a small challenge

I was given a set of questions to consider about artists I like and why.  “Just jot down some initial thoughts” were the instructions.  So of course my mind immediately went off in six different directions at 90 miles and hour and there was no jotting down.  The idea has occurred to me before that I should start a scrapbook of sorts that will become and repository for images and notes.   I have a range of tastes and to be able to see images in one place would help me see common elements or themes.

I like Hundertwasser‘s work as well as much of Picasso‘s and then there’s work by Christian Hetzel, Kitty Sabatier, Egon Schiele and Junko Oki to name a few.  They are all very different and I can see how what I like depends on the context: my taste changes depending on where I am and how I feel.

I’m asking myself . . . What do they have in common.  Anything?  Do they need to?  Isn’t enough that I can appreciate a range of artists?  Do I need to question why I like them?  And why are there so many painters when I don’t paint? Should I break out the paint?  At this point in my development, I think I need to analyse what I like, just a little, in order to deepen my appreciation.   I think I need to look not just at work that appeals and inspires, not necessarily the same thing, but also what I don’t like . . . that work that I can appreciate but isn’t to my taste.

So who are my current inspirational artists?  Helen Terry, Dionne Swift, Debbie Lyddon, Mo Orkiszewski, Jude Hill . . . this list is far from complete.  And then there’s work of locals, of friends, Julz Coffey, Trisha Findlay, Birgit Moffatt . . . to see how their work changes and evolves, their influence, whether direct or indirect, pushes me on with my own.  And finally,  the teachers . . . wonderful, talented, generous souls, every one of them.

I can see where all this is leading, how my voice is emerging, my aesthetic is developing, changing, but I’m interested in how and why.  And I can hear a wee voice in my head saying “hush, just do your work.”

Where I’m going.
Paper, watercolour, encaustic medium, linen thread, cotton cord.  10 x 10 cm sample
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

a long time in coming

While I try to keep it to days or weeks, it has been months.  I have no reason nor any excuses to offer however I am aware that Guilt is there at the outskirts of my mind. I can allow Guilt to lurk out there: it has a role to play in battling Procrastination.  I have no responsibilities toward anyone except myself here, no-one is hanging on my every word . . . the feeling is to do with a responsibility to myself so I say my mantra “Each day passes whether you participate or not” and get on with it.

So far, this is my primary way of sharing what I do but I have made a commitment to myself to exhibit my work next year.  I was going to have a small space at a local art and craft shop but cancelled as I didn’t think my work fitted there so I am getting together with a couple of friends to apply for another space where there is more foot traffic and perhaps more likelihood of selling.

Of course that brings the question of how to price work . . . I’m not looking forward to that.  I use simple materials, often recycled, sometimes very old . . . my mother’s.  Taking time, stitching, utilising skills developed over a life time, some learned as a child and some more recent, self-taught and taught by wonderful generous women (usually).  Simplicity and time, one way or another, is there in my work.

I’m letting loose this particular aspect my creativity rather late in life and I have yet to exhibit . . . does that make me an ’emerging artist’?  I quite like that idea of still emerging just as much as I enjoy seeing which pathways appeal.

Here’s an amuse-bouche of what’s to come.

A small section of a larger piece. Watercolour paper, watercolours, encaustic medium, waxed cotton cord. Wendy @ Late Start Studio

A small section of a larger piece. Watercolour paper, watercolours, encaustic medium, waxed cotton cord.
Wendy @ Late Start Studio

Save

Save

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!

 

 

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.

postcards from south of the equator

Recently I took part in Hanna Andersson’s postcard swap.  Each year I take a slightly different approach and this time around I thought to continue the work I began at the Fibre Arts NZ workshop last April, and what a wonderful week that was!  Book now for 2016.

Lines on maps and charts have always appealed . . . they have always held meaning for me, made sense, whether contour lines on a topographic map or isobars on a weather cart.   I like lines coming together, moving apart, like lines of breakers coming in to the shore, and leaving tide marks on the beach (note new idea).  I love how something complex can be expressed in a diagram.

Here are some of my offerings that have sped off around the world . . . and of course I make extra for a few other special people.

The first 6 allowed me to explore how I handled the threads, changing the colour which may not be obvious here.

The first 6 allowed me to explore how I handled the threads, changing the colour which may not be obvious here.

A more linear focus.

A more linear focus.

A change of shape . . . and of course 'up' is a matter of perspective.

A change of shape . . . and of course ‘up’ is a matter of perspective.

A departure . . . not really my usual style at all.

A departure . . . not really my usual style at all.

I love stacking stones . . . and I have a small selection to play with.  It's very soothing to just pile them up.  And the one on the right . . . I like it much better landscape so just tlt your head to the right (or left).

I love stacking stones . . . and I have a small selection to play with. It’s very soothing to just pile them up. And the one on the right . . . I like it better landscape so just tilt your head to the right (or left).

Fun . . . that’s what it’s all about.  And now I’m off to walk on the beach while the sun is out.

a job well done

I think the job has been done well but time will tell . . . it depends on my expectations about how long I have extended its use, which in turn depends on how much care I am ready to take as I spread the quilt out on my bed, whether I lie down on it to read or take the time to move it aside . . . will it last another year or five?

When I began mending my old Indian bedspread (another beginning) I knew there were quite a few rips and holes where the sun had eaten entire patches of colour away and that the fabric was whisper thin in places.  First the rips where no patches were needed were mended and then the holes, where a piece of recycled unbleached calico was underlaid and stitched in place.  As I worked I inadvertently created a few more holes . . . ending up with somewhere in excess of 120 (I stopped counting).  If the mending had not given rise to so much reflection I doubt I would have persevered . . . I have a low threshold to boredom.

As I worked I gave a lot of thought the what I hold as precious, what beauty means to me, that crossover between practical and beauty as if they were on to separate continuum and the was a sweet spot where, for me, the meet.

If something is truly practical, it does its job better than I had hope for, perhaps the look doesn’t matter so much . . . perhaps the truly ugly tights I wore under my ski pants, the rusty old bottle opener (although there is sentiment attached to it).  And if something is gobsmackingly beautiful, that alone is enough . . . beauty is its use perhaps?

And then there is age and sentiment. From newly minted, the loveliness of the just created right through to decayed, not wearing but truly worn, when an object, or person, can take on a new beauty, one where sentiment plays a part, where life is visible in every crack, every scar, every wrinkle.  Is there a sweet spot where the continuum of new to old crosses over the others?   (This could turn into a rant about human beauty, societal expectations, roles, power . . . but that is not my intention or at least not this time.)

So I pondered on all of this as I sat patching in pieces of cloth on a bedspread I am not quite ready to hand over to recycling . . . running stitch, back-stitch, simple stitches in simple cotton cloth.

Simple stitching around the patches, frayed edges visible, scars exposed.

Simple stitching around the patches, frayed edges visible, scars exposed, fabric whisper thin.

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.