‘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.
Last night I painted all evening. I had several small canvas boards; mostly 10 X 8″ or smaller. I think there were 5 of them and I worked on all of them simultaneously. I think that’s painting for the impatient. Painting for one who really needs to buy another extension cord to get the heat gun closer to the art table as this natural drying time is far too slow. (Yes Andrew, you heard me – acrylics can be too slow to dry!).
This particular mixed media piece brought forth some old friends. The Dover Pictorial Archive resource full of images of hands has been a favourite for a long time. Tissue paper from discarded dressmaking patterns is another. Of course this is only 1980s dressmaking tissue. I wouldn’t countenance the destruction of truly vintage patterns.
I argued with this particular piece most of the evening. Finally it defeated me and I went to bed with it unfinished. There was a space above the bird’s nest which continued to feel empty and bothersome. Then – after a Licorice pummelling to wake me up – I finally found the words, the 13 and the final piece of dressmaking tissue paper to finish the piece.
I guess good things come to those who wait.
‘What are you doing tomorrow?’ asks Andrew. I think I should reply something sensible. Buying cat food. Tidying the house. Doing the Christmas shopping (my mother has already finished – GROAN). But I don’t feel like doing any of those things. I feel like playing.
Isn’t it odd that a child who doesn’t play is considered peculiar, weird, ‘at risk’ of developing life’s essential social skills, yet playtime as adults is something we sneak into the crevices. If we can disguise our play as having a physical or social benefit, then that’s ok. None of my play does. There is nothing physically strenuous about mixed media painting, or sewing (aside from stabbing myself unintentionally with pins).
I started to write this post by taking the photograph of the partially completed quilt top to the left. I then hopped across to the daily prompt at WordPress to check out the theme. It’s a daily prompt that I use maybe six weekly! It was playtime. It surely must be a sign from the internet gods that it’s ok not to do all the things I should be doing today. (Why are your cats going hungry? Because WordPress said it was ok!)
Some people would consider Christmas shopping ‘playtime’. For me, it is when I’m inspired… but right now I’m out of ideas and that’s the problem with a deadline. My creativity doesn’t work to a deadline and I suspect many others don’t either… otherwise they wouldn’t have invented the gift card.
The quilt above has been an on again / off again project. It has been interrupted for at least 3 other items. It has one flower / mushroom / leaf / [insert whatever you call that thing here] to go. Unfortunately it must have 55 strips, using 13 different coloured fabrics. It was my dressmaking teacher who started this fibonacci number lunacy and now I am almost there I cannot skip out on it now. This will be my first – and last – fibonacci inspired effort.
I can see why people make quilts to patterns. Of course there’s the obvious benefit of knowing what the next step is, yet, I was thinking more about fabric planning. Throughout this quilt I find myself rummaging through my sewing bag counting up small strips of colour in an effort to ascertain how many more strips I need and of what colour.
Of course my squirrelling, resource hoarding brain is already planning what I can do with the leftovers. I was painting the other night and had collaged on a woman with a ‘fright’ plastered all over her face. As the only other thing in the piece was a butterfly, I felt this looked rather stupid. Andrew face-timed me in the middle of my pondering. (Is face-timed a word?).
‘I can’t find what I’m looking for… I want a gargoyle I think!’.
Seizing this opportunity he says to me – ‘See, you have too much stuff.’
‘No! I have not enough!’
The postscript to that particular story is that I found a dragon, only to have a paper transfer failure. (See that mottled dark patch between her and the butterfly… that is the failed dragon. More like a decomposing dragon… hmm… wouldn’t that be smelly???)
Hmm… now I have lost my train of thought. What is a train of thought anyway? I’ve got an image of a freight train carrying alphabet soup in each carriage… ok… I think I’ve lost it now. Whatever piece of sensibleness this blog post had at the beginning is now truly up the creek with a beetroot and ham sandwich! It’s time to play for real instead of with words.
Oh… and buy cat food.
It’s been a while between impromptu art pieces and I’m clearly out of practice. Not only did I succeed in getting paint all over my hands but I also lent my arm on the heat gun and spent the next period with it under a tap, all the time hoping that Saffron was not about to take a walk across the painting table.
I started with bronze, cream and phthalo blue. I then decided I’d like to collage on the woman holding a beheaded man on a platter. Before anyone suggests it, no, Andrew has not done anything – this is not biographical! The only explanation I can give is that the colour of her skirt fit with my painting to date.
(By the way, if anyone can tell me who painted the original, I’d like to know… it’s in my miscellaneous collage pile and I have no idea where it came from).
I then wanted a tiger. That’s why I have a bird.
It really didn’t go very smoothly at all.
The best part of the whole art experience was opening up the watercolour pad to find the following piece I’d quite forgotten about.
Here’s the piece I started working on these last few days. I was having great fun with it too until I added the dodo bird. Unfortunately at that point I started to think too hard – what colour is a dodo bird? Given it’s Tenniel’s drawing of the bird and it is in wonderland, perhaps it could be purple? In wonderland do things really have to be their true ‘local colour?’
I know what you’re thinking – how can a girl who put a rhino on a tightrope be worried whether she is painting a bird the appropriate colour? Well, perhaps my left brain kicked in at that point.
So, I’m having a vote…
The last few weeks have been a jumble of long work hours, fundraising planning, smashed garages and mish-mash of other things I can’t remember. Hectic!
So today, I got a sweet detour from the running around, and wandering through a few art galleries. My entry fee was pushing Andrew around some very uneven footpaths. Most of the galleries were at 2 Dank Street Waterloo including the Brenda May Gallery. Here I encountered the work of James Guppy in their stockroom. A few of his piece remind me of the whimsy of James Christensen, especially this piece called: A Tussle of Pastries!
The other piece which caught my eye included an owl so I thought of you mum!
Here it is:
There was a furry obstacle.
So I walked up the street to buy bread instead.
Then I worked for a bit.
Followed by a bit of garden pruning.
Before re-checking the art table to see whether I could finish my piece.
So I had a power nap.
Then considered doing some more work.
Opened and the file and felt overwhelmed at where to start.
Walked to the bottle shop instead for some cider. (I had a craving for it. I’ll have a drink once every couple of months, so this is not a regular coping strategy!)
Finally, my art friends had evacuated and I could conclude painting the piece Andrew has named Whale Song. I’ve got no idea why. I’m not really sure what it is, so I’ll go with that title!