but is it art?

Hanna Andersson’s blog iHanna is one I enjoy dropping in on and today she asked the question “What is art and who has the right to call themselves an art?”  I think the questions “Is what I create art?” and “Can I call myself an artist?” occur to most of us at some stage.

Recently someone has called what I do “your crafts” and another referred to “your art” and I guess they’re both right in some respects.  When I was buying some art supplies at a big stationery shop I was asked if I was an artist and I said I was just to try the label out for size and for me, I don’t think it fits yet. If someone else considers my work art, fine and I’ll happily accept it but really, what I do is just muck around with art supplies (and other bits and pieces) because I can’t not . . . it’s in the blood.

If I know what I do is rather mediocre compared to what I envisaged or some (achievable) pinnacle to which I aspire, it’s mucking around . . . but sometimes, just sometimes, I am well pleased. So I’ll continue with the crafts and create a little art from time to time as well but as for calling myself an artist? I’ll leave that to others and continue to be gainfully unemployed and make lovely things. Like this wee gem.

I am well pleased . . .  even though my perfectionist self is saying "Damn, why didn't I notive I hadn't done it up straight!"  Kudos to me for not taking another photograph eh?

I am well pleased . . . even though my perfectionist self is saying “Damn, why didn’t I notive I hadn’t done it up straight!” Kudos to me for not taking another photograph eh?  Made from harakeke/flax, dextrals dyed two tone turquoise and green, driftwood closure, 12 x 14 cms or approximately 4.5 x 6 inches.

when at first you don’t succeed . . .

I was rudely awakened in the early hours of yesterday morning by an earthquake.  The epicentre was some way off but here on the sand and with a house built on a concrete slab, it was noticeable.  It reminded me once again how, despite our best efforts to build a secure home life, everything can change in an instant.  It brings into  perspective that most of what we think are disasters are merely annoying and that nothing we do can withstand the forces of nature . . . wind and rain will triumph.

Recently I created some maṇḍala out of shells, raised a tepee of flax/harakeke stalks weighted down in the centre with a  net-covered stone that weighs about 7 kg or 15.5 pound.  I thought it would be strong enough to withstand the wind and rain until the flax stalks gave in to time.

Local stones, triangle shells/kaikaikaroro, horse mussels/hoemoana and flax/harakeke flower stalks.

Local stones, triangle shells/kaikaikaroro, horse mussels/hoemoana and flax/harakeke flower stalks.

One night the winds came in from the sea and moved the lot . . . again!   Some of the horse mussel/hoemoana shells and feather have since blown away as well.

IMG_0341So what do I do now?  Plan C, it’s idiocy to repeat plan A or B.  I need to splay the ‘legs’ out further, secure them to the ground (tent pegs perhaps) and bring the apex of the structure closer to the ground and replace the hoemoana shells with stones.

Hardly an earth-shattering disaster, nothing of that magnitude (puns intended), just annoying because I expected it to last the summer . . . when it gets here.

another obsession?

Over the weekend I attended a Journey Journal workshop with Carole Brungar and 9 other women, two of whom were friends who stayed for the weekend . . . what a lovely way to spend my birthday!  Carole will be posting more photos of the wonderful creations from the weekend on her blog in the near future.

I’ve made some small journals, usually with blank paper or lightly printed for someone else to write or draw in but not a journal such as we were making. Mine morphed into a journal for one of my grandhearts and another is going to be made to celebrate the passing of the older grandheart’s first decade.

The girls are wonderful as all children are especially when they have received conscious parenting, are not overly indulged but loved unconditionally. They’re intelligent, inquisitive, creative and a constant source of pleasure and pride: they are my muses.

At 7 Jeanne described her little sister as “awesome” and “definitely as cheeky as a monkey with a banana full of extremely funny medicine” so the book I deconstructed was perfect for Meg. Some pages in progress . . .

The cover has been embroidered in much the same way as the knees of her tights are repaired.

The cover has been embroidered in much the same way as the knees of her tights are repaired.

Monkeys are intelligent, playful, curious, thoughful, creative and endlessly entertaining . . . just like Meg

Monkeys are intelligent, playful, curious, thoughful, creative and endlessly entertaining . . . just like Meg

Hasn't every little girl dressed as a fairy?

Hasn’t every little girl dressed as a fairy?  And sometimes they pull faces to show their monkey side as she did in the photo inserted in to the pocket above.

Ready for images and text.

And in Brazel the say, “If you like bananas, you are a monkey.”

Some more pages ready for text and images.

Some more pages, pockets and flaps ready for text and images.

time is of the essence

This morning I was reading a post on Diana Trout’s blog about Golden sending her nine of their new QoR watercolors.  She also talks about her recovery from her first eye surgery . . . it must be a very fraught time for an artist!

Any way, I started rabbiting on in the comments that I’d like Golden to send some paints to me as well but a little voice says “Don’t you think you should use some of the paint you have first?” And I agree, but I can’t sew,

More mended knees for Meg

More mended knees for Meg

and weave,

Dyed harakeke container

Dyed harakeke container

OC Detail

Detail of shredded harakeke, dyed flowers, beads and silver crimps.

and make thingies (very technical term that) out of shells and rocks

A beginning . . .

A beginning . . .

A shell mandala . . . a temporary sculpture, unfinished.

A shell mandala . . . a temporary sculpture, unfinished.

Centrepiece, prior to decorating with pearls and crimps.

Centrepiece, prior to decorating with pearls and crimps.

Plus small green pearls and silver crimps.

Plus small green pearls and silver crimps.

IMG_2580

A beach is to walk on.

and plant some veg and walk on the beach, AND paint . . . something’s gotta give!

Remember when I bemoaned a lack of time because of the day-job? Now that I am gainfully unemployed, it’s got worse, not better!  I shall simply have to rise earlier because Baby, as a fully fledged, pioneer Creative Leisure Consultant, I have plans!  LOTS of plans starting with sorting out all my travel photos, from the quirky,

Taken at the end of my street in Tokyo. Dispensing machines for anything and everything are everywhere but the advertising on this one got me every time I walked past it.  Smoke and you'll turn into a muscled westerner?

Taken at the end of my street in Tokyo. Dispensing machines for anything and everything are everywhere but the advertising on this one got me every time I walked past it. Smoke and you’ll turn into a muscled westerner?

. . . to everything else.

Children of the Mekong

Children of the Mekong

a serendipitous mistake

Learning a new  craft is teaching me more than a new set of skills.  It is teaching me about my attitude to learning, creativity and more importantly, making mistakes.

I set to work making another kete/basket.  Each time I set myself a new challenge while trying to improve on the basic techniques.  On this one I was wanting to make a ridge at the base and near the top with a horizontal twill between.

It all went well until near the top when it quickly became clear that I should have done one less row of twill as I was runing out of material.  As I tried to finish off I pulled the ridge too tight in one place so that when I completed the kete and turned it right side out . . . bugger!   There were the offending tight bits right in the front.    Now aside from saying “bugger” I found myself thinking about what I could do to use this mistake . . . I did not berate myself, the IC (Inner Critic) did not even get a say!

So what to do, what to do?  It should have looked like this on both sides albeit with a wider band at the top.

Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Using the principle of enough of anything can look good it now looks like this on the front.

Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Wendy @ Late Start Studio       Beaded Kete

As if it wasn’t enough to add the fringing (shredded harakeke/flax) I broke out the beads that have sat in a bag since I left Thailand 5 years ago and went a little bonkers . . . and I think putting the beads in took almost as long as weaving the kete.

Wendy @Late Start Studio Beaded kete detail

Wendy @Late Start Studio       Beaded kete detail

So what did I learn?  Yes, enough of anything can look good (but I sort of knew than already), a mistake can lead somewhere interesting if you embrace it, time is of no consequence whan you’re having fun and I know to do another round of taki tahi (one under, one over weave) before I finish off.

Often times I’ll ask, “what’s the worst that could happen?”   The answer, in this case was I might need to undo some of it it and the weave up the last few rounds however my mucking around worked . . . a treat . . . even if I do say so myself.

Learning is such a pleasure when we choose to participate.

being transparent

I can’t say being honest because sometimes, like most of us, I lie to myself, however I try to be open so that you can really see me . . . flaws as well as strengths.

Now that I am a Creative Leisure Consultant (my fees come in the form of some good wine and cheese at this point in my career) I am grappling with issues and those aforementioned flaws on a full-time basis.  By the time I have them sussed I’ll be able to charge wine, cheese AND crackers as a koha (donation) for my services!

Seriously though, I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up and I’ve had several attempts to grow up . . .  sometimes life events have given me a nudge or a good kick but inside, I still feel like a gauche 11-year-old going on 66-year-old sometimes.

So the questions is, because I know you want to hear the wisdom of my vast experience with this conundrum, what do I do about it?  I embrace it!  It’s a bit shortsighted to reject parts of yourself isn’t it?  I mean to say . . . here I am with almost 66 years experience at living in this big wide world and I reject a 11-year-old aspect of myself?  That 11-year-old had more creativity in her little finger than I have in all of mine!  Sure mine are more skilled perhaps and my logical brain can team up with the creative part and problem-solve extremely well but she was freer, braver, less inhibited.

So I sent in the Wise Crone to stand alongside and tell her that she can take life one day at a time, she can try anything she wants, she can step out in any direction because she’s going to have a strength not available to many . . . she will be versatile.

My first commission was to draw a picture for a boy in my class . . . it was a girl in an Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini and no, there was no actual payment but I was 11 and I did feel special and that was a very rare feeling for me around that time.

Since then I’ve been asked to make all sorts of things from painted flower pots, vinyl sheriff jackets, beaded macrame dog leads (must make one for Rosie) to Raggedy Andy-type dolls and I sold them as well to fund Christmas presents for my children.

Do you see a pattern here?  They are useful, they were marketed . . . however the thing that gave me the most satisfaction was the drawing of a girl in a bikini.

So I tell that gauche girl to hang on to that joyous feeling, hone her skills, her talent will always be there to be utilised in any way she chooses.  It will be always be there and will be fed by world travels, relationships and ideas from out of left field.  She won’t always have to think of usefulness or marketability.  And the main thing that will undermine her talent is her own criticism of herself.  I tell her to simultaneously to harden up and to be vulnerable . . . to be real . . . to be a gentle warrior!

Kia Kaha Wendy is what I say . . . Stand Strong!

I am trying to stand strong and it isn’t always easy.

Rosie: my new, shy, little sheltie who has perfect manners.

Rosie: my new, shy, little sheltie who has perfect manners.

a small goal achieved

When you set a goal for yourself, make sure it’s small enough to meet the very first step . . . the satisfaction is immense!

My goal was to make two more kete/baskets and harvest enough harakeke/flax for 3 more.  Done!

The first step of the plan didn’t go so well with computer-time rationing went out the window, however it wasn’t necessary to achieve the goal and weed the garden, wash the year’s supply of salt from my windows (a small price to pay for living at the beach) as well as catch up with friends.

Kete #1 Wendy @ the Late Start Studio

Kete #1, 25 x 17 cms high
Wendy @ the Late Start Studio

Kete #2 Wendy @ the Late Start Studio

Kete #2, 27 x 25 cms
Wendy @ the Late Start Studio

And now?  I’m off to help some friend to pluck some roosters and maybe a pūkeko . . . the feathers will turn up in our work so watch this space!

Pūkeko or swamp hen.

Pūkeko or swamp hen.

Now, for my next week’s goal . . .