About late start studio

I think the blog title says it all! Or so I thought when I began blogging. Since then I realise that I began my life as a maker very young. The 'late start' is in taking being a Maker seriously . . . giving it the capital letter it deserves. Over the years I have acquired a wide variety of skills , some through need and other through simple curiosity and now that I have resigned from the paid workforce, I am happily pursuing Making with creativity, originality and discipline.

the fight is over

I’ve finally decided to accept me just as I am, to go with the flow . . . water is a powerful force and I could do worse than to emulate its properties.

I have always wrestled with developing habits that would lead to some sort of self-improvement or help me towards a goal.   As a child I did not practise my music, do my homework or even remember to feed my guinea pigs on a regular basis nor do recall being encouraged to do so.  My children could well say the same and although I remember asking them if they had homework, I probably did it irregularly. As an adult there is very little I do regularly but that may have something to do with having had a working life regulated by appointment times and school bells.   Routine and I?  Well it’s always been a difficult relationship: I have a low threshold to boredom and for me, Routine and Boredom seem to have some sort unholy alliance.

My latest attempts to instill some discipline into my practice have all ended up as failures.  My attempts to place limitations on how many directions I go in . . . playing with encaustic medium almost didn’t happen and, right now, I’m really enjoying its possibilities.  And that’s it . . . words like limitations, discipline and routine give rise to a negative, almost visceral reaction however possibilities makes my Self sit up and smile and start to sing.

Why do I keep trying different things? In the hope that something will enthuse me so much that I fall in love with doing it and never look back?  That we, the activity and I, will be romantically entwined for life and . . . what?  We ride off into the sunset to live happily ever after?  Like that is ever going to happen!  And before you go telling me that it just doesn’t work that way with ANY passion whether it be something or someone, I know, I wasn’t born yesterday!   I’ve given up trying to limit myself or form beneficial habits.  I gave it a damn good try many times . . . giving up is just not the same as giving in.

There is much written about the positive effects of having a daily regimen and having a daily practice and I don’t discount it but it simply doesn’t work for everyone . . . and it’s not some virtue and I will become, by some miracle, a much better person on the inside if I somehow crack this Sisyphean task and do something ‘good for me’ on a daily basis.  Read it here now . . . I will never be that person, who when asked about the secret of their success will say, “I XYZ EVERY DAY AND HAVE DONE SO FOR X YEARS.”  The only thing I do almost every day is get up, use the bathroom, make coffee and take it back to bed and read (a book or online) and I have done that since I did my MEd which I completed in 2002 (working full-time I could only do the necessary reading between 5:30 and 7:30).  Now, I wake when I wake and shower when I shower . . . I don’t wear a watch.  And while I try to hand the car keys in the same place there is a second thing I do . . . I make all sorts of stuff.

For me, trying to set up a new habit opens the door to those voices that tells me I have no will-power or won’t-power, I’m hopeless.   The loudest voice of all, tells me positively screams at me that I’m lazy.  I then spend most of my energy digging a hole to fall into and then have to struggle to get out again.  No more.  No more will I set myself objectives that need to be done daily at a certain time.  I shall continue to be haphazard in my approach to what I do.  My weekly goals will continue but always have the rider “unless something more interesting turns up.”

Recently I decided I would draw every day, make marks if you will, the ‘authorities’ (and yes I know, I have ascribed that title to them . . .  they haven’t, however most of them are teachers so, to some extent, they have).  The most I ever managed to keep this up was for 10 days straight and then something happened and I never got back into it.  Maybe it was a visit from my grandhearts (who love to draw), a particularly stunning morning that demanded I go for a walk or perhaps I got waylaid in the workroom on my way to make coffee and didn’t get out of my pyjamas until 11:00.  Does it matter?   Did time stop?  Was there some cataclysm in some corner of the universe?  (And such is my level of spontaneity, it is now 12:15m and I have not showered nor had any breakfast. And don’t get me started on the difference between being impulsive and being spontaneous.)

For me, having to do something kills a lot of the pleasure . . . this probably means that deep down I’m a hedonist but that’s okay . . . I’m sure the world can cope with a few and might be the better for it.

By now you could be wondering what started all this ranting and rambling.  Yesterday on Face Book I read ‘Action opens the door.  Consistency keeps it open.”  You might nob in agreement and say that’s fine, that’s true, but for someone who will have the epitaph “She Analysed” on her gravestone, that isn’t good enough.  First I finished admiring the penmanship and use of watercolour and then, perhaps because it doomed me to failure, perhaps because I am a bit of a pedant around the edges, I found myself disagreeing with the word choice . . . big time.

Consistency (Oxford Dictionary)
consistent behaviour or treatment. “the consistency of measurement techniques”

synonyms:evenness, steadiness, stability, constancy, regularity, uniformity, equilibrium, unity, orderliness, lack of change, lack of deviation
Consistency was perhaps used with the idea of turning up, applying yourself on a regular basis but more and more I realise I can’t do that . . . it’s just not me.  I think perseverance is what keeps the door open . . . persevering thought the discomfort, extending to a point just a little out of reach, not giving up until you can stand back and know, deep inside, that you did well.    For me, consistency and development just don’t go together.

Maybe I’m splitting straws but in my mind the difference between consistency and perseverance is a bit like the difference between equality and equity.

Of course if it really is consistency that makes the difference between me just mucking about with art supplies and being an artist I’m really sunk.   Regardless of whether it does or not, I’m off to persevere in my making and mucking about.  My plastered forms are waxed and ready waiting for me to apply colour.   Next week I could be weaving, embroidering, making more charcoal, a book or perhaps even drawing or painting, miracles do happen . . . but  whatever I do, I’ll be making because that’s what I am . . . a maker (which is not too far from my childhood nickname of Mucker and that’s fine by me).

Plastered forms ready for waxing. Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Plastered forms ready for waxing.
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

And my mottos?  1, Necessity is the mother of invention and 2, Strike while the iron is hot . . . .and there a millions of power sockets in this world.

waxing on

Well yes, it all started with a workshop with Nicki Stewart in preparation for the Fibre Arts New Zealand annual even in Whanganui last week ( and before it’s fully booked, check out the offerings for 2017).  I was pretty much hooked by the possibilities of working with encaustic medium when we were shown a canvas vessel she’d made . . . more and more, for now at least, I’m thinking that two-dimensional work is not me unless it’s heavily textured so I was immediately smitten.

Nicki taught us a whole raft of techniques that we then put into practise . . . it was a wonderful weekend workshop which I highly recommend.  I was really pleased with this piece at the time.

Encaustic on customwood substrate. Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Encaustic on custom wood substrate.
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

But Whanganui! Peta Lloyd turned out to be not only a terrific teacher but, more important to me, a great facilitator.  She reads the needs of the students and helps them meet those needs.  I did one little 2D piece and that was it . . . for me, it just wasn’t happening until I broke out and followed my impulse to stitch and make objects that didn’t lie flat.

Stitched Sample Book: Paper, fabric, cotton and linen thread, wire, wax. Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Stitched Sample Book: Paper, fabric, cotton and linen thread, wire, wax. Each panel, 11 x 19 cm.  When closed, pages open from alternate sides.
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Pod: wire, plaster, wax, oil paints. Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Pod: wire, plaster, wax, oil paints. 17 x 10 cm
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Small Pouch: Canvas, waxed cotton thread, wax, 13.5 x 8.5 cms. Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Small Pouch: Canvas, waxed cotton thread, wax, 13.5 x 8.5 cm. 
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Outisde the box: paper, thread, wax, wire. Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Escaping the Box: paper, thread, wax, wire. Overall, 14 x 36 cm.
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

A fabulous week . . . I have ideas for developing each of the samples above so now all I need to do is maintain the momentum!

 

 

moving on

When I wrote about pushing myself about 6 weeks ago, I wasn’t sure about my level of perseverance . . . if could I do it.  I can last 4 days on most ‘do this daily’ kicks and find myself distracted before I finish things.  This time, two factors have supported me: my wonderful accountability coach Trisha Findlay and a vision of what I wanted to achieve.

Last year I took an online course with Karen Ruane called Swathed in Stitch.  The samples were in a folder, minding their own business but I hadn’t finished with them . . . I had an idea that had been bugging me for quite some time.  An idea, and it’s turned into a plan so cunning you could put a tail on it and call it a weasel.  (Sorry about that, but I loved Blackadder and when I think or say “I have an idea” the rest just follows although not always said out loud.)  While the plan has still yet to see the light of day it seems to have developed and gained strength. The thought of it sent me back to the samples which are now all over my hastily and cheaply made design board . . . a very large unused canvas that was hiding under the bed, and an old white, winceyette sheet

A month later I have made what I need to carry out my plan but have yet to see about framing which is likely to be hellishly expensive.  In the meantime I want to move on to other things so I have mounted the samples and bound them into a book using Japanese stab stitching.  The cover has a photograph of the contents and while the samples were never meant to be seen without a 5-7mm space between them, I’m satisfied.  Satisfied but not content with the final outcome . . . yet.

Cover with stab stitch binding. Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Cover of sample book with stab stitch binding.
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

A glimpse of what lies within. Wendy @ Late Start Studio

A glimpse of what lies within.
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Two things that have always fascinated me are spider webs, and more importantly, looking through gaps at what lies within, the partially obscured, the intentionally and unintentionally hidden whether it relates to a view or a person . . . I’m curious.  As explained by the Johari Window, I am captured by the  façade, the blind spot, the unknown . . . I go to a play and watch the actor not delivering dialogue, I watch the listeners and constantly look for authenticity.  I think there could be a series here although not necessarily using the same medium.

And those ‘other things’ I want to move on to?  I went to a weekend workshop with Nicki Stuart, an encaustic artist, and I bought things . . . and in a week I’ll be off the Whangarei to the Fibre Arts NZ event to spend 5 days working and learning with Australia artist Peta Lloyd . . . she’s issued an invitation to break some rules and experiment with printing, books and wax.  How could I possibly resist?

low growing fruit

There is a certain wisdom in harvesting low growing fruit however if that’s all you do, sooner or later you’ll forget how to climb trees, forget the triumph of getting to the top despite the risks along the way.   Your ability to stretch up and out will atrophy over time and all you will be left with is low growing fruit which is nowhere near as ripe and sweet and the fruit at the top of the tree . . . that fruit will be left to the ones who are brave enough scale the trees and those wonders who can fly.

A second problem arising from indulging in low growing fruit is that you get used to a varied diet . . . a menu dégustation or tasting menu is delightful however not a way to eat for life.  Being able to do a lot of things in a mediocre way is not, I imagine, as satisfying as being able to do one or two things really well.  And before there are objections about my work not being mediocre, that is my opinion based on how easy the result has been, the effort, the practise it required, and while compliments and admiration is lovely I want to feel I have worked hard for something I am satisfied with. Yes, there’s a perfectionist streak which, for the most part, I keep in check . . . but I won’t give up high standards for my work.

Focussing on a few things won’t mean I lose my range of skills, not does it mean ‘ll never exercise them again but for years I’ve fed low growing fruit, often because I’ve squeezed in time or the financial ability to indulge in what I want and sometimes because I’ve been scared to push myself, however lately, I’ve wanted to stretch up higher and find sweeter options.  Which fruit are my favourite though?  I don’t really have favourite colours, types of music etc. I like variety!

While I thought I might sort out, finally, what I want to focus on during the completion of a diploma over the next two years, it just wasn’t going to work for me.  The alternative was an accountability partner.  Someone who would help to keep me on track, working to a plan, and because they receive my reports of triumph and stumbles, that will keep me honest with myself.

I’m really fortunate that one of my talented friends, Trisha Findlay, has offered to take on the task and for two weeks I have done most of what out set out to do. I plan (too much) for the week, write my objectives, review them the following week and write more.  To reach my goal (the top of a tree) I’ve decided to start by spending part of my time clearing away some of the underbrush, the unfinished work that is weighing me down and part of the week doing some work from Experimental Textiles by Kim Thittichai.  I have the book from the library and want to do some work from it to get some ideas flowing before I need to return it . . . how I would love to attend that course but unfortunately I’m half a world away.

Next up, and it is up, through the branches, getting the odd scratch, snagging my clothes, will be more of this earlier experiment . . .

Making mesh detail . . . unfinished and full of promise.

Making mesh detail . . . unfinished and full of promise.

. . . among other things of course, after all, it is a while since I did much tree climbing.

a decision made

When I have a strong gut feeling I turn to my objective side and gather evidence to back up my intuition . . . or prove it wrong.  Last week I attended a block week course for 4 days, checked out some of the facilities and met with my mentor whom I am sure I would have enjoyed working with for the year.   I’ve weighed everything up and today withdrew from the Diploma in Art and Creativity and made other plans for my creative development.

I think the institution, or at least the diploma programme provided, would probably best meet the needs of people with a creative bent but little experience, people for whom painting and drawing are a focus but who would perhaps like to investigate printing techniques, ceramics and sculpture, casting . . . there are opportunities to try everything, everything except the fibre arts.  Such a shame but perhaps if there are enough inquiries that might change.

And now? Now I will work with supportive like-minded friends who will listen to my goals and encourage me to work toward them.  I’ll work my way through a couple of books to build my technical skills and sharpen eye for design and take a couple of classes on-line. I’ll divide my time between play (experimenting) and work (developing and idea) and have a lot of fun as I do it.

Basalt, muka (harakeke/flax fibre), tiny pearls.  I think it needs more pearls and silver crimps an that hair-like muka. Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Basalt, muka (harakeke/flax fibre), tiny pearls. I think it needs more pearls and silver crimps on that hair-like muka.
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Thank you to all of you who made such thoughtful comments and have waited so patiently while I worked my way through the problem.

is it beginning . . . or not?

This Diploma of Art and Creativity I’ve enrolled in, the package for distance students arrived and I avidly went through book that accompanies the DVDs.   To my dismay there was little there I wanted to do, I’m not really interested in drawing or painting people, landscape, or a still life and these aspects feature heavily.  Please don’t misunderstand me, this is not a criticism of the institution and the quality of the materials is great . . .  it has nothing to do with that . . . it is their relevance to me.  I’m a maker with a primary interest in textiles, a mixed-media person who enjoys exploring the qualities of a material (even paint however I’m not particularly interested in creating representational paintings)  Perhaps I should have known better after I left the end-of-year exhibition underwhelmed and disappointed that there was little that interested or intrigued me.   Some lovely artwork but the only textile in sight was a piece of hessian stapled in folds, ‘last minute’ to quote the artist, to a wall as an exploration of the fabric’s qualities and that type of installation art just, well it does nothing for me and has little to do with textiles although that was indeed the medium.

There were plenty of forms to fill in and I do hate forms, and, horror of horrors, a questionnaire.  I loathe and despise and will resist filling in questionnaires to my last breath.  Fill your life in on this form, put yourself in a box on this questionnaire  . . . no thanks!   So much rebelliousness has surfaced, it’s never far below, and I’ve once again had to stop and look at the driver.  I’m the driver, never the passenger, in my life so I need to look at this rebellion surging up with objectivity and talk it through with a friend . . . who fortunately for me rang when she read my mini-rant of an email.  In this instance my Inner Rebel has an investment in the things as they are.  The Inner Rebel is emotional while the Questioner is objective . . . and I wonder and question a lot!

Now I need to say at the outset that there is no compulsion to use any of the resources I have been sent on DVD and in the supporting book.  I can work independently, set my own goals, do the work, record my hours, keep a visual diary or workbook, work through the creative process and send it all to my mentor who will do what good mentors should do . . . give me constructive and supportive feedback based on my goals (which he might have helped me formulate), maybe challenge me, offer some guidance.  I’ll need to be accountable for putting in the hours, conducting my own research and arranging and any tuition I might need.

Giving that I will be finding instruction elsewhere, books, courses etc., and the word ‘textiles’ does not feature anywhere in the literature, my question is, is access to a mentor all I’m going to gain from this?  It’s not entirely about the money however the fees do represent a return flight to Europe!  From New Zealand!  The longest distance possible!

Or I need an accountability partner?   Someone who has the similar needs, form a reciprocal  relationship where we make goals, work to meet them and then report back . . . we’d give each other constructive and supportive feedback, maybe challenge each other, offer some guidance.  Hey!  Did that sound familiar?

I will have 8 days to become convinced that this Diploma is good value and right for me.

A little something I've been playing with . . . local stone, harakeke/flax, pearls and silver crimps. Wendy @ Late Start Studio

A little something I’ve been playing with . . . local stone, harakeke/flax, pearls and silver crimps.
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

 

what no-one will tell you about ageing . . . a rant

I’ll tell you, you sweet taut 20 to 35-year-old who looks at older women with a self-satisfied or dismissive smirk and doesn’t countenance that such a thing will ever happen to you.  I’m not old but I am ageing so I know . . . I can share my experience.  And while this rant is mostly focussed on the body, because that’s likely where your focus is right now, the heart and mind and spirit are all affected.

No-one will tell you that hair will disappear from some parts of your body and appear in others.  The blessing is that you are now in need of glasses so you don’t notice it for the most part . . . that is, until you are out somewhere and you feel a hair on your chin or you spot it in the unforgiving light over a mirror in the women’s toilet.  You will swear to carry tweezers in your bag but you will forget.

No-one will tell you that the hairstyle you want can’t be had because the gray hairs have the most rebellious nature, almost a mind of their own dear little individual selves going off in there own direction as it pleases them, a texture defying any attempt to smooth or curl.  You want sleek as it was in your youth without working for it? HA!  And perhaps you will decide to brave it out and go natural (Why the hell should that be considered brave?) or maybe you will just develop a reaction, allergic or just distaste, and decide against pouring chemicals on your head with any regularity.  Or maybe you’ll continue because you’ll be judged by your graying hair.  Pathetic and small minded as those judges are, they may have control of your potential income.

Wrinkles?  Yes they happen, and the pores of your skin on your face are more visible, your grandchild will be fascinated by your saggy skin so let them touch it, but never, ever, ever place a mirror on a horizontal surface to clean it . . . not ever!  Enough said about skin because the changes are inevitable . . . and if your self-worth is tied to your youthful appearance it’s doomed.

No-one will tell you that fit as you may be, supple and you may be, your body will change shape even if your weight doesn’t . . . and sooner or later bits are going to ache if you sit still for too long.  My advice is to simply keep moving.

Strength diminishes unless your lifestyle remains the same and for most, it changes because we have so many labour-saving devices . . . I used to have a push mower, use a hand drill and now I’m thinking I might need a skill-saw.  No-one will tell you that sooner or later some lids on jars will not come off even if you employ all the tricks you know and you’ll be tempted to go and get your electric drill (I own two), and take to it with a vengeance because you’re damned if you’re going next door just so you can have artichoke hearts with your crackers and blue cheese and besides, it’s 2:00am and you can’t sleep!

Sleep is something no-one will discuss when it comes to ageing . . . when your body wants to sleep you will and it doesn’t matter a damn whether you want to or not.  When you want to sleep . . . that’s another story.  Maybe you will and maybe you won’t.  I sleep like a baby; I fall asleep quickly and wake up every few hours.  I’ve always thought ‘sleep like a baby’ was perhaps the most ridiculous saying ever.

Your feet . . . comes a time when not only do you see the sense in keeping your feet flat on the ground . . . you can’t wear heels anyway as you feet just won’t stand for it.  Personally I would like to be barefoot all the time, socks in the winter, jandals (thongs) in summer and my old favourite boots in winter (they’ll die soon and then I’ll bury them with full honours, bugle at dawn, flag at half mast).

No-one will tell you that inside your body things have changed drastically even if you have retained stunning good health.   For me, menopause was so long ago that it’s just like a bad dream.   You know, one of those nightmares where you wake up and the emotions just won’t let you go?  Your heart is thumping with fear or you’re so anxious that you’re almost frozen.  Well, twenty-um years later I still have a hot flush with coffee (I have a 3-a-day habit and I love the stuff strong and black, unsweetened) and red wine is drunk advisedly because I know how I will sleep . . . hot and restless.

Skipping . . . yes skipping.  There will come a time when you realise that what you did all the way to school and home again is just so damned exhausting!  When was the last time you attempted to skip?  DO IT!  DAILY!  In the privacy of your own home, or on a deserted beach which is my preference, if you must but do it!  Why? Because sooner or later you will lose that spring in your step.  Honestly, this phenomenon really happens, one day you jump down off something quite low and you realise the bounce didn’t happen.  It vanishes somehow, somewhere there are a lot of bounces waiting to be reclaimed . . . they were ignored and took off to find new owners.

No-one will tell you that you will become more sentimental, that little things will have the power to move you to tears and that the sound of young children laughing is the sweetest thing in the world.  No-one will tell you that as your body deteriorates and your thinking slows, even though your intellect remains intact (so don’t you dare think that because someone needs additional thinking time or forgetful they’re not as astute as ever!) your heart, your spirit, call it what you will, will enlarge and your capacity to love those near and dear will remain untouched.  You will regret that you didn’t call your parents and grandparents more often.

Now don’t get me wrong, even with the inevitable changes you will continue to love and honour your body as much as ever.  (You do, don’t you?  Something damned wrong if you don’t because it’s going to house you for a long time.)  You will still feel the thrill as a soft warm breeze caresses your skin, yes even that flabby stuff you used to call finely toned triceps, and appreciate where it can take you, and the skills it holds in its ancient muscle-memory.  You will continue to make demands on it, nurse it when its sick and curse it when it lets you down but mostly, you will love it.  It allows you to say I love you and to touch and cuddle and listen to music and laugh and cry and laugh some more.  Love it, better still, respect it . . . every tiny part of it.

So there you go you taut 20+ year-old.  And why has no-one told you?  Because you aren’t interested . . . yet.  You’re busy taking your youth for granted and perhaps feeling a tad superior to us ‘wrinklies’  however if you want to hear about your mind, how every time you forget something you wonder if there’s more to it that there was when you did that exact thing when you were 20 and question if it happens more often, well ask someone.  I’ll give you an honest answer if you ask but it’s purely from my perspective, no longtitudinal studies here, no polls, just my experience.

Now I think I must point out that today is a brilliant sunny summer day, birds chirping and all that, I’ve been for a walk and I’m about to water-blast the fence so I can paint it . . . I love my body but I’m tired of all the put-downs, some incredibly subtle, others blatant, and the elevation of youth as an ideal.  It’s fleeting . . . if you’re lucky.  Youth lasted a short time when I look back at it and I think I have about a thrid of my life to go still.

The fence behind these gorgeous blooms needs a coat of paint . . . and I needed and image for this post. Wendy @ the Late Start Studio

The fence behind these gorgeous blooms needs a coat of paint . . . and I needed and image for this post.
Wendy @ the Late Start Studio

Yes we have role models, mostly carefully made up affluent women who perhaps won’t leave the house unless they’re dripping with make-up and certainly styled for that photoshoot where the images will be cleverly photoshopped and airbrushed.   Let’s get ourselves our there, barefaced or with make-up doesn’t matter . . . let’s just get out there as we were in the 60s and be loud and proud feminists . . . our sons need it just as much as our daughters.

A little disclaimer here: my mother was still ‘getting old’ at 96, she was not allowed to work as a young woman, “Ladies don’t work!” was what she grew up with, but she owned a library, was a pattern-cutter in a knitwear factory, could mix concrete, swing a hammer, use a crowbar with devastating efficiency, and the first thing she did when she moved house at 95 was to plant beans and tomatoes.