestly and without pretence we call simply work.

4. Everything else, the sad and shoddy stuff of daily life, can come under the heading of bad work.

This simple change will eliminate anxiety for thousands of people who worry about whether they are artists or not, but this is not its most significant consequence. More importantly, it can restore art to a central, useful activity in daily life - something for which we have been waiting for a very long while'

I'm with you, Milton. And I'm very glad I bought your book (Milton Glaser, Art is Work, ISBN 0-500-51028-8. And if you can't afford the book, go look at the'll love it.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

I Was Struck...

by Felicity's comment yesterday. She said, 'I wonder sometimes if depression is seeing things exactly as they are and 'normality' (governed by society) is self delusion (trying not to think of the things that we really should by busying ourselves with endless distraction).

I think, myself, that depression is an illness, as opposed to a state of mind...if you see what I mean. When I'm depressed, I see the world in a different light altogether. There is no hope, no light, no joy, only the promise of more of the same. My work seems worthless; my self, even more so. When the depression is under control, I recognise the beauties of the world, and that I am worth something, rather than nothing. I recognise that I am loved, and that I love in return. There might even be hope...

Tidying up, I found an old disc from 1999, hence the (rather poor) picture. The piece is in guid Scots wool, a semi abstract landscape, 'Heart Of The Country'. It's a reminder of what I used to do, and how differently I work now, but I still have a sneaking fondness for it, even though I can't even remember what happened to it...

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Lying Fallow...

...hibernating, call it what you will, but I seem unable to work on anything...I was going to say, meaningful, but that's not strictly true. For public consumption, might be a better expression. I find myself looking inwards, trying to understand what the purpose of this illness is, how I might come to better terms with it. So I'm working on altered books, endlessly prepping, impatient to get to the creative bits, but knowing that preparation is all... and playing with paper, too. Eventually, I may well show the work, but not right now.

But just to prove that I'm still obsessed by the embellisher, a new piece, made with some delicious silk bought on my shopping spree last week. I knew it would work well, and it has. Just think, I have a whole metre of it...delicious...

Saturday, February 17, 2007

I Rarely Buy...

what I can make, but I made an exception for this beautiful leatherbound journal...isn't it beautiful? I wanted a special journal for recording things of importance, beauty and/or wisdom, the kind of thing you need to remember when times are hard and hope is but a memory of better days. I thought this was perfect. I have no idea who made it, sadly, I'd like to congratulate him/her, but hey... I bought it in one of my favourite places in Norwich, the King Of Hearts, a beautiful 16th century Merchant's House that is both art gallery and conference venue, as well as having a good coffee shop and a space for music performances, including its own harpsichord.

Now, of course, all I have to do is find the appropriate words to write in the journal... it's always difficult to know where to start. Perhaps the most appropriate of quotations to begin with would be from Julian of Norwich, a mystic from the 14th century. All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well. It seems to be a good place to start for any kind of venture.

Thursday, February 15, 2007


are contrary critters. I watched one this morning from the car, killing time before an appointment (I'm congenitally early for everything, and therapy is far from being an exception; today, I arrived early enough to go do a bit of shopping...). Anyway, I was parked on a quiet road that is obviously used a lot by learners. One learner stopped abreast of a car, obviously ready to parallel park. S/he blew it somewhat, and in the space of time it took the driver to manoeuvre back out of things, and into a better line with the kerb, a beautiful, fluffy tabby cat strolled out into the middle of the road, thought the better of it, and plonked herself down just where the car should have ended up. And sat there. And sat there. And washed. She (I just think it had to be a she...) had chosen to sit just outside of reach of the car, so when it successfully reached the kerb, she calmly rose and strolled out across the front of another learner driver, who probably panicked magnificently and slammed on the brakes. None of this worried said cat. In fact, when she'd got to the other side, and the car had gone, she changed her mind, strolled back over the road, and then realised that there was A Human coming...that spooked her, and off she ran. Cars were clearly okay; Humans, not.

Nothing done today; therapy is exhausting, so I slept the afternoon away in company with my own dozy felines. The picture is an encaustic made earlier on this week. The scan doesn't do justice to the many layers of colour and the texture.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

When The Going Gets Tough...

the tough go shopping. Even those of us whose demons would prefer to stay at home, thanks, hear the occasional call of the mall... In my case, it was less the call of the mall than the whisper of the voucher for artists supplies that I was given for Christmas and hadn't yet spent. How's that for restraint?

So... there I was. A bit like a child in a sweetie shop, but with less restraint. They like me in that shop...they ask if they I'm happy browsing, and when I say, oh, YES, they say, 'thought so', and leave me to it. I thought that I'd buy things I hadn't used before, mostly, since this wasn't money I'd expected to have. So I bought some GAC 200 which I've heard June talk about, but never used (expect to have your brains picked soon, June...). It says it reduces the tackiness of acrylics...I wonder if that will help with the main problem I have with altered books, Pages Stuck Together That Weren't Meant To Be...sigh... I bought some proper etching ink, which is expensive but lovely to work with. And some other mediums for working with oil paint. And some more lino to make blocks with. So I have new toys to play with, which will be fun. I also bought some cloth today, some horrendously expensive but very beautiful silk to use with the embellisher, and some other bits and pieces. I would have bought some vintage linen sheets from Oxfam to dye, but they were more expensive than the ones I bought at an antique shop, so Perhaps Not.
The painting is another IMTOL, this one 'freefall'. The image above is the whole piece, the one at left here, a detail. You should be able to see a larger image if you click on the photos.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Altering Books...

...takes a long time, somehow. It's all the preparation you have to do before you can start, removing pages, sticking them together, gesso and stuff... I'm making two books. One of them is a small thing, that I had started to prepare a couple of weeks ago, and have just kept going. The other is larger, a squareish shape, unusual, I thought, and that will be a journal of sorts, to be kept during the therapeutic journey and doubtless beyond. These conversations with a friendly stranger fill my head with images; I thought I'd use them, this time, play with them, see where they take me. I've just switched the encaustic plate on, too, thinking that I'd do a little encaustic work in between pages, something to do while muttering about how long things take to dry. Besides, it warms the conservatory up somewhat, which is always a good thing in winter, even if it is a relatively warm winter which is wending its way towards spring.
The top image is Gravid; the bottom two are In More Than One Language paintings, Emerging and Outpouring. All are oils, Gravid on canvas, the other two on board. Now to see what Advo wants, make myself a quick cup of coffee and go play with the wax!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Turn Your Back...

...for a minute or two, well, okay, a couple of days, and some cat or other will obligingly create a nest for herself (not naming any names, are we, Molly?) in whatever textiles are lying around. In this case, it's bits and pieces and samples from the embellisher. At some point, I suppose, I'll have to decide what to do with them; at the moment, though, I'm just Making More Bits, and trying things out. Helen very kindly brought me some lovely black wool cloth to play with, and some fleece, Jacob and Alpaca, too. Doubtless, between that and the paints, I'll be kept out of mischief for another wee whilie.

I find the textile work and the paintings are coming closer together, somehow. I'm contemplating a swap to acrylic paint (from oils), to allow me to work with textile and cloth on canvas; the effects of oil paints on cloth are problematic, though I've seen paint and textile used together recently without any apparent preparation keeping the two separate, ie no gesso or other medium between them... who knows? I've got a painting somewhere that has scraps of silk embedded into the oils; it was painted a couple of years ago, and still seems fine. I like the embellisher, the way it allows me to paint with cloth, yet distorts the imagery on it, dilutes it somewhat. It fits in with the way I'm working just now, considering mark making, its interpretation, the way we reach to create meaning for ourselves in what we see, the way we blind ourselves to what we think is extraneous, even if, in fact, it isn't. Just like therapy, really. Looking again at what we take for granted, at who we think we are, or might have been, or even should have been...and making what changes seem appropriate. Just like painting, really...

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Thank you...

for the good words and kind thoughts. I know I'm not alone, but sometimes it's hard to remember...

Another small, simple effort, this time an encaustic. I still feel worn out, so I'm doing a bit of this, and a bit of that, when I feel like it, and taking it easy when I don't. The encaustic set up is downstairs in the conservatory, easy to play with when I feel like it.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Back From Beyond?

Well, no. Not quite. But I'm getting there.

Depression is a constant in my life. When I say that, I don't mean that I'm full of doom, gloom, hellfire and despondency all the time; far from it. Actually, in truth, I spend a lot of time denying to myself and others that I have any kind of a problem. That's not really a useful strategy, but it has worked for most of my life. These days, it doesn't work so well, mainly because the illness is insistent that I admit the limitations it places on me. I'm a very slow learner. One of the things it reminds me is that I'm not Superwoman. Hell, I knew that; I don't wear my underpants outside my trousers, for a start... Sadly, however, that doesn't mean that I don't behave like Superwoman every now and again, take on too much and crash and burn. That's what happened recently, and why I've been so silent. Now, you find me starting to pick up the pieces, and make decisions.

I'm simplifying my life; I'm giving up the running of Alternativequiltlist on yahoo, and becoming an associate, rather than a full member of The Well. Going backwards to go forwards. Allowing myself some space and time to be, rather than to do. I'm not any sadder than I was, but I do hope I come out of this wiser. Why is being kind to oneself so difficult? Or even just remembering what I need, and providing it?

I'm beginning to paint again, after a period when I thought all my work was unbearably awful, textiles, paintings, the works... moving back to process when for a time, I got distracted by outcomes. The paintings are gentle, like this one, Blue Moon, a simple little square painting.