Monday, October 22, 2012

The Longevity of Music

This Post is really for me - so I remember this stuff ...

I happened across a book at the local library:  Favourite Hymns – 2000 Years of Magnificat by Marjorie Reeves and Jenny Worsley, and was amazed to learn that some of the hymns I have learned over my lifetime were composed hundreds of years ago.

St Francis of Assisi (1182 – 1226) the author of, All creatures of our God and King, Lift up your voice and with us sin, Alleluya, alleluia!

Martin Rinkart (1586 – 1649) wrote: Now thank we all our God, With heart and hands and voices, Who wondrous things hath done, In whom his world rejoices.  This thanksgiving hymn was written in Germany following the terrible days of the Thirty Years War, of apocalyptic horsemen, plague, famine and ravaging armies.  Easy to see why the thanks was required.  I wonder when they teach hymns in religious schools, that they never think to impart some of the history behind the song.  To me this always seemed one of the most boring hymns to choose.

Frederick Oakley (1802 -1880) brought us one of my favourites, when it is sung in Latin of course:  Adeste Fideles.  It is of course more well known in it’s English Translation: O Come, All Ye Faithful.    The book authors tell us that it has an obscure history and that it may have been French or German in origin.

It is followed by what must be one of the most universally known hymns, Amazing Grace, written by John Newton (1725 – 1807).  A song of hope, expressing the coming of the gift of grace, it brings its light to the world.  Amazing grace! How sweet the sound, That saved a wretch like me! I once was lost, but now am found, was blind, but now I see.    John Newton  is featured in the film same name – Amazing Grace.  His story is pretty amazing, the ups and downs and extremities of his life from a religious adolescence to the slave trade, eventually becoming a priest for the last 17 years of his life, and it was during this time that he wrote 280 hymns for the Olney hymn-book.

When I happened across Favourite Hymns, it was William Blake’s (1757 – 1827) Jerusalem that I went in search of.  This is not a song that I’ve learned, but one that has become known to me through modern media.  A favourite of Princess Diana’s, it seems like the second national anthem of England.  This piece was inspired by the legend that Joseph of Arimathea had brought Jesus as a boy to Glastonbury in England.  Originally written as a poem, it was put to music during the First World War by Hubert Parry, as a celebration of the cause of women’s suffrage in 1916.  No wonder then, that it later became the anthem of the WI – the Women’s Institute – check out the movie Calendar Girls to see more of the WI.

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?

And did the countenance divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among those dark satanic mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of Fire!

I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.

In 1818 in the tiny church of Oberndorf on Christmas Eve, Silent Night was sung for the first time accompanied by a guitar.  Words written by assistant priest, Joseph Mohr and set to music (originally for the organ) by Franz Gruber.  Urban myth is that mice had chewed through cords in the organ – whatever happened, the organ had broken down and it was the repair man who carried the tune out into the world.

Abide with Me, was set to the music Eventide by William Henry Monk.  The words from Henry Francis Lyte (1793 – 1847), who also wrote Praise my soul, the King of heaven’, have become a tradition hymn for funerals.  Old fashioned I may be, but I love this hymn that so many reject as morbid, in favour of more modern funerals with popular music.  I think it’s the last line that moves me most.

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide!
When other helpers fail, and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O thou who changest not, abide with me.

I need thy presence every passing hour;
What but thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?
Who like thyself my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, O abide with me.

I fear no foe with thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness.
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, they victory?
I triumph still, if thou abide with me.

Hold thou my cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom, and point me to the skies:
Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me!

Another I could never really understand why it was frequently chosen for church services (but probably because it’s an easy one for a congregation) is from John Henry Newman (1801 – 90).  Picked up by many different denominations of believer’s this is one that I imagine my grandparents and great grandparents would have also sung.  To me it is always sung very stoically – perhaps that’s why it doesn’t resonate with me as much.  Perhaps it is because I don’t really accept these statements of belief.

Firmly I believe and truly
God is Three, and God is One;
And I next acknowledge duly
Manhood taken by the Son.

I’ve included the next one, because it was written by a woman – Mrs Cecil Frances Alexander, Nee Humphries (1818 -95).  Unusual for her time I think, she wrote hymns for little children, most being written before she married at the age of 32.  Here’s the one we sing today, from her pen, and now understanding it’s history, I can see that it is a ‘teaching’ song.

Once in royal David’s city
Stood a lowly cattle shed,
Where a mother laid her baby
In a manger for his bed:
Mary was that Mother mild,
Jesus Christ her little Child.

She also wrote:  All things bright and beautiful, All creatures great and small, All things wise and wonderful, The Lord God made them all.
O little town of Bethlehem, first came to England in 1906 and I imagine it would have been one the childhood hymns of my father.  Written by an American bishop, Phillips Brooks (1835 – 93), over the years it has had several different musical settings.
Another woman gave us a song immortalised by Cat Stevens.  Morning has broken, written by Eleanor Farjeon (1881 – 1965).  This woman began writing at the age of 5 and she wrote children’s stories.
From my teenage years came the much more ‘modern’ and jazzy songs.  I loved the Sunday Youth Service where a full rock band and choir were featured – it’s probably the only thing that kept me going to church as long as I did – the music.  Written by Sydney Carter (b. 1915-), Lord of the Dance was originally a folk song written in 1963 before being picked up by school choirs.  Reeves and Worsley, tell that ‘by 1969, it had arrived in the hymn-books’.    For me it arrived in 1973 at secondary school.

Dance then, wherever you may be,
I am the Lord of the Dance said he,
And I’ll lead you all, wherever you may be,
And I’ll lead you all in the Dance, said he.

And the last song in the book that resonates with me is from Sebastian Temple (1928 -97).  Make me a Channel of your Peace, puts the prayer of St Francis to music.  Reading about his life, he seems to me like he might be a reincarnation of John Newton.  A similar life path of ups, downs and extremities, be began life a Roman Catholic in South Africa, becoming an expert on South African affairs; he later became a Scientologist and then returned to his Catholic faith living out his life as a Franciscan Monk.  It was a favourite of Princess Diana and sung at her funeral.

Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me bring your love.
Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord,
And where there’s doubt, true faith in you.

O Master, grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console,
To be understood, as to understand,
To be loved, as to love with all my soul.

Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there is hatred let me bring your hope.
Where there is darkness, only light,
And where there’ sadness ever joy.

Make me a channel of your peace.

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned.
In giving to all men that we receive,
And in dying that we’re born to eternal life.

So through music and this book of Favourite Hymns, I tell a little bit about the journey of my life.  I hope you will enjoy reading this book and find some of your own history again through the music that has been present in your life.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Lino Cut Resolved and Revealed

I think I resolved the problem of the two circles that form as a secondary pattern above the Christmas Baubles - extending the peel to a full size in two of the four.

I have also realised that this design could easily form a repeat pattern design, by leaving out the top left or bottom right corner -and then the circles will be back around the edge of the design, so the two above the Christmas Baubles wouldn't look so bad.

Will have to test with cutting the lino.

Also discovered today that Te Papa (the National Museum of New Zealand) has an online exhibition of the Rex Nan Kivell gift of linocuts.

Ideas are popping as I work my way through the 21 linocut books that I got through the library.  There is a huge range of diversity and styles in this technique.  Who knew.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Monoprinting to quilt

Sometimes the only way to get a birds eye view and make slight adjustments to a quilt ... is up a ladder

Ready to be sewn together

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Lino Cutting - Claude Flight

I’ve spent my week reading Dijanne’s great lesson 2 notes and thinking about and sketching ideas.  The process made me realize how many great designs I already have that I can translate in to lino cuts with minor adaptations.

I usually work intuitively, in a flow that I don’t question, and one that I don’t have any intellectual ‘knoweledge’ about; so it is a new process for me to step back and have to conceive ideas to fit exercise challenges and to understand them intellectually.

This weeks lessons have made me relook at my quilts and see how I have used shape and stitch to create, balance, motion and movement.  I’ve always heard other artists say how they utilise their sketchbooks and look back through them for ideas, and this week has been the first week that I have ever had that experience and have found the same richness and abundance in my sketchbooks that I’ve heard others waxing about.

This came about through exercise 5 – Image, texture, pattern.  Wow – I found it really difficult to put this together, partly because I wasn’t working intuitively.  Image and pattern or image and texture went together easily, but adding the third - !  I’ve done a lot of thinking about this over the week and will be really interested to see everyone’s results, as when I looked at Dijanne’s example, I finally realized that image and pattern were loosely the same shape and texture was linked (by line in this case).

I had put a whole day out in my diary for lino homework and expected to have some prints to show.  Instead I have realized the importance of forethought, drawing and learning to look.  It has been really challenging for exercise 5 to find the order of process and I think it is a bit like appliqué – working from the bottom up.  I’m not sure why, but I’ve discovered that my natural process is to work from the top down.  (Probably has something to do with being a number 5, and seeing things in mirror image. 

In putting this exercise together, I haven’t yet found a design that is working for me, and I’m grateful for the exercise of drawing to work through the issues and figure it out. But of course that means I have nothing to show – no printing achieved.  I’ve loaded photo’s and made comments - and welcome anyone’s feedback.

Prior to Lesson 2, my only real exposure to Lino cuts has been Dijanne’ amazing work.
I’ve widened my horizon substantially this week,  I had no idea that it can be a multiple colour process or what these would look like.  The lesson two notes recommended the book by Claude Flight, but said it was hard to get hold of a copy.  Incredibly my local art gallery (Auckland City) has a copy for reading room only!  The opportunity was too good to pass up, so I spent four hours there this afternoon, read three books in total and watched a DVD!  Thanks Dijanne for opening my eyes to this experience.  Here’s my summary:

Lino Cuts - Claude Flight
Published in 1927, this book is hard to get hold of it and our Art Gallery Research Library has a copy!  It was wonderful and easy to read, with some methods updated through technology, but written by one of the world's expert teachers on lino cutting.  Going to the Art Gallery connected me with a whole world that I had no idea about.  The Auckland Art Gallery had 307 Lino prints that were gifted by Sir Rex Nan Kivell an ex-pat NZer who gifted 1160 lino cut works to four New Zealand galleries.  He ran the Redfern Artists Gallery in London.  It's an incredible body of work to be in New Zealand across 4 galleries, and this book was part of the gift.  Some of his collection was also gifted to the National Gallery of Australia.

Graphica Britannica - the Rex Nan Kivell Gift of British Modernist Prints - by Peyter Vangioni
This book is an exhibition catalogue from a showing in Christchurch of the lino cuts gifted by Rex Nan Kivell.  Loved the diversity of work, particularly that of Australian Artist, Ethel Spowers (1890 - 1947) called Wet Afternoon, 1930.  The fine lines in this work are incredible.  This exhibition covered, woodcuts, lithographs and lino cuts.  Have yet to investigate if it is still able to be purchased by the Christchurch Art Gallery.

Claude Flight and His Followers - the Colour LinoCut Movement between the wars.  (An Australian National Gallery Travelling Exhibition - by Stephen Coppel
Not so many images in this catalogue as you might expect, but loads of biographical information about each of the artists in the exhibition.  Loved the work of Ethel Spowers - Resting Models (1934) and The Gale (1930).

DVD - Sybil Andrews (1898 - 1993)
The Art of the Lino Cut (artists of the world series).  Chip Taylor Communications
The Research Librarian was amazing - I asked for one book (Claude Flight) and he came up with these other three.  This DVD is really worth watching to get a sense of Andrews' work and how she views art as her work.  It also gives some demo’s of lino printing in process.  All these books I have read so far have widened my experience of lino cutting - I had always imagined it to be a two colour process, but it is far more complex with up to four colours. Andrews had been to the Grosvenor School of Art while Claude Flight was teaching lino cuts there for four years.

I don’t know why, but I hadn’t really thought about how much written information there might be about lino cutting – an Amazon search produced a huge list of titles – 21 of which I have ordered from the library.  It’s going to be an informative week.

Claude Flight also wrote a second book (published 1934, London) – The Art and Craft of Lion Cutting and Printing

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Mono Printing 2

Using a 1/4 inch seam to create a 1/4" border

Do you see Convergence or divergence? Establishing this quilt like a lithographic print.

Using Mono printed blocks.  I'm thinking I will add white to this designs - just not sure how.  Next weekend's project.  :-)

Friday, September 14, 2012

Mono Printing

I played for four hours in a class on Mono Printing last Saturday

Playing with only one colour of textile ink, blue on white batik fabric, let my intuitive "fearless" artist out to create pattern after pattern.  The total freedom to be prolific and allow the brain to let go of controlling the like or dislike function for a while, resulted in a total of 40 eight inch blocks!  Enough to make a throw, although I have over the week debated making more to do a bed quilt ... and it's still possible I will.

I'm becoming aware of the ideas and experiences that tumble out of me and never get finished or pursued to the end ... is too much creativity possible?  Is it distraction from exploring the depths of myself?  Questions for a journal page I think.

I've had such a week of inspiration and joy and happiness - and it has made me realise that creativity, ideas bring me joy and inspire me onwards.  My life is droll and dull when I'm not engaged this way.  How addictive ... making the world a braver place through art and creativity!  Woosh!

Following several quilt and textile art exhibitions and an antique / vintage textile fair last Sunday, Sarah and I pursued ideas around exhibiting our artwork.  The spaces required, the connections between works, the form and shape of how it might look, working style - deadlines or not; what is already in existence for exhibition and what needs to be created.  More inspiration.  More thoughts.  More observations.  "A Body of Work"

We were thrilled by an exhibition of work by Lynn Nunn at ArtsPost in Hamilton, called Connective Threads.  So many thoughts, inspirations and observations from this alone.  The exhibition had six distinctive parts connecting to create a whole from experimentations.  In Lynn's words, the exhibition is "an influence of family connections, history of fashion and cultures".  It was incredibly moving and drew us both further and further in to each individual work, each fibre, fibres left hanging with their own gentle comment to contribute to the work.

This exhibition was a true Body of Work and by far and away one of the very best exhibitions that ArtsPost has hosted (that I have seen there, at least).  Quietly understated, and incredibly moving.

The Lino homework hasn't gotten much attention so far this week - later today I hope.  I did purchase the textile ink and roller - so am good to go.

The other piece of inspiration that finally arrived in the form of a book reminded me of the following:

"We must be willing to let go of the life we planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us."  - Joseph Campbell

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.  We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?  Actually, Who are You, not to be?  Your playing small, does not serve the world.

There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.  We are all meant to shine, as children do.  We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.  I'ts not just in some of us; it's in everyone.  And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."  - Marianne Williamson

I wish you a peace-filled, joyful week, full of inspiration, creativity and love.

Friday, September 07, 2012

Lino Printing 1

I'm doing an online Lino Printing course with Dijanne Cevaal.

Musings of a textile itinerant

They say you haven't really made a quilt until you've bled on it (while hand quilting of course); well the same must be true of lino cutting - I've got the mandatory stabbing of the thumb over.  There's such a lot of blood in the pad of the thumb - it took ages of pressure and holding it above my head to stem the flow ... oh well.

I still need to go and buy my textile ink ... happening today, so I haven't printed these yet.  Different blades and different strokes and results.

The offending sucker that bit my thumb.  I need to go back and re-read the notes on using this one and pay more attention to what it says.

Exercise in Positive and negative forms.  Free hand Ginko Leaf.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Chantilly Cream, Devonport Road, Tauranga

When in Tauranga, this vintage tea shop is a must - as is the deliciously light scones with the most divine lemon cheese!

I loved the teacups and saucers glued to a pillar in the front window - and it inspired a journal page so I remember the time.  Although now, I see I dated it wrong.  It was Saturday 1st of September.

And best of all you have to share it with a very good friend.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Shift in Inertia

There was a shift in inertia this weekend and things are now moving forward ... including The Devils Marble's.  I got the next stage completed today.  There is one further layer to go before quilting begins.

Sunday, August 12, 2012


Recently - through July my creations have focused on my Journal/s ... well you can never just have one on the go ... can you?

Today Jax and I went to the AKL Home Art Exhibition at the Auckland Gallery.  It features work by Pacific artists and is full of surprises and challenges.  I really enjoyed it and journalled a couple of pages to remember it.  I really enjoyed Black Pearl.  Congratulations Lonnie Hutchinson - great way to highlight women's rights and injustices.

We also took in the Walters Exhibition - challenging, but I did enjoy Kate Newby's piece - Crawl Out Your Window - it challenged my resistance to everything I've been taught about respecting art by not touching it - let alone walking on it.

I worked on a piece yesterday in my Stone Journal:

The Poem by Geoff Page, from The Question, is something I discovered as a teenager in a National Geographic Magazine, linking photography and words - probably my first experience of loving this combination.  It would have been around 1975 and I found both the words and the images provoking.  

A second image from that memory is a line by Robert Frost - was about walls and why we build them.  Can't remember them exactly, but have never forgotten the concept:  Before we build a wall, we should recognise/ask what it is that we wish to keep in, or what it is we wish to keep out.

It's been a great weekend for inner art and art in the world.

Sunday, June 03, 2012


One of my brothers has a friend in China - He's heading up there for a couple of weeks to meet her family.  I've made this as a gift from me to her.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Art Techniques

I've been busy trying new art techniques and painting.  An age-old thing to do is to copy the work of "the Masters" - above is my copy of the Girl With the Pearl Earing.  (at least it's my own signature of it)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Machine Quilting

A bit more progress - but I've forgotten how to machine quilt!  It's been so long since doing any.

I've no idea why by the top thread kept nesting underneath; sometimes it shredded itself ... not sure which happened first.  Consequently, the back is a mess.

I tried to be adventurous using the feed dogs down.  Only a small section to go now.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Machine Quilting

I'm trying to be more expressive with my machine quilting.  Spent most of today working on practice sandwiches - then embarked on my Henry Dixon Quilt (working title at this stage)

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Image Transfer Technique - Clear Packaging Tape

I spent about three hours today, playing in water with image transfer, then later a further four hours with my hands in water again, but kitchen cleaning at my mums.

This technique comes from the book Collage Discovery Workshop by Claudine Hellmuth.

Following yesterdays attempt, with the dark photo printed on a photocopier, I tried out a variety of image sources, cigarette cards, glossy magazines, and a 1987 map.  Actually I began with an altered book I'm doing and went in search of pictures.  I keep a box of pictures and images, stuff I can't resist knowing that one day, somewhere it will be incorporated into a piece of art of some kind.  I came across some 1920's sepia cigarette cards and decided to try lifting the image.

In this image you can see the back of a similar photo from a cigarette card - all the paper hasn't come away on either of these to create a transparent image.

Well they don't make paper / card like they used to - there were layers of glue to work through.  I was even able to separate the back text from the image on the front once wet, without destroying either.  You can see from the photo that I did a number of these - in different ways to see what would work best.  It depends on your definition of best really.  Timewise it's faster to stick to the tape, immerse in boiling water, then separate the back from the front, and reimmerse in water again, then work at rubbing off the paper.  But it didn't successfully remove the very last layer of paper to make the image sheer.  It will be in a hot water bath again tomorrow to see if this will help.

In the process of doing these, I discovered:

  • That not all papers are equal!  
  • Different types of cigarette cards gave different results.  The glossy photo like ones, still retained a degree of paper on the back (see picture above)
  • Printed matt pictures on cigarette cards were more transparent.
  • Its possible to get two images from cigarette cards - both the front and the back with the description.
  • Glossy magazine pictures are by far the easiest to do (so far).  
  • Getting the clear tape on without it creasing takes time and practice, and is best if you anchor the tape down to a surface off your piece first, then ease it on, rubbing flat with the side of your thumb.    I followed this with rubbing with a plastic spoon, to ease out any bubbles and make sure that the tape is stuck to every part of the image.  
  • Being able to look at the tape with light shining on it helps you to see what needs smoothing.
  • That you can put down tape to do an image bigger than the width of the tape - but you need to overlap the tape by about 1/4 of an inch.
  • That if you want random edges, you will need to tear it the way you want first, because the tape won't tear in the same way as paper.
  • When tearing the paper you need to think in reverse.  On the Stone cherub below, I wanted that look of a white edge when you tear the paper - but of course you aren't going to get it if you tear so that the the white edge is on the top ... because you are going to rub all that paper away.
  • For more interesting edges you therefore need to tear with the white edge on the reverse of the image.
  • That you don't have to rub the paper off with your finger tip - you can use a soft sponge - like an XLO cloth.
  • When wet, the tape with the transfered image doesn't seem all that sticky.  I put them on paper towels and when they dried, they had adhered to the paper, and needed another quick hot bath to remove it.  Currently they are drying on a towel rack.  Tomorrow I will try storing them between sheets of waxed paper.
New questions:
Will I be able to stick stuff on top of this tape to create a new layer above, or will this need to be the top layer. 

Here are the photo's of today's work.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Art on Good Friday

I played with a couple of techniques today, did some sketching, cut out some pieces to collage and got in a bit of stitching - but haven't alot I can photograph to show.  A couple of weeks back I went to see an art exhibition called Degas to Dali and got really memorised by the surrealist artists, and I've also been reading about collage.  Not having to draw or paint everything appeals to me as I'm just finding my wings with both.  So I spent yesterday sketching roughly and heading to the photocopier to make copies.  I've become intrigued with Sandro Bottecilli's Birth of Venus.  In 1934 a Scottish artist named Edward Baird also painted his version of the original - I guess using it as a theme.  I'm thinking of something along the same lines, but got a bit stuck after a few sketches.  I probably need to just bowl right on in and work intuitively, letting the ideas come and go and be applied.

I also played with a couple of new techniques - heat transferring and using clear tape to transfer images or text into an art work.  Later one works really well, and your image has the glossyness of clear tape.  All of these transfer techniques are size restricted.  I found transferring the words this way works well, and photographs less well, because the application of laser inks is denser and therefore the image isn't as see through if the colours of the photograph are darker.  In this case, when you put the image down, even on a white background it looks like a sheer glossy photo, without letting the background really pop through.  

While at the library to photocopy, I picked up a BBC TV series on DVD called Larkrise to Candleford.  If you like historical BBC, you'll probably like this - it was great to embroider to.  So here is the picture of some of my efforts today - I've been working on this piece for a little while to make a cushion, to go with my blue and white theme.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Degas to Dali - Auckland Art Gallery

The Degas to Dali exhibition on at the Auckland Art Gallery, brought lots of surprises.  It was my first visit since the opening of the new gallery.  It is an incredible facility of international standards, showing its uniquely New Zealand niche.  The architecture is stunning!  Nikau trees created in warm woods; a fabulous external sculpture of giant ikebana proportions; a wonderful modern art exhibition, the box of mirrors; a children’s creativity centre and Degas to Dali.

Check out the links to see the images of the works I talk about in this post.  All of the images on display were on loan from the Scottish National Gallery.

The exhibition was a series of discoveries for me, blowing apart pre-held perceptions of what I might see.  The works of Edgar Degas were greener in colour than the images of the dancers that I know; and I was surprised to see pastel works as well as oil paintings.

I was intrigued by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s graphic work on paper; Jane Averil.  This intrigued me because I found him comparing Jane to Eve through the symbology of a snake wrapping itself around her dress.  I like the ‘flat’ style of the female form – although we are used to this way of presentation, for its time it was new.

I enjoyed Salvador Dali’s, Raphaelesque Head painted in 1951.  It’s a play on Raphel’s Madonna.  The inner skull is the interior dome of Rome’s Pantheon.  I liked it a lot, loving the colours, the detail … I could have this in my home and not tire of it.  I didn’t expect to really like the surrealists, but I found I did, and probably more so than any other part of the exhibition, except for a couple of the modernists.

Other surrealists that I enjoyed include:  The Birth of Venus, Edward Baird, a Scottish painter again playing on the original painting of the same title by Sandro Botticelli.  The allegories are the same, both painted for weddings; venus emerging from the sea.  I know nothing about surrealism, but looking at this work, it seems that perhaps incorrect proportions are a feature of this style.

The collage work by Eileen Agar (1899 – 1991), called Fish Circus caught my eye and drew me close to study it.

With the Modernists, I discovered a work completed in 1938 by Alexander Calder called The Spider.  This is, I think, the first time I’ve ever seen Kinetic Art (art that moves).  The spider spins, and the art is created on the wall behind, as if the spider is crawling over the wall.  Really fantastic.

I hadn’t realized that a Joan Miro from 1925 would be included – black chalk on canvas, exploring symbols; making marks.  The last modernist I loved was the illusion of movement created in black and white lines in 1931 by Bridget Riley.  We think in our uneducated wisdom that these things are new in our world, but here, this work is already 80 years old!

Self Portrait: Collage

Here's what I got up to today, after updating sketch books with images I've collected.

My sketchbooks after the visit to Degas to Dali Exhibition last month.  There's a post coming about this.

I know ... stick with the day job ... ha ha

I was really surprised how hard this was to do ... perhaps I made it hard.  I enjoyed it but it was a long process - it probably took about four hours to do.  (A4 size).

And now for the photo I copied:

Thursday, April 05, 2012

I'ts Easter holiday weekend ...

I have four consecutive days off.  I'm staying home and adopting a mantra for the weekend:

Create, Discover, Immerse.

Let's see how I progress - I know it will involve some paint, perhaps some fabric, some new techniques, words, writing ... Let's see.  Check back tomorrow.  Maybe it will be a photographic story and some words.

Enjoy your holiday weekend.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

New Lessons in Colour

I've been reading Sidewalk Art by Julie Kirk-Purcell.  It's about using pastels to draw on the pavement and the art form that it has become.

I learned some new things about colour that could be applied to dyeing and quilting.

1. Mixing the primary colours together produces a warm to cool dark grey.
2. Analogous colours (next to each other) have similar levels of light waves
3. Complementary colours (opposite each other) have light waves that are mathematically opposite to each other.  That is why they 'show each other off'.
4. Mixing complementary colours together, results in grays or browns as the opposing light rays cancel each other out.
5. Mixing colours lowers the intensity level of the original colour.
6. When you add white (tint), or black (shade) to a colour, you cause it to shift a little into the cool spectrum - green or blue.  This changes the temperature of a colour.
7. If you mix in gray to a colour, you create a tone which doesn't change the temperature.
8. The less intense a colour, the further in on the colour wheel it is.

That's a lot to have learned and recognise from 4 pages.

I'd recommend this book - the artwork is simply beautiful.  Thank you Julie!

Sunday, March 11, 2012


This morning I was up from 1 - 4am drawing a design for quilting something I painted on fabric a year ago.  The original is a drawing by an american artist - Henry Dixon.  I was really drawn to it. Sunday is a sewing day with the girls so I'm going to practice some machine quilting before I start on the actual work.  The technique is to put tracing paper over the thing you want to quilt and draw the quilting lines.  I tried this a year ago with this piece, but couldn't get the right feel.  The lines were too 'hard', too angry.

This morning they were just softer, a bit like isobars.  So the man is more gentle energy, and I'm wanting to convey, tension, the moment before he looks up and expresses himself, so that when you look at this piece its like you know he is going to look at you and speak.  There are images (and the story) on my blog Intuitive Textile Journeys, if you are interested in knowing more.  The final drawing changed ... several times through the process. 

Drawing this was a really interesting process, like it had a life of its own with what lines wanted to be present and where.

We'll see how the quilting goes.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Canvas Inspirations

Art is not what you see, but what others make you see – Edgar Degas

A wounded shag, sat in my peripheral vision on a white fence; recovering; while these inspirational pages were created. He knew, “its not smart to kick the bucket.”

Sometimes we need to rest; write; draw, whatever before we fly again.

Shags teach us buoyancy, the ability to dive under the water a pop right back up again.  Being bouyant enough to rest on top in spite of the heaviness of life circumstances.  It teaches that no matter how difficult life becomes, not matter how deep you plunge – you can pop to the surface.  Shag holds the knowledge of how to rise above life’s trials.  Resting, frees shags (and us) from whatever emotions weighs them down – and teaches us not to be overcome by our emotions, but to pop right back up again.

So what about the bucket?  That shag sat on the fence for nearly three hours recovering.  I called bird rescue, because thats not normal bird behaviour – particularly when cars drive by – normal bird behaviour is to fly off.  I was worried that it might be hurt and so exhausted that it might fall off that fence and become more vulnerable.

Stephen M R Covey says in his book, The Speed of Trust: Trust is like a big bucket that gets filled with water (trust deposits) one drop at a time, and with some withdrawals.  Massive withdrawals are like kicking the bucket – a single action and you don’t have anything left.  You’re going to make mistakes, just try not to make the ones that completely destroy trust; and work hard to build trust and to restore whatever trust has been lost.

But that shag knew it needed to rest on that fence.  Shortly after I called Bird Rescue, it felt restored enough to fly off.

Playing with paint today like an uninhibited child restored my soul.  I chatted to Peggy today, another artist – she told me to give up my job and go to art school – to immerse myself with time for art.  Today’s horoscope tells me to put away my crayons and get serious.  I think it’s the same message – take your art seriously.  Give it the time it deserves.  You have a strong voice and won’t be swamped by others.  And to cap it all off the tarot card this week is the 7 Pentacles – mountain climbed, success gained, but found wanting by the soul.  It’s not enough to just be successful – we must truly enjoy the success.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

A new snuggle rug

A minke snuggle rug - took only 5 hours to put this together.  60"x60".

Confession - this is the first sewing I've done for 2012.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Immersing in 16,000ft and 70 seconds of free falling!

This morning I have the gift of waking up in the beautiful Bay of Islands.  On my way to the outside toilet, my first glimpse across the orchard and out to the water, brought a rabbit jumping with joy – no-one else is up and about to disturb its raid on the garden.  I’m staying in a bach at the head of the KeriKeri River at the head of the southern headland to the inlet.  We are in Kiwi territory.  They started calling to each other about 10 last night.  It feels like only yesterday that summer arrived and even though the water is still cold, and the tide was at low ebb we got our first swim, then lay and dozed in the sun.  Even as late in the day as it was, I got sunburned.  When we get the sun here it is fierce indeed.

I’m up in KeriKeri (which is 3 hours north of Auckland) to fulfill a dream I had when I was 15 – to do a parachute jump.  So it’s happening today.  Back in 1975 you had to jump by yourself, but these days you can tandem jump.  For my friend Michelle it’s a bucket list item and she is already excited and bouncing about everywhere; whereas I feel perfectly calm, as if it is nothing more than taking a swim in the sea.  We are going up to 16,000 feet and free falling for seventy seconds – the highest jump in New Zealand.

My word for the year, that the things I do and experience and have in my life in 2012 is Immersion.  What better way to begin than a tandem Skydive?  It’s a dream that has been at the back of the shelf for far too long, for lots of different reasons, until it was almost forgotten.

We are back from not sky diving and are feeling very disappointed.  There has been too much cloud all day and only two flights got up between the clouds.  One’s expectations can lead to huge disappointments.  I had such big plans for this weekend and all day we have been back and forth to the airfield.  Filling the burst in between with short activities that we really didn’t have a huge interest in or excitement about as we were totally focused on jumping.  I had also hoped to learn to row a dingy this weekend.  We are booked to jump again, at 4pm tomorrow – but there are no guarantees and we might have to come back another time.  It seems like an activity that is best decided on the day to avoid the disappointment – but then you don’t get a discounted price.  We are re-scheduled for 4pm tomorrow.  Fingers crossed.  J

We decided to go down to the beach and jump in the sand – this resulted in sets of crazy photo’s.  I’m cautious of jumping from two feet off the ground for fear of hurting myself.  This is  hangover from when I was nine and let go of a rope swing and landed on my head – it resulted in a coma for a couple of days.  Somehow though, the thought of jumping from 16,000 feet doesn’t faze me at all.

I had to post this photo - because the sunset was incredible!

30 Jan 2012
Monday was the perfect day today in so many ways.  Crystal clear, blue sky, no wind, still water and the ocean reflecting the light.  It was so tempting we got up and went out in the kyaks for two hours – I could have stayed out all day till our jump time.  The water in the Kerikeri inlet is so clear you can see all the way to the bottom.

We jumped on Monday 30 January.  I can highly recommend it and would definitely do it again – apart from the frustration of waiting around.  Booked for 4pm today, we got to jump at 7.20pm, and the day was still totally gorgeous.  I felt completely calm and relaxed about it, not hyped up or exhilarated until after the jump.  My Tandem Master had done 13 jumps already that day and my jump brought his personal jump total to 6,001!  So I really was attached to an expert.