Saturday, May 23, 2015


In this book, a group of fourteen artists collaborate to create fourteen individual books based on the alphabet and numbers as a theme.  Some of these artists had never met each other.

Each artist creates a ' journal' for the collaboration that then travels and is added to by the other thirteen artists, inviting them to engage, play and experiment.  Eventually all the books arrive back with the owner full of stories and surprises on every page.

Full of creativity, inspiration, improvisation, everything and anything brings a range of styles and mixed media techniques to life in the pages.

Al-pha-bet-i-ca is a record of the resulting journals and the journeys they made.  It gives a personal glimpse of the artists' thought processes and style.  Journal books of all shapes, sizes and dimensions emerge.

This book is food if you have an artistic soul.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Pause A While - A to Do List

Today's creative engagement - a stand for a Thimble List of things to do today.

Given to me by a friend to decorate - today was the day.



The reverse side

The front

The verse is a hymn from my days at secondary school which has always resonated for me:

Pause a while, pause a while
in the humdrum of the city and behind the cloistered wall
in the early morning and when shadows start to fall
see creation bending to the maker of it all
and all we have to do is pause a while.

I like the idea that the angels participate in "the Pause".

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Light Show - Auckland Art Gallery until 8 February 2015

More 'Lace' influence in my life today, and this time brought to me by the Light Show at Auckland Art Gallery.

Today I had a new experience - we are so used to seeing 'art' in our lives that we almost instantly know what we like and what we don't like.  For example in a room of painted pictures, we look closely at that those we like, and those that draw us in.  We can sometimes pass by works which we have applied our own assumptions to and about the work.  In the Light Show, it's like that room of many different kinds of paintings, but it was an experience of never having seen anything like this before - so no assumptions about any of the works.  Instead I found myself looking to understand the artists feelings and what they were expressing with the work.  

And within this scope I found my definite favourites.  Works by:

Leo Villareal - Cylinder II 2012
I could have watched this forever as it constantly changes shape and explodes like fireworks or falling snow.  Watch for yourself on the YouTube Link above.

James Turrell, Wedgework V  This challenged my perceptions about what was real and what was not real, depth, colour, light and space and it was difficult to see exactly how this work had been created.

David Batchelor, Magic Hour 2004/7
This artist is "drawn to the way in which vivid colour co-exists with dirt and a degree of darkness, that's often how colour is in the city, it isn't pure or detatched or disembodied.

Jim Campbell, Exploded View Commuters 2011
If you go to the exhibition, view this work from outside of the room as you will really get the image of people walking very very clearly.  It's incredible.  I found myself thinking I could have something like this in my home as a piece of art to contemplate.

So where was the lace?  In a work by Conrad Shawcross Slow Arc Inside a Cube IV.  A Moving light inside a cage, threw shadows across the walls and ceiling, creating lace patterns of the baby blocks design in lines.  This work gives the illusion that the floor is moving.

I highly recommend the Light Show to you, it is as the advertising says - an experience of the wonder of light.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Brick Bay Sculpture Trail

Another great suggestion for summer - a visit to the Brick Bay Sculpture Trail.  It was awesome.  With around 46 sculptures on display, there has to be something that everyone will find their favourite.

The walking is easy, in and out of the shade, and entirely at your own pace.  

One of my favourites was a Jeff Thompson collection of Mahoe leaves.  He collected leaves from the forest floor and then created intricate larger than life pieces in his famous corrugated iron medium.  The positioning of some, makes it really difficult to see the waves of corrugations.  Five pieces in total - but here are my favourite images of the installation.

I think I've got a creative theme going here - following a Lace trail.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Pohutukawa Blessings

Today’s post is a giveaway – a creative idea, inspiration and a gift for you to move on through the Universe to others you encounter.

Some time ago I read Creative is a Verb: If You’re Alive, You’re Creative by Patti Digh.  In it she tells a story of a man who sent leaves.  This idea really resonated with me and as a constant admirer of nature, our beautiful tree the Pohutukawa, which stuns us at Christmas with it’s beautiful red blossom offered its leaves.  Known as the New Zealand Christmas Tree, (no we don’t cut them down as they are a protected tree that thrives on the coast in the North Island), because they decorate themselves in Christmas colours.  Imagine how the coastline looks from the approach by sea in flaming red.


Trivia moment: Did you know New Zealand has more miles of coastline than the United States? Impossible right?  But it’s true – more by about 10% because of the rugged nature of our Coast.  A sailor I knew doubted this trivia and spent time confirming by measuring in and out of our coastline, because it so perplexed his mind.

Pohutukawa is an evergreen tree, which gradually sheds its leaves – what wisdom, releasing the parts of its life that are no longer needed.  As a result, it is possible to pick up beautiful autumn coloured leaves throughout the year.  Sending Leaves with Messages has become something I love doing.  Writing the Message on the leaf itself evolved and I’ve followed a different theme in different years. 2013: Smile; 2014: Dream: 2015:  Pohutukawa Blessings.  

Tools for writing that have worked for applying words to leaves for me are: a ballpoint pen; a Sharpie® permanent marker; and Dewrent Graphik® Line Painters in their beautiful colours.

Message Examples to get you going
Smile because you can
Smile, it keeps others wondering what you’re up to
Smile, because today you are breathing
Smile, it takes less muscle work

Dream Big
Dream your future
Have a Big Dream
Each Dream is a fragment of Reality
Dreams come in all shapes and sizes
A Dream may begin with a very small idea

I created a Dream set for myself as a Coffee Table item and talking point for visitors.  Children find them fascinating, and it is something they can easily create themselves.

Pohutukawa Blessings are spontaneous words: Magic, Joy, Peace, Friends, Solitude, Strength, Success, Creativity … it’s an endless list.  Once completed, create a tag and pop into an organza bag.  Instant giveaway gift for someone you meet.

Enjoy the beauty you encounter and create in the world today.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Visit WOW at Auckland Museum

If you can, make time to take in the WOW Exhibition on at the Auckland Museum until 22nd March 2015 - there is something for everyone to like.  

My favourite was:  Mantilla by Fenella Fenton.  It's based on the idea of crumpled paper and a 100 year old piece of lace - a Mantilla.  More than the dress itself, I loved the beautiful shadows that were created by light on the garment.  You can see a bit more about this garment on the WOW Facebook site.  

A Mantilla, is a lace or silk veil or shawl worn over the head and shoulders and originated in Spain.  I remember being in church in the 1960's when women had to cover their heads and seeing women wearing Mantilla's.  They always looked very beautiful and exotic to me.  The practice of wearing head coverings (veils or hats) showed the submission of wives to thier husbands (which was a teaching of St Paul).  Today this is not considered a submission in western culture.  

Friday, January 02, 2015


I use my Journals for everything.  I tried having separate journals for different things and I found I never seemed to have the right journal with me when I needed to record something. Now, everything - recipes collected, sketch ideas for new textile projects, sayings, collaged pictures, notes from lectures etc goes into the current journal.  They have become visual diaries of the things going on in my life from day to day.  

I use the creative freedom of using right page for the entry, rather than 'the next page' in the journal.  I rarely have 'blank' pages with no markings on them.  I begin the process by creating the journal - which is a really enjoyable spontaneous process.

My journal of choice is an A5 Visual Diary with 60 sheets of 110 gsm drawing paper - in either portrait or landscape format.  (Landscape is harder to find, but Gordon Harris do a run of them early in the year).  Rockingford also do the same size Visual Diary.  The A5 sixe is my journal of choice, because it is easy to carry with me.

To create the vivid watercolour like backgrounds on each page, I use Brusho paints.  These give brilliant intense colours and come in little pots of powders, that mix with water.  They will stain, but are non-toxic.  The thing I like the most is the spontaneity of the water. The paints respond and are unpredictable, and can be used to create beautiful pictures. Check out the work of Joanne Thomas.

Start by putting on disposable latex gloves as these colours will stain.  If you do end up with stained fingers,I've found that shampooing my hair gets rid of the stains.  

Get plenty of newspaper down to absorb any excess paint.  Have containers of clean water if you need to wash brushes as you work.  Going from one colour pot to the next with paint already in the brush will change the orginal colour.

Mix up your powder with water.  Have a variety of brushes, old plastic cards, sponges, rollers, droppers - anything you like to get the paint on the page.   I've found some sealable tight containers to mix in, use for painting and keep any leftover for another painting session.

You can start with a dry or a wet page - and both give totally different effects.  Because I use spiral bound journals, paint from previous or subsequent pages will bleed through and spontaneous colour runs on other pages - and of course - you can do this purposefully on any page. 

Paint a double page spread and while it is still wet with the paint turn the page and press it on to itself.  Leave it, move on and print the next page.  I work on a minimum of two journals at the same time, which means not so much having to clean the brushes, and that pages from one turn of the page to the next can be randomly completely different, rather than transitioning.

At some point, you will need to separate the pages and dry them.  There are a number of drying options - you can stand the journals on their spine and use the cover and backing to form a circle, then fan out the pages, dry them flat, a page at a time, use the sun, in front of a heat source, or the hair dryer.

Note: Because Brusho® are waterbased, the paints will run if they get wet again. 

Once dry you can collage on to them and this too can become part of the background layer, or create a piece of art directly on to the page.  I see these pages as 'works in progress' - they get finished when they are ready to speak again.

The two outer pages are from a magazine article on travel.  I've added them on as "wings" that fold out and give an even wider spread.

And one background resolved into a completed piece of artwork:

Thursday, January 01, 2015

A Creative 1st of January

Other than Lily, and a couple of phone conversations, I have today  been in solitude with my art, reading in the sun, cooking, flower arranging and enjoying collaging down some pictures that I've been collecting - they've been waiting for the right project.  

A couple of days ago I got to paint backgrounds in four new journals.  Then yesterday and today, I've spent time collaging in some pictures to form part of the background or the eventual art piece - who knows.  I had the se of a large table - it looks like chaos, but contained everything I needed for the day.

I tried out my new Derwent Graphik Line Painter pens on the piece below.  Good to learn you've got to keep you hand moving as a pause can result in a blob of ink being released.

 My numerology personal year is a 2 for 2015 year filled with happy relationships and love - if today is a measure of how its shaping up, I'm very happy with my relationship with my art and writing as a starting point.