Expectations. 1, Process

Altar : found polystyrene. Temporary. Disassembled… and what I’m learning from them.

I expected to make a huge body of cohesive, location-influenced work to bring home and exhibit.

–instead, scraps and snippets, very little of which will come home. Some of it is too organic to make it through the bio security cordon at home. Some pieces have been temporary : made, unmade, recycled.

Lesson: I have always loathed the idea of it being “all about the process” – it’s seemed like art/craft making as a filler of time, an amusing alternative to boredom. To consciousness even. It’s never that way for me. When i make, or even think about making, i always have a Big Idea, something inside me burning to get out and connect with others.

Now, I’ve had over 2 months intensive tinkering with no specific idea in mind. My Gallipoli/Çanakkale memorial work is a long way off. It deserves a really decent level of attention and engagement.

Here I have experimented with a new medium (watercolour) simply because I couldn’t think how else to get colour in the absence of my usual textile resources.

Knowing nothing of how to use them I’ve surrendered to the process of experiment and found I quite enjoy it.

The pleasant discovery is that the process-generated works are settling gently into conceptual groups, just as they would be had I begun with an Idea. They look like ‘my work’ too. Surprisingly, they don’t much look like ‘here’ Cappadocia, but perhaps I’ll see that later.

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Improvisation

As i may have mentioned earlier, I didn’t bring much with me in the way of studio equipment or materials.

Pliers, scissors, watercolour paintbox, craft knife, glue stick, needles, threads

Sometimes this has been Extremely Frustrating. Mostly, I’ve enjoyed the simplicity. And the challenge of improvising.

Today I discovered a plinth for my first 3D piece by uniting a vacuum cleaner box (of which more later) + black plastic bag + chunk of polystyrene.

…also a way to display my bilingual loving-kindness mantra, thanks to a somewhat dodgy light switch.

I’m feeling ridiculously pleased with these two small steps towards creating a gallery in my middle room. It’s nearly there: plain white walls, decent light and no furniture. If I can just scrounge a hammer and about 8m of light wire i can improvise a hanging system!

Packing for the journey, part 2

With the great encouragement of some talented friends, I have been making friends with the pencil. Drawing, or at least sketching, is slowly becoming part of my process.

It is helping me to remember things and ideas, and to slow down and pay attention to the moment. 

It’s also been useful when discussing ideas with clients. I’ve been surprised how a very crude scruffy sketch on the fly has helped us move forward together. 

A drawing kit for the journey, but not too much:

  • Visual diary in pretty cover by The Sewphist
  • Soft & hard mechanical pencils
  • Black fine marker
  • Gold & silver gel pens
  • Blue, red & yellow Acquarelle pencils
  • Square & pointed watercolour brushes (for blending pencils and washing with coffee etc)
  • A spoon for burnishing/rubbing

In Sevilla I added a green pencil. 

pencil case  lying open across notebookThis kit i have used quite often and with great pleasure. Whether or not it’s a “perfect picture” doesn’t matter a bit. 

sketch of a tower at Park Güell

Re-setting the scale

  In my last post I talked about re-setting my practice smaller after several all-consuming large projects. Here’s how I went about that:

  1. Stopping- I took two, count ’em, two! days off any kind of seeing or even fabric fondling. It was weird.
  2. Looking – I looked at Other People’s Art, in galleries and books. I looked at Nature. I looked at faces, including my own.
  3. Learning – I went to an excellent 3-day textile art retreat with Cecile Whatman, of which more later.
  4. Stocktaking – I sorted out all my in-progress works (fewer than I feared) and all my fabrics. That was exciting!

That all took place over a couple of weeks. With sufficient “think small” mindfulness, enough to break the automatic pattern of thinking large. 

It seems to have worked. Since then I’ve started on two mid-size commissions, seen three small works hung in my first ‘art’ exhibition, of which even more later, and received the spark of inspiration for several small new works. Enjoying smaller scale for now.

Waking up to making

Space and time are always the requirements for creation. The stuff of making. This week I have the blessing if both. I’m making – completing – a very simple project long in the making, but I’m also beginning to feel a renewed interest in something with much more potential. Starting somewhere, sometime, like this

Fabric yet again from Dye-it. I had a buying spree when they closed. I love their work.