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.
The countdown to the Spring Fling Open Studios Event has begun. It's held over 3 days at the Spring Bank Holiday weekend- 26th, 27th and 28th May 2018 and there will be artists and makers studios open across Dumfries and Galloway.
To take part, there is a selection process and when applying, I didn't think I'd get selected at all! I nearly missed the email that told me I'd been successful too! There'd been a lot of emails arriving and when I saw mail from an unfamiliar name, I didn't open it straightaway. Thankfully, I did, to discover it was 'congratulations' on being selected to take part. In fact, I went back to read it 3 times, just to check I didn't dream it!
Since then, I've been planning what needs to be done to prepare for the event There's been a social event to meet other Spring Fling artists; it was great to hear their experiences of Spring Fling; meet other 'newbies' like myself and gather useful tips for the event weekend, while enjoying it too. Plus, I've been painting like a woman possessed, as there's new work needed for display in other outlets too.
Tonight I would have been putting the finishing touches to the final artworks in the Shetland Knives series, but the electricity in this area has gone off. It happens. Once I'd got some lighting organised, I made a salad by candle light, then used my camping gas stove to make a hot drink and fill a hot water bottle, all the time hoping the power would suddenly flash back on again.
The down side is, the power's been off for over 2 hours and in an all-electric house, in Scotland, in Winter, it's pretty damn cold now. Although there is a calor stove, if it gets desperately cold. I'm ok, all tucked up in bed keeping warm, as the heat from a massed gathering of tea-lights doesn't stop the cold getting into your bones! Brrrr! So, I'm writing this in the dark, with what is left of the battery power in my laptop and no power, means no WiFi. I'm grateful for the upside- there's no cloud cover and without the street lights, I can see so many more stars than would normally be visible. It's breathtaking looking out of the window, into the darkness, it certainly puts life, the earth, the universe and the lack of power into true perspective.
With 'warm' wishes,
Cherish your journey.
In the past, I've not been the best at using my sketch book to process my ideas. In truth, I've often 'flown' with an idea and then got lost, because I hadn't thought it through fully. Since straying into 'abstract' territory, I've found my sketchbook a great aid to working through ideas and techniques. A guide to keeping my feet on the ground, well mostly!
Many artists sketchbooks are so neat and ordered, they are works of art in themselves. At a recent exhibition, I saw the sketchbooks of, the late, Wilhelmina Barnes Graham; such neat handwriting and perfect drawings. The discolouration of the pages was due to age and damp, not the forgotten cup of cold tea that got knocked over on the work table!
My current sketchbook is fastened with a length of elastic that catches into a button, to allow for expansion. I can see this will be under severe strain long before the book is finished. The pages are filled with gathered bits of inspiring information, samples of texture I've created and rough sketches of design layouts and other ideas. I'm about to create a pocket to include the stages of a recent print, which will swell the pages further. I hope it holds together for a bit longer, as I've become quite attached to this sketchbook, with its motley collection of creativity.
This week I nearly slipped back into my old ways. While standing applying gesso to a blank canvas - one of 8 - I was thinking what I might paint on it. I very nearly set off on my next painting journey with only a rough idea of where I was headed, and with no map, or SATNAV, where would I end up? Realising I might be going to repeat this 8 times over, I gave myself a good talking to and got out my sketchbook, my painting route finder, and found the inspiration I needed. Disaster averted!
Along with my sketchbook, I have my 'doodle book.' This is part of a 1950's encyclopaedia set, full of out of date information and in poor condition. Another 'creativity generator.' The idea was to chose a subject from each page and doodle something. Unfortunately, I realised after the 3rd page, that the first subject, 'Sound,' ran to 24 pages of technical jargon and equations! Hmmm . . . . a bit more of a challenge than I intended it to be.
When creating some artwork has defeated me, I've taken random words from the page and arranged them into a form of prose and added collage or symbols. I feel my science education was lacking in something, as after reading the whole page, I still can't work out what on earth 'relaxational compressibility, or, 'instantaneous compressibility' is! If you have this wisdom, please share with me in the comments below?
I'm suffering from 'instantaneous compressibility.'
It comes in waves through the ether-
That substance without form, but known for its tranmissibility.
It's when synchronicity joins up all the loose ends, ideas and dreams.
It sends them hither and thither,
To make connections to the open-minded free-thinkers and day-dreamers.
Once the wave passes, I slump into a state of relaxational compressibility . . . .
Breathe in, breathe out, prepare to catch the next wave . . . .
Cherish your journey
On Tuesday, 30th January they'll be celebrating the winter fire festival of Up Helly Aa in Lerwick on the Shetland Isles. Almost 1000 torch bearers will parade, singing and marching and finally throwing their blazing torches into the replica Viking galley, that will set alight the night sky. Festivities carry on until after daybreak the next day. I just wish I could be there! It's an event that involves all the communities and mini-events continue on in the smaller communities until March. For more info visit http://www.northlinkferries.co.uk/uphellyaa/ for links to the event timetable. These 2 recent works were inspired by this festival of fire and light. I wanted to capture the colour of the blaze and the swirling, twisting smoke that travels through the flames.
When working on these Up Helly Aa paintings, thoughts of my childhood came to mind. Supper on Winter evenings, toasting great wedges of bread over the embers of the kitchen fire. Waiting patiently and measuring the rate of toasting, by the smell of burning bread! To this day, I still love the smell and taste of well done toast. I was a very young child, in those pre-TV days, and with the lights low, we would listen to the radio, play with toys, or Mum would read us stories. If the fire was blazing brightly, we'd look for 'faces' in the fire and watch for the 'fairy dancers,' as my Mum called them. Of course, we believed in fairies, as all things are possible at that age. Mum would point to the flickering shadows on the walls and ceiling to confirm their existence, just in case there was any doubt.
With these memories in my head, the 2 artworks, below, are more about the 'fairy dancers,' their smoky shadows dancing and jumping in the fire.
How times have changed . . . . . now I have a toaster.
The toaster and I still haven't come to agreement as to-
1) how high it will eject the toast, or,
2) what speed and trajectory the toast will fly in!
best wishes to you,
Cherish your journey.