Tuesday, 16 September 2014

soft backsides .....

Don't you love those serendipitous moments in the studio ...

I had printed some of my engravings on much thinner paper than I usually do, gozo or goyu, and was planning to work into the front side in greys and ochres.  I turned over the paper and saw such beautiful soft and delicious marks on the backsides I decided to work with those instead.  You can see the end point further down in the photographs. So, though I have not yet been brave with blue, I have at least softened down my palette for some work and am quite excited to see where this softness leads me.  I have not given up on the bright blue either ... just finding my courage.  Think I may have left it in my suitcase.

lovely softness on the backside
this was going to be my starting point until I turned over the paper ....
can't imagine getting this softness and these marks any other way

Two of the completed images using the backside of my work as the starting point.

And these photos below represent great excitement.  A couple of years ago in Paris I walked miles to find a shop that sold such gorgeous letters and then baulked at the price of them - coming home empty handed.  I was so sad that I had not snapped them up and brought some home.  Last week I was in Sydney to visit a very special and unwell friend, and other well and special friends too I might add, and I found this selection in a shop in Balmain.  This time there was not hesitation and the lovely fellow in the shop was kind enough to pour two huge bowls of letters all over the floor in order for me to choose.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

more busy bits .....

I have been beavering away in the studio - largely because I haven't really been that well and it is a grand place in which to hibernate.  Being on steroids certainly helps keep up the drive too.  Of course when you are working in this state you are inclined to think things are going well, and then when you are more stabilised you can look back at works you thought were competent and wonder what on earth you are thinking.  I am fortunate in having had people drop in and offer opinion which is good.

I am trying to introduce blue into my work - as you can see from the first two images.  The first is soft and delicious and works quite well with these wood relief prints.  This is just a detail and I am only up to the point of doing all the over drawing now so not worth showing more.

This is one of three works inspired by 'Elephant Rocks' which is an area we found when travelling between Perth and Albany in Western Australia.  Huge big boulders and rocks and glorious ocean.  I am trying to be brave enough to introduce some bright blue into this work.  So far only two layers have been done so I still have about three more with watercolour, graphite and then drawing.  I have just seen Jennifer's post on her give away journals and she has managed very successfully, to bring the blue and black/grey together.  I will draw courage from her I think.  Will show and tell when it is done.

On every table in the studio work in various stages of completion is spreading.

I have to move things aside as I complete work and then it goes into a pile of works which are ready or awaiting framing.

Twenty little journals waiting for paper preparation and sewing.  Each one will have one of my artworks on the front.

The completed work pile is growing.

These next images I am happy with though they are impossible to photograph as they are quite dark and will certainly need just the right place to hang.  I have been trying to work out what to do with them since this time last year when I was busy making art for Anna and James to choose for their wedding.  I never managed to complete them (or 'Girl with the Plait') and have done so over the last couple of days.  The images change so much depending on the amount of light so I have included a number as no single image actually captures what I see here in the studio ....  I have had fun with graphite over previously manipulated paper.

Enough for now .... back to work.  I find I work so much more efficiently when I have pressure and deadlines to meet.  I imagine we are all the same.  And yet I currently have the overwhelming feeling of 'what the heck am I doing' as I prepare to open my studio.  I feel so exposed and almost transparent, as if people can really see what I am like inside - and they may not like what they see!  It is quite exciting simultaneously.

I only very recently learnt how to use magnets and drawing pins when sticking my work up for appraisal .... I always just used to stick pins through the corners of my work.  Now I put a drawing pin into the gyprock and hold the work in place using magnets.  No marks on the paper - yay.  Ingenious.  Apparently many art galleries and art spaces are now putting metal behind their walls and using magnets to hang work rather than hanging systems.  It was at the Brisbane Institute of Art Gallery Space this secret was revealed.

Friday, 29 August 2014

a bit of fluff and frivol .....

Tea bags and feathers ..... serious fun.  Nothing profound here but the little books I am making for the Open Days are going to be quite cute I think .....

This is a prototype and needs some work - not much though as these are really just a bundle of feathers forming a book and I don't want them to look more contrived.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

newsletter .....

Hello All,

I just sent off my first Mailchimp Newsletter ..... exciting and stressful at the same time!  For those of you who follow my blog and would like to receive this letter, I have added a 'subscribe' button on the side of my blog.  For those who have already subscribed - a big thank you.  There is nothing terribly exciting in the first Newletter ..... just a save the date for my Open Studio days in October.

A week of learning ..... first Fiona kindly showed me how to use Mailchimp and Pic Monkey and now I have just learnt that you can drag something from your email and drop it here on the post page.  Life is full of wonders ..... and yet somehow I miss the lovely old days of 'snail mail' and those beautiful handwritten letters we used to receive, and horde.  

susan bowers open studio .....


susan bowers

open studios - october 10 and 11th 


Steph McLennan, Jinty Stockings, Katie Wells and I are hosting two Open Studio days and invitations will come out in a few weeks.  This is a 'save the date' newsletter ...... sometimes a few weeks is not enough notice to set a day aside to visit The Range and our Studios.  So here is some early advice ..... with the hope that many of you may find your way up to Montville.  Come alone, come with friends, maybe make a day of it by having lunch somewhere enjoying the view - however you come, it will be lovely to see you here in the studio.

I have been working quite hard this year, in between travels, both with the collaborative work Fiona Dempster and I make and exploring some new ideas of my own.  There is always so much to show and tell when visitors come to the studio.

This is my first Newsletter - the first of many I hope.  There are those of you who have subscribed to my list, others who have asked me to let them know when I am doing things in my studio and others I have added from my contacts list.  Please feel free to unsubscribe from this list should you not wish to receive my newsletters.  I certainly do not plan to bombard you with mail .... probably every couple of months I will give you a brief snap shot of what is happening here in my studio in Montville.

August 23rd 2014

See more of my work here.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

epitaph .....

Book Ideation Cards - Julie Chen and Barbara Tetenbaum - our recipe ..... 
high tech, assymetrical, multiple openings, multiple colours, no text, abstract, muted, photographic, miniature, personal, issue based and simple.

Choosing our cards from each category was fun though I don't think Fiona and I realised at the time just how constraining, or in reality how expanding, this project would be.  It was immediately apparent that for Fiona the challenge would be 'no text' and for me, I think the 'issue based' book was the initial stumbling block.  I think at the end of the day I have to be honest and say that I chose to work with trees before deciding on the 'issue' of trees.  We live on ten gorgeous acres with views up and down the coast but one of the things we have been doing to open up the views, is cut down trees. It is always with great sadness that this happens and of course we still have many many more on this bush block.  Another thing that was a sadness was that one of our huge white gums came down in the cyclone at the beginning of last year.  This will supply us with huge sections of timber for seating around the fire pit but never-the-less, one never wants to see such a gracious tree come down.  

I decided that I would like to record these trees in some manner, remembering them before they were reduced from proud beings to mere stumps and so this book has come about as something personal but also issue based in the act of remembering trees, respecting them, recording them in some manner.  I have also played with the idea that seeds from trees spread and grow into young saplings which will in turn grow into more proud beings. 

Those of you who follow my blog will know I have been exploring new techniques of printmaking in the last couple of months and by employing these new techniques, I think I covered the 'high tech' ingredient from the recipe.  A stumbling block for me was the multiple openings and once I discovered that I could tear open seed like shapes through the fine tengujo paper, revealing the layer beneath, this problem was solved.  The result of many days of pondering is often so simple but it just doesn't appear as quickly as one would hope .... I think it is because as artists we have minds that are open to a myriad of possibilities of direction in which a work could proceed and in order to move forward, we have to decide on just one.  My pencil drawings ended up being very simple marks or lines .... but there again, as I prowled around my book when it was half way through, thinking about all the things I could do, I just had to settle on the one idea and work with that.  I am satisfied that I managed to work to the recipe though I am mindful that with those same ingredients, a number of different books could have been made.

And so, I have named my book Epitaph - I hope my tombstones also look a little like tree stumps.  I do love the fact that by using the marks or relief prints from trees which have lived here on this land, there is a record of their existence. The book is not easy to photograph but I have shown each page and then some of the details.  I have used a number of different weights of Japanese tissue papers for the prints and the book pages are made from Fabriano Tiepolo which is a favourite of mine.

epitaph |ˈɛpɪtɑːf-taf|
nouna phrase or form of words written in memory of a person who has died, especially as an inscription on a tombstone. figurative a poignant epitaph to hiscreative career.• something by which a person, time, or event will be remembered: the storymakes a sorry epitaph to a great career.ORIGIN late Middle English: from Old French epitaphe, via Latin fromGreek epitaphion funeral oration, neuter of ephitaphios over or at a tomb, from epi upon + taphos tomb.

I have left 'peep holes' in the perspex cover through which you catch glimpses of page one.
First page
Second page
Third page
Fourth page
Final page.