Monday, March 22, 2010


This painting was done about ten years ago.  I rediscovered it when we were packing.  It is one I have always kept as representing a particular style in my painting at the time.  Many aspects of it frustrate and annoy me now. However two things captured my interest about it.  One is the Hydrangea flowers which I remember being tricky at the time to do.  The place we are moving was an export flower business.  There are a lot of Hydrangeas there.... did I know something back then?  The other is the shift in my art over the last ten years from representing a scene for the wall (decor art) to making work that has a more conceptual base to it.  Ten years ago I would have looked at this and thought... Hmmm... pretty picture.  Now I look at it and it makes me ponder how I feel about Taranaki.  Is it all  sunny and rosy here?  Has living here changed?  I think it has.  Not the innocent friendly place it was.  I am not sure I agree anymore with the commonly said phrase "great place to bring up kids".  Or is it just that generally there is a more sinister undercurrent now in society as a whole?...or is it just that I am now older and more cynical?

Evil squirrel.

Lately I have been 'reworking' and adding to prints that I have done. I really like sewing on top of the print.  In some of the prints I have just added sewing and in others I have added fabric or plastic or other prints.  I like how the sharp claws of the squirrel 'echo' the jagged sewing lines.  Squirrels....crazy little critters.  This one is real nasty.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Angel project

Over the last few christmas 'build-ups', the kids and I have made christmas Angels out of old wooden pegs, wallpaper, buttons, ribbon, cushion filling and feathers.  The challenge has been to make them without buying new stuff.  We attached a 'virtue' (google 'virtues project for more information) and a statement about the things we liked about the person we were giving the Angel to.  These were attached to their waist band (see above).
Last Christmas we made extra Angels and decided to go on a drive around town randomly leaving Angels in places where they would be found by strangers.  Some times we stayed to see who found them....but mostly we didn't.  It was fun and we really enjoyed speculating about who may have found them.  Once we ran back and picked up an angel we had just left on a seat outside a supermarket, as we decided she was too vulnerable where we had left her...we were worried who would find was kind of a dodgy, scary area.  She is still here at home.  My youngest daughter has her in her room and gets edgy if we mention leaving the last angel anywhere.

The troll collection.

A quick post.  My bedroom over looking the sea.  The trolls mentioned in the previous post are along the rail above the door. The kids and I were trying to find enough of them to catch up with my husbands age.  Clyde is 50 next week!  We have done that.  I think we had in the late 50's, last count.  They used to be easy to find, but lately they have been really hard to find at second hand shops.  Maybe someone else is collecting them too.  Oh well, the rail is full now anyway.  I like the way that occasionally one of them jumps off the rail spontaneously...due to house vibration, wind.... who knows?... but it always scares the living daylights out of me.  Lately I have found myself talking to them in the morning as I get ready for work.  Thankfully they haven't started answering me back!  Everything I use in decorating is recycled.  'Up-cycling' is a term that seems to be gaining popularity.  I like this term because it implies that the things are not just used again in the same way.  It implies that the items being recycled are being re-worked/reinvented/given a new lease of life/a new purpose.  I like the idea of creatively working with what we have and not contributing to encouraging more conspicuous consumption.
On the right side of the blog there are links to other 'blogs'/sites of people who are working with similar ideas.

Compulsive collector!

I like to collect things.  It is more than a 'like'... it is an obsession, a need.  I sometimes wonder if I have a touch of Asperges syndrome.  Seriously.  I get overly intense about things.  I go through phases of intense interest in certain items.  I get very excited by the shape, color and the memories associated with the items. Some of the collections include shell necklaces (see above), old toy trolls, microscopes, fondue sets, colored glass, white vases, glass paper weights, kitsch ornaments, airline bags, tacky tourist souvenirs, old silver and black cameras... look to be honest the list is endless!  My husband is a minimalist and I am a compulsive collector.  For the last six months many of my 'finds' have just been stored in the boxes under the house as soon as I get them.  We/I had quite simply run out of places to put the 'treasures'.  We are moving to a bigger house soon out in the country.  It is going to be exciting opening boxes and 're- discovering' and arranging the collections.  I do sense a need to cull some things though.  The necklaces in the picture are a 'fraction' of the collection of Pacific Island art and craft.  I love the shadow these necklaces cast on the white wall.  Recently I have been pondering my need to collect. It is true the things give me great joy to behold and consider where they have been on the journey to get to me.  But what does this say about me?  Am I being materialistic?  Am I being greedy? Sometimes it makes my head hurt pondering this issue.  However just recently, during a discussion with my daughter about her career options, it occurred to me that I missed my vocation.  I would have liked to have been a museum curator.  SO maybe I need to be kinder on myself and accept that compulsively collecting is okay. (and I am in charge of my own 'museum')  

Sunday, March 14, 2010

In memory of creative times...

We are moving.  I am packing up the studio.  Sad, but a hint of excitement about projects ahead.  As the studio has become very much a 'shell', a room, a shadow of it's former self....I post this photo in memory of a busier and creative time. I am reminded of the saying that it is 'always darkest before the dawn'...and creativity is like that...  The struggle and then the break through.  I feel I am at that bit just before the break through... the house, studio, garden all in disarray before the move... and then the creative rebuilding will start with moving day.   

'The red shoes'

In an earlier post I showed progress on this painting.  It is finished now and I have sealed it.  It is of my cousin Julianne.  For years now we have exchanged cards, knowing looks, jokes, sewing and even little red shoes based on the story often told to children about the little girl and 'the red shoes'.  A discussion about the 'meaning' of this story also appears in the book "Women who run with the wolves."  The story is about a poor orphaned girl who loves her authentic handmade red shoes. But due to circumstances and peer pressure/desire to be accepted when taken into a 'well-to-do', family she begins to wear the flash shiny leather ones they tell her she must wear. On the way home from church the shoes begin to dance.  They are in control of her and she can not make them stop.  They dance her down the road, out of the village into the wilderness.  She is exhausted but still the shoes will not stop.  In the end she has to cut off her feet and watch the shoes (and feet) dance away with out her.  Do you know the story?  It rings bells with creative women who give up or compromise their creativity... you can see the light go out of their eyes... and in doing so, they sell their soul.  I have been there.  It is a fine line we all face as creative women.  How far do we go selling what we make to others or making to express our true self?  Balance is tricky. Julianne is one of the most creative people I know.  Her hand sewing has started selling well at design stores around the country.  Making to sell can mean a balancing act to keep your creativity authentic... it is a problem I constantly struggle with.  Lately I am trying to make with no thought of selling... so I make for me and if it sells at a later time then that is a bonus. It has freed me up to experiment and play again. Will Julianne face this dilemma soon?

Problem:People do judge an artists success on if they sell (and how much for)..I wish I could stop worrying about that aspect of it.  Now that I am choosing not to actively sell...I am not feeling like I am valued as a 'real' artist.....

Postscript:  In the last month I have randomly sold several big artworks without actively seeking to do so.  What does that say about 'the red shoes'.

Rat family

In a previous post I talked about the rat that died in the ceiling.  I have made more Rats....a whole family now.  The middle sized one fell over just after this photo and broke the tip off the end of his nose. Rat karma, I suspect!

Faith, hope and no charity

More reduction woodcuts from the end of last year.  This is a series of six but only four are shown here. Hand painting over part of the completed print is very satisfying.  The paint takes on a really different quality when applied over the printing ink and creates a glorious range of textural effects.  That is not quite what I wanted to say.... some times it is easy to be clever... and others it is not!  But for what it is worth -here are the prints.

Monday, March 8, 2010


I haven't done a new run of woodcuts for a while.  These two were from the end of last year.  I did a series of ten and then added paint to some of the prints.  I really enjoyed the whole process and in particular the 'randomness' of the colour combinations that you can get with the reduction woodcut process.

Just a bit of random fun with one of my favourite toys.  Really  not too much to be said here!

Charcoal portraits

Charcoal is also very cool to draw with.  I love the tension you can get between the marks made and how it makes me work fast and not get hung up on reality.  Quick, fast and messy.

Chalk Madonna

Chalk is so rewarding to work with.  It makes you go fast and furious and not worry too much about the colours that you use.  I really enjoy the impermanence of it... the fact that it is dust.  This is a large work.  A2 size on black paper.  Also, there is something about the 'Madonna' images from Medieval times that has always interested me.  I am not sure that this is a particularly successful work.  But, as a drawing for fun, I enjoyed it.  I would like to do more work at a later date around the 'Madonna' theme.  Recently I started a collection of Madonna bits and bobs (figures, tee-shirts etc) and other religious items such as rosary beads.  I think it is the spirtual faith, conviction and intensity that was invested in these things that captures my imagination.

Chalk drawing experiments

More chalk drawings.  This time experimenting with distortion of proportion.  I like the top one more.  The only problem with chalk drawing is the framing.  For preservation and display it really needs to be under glass.  I wish I could capture the vitality of the chalk drawings but in paint on board.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Ella's missing tooth

On my dressing table I have three little metal containers.  Each one has teeth in from the children, collected over the last fifteen years.  Whoops!  What I mean is, teeth that the 'tooth fairy' has collected over the years.  She has always left money but not taken the teeth!  See the Post a few back about 'Funny Bunnies' to get the drift of my mixed feelings about the things we tell our kids...mixed messages.  But I do also think a sense of mystery and a sense of magic in the world is good.  ANYWAY...this painting is large.  About a meter and a half long by a meter high.  It is of us with Ella proudly showing off her first missing front tooth.  I sort of wanted it to look sugary sweet ( like a dental nurses nightmare!) and a bit magical.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Drypoint Etching

Two little drypoint prints done last year.  The process of making a 'drypoint' is so cool!  I love the structure and discipline involved in scratching the plastic.  Then the printing part is almost the opposite where you get to bring the image to life by working the ink into the plastic.  It is a cross between drawing and painting.  So very exciting!  I have been loaned a press for the year.  It is a beautiful thing.