Carmen has spoken. What has happened to the blog? I’ve never met Carmen. I’m sure she exists, although I suppose it is vaguely possible she is my father’s imaginary friend. Either way she wants to know, what happened to the blog? Hmm… I think I do too. I could write a post about what’s been happening in my life since April 25, or I could give you a stream of thoughts from just this morning.
The day started with pondering the connections between children’s songs. I know. You all wake up wondering how Old Macdonald links to the Wheels on the Bus song. This for me is a sure sign that work has infected my brain temporarily. It’s not an infection that you need the serious antibiotics to be rid of. More like when you have a cold and your voice gets gravely and people notice. It’s there, it’s different and you just have to wait for it to go away.
My boss has asked me for an inspiring presentation for Wednesday. I know that inspiration is not going to come from Old Macdonald – possibly one of the most annoying children’s songs of all time. If I were free to choose any topic I like I’m sure that I could unearth some inspiration somewhere. Sadly, I am not. I need to make a quality framework sound inspiring. Galumph and humph to that. The strange thing is that at times I have been inspired. Um… scratch that. Not inspired… fired up, emotional and passionate. If I can find that, perhaps I can meet his challenge.
Meanwhile my foot is starting to groan with pins and needles. On top of my foot (besides my leg) is my cat. (times 2). They have actually lost weight. Saffron is now a cool 5.5kg and Licorice an even 6 but with both pancaked on top of my crossed leg, my poor left foot is…. VIBRATING AND SINGING… oh that would the iPad with Andrew wanting to FaceTime.
I has unearthed the iPad from under fat cats, blankets and legs.
‘What are you doing?’
‘Writing a blog post?’
‘Oh. That would the first of the year?’ [Cheeky grin]
‘Nope, the first since April 25th if you must know.’
‘And what are you doing?’
‘Reading about the legacy of pragmatism in the element of design’
Suddenly Quality Frameworks have an instantaneous appeal. They are far more lush and enticing than a 25 page orgy of academia on the construct of ideas in art. He did tell me the title of the article; I can’t remember it exactly but if I were to call it the ‘permutation and liberation of design from post modernism’ it would make just as much sense as the real title.
He read me a paragraph. It reminds me of sentences created from word salad fridge magnets, except not nearly as much fun. Certainly a long way from the TED talk I watched this morning which is promoted as ‘lyrical origami’. Only after watching the video could I truly appreciate the accuracy of the description of ‘lyrical origami’. A truly delightful, witty and mellifluous talk. Here it is for you to enjoy for yourself: http://www.ted.com/talks/rives_on_4_a_m
Did you know that wheelchair cushions have a gel insert designed to cushion your bum? Well, they make a slight well in the cushion, which, the cats tell me, is the perfect sleeping spot. Here is Andrew trying to persuade Pickle to get out of the chair.
Most of the time I would agree that to focus on the ability of people who have a disability is a good thing. Yet, there are times when the disability really has to be acknowledged for the hideous and limiting thing that it is.
Losing more function can be frightening, depressing, soul-destroying, frustrating, not to mention bloody impractical! At the end of several weeks which included all of those things, there ARE some things to be thankful for.
1) I have an amazing partner who despite losing the last remnants of his ‘walking’ and ‘standing’, only managed to lose his sense of humour for a day here and there. Without that wit and comic relief, I’m not sure where we would be right now.
2) We are fortunate to have supportive family, friends and workmates.
3) There are some bloody awesome Norweigans out there who made the molift hoist equipment.
4) It doesn’t matter how stressed you become, the cats still give you cuddles. Sometimes two at a time.
Somebody stole February; abducted her in the middle of the night and stashed her in a cupboard somewhere. It must be so. In the blog-sphere, February has been swallowed up; surely it must be foul play.
Since February vanished, mum has once again been called an ‘enigma’, a ‘diagnostic conundrum’ and just plain ‘odd’ by her neurologist.
Since February receded from view, Andrew has managed – after much angst – to secure himself the purpose built disabled unit next door. This means no more text messages advising me that I have to be there at a certain time to retrieve dinner from the oven – it will now be at the right height.
Since February was snatched, Christmas presents were framed and hung (see left) and birthdays went by without cake!
Since February was eaten by a great white, I have been to Melbourne and back, with only an addition of Springsteen’s Thunder Road to add to my iTunes library to show for it.
Since February disappeared, I have lost half an employee to university and half a partner as well.
But worst of all, since February flew by, we had to say goodbye to Pippy. She had a cancer that the vet found he couldn’t remove. That was how February ended. I was in the Melbourne convention centre near the end of a seminar. My phone vibrated and I opened it to find the words I was hoping wouldn’t be there. ‘I’m sorry, she’s gone.’ I so wanted to be with my mum and dad but I was 1000km away. I still had to do a presentation, before getting on a plane home. The next day I was able to be at “the mothership”. Pippy ruled that house. Pippy loafed in every square inch of it when she wasn’t cuddling up to my parents. Pippy adored my parents and they her.
I’ve included a few pics of her below doing what she did best, my favourite being the last one in the greenhouse ‘hammock’ that she made for herself and my dad didn’t dismantle because she loved to sleep there.
‘I need a giraffe’, I text. The reply comes swiftly. ‘Can’t you just use a spotted deer and stretch it’s neck?’ I consider Andrew’s suggestion briefly. No. I get that it’s only a paper spotted deer but stretching its neck still sounds unethical. I decide to wait until I can photocopy and enlarge myself a giraffe from my well used Dover books.
Thankfully work has a new photocopy where the ‘mirror image’ option is not so hard to find. I used it infrequently on the old machine, so each time I would start my hunt again through the excessive number of incomprehensible icon splattered menus to find it. This is part of my work/life balance. I enlarge my giraffes at work rather than taking myself off to officeworks and standing in queues. Luckily for work I don’t enlarge that many giraffes. I fear lumping a 6 metre, 800kg+ african animal on the photocopy is probably not great for the machine.
The creation of this – unfinished – piece, is also part of my work / life balance. Someone asked me if I had a new year’s resolution and I said no. Upon reflection I realise it is probably to have a little more ‘painting’ time. I have even tried to take my art to Andrew’s place and do some there. I’m not sure if this will be a successful strategy as I tend to be a very messy artist, unlike Andrew who seems to paint in a contained fashion. Personally I don’t understand this. Perhaps it is because he only uses paint and drawing materials (charcoal, pencil etc). He doesn’t tear up papers, transfer images (which results in paper splinters all over the art surface) or work at quite the same ‘everything in my way is collateral’ pace. Then again, only a bad workman blames his tools. I make a mess when I cook; when I work; when I do anything actually. I am just a messy person. I seem to become so absorbed in what I’m doing that I develop a tunnel vision. It’s not until later when I turn my head that I see the trail of destruction I’ve left. Sometimes the ‘turning of my head’ can take days, or weeks.
As for the meaning of this art piece? I have no idea. Its had quite an evolution. This must be the third incarnation of this piece. Instinct said, ‘I want a giraffe.’ Discovering that all giraffes from my stash had already been used, I tried to consider other animals but none would do. A giraffe was my first thought, a giraffe was what it had to be. I know this piece isn’t finished. I’m just waiting on instinct to tell me the next move.
In 2014, I’m returning to painting small. A3 or smaller to be precise. This latest piece has evolved over the past week or so. I have no idea what the device is in the hand in the top right corner… I thought perhaps it was a starter’s pistol but Andrew tells me it is not. Anyone know?
I enjoy coming home after work to a cat cuddle following by a spot of painting. It’s a way to unwind and let my brain potter along in another zone for a while. If only painting resulted in weight loss… then it would be the perfect pastime.
Somedays I feel for the humble pear. Here it was, hanging on a tree as nature intended, when someone decided to associate its curvaceous frame with ‘things going all awry’. I’m not sure what the pear did to deserve this treatment by the English language. You don’t hear of something going Apple-shaped, turnip-shaped, banana shaped or rambutan-shaped, do you? Now if ever a fruit were worthy of slander I think the rambutan is it.
While I’m contemplating the English language’s abuse of food… what’s with the cheese which slid off the cracker? Andrew said this to me the other day and I turned around and said ‘you made that up!’
‘No I didn’t’, he protested. So what did I do to settle this difference of opinion? I turned to Dr Google. We don’t need a marriage counsellor (well we’d have to be married for a start… but you get my drift). Whenever we have a difference of opinion, such as what year was Martin Luther King killed, we turn to google to find out who is right.
He was. It’s usually me. How very disappointing.
OK, I am ashamed to admit that I have paper bearing glitter in my collage stash.
I know not from whence they came.
I suspect they were part of a mixed pack – they have been in my folders so long that I have quite forgotten.
These are scrapbooking papers. I am not a scrapbooker and have no interest in it. If people look down on mixed media art as not being particularly artistic, then scrapbooking is even further down the chain. Personally I remain delighted that scrapbooking became popular in the last decade because it gave me another source from which to collect papers. That said, the lesson I have learnt is buy a ‘pack’ expecting that it will be about 2/3rds useful, 1/3 toss out. Hmm… ‘toss out’… not usually in my vocabulary when it comes to collage material. So it seems that I have kept these papers (left in each picture) and well… what a surprise… I’ve never used them.
I can’t imagine why I haven’t had call to use a prancing horse with glitter, but there you go.
So in an effort to justify these papers taking up room in my collage collection, I decided to transform them. The best part about an ugly paper is the gusto with which one can throw oneself at changing it as it can surely get no worse.
My main challenge was getting rid of the glitter as it is upraised. In the end I used a variety of media to extinguish it, including:
- gesso over the top which ‘filled in’ the non-embossed areas and gave a new flattened surface
- light molding paste (by Golden). This has to be one of my favourite gel / pastes to use as it is so lightweight that the paper tolerates it and it’s marshmallow finish just sucks in the colours of the glazes you put over the top.
- opaque paints – with this you can still see the upraised pieces but at least the glitter is gone (see below)
The photographs don’t do justice the richness of colour in the reformed papers.
While I doubt that I could ever have found an artful application for purple paper with green glittered dots, the rich wine colour is something I most certainly will use. It has been completed using a number of glazes as well as some handwritten additions in my favourite crayons (Caran d’ache neocolor I’s) which shine through the subsequent layers. The greenish-glitter has now turned to an orange-gold courtesy of the quin crimson & quin nickel azo gold layers. It now has depth and intensity.
Last but not least is quite possibly the ugliest of all the papers I set about transforming this week.
The purple mermaid with green glitter. Oh, it’s just too stylish.
I had a lot of difficult photographing the piece after painting as it kept reflecting light – in particular in the bottom corner where there is some Clear Tar Gel giving it a gloss. A close up of the middle is featured below.
Of all the papers this one got the most gesso. It is also the one that looks most like a ‘piece’ rather than paper that I’m just going to put back into my stash to rip up another day. I suppose in all of this the question is, why bother transforming ugly paper… why not just start with clean paper? I think the close up below answers that well. While it looks nothing like the original, it got to where it is based on the original. The upraised elements are still present (without the sparkle), and the colour choices are in part informed by the purple as I needed something dark and high staining like the quin crimson to cover over the purple and some gesso where I wanted to knock it out altogether. Besides, there is no need to ‘cover up’ clean paper. Eliminating glittered tackiness from my stash is a good excuse to just spread paint around with abandon! I’ve got another 4 days before I go back to work and another 4 pieces of ugly paper. Fun!