Sunday, 29 May 2011

What the Heck is It?

I went to David Jones department store yesterday looking for a red scarf. They are surprisingly difficult to find. I wanted a finely knit one, not too wide.

On my search I found this intriguing piece. I don't know what to call it. I don't know what it is. It is long and shaped like a scarf but has buttons and buttonholes on the ends of both sides. When you button both sides it looks like the photo above. It looks kind of like a rectangular unshaped vest but there is no neck hole.
This is it from the front. Both sides are buttoned through the bottom half. How are you supposed to wear it? That was the question I asked the saleswoman. She had no idea. We went on a tour through the floor, asking at least four other saleswomen. None knew, and for the most part they were only politely interested.

Another customer came over at one point and tried out another way of wearing it. I wish I had thought to take a photo. I think she buttoned opposite sides together after she had draped it around me. We had a fun 5 minutes talking about possibilities until her husband called her back. It turned out she was a sculpture.

Later she found me again and asked if I was going to buy it. I replied that I was, if just to puzzle out ways to wear it. I was hopeful that I could look it up on the internet. I imagined a website that would show me five ways to wear it. It has the brandname Gregory Ladner, apparently a designer in Melbourne.
I couldn't find a website or anything that looks like it. Here is probably the most obvious way to wear it. Not really very attractive. I have buttoned one side together and looped it over my neck.
This is how it looks in the back. You can see the unbuttoned buttons under my arm.
Here it is just worn unbuttoned as a scarf. Have you ever seen anything like this? Any ideas?

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Link to the Flickr Group

This is a drawing of what I wore to my Art Journaling class yesterday. I used a reference photo, but I am happy cause I didn't get all perfectionist with it (look at those wonky feet. The photo didn't reach my feet, haha.)

Here is a link to the flickr group called What I Wore Today, if you want to play. Only drawings are allowed, no photos. It is such a great idea. I am going to try and post whenever I am out for the day. When I am at home in the studio I pretty much wear the same daggy clothes. Come to think of it, maybe I will draw them too.

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Drawing for Fun

I want to draw more. I want to take my drawing less seriously. I want to play with drawing like I did as a child.

I hear people dismiss their ability to draw. "I can't draw a stick figure."
Sure you can. And why not? What is wrong with stick figures? They can be adorable.

They can be expressive.
Drawing is like singing or dancing. We can all do it. Maybe not 'well', but it can bring us joy whether we are sing like a bird or... or not so well.

I have the opposite problem. I learned to draw really well. I mean this is a good thing. I took many years to develop the skill and I am glad I did. I just wish I hadn't taken it all so seriously.

I wish I had been more playful in learning to draw. And I would like to become more playful with my drawing.

This sounds like it would be easy. But surprisingly, it isn't. Whether because of pride or ego, it is surprisingly difficult to get past the way I have conditioned myself to try for 'perfect' drawing.

I am not saying that my drawings are perfect, I am not saying that. I am saying that I am overly concerned with trying to get them perfect. And they suffer from it. Ironically I am a worse drawer (is that a word?) for it.

So, in the spirit of play I thought I would contribute to the flickr group "what I wore today". There are some very playful drawings there. In the spirit of getting away from my perfectionism, I am not using references and I am allowing my drawing to be 'wonky'. This is just for me, for fun.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

What I am Stitching Now

I now have 3 jean jackets. I don't need that many but I have been finding them in thrift stores. I want to make this one look different from the other two, and I've been yearning to do some embroidery, so...

In the past I have planned my embroidered pieces out by drawing the complete design. But I want to approach this one differently. I want to do it spontaneously, just do one bit and then another, not knowing really where I am going or what I will do next. (This is Rice's influence.)

I drew the curves of the stems with a ChakoAce fabric pen. It makes a very faint mark which is hard to see, a bit frustrating. The good part is that it disappears over time, or with water. The fabric shapes are added with applique adhesive paper, then I am doing the satin stitch over the edges. I don't think the adhesive would hold up through washing, and I think it looks better with the stitching.
I am going for a rather jacobean flower look.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

a Rather Strange Painting Assignment

Several weeks ago I was asked to be in an unusual group show. It was initiated by a local woman, Zenith Virago, well-known for her work concerning dying as the president of the Natural Death Centre in Byron Bay. Every year they have a Day of the Dead ceremony to honour everyones' dead.

There is also an art show. That sounded interesting, and I imagined what I might paint. But the curators already had a plan for that, I was to paint a coffin. A cardboard coffin.

It wasn't until it actually arrived in my studio that I got a little creeped out.
Fortunately the feeling seems to have passed. I was worried that I would continue to feel uncomfortable in my own studio.
The coffin lid is very long and narrow, rather difficult compositionally.
To begin I have drawn out lots of coffin lid shapes and am trying out different compositions, going into my sketchbook for possible ideas.

What would you paint on a coffin lid?

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Responding to: Creativity Doesn't Have to be Pretty

I am writing in response to an amazing post that Rice wrote on her blog. Here is the link: Notes From the Voodoo Cafe: Creativity Doesn't Have to be Pretty. The post is complete in itself, it doesn't need anything added, I just wanted to write about my own experience.

I am going to write this assuming you have read her post.

I relate deeply to what Rice has written, yet I have a little different take on it. I am not at quite the same level of creativity as Rice is. Yes, in my experience there are different levels. This is not an outer judgement, it is not from me observing others but from observing myself. I have learned to go deeper into my creativity.

I was always an artistic child. Good at drawing, playing creative games with my sister. But it was actually my sister that had the more full-on creative life. She came up with the ideas for our games, what we would create, the greatest stuff. I would often jump off of her creativity. Or perhaps I learned from her. She is my older sister.

As I got older, I was always attracted to creative endeavours. I majored in the fine arts at university. I was only happy in creative jobs such as graphic arts and sign-writing. I had the soul of an artist, but I wasn't wildly original. I can see that there is a difference, though I haven't looked at it deeply enough to explain it. My art is beautiful but not wildly original. I am not one of the truly original creatives that others can barely understand. I am somewhere in between.

But the amazing thing is that my creativity is growing. I thought you had to be born that way, apparently not. I am finding that you can nourish it and it will grow.

I want my creativity to grow because I am finding that the bigger it gets, the happier I get. It is such a wonderful gift.

Rice related her creativity to a psychotic symbol of a charming man who becomes rabid killer. I understand where she is coming from (and you do get the sense that she has a lot of affection for this psychopathic character) but my experience relates more to creativity as soulwork. Which isn't necessarily a contradiction, just a different viewing platform, as soulwork can be done in the dark as well as the light.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Working on Three Paintings

For the past few weeks I have been working on three paintings. I always work on several paintings at the same time. Because oil is relatively slow drying it is convenient to go from one to another. But I also find that working on one helps me to understand the others, and vice versa.

This is the larger one that I started and then changed the composition. Go here to learn more.
This is the step before the first photo when I was putting the oil paints on over the acrylic underpainting. It was so great to be back using the oils. I struggled with the acrylics as I do not normally use them. I realised that a lot of what I wasn't liking in the underpainting was because I was using acrylics. The oil colours were much richer and the painting immediately improved.
Above is the acrylic underpainting before I put on any oil paint.
Here is the second painting where we left her last time.
You can see that I am going in and making the colours bolder and the contrasts of dark and light stronger. I have also added another layer of cobalt blue to the background to take it back to gray.

Earlier stages of both this painting and the next are in this post.
Finally this one, which I have been working on the past few days. Again, making it richer and stronger. I change the colour in one place and it usually means that then I need to change it somewhere else. I am continually refining the drawing and making transitions more subtle.
All three paintings are still far from finished, but it gets harder to show you what I am actually doing. It is difficult to show the subtleties of oil paint in photographs.

You can see the images closer if you click on them.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Girls with Chickens, a drawing

This is a spread from my secret journal. Shhh, don't show anyone.

Remember that I said I want to draw more? It is starting to happen. It feels good.

Friday, 6 May 2011

Laura Ashley Refashion

Remember the 1980's Laura Ashley dress? I found it in a thrift store and had already cut off the puffy sleeves and lace collar before I remembered to take a photo. Here I am, holding the sleeve on so you can get an idea of the 'before'.
Already so different. A lot can be done in refashioning garments just by cutting stuff off, whether sleeves or length or whatever.
So I made it into a jumper, as Americans say. Or a pinafore if you are Australian.
I don't know if I am completely happy with the neckline. Square might have been better. I took it from the pattern for the dress that sucked. I didn't have any other necklines, but it is very boring ordinary. I think I need some other patterns to work from.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Sewing Blind: More Refashioning

I am having much more fun sewing blind than I ever had sewing from a pattern. It is slow, it is inefficient, my mind says "this is stupid, you could have finished it by now if you had a pattern." True, true, but I didn't have a pattern - I am creating it from a thrift man's shirt and a photo I took in a change room. I wouldn't have believed I could do it.
Below I am sewing on the bias tape to finish off the neckline and armholes.
The bodice is mostly finished. I plan more button holes in the back (I turned the shirt around so it would button up the back). I will also change the white buttons that were on the shirt to dark purple ones. But first I have a problem.
I am a bit stuck now. See how the bodice curves up in the front in the change room photo? I love that, so graceful. I managed to cut my bodice like that but now I want to cut out the skirt. I want it lightly gathered rather than full. How do I cut the curved shape? How much do I cut to get lightly gathered? I must confess I don't know.