Tuesday, 31 July 2012

playtime .....

Recently I commented on Barry's blog something to the effect that I was not a great fan of the altered image, but I had really loved a few he had posted.  Barry has published a book on these altered images and it is well worth a look at what he does and how well he does it.  Most of you who visit my blog will know his blog well already.

Many years ago I learnt to work with Adobe Photoshop in a course at The Brisbane Institute of Art, a course for artists rather than technical experts. Truth is I was so amazed at all the filters one could use on photographs and artworks.  A myriad of gorgeous images presented themselves and it was very easy to become addicted to image transformation.  I haven't played with it very much though I have Paper Camera on my phone and am tempted to play every now and then.

These images are of some of my drawing a day sketches and though I haven't applied any filters to them, I have played with the dark and middle range levels and these images are what I arrived at .... an improvement on the originals.  They make interesting photographs but there is not a great deal else I will do with them.  Just needed to have a play!

I really should be doing something more important down here in the studio, and I will, but the playtime has been fun.  Thanks for the idea Barry ....  More important, now that I have re read this I realise that there is nothing really more important than our play time in the studio.

Thursday, 26 July 2012

he loved the ocean best .....

My father died at the beginning of this month - losing his dignity to motor neurone disease and so in many ways, his passing was the kindest thing.  His death coincided with the second of the collaborative works Fiona and I have been working on and not surprisingly, this heartbreak translated into a book dedicated to my father.

There is so much layering in the book, which stands upright in four separate though joined sections representing the four in our family. Separate though connected.  The books is a mix of hard and soft which is how I think of my father, but even the hard aluminium and the mica seemed to turn warm and tender in the making of this book.  There are messages to him, embossings of his initials and mine and the birds he so loved. But he loved the ocean best - and this I have represented on the front of each section with threadlines forming the ebb and flow of the tide.

I won't say any more about this book as I think the images speak louder than any of my words ...

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

two books meet .....

I wonder whether our books were as excited as we were about their meeting ....       Certainly the two completed books came together very happily for their photo shoot.  In fact these two books were far easier to photograph together than the last two.

It was a thrill to see Fiona's book.  I love the simplicity and strength of it. I loved that she stayed with the dark, made it darker, enjoyed the dark.  Both of us have found this collaborative book a struggle.  Maybe it was due the the circumstances we have been going through in the last couple of months or maybe, we decided,  that we didn't actually work into each other's book and then have 'our' book back to complete.  Although we did supply each other with the materials, there was no other guidance or input and this made a difference.  Wading through treacle in gumboots is how Fiona described the process in her blog.

Truth is, both books show nothing of the thought struggles and laboured creation.  They are both simple and not overworked.  We will both be showcasing our own books in another post, but here are a few photographs of the two books together.

Monday, 23 July 2012

tea bags .....

a post for Jennifer .....

This gorgeous little tea bag book was given to me by Adele Outteridge for my birthday in 1998 and began my love of tea bag art.  This was the very first artist's book I owned and for me it defined what an artist's book is ...... something that has covers, pages and content.  For Adele that content has always been the space between the pages, the music formed in her work when perspex, thread and paper are orchestrated into one of her books.

Adele has taught me many different bookmaking techniques over the years.  Having been my teacher, it
felt taboo for me to work with tea bags, or with thread.  And from then until now, I have actually resisted playing with materials that have intrigued and entranced me for over a decade.  Of course thousands of artists work with thread and tea bags but out of respect for Adele, I left that area of exploration untouched.  Until recently.  You will see later in this blog my tea bag book with which I have had such fun playing.   Thread ....... well, you will see in my next blog what I have been doing with thread!  Addictive.

Here are a couple of totally delicious tea bag art pieces that I am lucky enough to own.  These are a couple of Patti Roberts-Pizzuto's daily drawings, from April this year.  I don't think I have ever seen anyone work so delicately and evocatively on tea bags.  Such simple markings yet absolutely exquisite when placed as she does over tea bags ....... I love these daily drawings of Patti's.

And here in one of my many desk clutters is a pile of tea bags awaiting the completion of my little book - part of the body of work I am working on at present called 'A Sense of Place'.  I have posted on this book before but in light of Jennifer's call to see who is doing what with tea bags, I thought I would pop it in again.  No further towards completion but something I still love to pick up ( it is so squashy and tactile) and photograph.

Sunday, 15 July 2012

taking shape .....

It has been lovely working with some different materials.  Though I have worked with copper shim before, I have never played around with aluminium and explored all its possibilities ..... or at least some.  I am sure that there would be so many ways to use this material.  It embosses, it is easy to draw into, it catches the light so gorgeously and that is what I love about it in this book.  It draws light into a book that has been quite painful in the making.

Each of the four sections has three folios - the inner one with the 'story' I am trying to tell about my father, the middle pages are embossed with marks and initials and the outer pages will be stitched with metallic thread in patterns that suggest the wave lines left in the sand as the tide recedes.

I have had great fun making marks into the back of the shim and then sanding the fronts.  The raised sections made by the marks seem to shine above the dulled background.  You can see below that having taken apart the metal book cover, I have made an insert which I will glue back in as the box is reconstructed.  I am happy with the way it personalises the cover and also ties in with marks I have made inside the book.

This page above represents the tombstone ...... a symbol of death. I have engraved part of Dylan Thomas's 'Do Not Go Gently ....' into the top half.  I wrote and overwrote the poem so that is obscure but I do love the marks it has left on the front surface.  An epitaph of sorts.

It has been lovely having this book to blog about as I have been fairly focussed the last couple of weeks.  I won't go on about it anymore and till Fiona and I have our book meeting day later this month.
I am hoping to finish the book today and put it behind me.  Move on to other things.  Already I am thinking about other things I can make using the embossed aluminium ..... and there is always the copper shim I have lying around.  I wonder if you can paint successfully on it ....... I know some of my copper has the remnants of printing ink left on it and that looks subtle and wonderful.  Will play around some more but if any of you have painted on or done something unusual with shim, please let me know.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

making decisions ..... possibilities

I have been skirting around and around this book since Friday's play day with Fiona where we began our second collaborative book.  It was much more fun playing about with possibilities but I realised that  I actually did need to start turning some of those possibilities into realities.

Though I love the mica I could see no reason to have it sitting upon the page - other than the fact it just looked delicious!  I felt a little the same with the aluminium shim so I have decided that they need to overlap each other and that there needs to be some work done into the aluminium to give it a reason to belong on the page too.

My father loved birds, and trees (which I have suggested in a couple of the pages I have been working on)  but most of all he loved the ocean.  We had a gorgeous time together before he died down on the coast.  It was wild and windy and the ocean was grey and thumping.  I will be able to use that love of the ocean in other pages using thread to suggest tide marks and at the same time have them being a connection between the pages. Connections in families.

A long way to go still, but at least I have made a start.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

our next books .....

Fiona and I spent the day together yesterday working on our second collaborative books.  This time we each provided the other with materials to be used in a book and have made no decisions as to the structure or content of the book - hoping that the materials we provide would inspire and prompt wonderful ideas.

I have had a fairly awful month, culminating in the death of my father this week.  Naturally all my thoughts have been centred around him and his failing health, what he was like as a man and how awful it was to see this shadow of a person left.  I mention this because for the two weeks prior to yesterday, I was thinking that I would make this book about him.  I had found an aluminium book cover that I planned to use and thought I would introduce more aluminium in the way of book pages to represent this man who came across with this really stern, tough exterior.  The beautiful soft grey pages that Fiona gave me were going to be used to represent his inner self - that part you only got to know if you knew him well - that 'soft as butter' underbelly.

However, Fiona arrived with two more materials which she thought I may like to use in my book since I was introducing the metal book cover.  Aluminium shim (or scrim as I call it) and some mica which came off in flakes and shimmered on the page as you can see below.

I am going to make my book an upright standing one - four folios, representing our family of four.  Of late I have been entranced by various artist's use of thread in their work.  For many years I have wanted to use it in some way but it has not eventuated.  Recently I bought 'Snow Writing' from Jackie Bowcutt in the UK which has lovely loose threads hanging, and I also purchased a copy of Fiona's 'Subersive Stitch' book which is featured in my previous blog, once again with lovely loose hanging threads.  Drawing inspiration from both these works I have decided that my pages will be very loosely sewn together.  They will stand upright and seem unbound, yet there will be the threads of relationship connecting them. I have yet to work out just how that will work .......

Playing with the Mica has actually changed my concept for the book.  It is the most delicious material - very difficult to separate the thin flakes from each other for use.  I actually cut a square out of the piece Fiona gave me and with a stanley knife managed to separate some lovely squarish pieces - mostly fragments of squares which in fact suits me better.

Placing them on the pages I am preparing, thinking about how I could incorporate them into my book, made me realise that the mica has brought a lovely warmth to the work and so my thoughts have changed slightly - rather than being a book describing my fathers' personality, this will be a tender book about those special bonds that hold a family together.  I am excited about this concept as it makes relevant the sheet of paper Fiona prepared for me with all her beautiful calligraphic words - beautiful,  kindred spirits, dancing, sharing ........ special tender words that will add meaning to this book.

While Fiona stitched away and moved forward with the making of her book, my day was taken up with the delicious play of possibilities, working out how to work with the mica, testing it to see if it changed when stuck.  I played around with the aluminium shim - sanding it and playing with some marks, sticking it down on paper to see if that worked effectively as it is quite a flimsy weight and probably won't perform as I would wish it to without being strengthened.

I think photographing the process and looking at these photos now as I blog about our day together, helps me realise that these materials, mostly from Fiona but the metal book cover introduced by me, are going to work together very beautifully.  Who would have thought of mixing such softness with metals ..... it is a constant surprise this collaboration of ours.

As we sat down with our coffee to start the day and had a chat about what we were thinking of doing with our books, it seemed that we were both working along the lines of transitioning.  Fiona transitioning from darkness to light, and my book dealing with the transition from my father's harder exterior into that soft gentle place inside.  My concepts have changed as I said, but it made us both smile to think that unbeknown to each other, we had both resolved on concepts for our books that were in accord with each other.

These books are to be finished this month.  For me it has been a wonderful start - I can hardly wait to be back in the studio .............