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.

my response to an offer

Recently, The Textile Artist made me an offer, 3D Mixed Media Textile Art, almost to good to refuse and if you’re in need to good, sound advice (this based upon the content of the site) it might be perfect for you.  I turned it down . . . yesterday I received an email asking for feedback which I responded to thus, albeit with a couple of minor fixes and changes:

I guess I’m feeling deluged by inspirational posts and offers of courses and resources and in danger of spending more time looking at the work of others that developing my own.  I have far too many read books on my shelves (my own and from the library) and ‘bookmarked’ web sites, more than I can hope to give adequate attention so I have unscubscribed from many blogs (not yours) so that I can focus on my own work.  As a mixed media ‘maker’ and someone who has always tried anything and everything it is time to focus and the only way to do that is to withdraw a little from all the wonderful work and wisdom available and simply do my own work . . . follow my own wisdom.

I appreciated being asked why I’m not partaking of what is obviously a wonderful offer as it has made me bring to the surface and articulate what has been gong on in my mind for a while now.

And might I add I’m still very tempted?

a change of direction

I’ve tidied away the paints and I can see flat surfaces.  Now it’s time to get back to this . . .

9 in 9 Wendy @ Late Start Studio

9 in 9
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Which led to this and then . . . stopped.  Or maybe some of this although it’s too windy to harvest today.

Harvesting harakeke/flax. Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Harvesting harakeke/flax.
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

I need to use my hands again rather than brushes . . . to get in close contact with the materials.

A wonderful week

Last week I had the privilege and pleasure of spending the week learning alongside 7 other wonderful women . . . Lucy Worsley and 6 other workshop participants on “Stitch it together with collage”  organised by Fibre Arts New Zealand.   I took the workshop as a challenge . . . collage is not my strong point by any means although I’m a dab hand on the sewing machine and recently I’ve enjoyed hand stitching as well.

At first I struggled because I was looking at the image more than the colour and texture it would impart to a background.  Once I shifted my way of viewing the materials I had on hand I began to explore abstracts based on a cruciform composition.

What I ended up with was a series of three images where I was able to incorporate my love of topographical maps and texture.

Topography Series #1

Topography Series #1

Topography Series #2

Topography Series #2

Topography Series #3

Topography Series #3

So what have I learned?  Listen to feedback and then decide for yourself what to do, step back, sleep on it, return and decide.    Pare back . . . less is sometimes more, don’t allow a desire to use materials to swamp good design, in short, let materials speak for themselves.

I felt so encouraged when the first of the series sold as it hadn’t occurred to me to offer it as this was an exploration at a workshop however another participant loved it.  So there is was at the showing with all the work from the other workshops with a little red dot . . . how happy was I!    Before I left #2 and #3 were also sold . . . Goal #1: ‘To make work so appealing and interesting that people would want to own it’ achieved.

Happy, happy, happy!  Now, to work towards Goal #2 . . . I’ll let you know what it is when I achieve it.

 

resolve and perseverance

One without the other?  Would that work?   If you have no resolve, can you persevere?

I keep coming back to the words of Deng MIn Dao in 365 Tao  where he wrote “each day passes whether you participate or not.”  I often chastise myself for not doing more with my time and get comorted that it isn’t true . . . but I know it is.

My first journal pages.

My first journal pages from 5 years ago.  The border is a printed page of one of Teesha Moore’s journal pages using a printer that was almost out of ink . . . I think giving credit is very important.

I’ve done little of this quality since . . . I had a “done that, what’s next?” way of thinking.  But something has changed, I can feel it.  It might be something to do with age, that feeling that time is becoming more precious when you know that perhaps 2/3 to 3/4 of you life has passed or it may be because I have the time to devote to . . . what?

If you visit here often you’ll be aware of the breadth of what I do . . . and I love that aspect of just mucking around trying many things but now, now I want something a little more.  In a word, I want excellence.

During the last couple of days I’ve left comments on two of my favourite blogs, that of Quinn McDonald and Diana Trout that excellence is my goal.

I’m such a dabbler flitting from one thing to another and while I can do a reasonable job in what ever I try, I’d like to be really good at one thing over and above all the others . . . to feel accomplished instead of ‘almost there’ and I guess that’s what keeps me going, the search for that fabulous feeling of a job well done at the moment of completion . . .  and then do it again in search of that high.  I need to focus or I’ll just fly around in circles like a catherine wheel and never achieve the best result that I’m capable of!

People get to the top of whatever they do because they have the drive and passion and perhaps that’s what others respond to as much as their work. I don’t necessariy want to reach some pinnacle of fame and fortune . . . I just want to be able to look at what I’ve done and say “Now that is well made!”   I want it to be well made to my satisfaction which, surprisingly, does allow for small imperfections.   I want to make things that think are original, unique.

So my resolve . . . to persevere in my search for originality and excellence.  Now I need to focus.  Continue to muck around, yes, but perhaps flit a little slower between my varied interests?  Is that possible?  To flit at a slower pace?  Maybe a month by month focus?

I started with questions and have ended the same way . . . that’s life.

 

sailing . . . but where?

I love the vessel I’m sailing in, it’s sound, tested as sea worthy, and I’ve come to realise that I can land at any number of ports . . . thanks Quinn . . .  Quinn McDonald is a very astute life coach with a mind like a steel trap, ears that miss nothing and heart, lots of heart.

Spring is a time of change, particularly when it comes to wind direction here in New Zealand.  There’s not a lot of land out there to shelter us and the Roaring 40s are well named . . . we expect it but I have to tell you I am OVER IT!  I would like some nice settled weather to get out, walk the beach and think, I think better when I’m walking.  I used to think best when I was running and I had up to 64 kilometres/40 miles a week of thinking time!

I’ve thought so much about what I want to do, which direction I want to go, that my head hurts, and my good-sense-self says “if it hurts, stop doing it!”  So I will, I’ll stop the thinking and just do, do whatever I like, when I like and how I like.  Oh such luxury to be in this place . . .  but I am spoiled for choice. An apt expression, it’s that word spoiled, it brings to mind rotten meat or milk that has soured, eggs that have sat out for far too long, citrus fruit mouldering in the bowl . . . spoiled.

Yes indeed, a plethora of choices is not necessarily the easiest thing to manage.  It’s that whole, ‘to choose one thing is to shut out a lot of other things’ conundrum . . . a very black and white way of looking at it I know.  So like the Lord High Executioner, I have a little list,  sorry about the Mikado reference but it always echoes in my head when I say “I have a little list,” and I don’t even like most musicals!

Sometimes lists are great, you get a wonderful feeling crossing items off upon completion, keep you organised when times are stressful and they help sort out what’s important, especially when the items are arranged in the form of a PMI (Positive, Minus, and Interesting).  I wrote down everything I liked to do, as well as everything that needs to be done, on little bits of paper so it’s not technically a list I tell myself.  (How picky!)  I then shuffled around the bits of paper into the different PMI categories.  After that I put shuffled the items according to my level of enjoyment or lack thereof, and began to see that some of what I get the most satisfaction from work well together.  Of course there is no way to wrap everything into a neat package however a lot of things fit into bookbinding.

I looked at satisfaction level more than what I’m good at . . . I have learned that just because I can do something well doesn’t mean I have to.

Just some of what I like to do . . . before sorting.  The 'after' will be evident in what I produce.

Just some of what I like to do . . . before sorting. The ‘after’ will be clear in what I produce.

So there won’t be a change in what I do, just a slight shift in direction towards yet another destination.  I started small yesterday by refilling a notebook cover I made ages ago with stained sketch pad paper . . . I just felt like hoisting sail and going off in that direction.

A3 sketchpad paper, stained with blackcurrant and apple tea, salt crystals on the puddles, dried and repeated on the reverse.

A3 sketch pad paper, stained with blackcurrant and apple tea, salt crystals on the puddles, dried and repeated on the reverse.

And while I am allowing myself to be propelled by impulse for a time, there will come a point when I know I will need a goal, something big to work toward, because I know me, and I know the NBG (Next Big Goal) is not going to come while I’m thinking . . . I need to be doing.  Direction does not come in a BFO (Blinding Flash of the Obvious) as an adult any more than it does when you’re a young adult starting out in the world, you find your way through finding your way . . . somethings don’t change.

And the Christmas market? Not a raving success up on the school stage away from the throng. While a little disappointed I’ll try again, sell everything off, recoup my outlay, and then give away or donate what is left to charity.  And think again?  No, no more thinking.  As much as I enjoyed some aspects of the preparations, I don’t like the feeling of being on a production line so I shall make ‘one-offs,’ bespoke items, and then decide what to do with them.  Maybe take the odd request, but I shan’t use the word order, I don’t take orders at all well . . . it brings forth a strong rebellious streak.

On the positive side, my work was much admired at the market and I received many encouraging comments although one child was rather bemused that I had already painted the pages of the small notebooks . . . he thought they should definitely be white.

There’s just no pleasing some people.

Acrylic on sketch paper, recycled manila folders as covers.

Acrylic on sketch paper, recycled manila folders as covers.

And the winner of my giveaway? Using a random number selector Jo’s name came up!   Congratulations Jo, I’ll rustle up a box and have it ready to send as soon as I have your address.

Cheers everyone . . . kia kaha . . . stand strong!