Saturday, 26 March 2011

The Elastic Limits of Spring

Spring has sprung with an energy which startled me at first, until I recalled how startled I am every year as I thaw and stumble into the sunlight.

My daughter's newest word is 'daffodil'. Well, okay, 'dadill', but hearing her call it out as we buggy past each stand of daffs is a heart-burster nonetheless.

Dadills from our woods

And we are joining the chorus of openings and beginnings and letting daring tendrils feel their way into the world.

My entish husband, Thomas Hine, is working on a new art commission for an intriguing book collecting historical and contemporary postcards depicting The Cornish Litany, and he has just been asked to write a guest essay for a folklore blog. 
You can explore his art and writing in the fantastical world contained within A Basket of Leaves and learn everything you might want to know about Westcountry Folklore.

If you were with me for Small Wonders and The story of an imperfect artwork, then you'll be expecting the next piece in my Patterns collection around now - the 'new first' one. As is often the case, the process of completing a prototype germinated many variations on the original theme. So this new piece is more of a scene and less abstract:

Tree in Sunny Field 
Brush Pen Mosaic

I've begun thinking of these as mosaics rather than simply patterns. My new artist brush pens create lovely lines, making each 'piece' feel more solid and distinct. The logistics of placing each piece so future pieces can fit are similar to those of mosaics, although without the advantage of being able to pick them all up again if it doesn't quite work. I'm developing techniques to deal with this all the time, but a lot of it is just being able to visualise where they're going to go - and then remember what I pictured.

This week I started training in quite a new field - as a Breastfeeding Peer Supporter with Barnardo's. I was a bit anxious I'd be expected to be an evangelical lactivist, (LOVING that word) but that's not the case. It's just about information, support, having time for someone at a phase in their life when they may have little time for themselves. Not quite sure where I'll squeeze this time from, but committed to doing it anyway.
To find out about talking with a peer supporter, or becoming one (no cost to you in either case), phone Barnardo's on 0117 978 2441.

And I have also just accepted a commission to write a children's story for our local preschool. I haven't tried writing for children before, but I read several kids' books every day (and several times each!), so I feel like I've been researching for the past year :o).

A few words from me, about dreaming, are kindly included in To Sleep, To Dream, on the blog of Claire de la Luz. Thank you Claire.

Spring blessings on you all. If you haven't sent me anything for Happiness Week yet, now is the time.
And do please share your new ventures too.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

The story of an imperfect artwork

The other day I was talking to an artist friend about what we do when a piece just doesn't work as we'd planned. Sometimes the deviation from our vision is a wonderful surprise, but here I'm going to talk about those times when the surprise is less than wonderful.
If you've been following this blog, you'll have seen a couple of progress reports on the first of my new Pattern collection for my upcoming exhibition. You'll know how excited I have been to let go of 'what I should be doing' and allow myself to diddle about with felt tip pens doing entirely abstract patterns on tiny canvasses.

Prototype Stage One

I very much enjoyed creating this pattern, and in that sense it has been a success. But, as warned by some of you, the colours have already faded. You can see the beginnings of it here, particularly in the pinks. At this stage 'Pattern One' (of twenty, gulp!) was retitled 'Prototype'. Obviously a fading piece would not be good enough to exhibit or sell.

Prototype Stage Two

At this stage it may have been prudent to stop work, but I know from experience that the trickinesses experienced at the beginning of a piece are often different to those encountered at the end, so I continued in the spirit of experimentation. 

I relearned some of what I used to know about felt tips: how individual pens need different pressures and angles to get the same result; how the colours can bleed and mix; how the texture of the surface influences the final appearance. And a lot of that I can make use of when I begin the real Pattern One with my lovely Faber Castell Artist Brush Pens which will NOT fade :o).

Prototype Stage Three
By Stage Three you can clearly see the fading. Compare the blues. And the red (below) has disappeared! But also I could see how much I liked the idea; I was buzzing with multiple variation possibilities as I coloured and that alone makes this exercise worth the time and squinting.
Finished Prototype

So, did I create art good enough to exhibit? No.
Was it what I wanted? Not entirely, no.
Has it been a necessary stage in creating fabulous, quality works I can sell? Very possibly.

A final thought: After I'd finished this and lined up all my progress shots, I started wondering about the lovely shapes more obvious in the incomplete canvasses. So, not only has the process taught me a lot about how to create the finished piece I want; I also realise I need to reassess when each piece is finished and that photographing my work is a useful way of getting that perspective.

Do you make prototypes of new forms?
And how is it when you're less than thrilled with your work?

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Small Wonders

Some wonders for you today.

The first is me in print. Amen to that! You can now buy Pay Attention: a river of stones from Lulu for £6.99. It contains 320 small stone poems and some prose words by the editors and other stoners. (Really have to get over myself about that word. I'm 32!)

Also, if you want a long list of reasons to be proud of your fellow humans (and, let's face it, that's not always so easy), watch this

And an update on my latest art thing (picture? piece? It's not a painting because I'm not using paints):

Pattern One mid-flow

I've got until September to get my exhibition together, which seems a long time, but my art time is limited and I want to create about twenty. Watch this space...

And if you're inspired by any of the above, do send me your contribution to Happiness Week. Thank you.
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