They do say 'all things happen for a reason.' With lists written and the diary filled with plans, out of the blue an email arrived. It asked, 'could I take a stall at The Kist during Wigtown Book Festival, because there'd been a late cancellation?' With only 7 days notice, I took the chance and said 'Yes.' I hadn't applied to take part this year, so there was no time for the usual preparations, but still managed to get the display stands out of storage and the artwork organised in time. All of this kit slots into my little car, almost like lining up the squares on a Rubik's cube- well sort of.
It was the 20th year of the Wigtown Book Festival and, as usual, there were the great , the good and the celebrity speakers, giving talks at a host of literary events. There is always a fun, welcoming atmosphere in The Kist marquee, where a selected crew of artists, makers and speciality food producers gather during the event. I looked forward to it and it was a successful event for me, with sales and such a lot of positive feedback for my artwork. It was also an exhausting 5 days for me, as I can, and do, suffer from 'people overload' – that's when I say, 'yes, it's lovely to meet you all, but can we stop now, please?' That's when I'd disappear for a couple of circuits of the outside of the marquee and then return, a lot better able to cope.
Afterwards, with only 2 days to pack it all away again (phew!), I was packing a suitcase and putting my printmaking kit into the car. There was a school talk and demo to do, on developing sketch book ideas and lino printing. The talk and demonstration went really well. The children were very interested in my sketchbook work and so enthusiastic to be involved in making their own prints. The staff were really supportive and lots of prints were made, using different methods, at the 2 sessions- a total of 60 children, aged 7-8 years old took part. As the first session finished, I was amazed to see the corridor outside the classroom door, was a colourful, patchwork river of prints, all lined up to dry.
Sadly, schools don't have spare money in their budgets to 'buy in' artists, so this was me 'giving a little something back.' Let's hope that seeing my sketchbook of art experiments, hearing my thoughts on exploring ideas, not worrying about 'making mistakes' and telling them to have fun and play with their ideas, will see them being even more creative. Children are so curious and as expected there were lots of questions about print making and then there were the unexpected, like . . . . how old are you? . . . . do you really live in Scotland? . . . . where did you get your jumper?
Last week, my website was finally up-dated with more recent information, plus, works that have sold. Any newer work, not sold, will be on there around the end of the month.
The 'Energise' exhibition opens at the new Kirkcudbright Galleries this weekend, organised by, Upland, the arts organisation. A mixed media work has been selected for display. It's very personal to me, being related to my trip to Chile in 2009. It's also very different to my usual work and I'll be interested to get feedback about it. Looking forward to seeing the exhibition, which is on the theme of climate change and conservation. October is turning into a very busy month too!
Right now, I'm working on ideas for the Spring Fling open studios application process, inspired by my visits to The Smithy. The application deadline looms in 11 days time and I'm hoping to be selected to take part again in 2019. Fingers crossed.
with positive thoughts,
Cherish your journey . . . .
With all good intentions to write regular art blog posts, as recommended by the 'Marketing Experts,' I've failed miserably. I'm accepting my failure, as recommended by the 'Health Experts'; learning from it and moving on, without blame or regret.
As I write this, Google will be resetting my 'algorithms,' (someone needs too), and making adjustments. As self appointed guardian of my well being and influencer of my purchasing power, Google will soon offer a host of suggestions that will 'fix' my life. They'll pop up every time the laptop cranks up to warp speed to connect to the internet - it's settings are getting a little out of date, like mine. Social media is now a part of life, but sometimes it feels like a monster that eats up all the spare minutes of that life. This week has been like that. Between, Google, Messenger, Facebook, Whatsapp and Instagram, my life must be an open book and perfect for insomniacs as bedtime reading! Ironically, my online security system, that also sees everything, warns me everyone can see where I am – as if anyone cares - then gives a location in England, where, I am not. Hopefully, the antivirus part of the programme is working more efficiently than the location finder.
That's enough of the tales of life with Google and onto the arty stuff. Since the Spring Fling event, there has been the Creative Whithorn Arts and Crafts Trail, which was great fun and introduced me to some new customers and others who returned to say hello. Much time has been given to printmaking, painting and mixed media work, the latter, to a proposed exhibition theme. I almost lost patience with the mixed media, combined print and collage work, as there were a number of process issues to overcome. Once resolved, the collage became a tedious chore. All the spontaneous flow had gone and it just couldn't be conjured up again. Apparently, collage, isn't my 'thing.' It turned into a lesson in patience and a practice of new techniques, that will usefully transfer into future work. The results were disappointing and are consigned to a drawer for the time being.
Next week, I visit an old and draughty 'time capsule' to do some on-site artwork at an old smithy. The old forge is hiding away in an outbuilding at the home of friend and fellow artist, *Glenda Waterworth. Once the door opened to reveal the potential new studio space, I knew this place had a special story to tell me. If I can steal in quietly and capture the atmosphere of the space, the soft light, the feeling of creeping decay, it will be worth sitting with the gazillion spiders that have their home in there!
These are a few of the words that I recorded from that first visit . . .
Cobwebs drape necklaces of gathered dust beads, suspended in time, over the remains of the extinct forge fire. In the gentle light, tiny beads of soot and dust are captured in a snapshot of daily activity from the past. Every nook and cranny bears evidence of the decades of frenetic web building by the generations of spiders that continue to live there.
There will be updates on this new project . . . . . just, not sure how soon . . . .
with good wishes,
Cherish your journey . . . .
Glenda is in a joint exhibition - 'Explosion of Colour' at Harbour Cottage Gallery, Kirkcudbright until 9th September 2018
Out of necessity this is a short blog. A month ago I 'trashed' my timetable for Spring Fling Open studios and threw all my plans into chaos.
The 'to do' list was ditched and the focus of my attention became my 2 grandsons. Being energetic, lively, funny, lovable, huggable, 2 and 3 year olds, they take more energy and concentration than I'm used to expending. Following a fall, my daughter had broken her ankle and was on crutches and I moved into their home to help out. I say 'on crutches,' but this was when we could get them out of the hands of the youngest! He thought it was a great game to take them and run around the house with them. The damage he could inflict in 30 seconds was truly incredible! Thankfully, no pets or people were injured, but there were a few close calls- the fish tank being one of them! Between, their Gran and Grandpa, their Daddy and myself, we managed to keep them entertained, fed and clothed, while Mummy provided extra love and cuddles from the sofa.
During this time, we went to a number of activities, including 'art seekers' at the National Glass Centre in Sunderland, dinosaur mask-making, at Sunderland Museum and making fantastical fish while creating fishy stories, during a trip on the magic carpet, at a local child-centred cafe. The professionals who lead these activities wove a powerful spell, that totally engrossed the children and engaged them for long periods of concentration- developing skills for observation, listening and co-operation, that will be needed throughout their lives.
Is it just me, or, as we get older, do we forget how beneficial creative activities are in the development of our children? Art and creativity are not just beneficial for pre-school, but through the developing years of education and infuse an appreciation of creativity that has applications in adulthood too. If we want children to become innovative, original thinkers, then we need them to experience creative activities, not just the 3 R's. I know that school budgets are stretched and emphasis is toward 'academic' skills, but creative thinking is also such a valuable tool for work and mental health, all life long.
Now I'm going to have to stretch my own imagination and work out how I'm going to fit in all the tasks I'd planned to do in the weeks I was away. I want to make Spring Fling enjoyable for me and the 'Spring Flingers' when they visit at the end of May.
Perhaps we should all imagine our own magic carpet ride, where will you go. . . . ?
best wishes to you,
Cherish your journey.
I decided it is very unlikely, I could be persuaded to ride a camel. Michael Palin's account of his journey across the Sahara, was more about endurance than discovery. Considering the extreme heat, the bouts of 'dire rear' and the possibility of kidnap by political groups, it was an epic journey. The unique, willful characteristics of his allotted camel were just a bonus!
While painting I often listen to audio books, loaned from the public library. (A luxury I truly appreciate.) 'Words' are a great inspiration to me. When an author paints a picture with words, expresses emotions or give the inanimate, life, it all works to make my brain 'tick' and drives my imagination.
Last week I crossed the Sahara from my studio, this week I'm hearing about innovation and 'What would Steve Jobs do?' There have been travel diaries and novels and I've been totally clueless about any number of murder mysteries! I did borrow an actual book, with pages, about 'blogging,' but, as it was longer than a copy of 'War and Peace' it remained largely unread. Hence the debatable quality of my blog posts.
A lovely bedtime read was 'The Living Mountain' by Nan Shepherd. A relaxing account of her explorations of the Cairngorm Mountains of Scotland. She fills the pages with such detail of the seasons and 'moods' of the mountain. Her descriptions of the flora and fauna and how the balance of even the smallest ecosystem is dependent on the whole living mass of the mountain, are fascinating and informative.
My latest bedtime read is 'The Old Ways,' It was loaned and recommended by a friend. I got to page 2 and knew I'd just love it! The author, Robert Macfarlane explores the ancient paths and byeways of Britain. Perhaps I'll be walking them in my dreams each night.
Once I find out what it was that Steve Jobs did, I'll be hearing about life in France . . . . . .
What's been your favourite read recently and how did it inspire you?
with best wishes,
Cherish your journey
It has always fascinated me that you can have a room of creative people and one subject to paint, draw, or write about and at the end of the task, each will produce something different on the same subject. I was reminded of this when someone asked me, 'where do you get your ideas from?' There are many sources for ideas and it is the development of those ideas that produce original work. Is there any truly 'original' idea? Probably not and that may seem a controversial statement! It is, perhaps, more about what makes your treatment of that idea new and different. My ideas often have a long 'gestation' period before they actually appear on canvas or paper. They gradually take shape in my head before ever getting into a sketchbook.