The images in my head

Some of the gelli prints I did yesterday *needed* me to do some more work on them 😉

I’m using hand painted papers as collage materials  to add circles. I suspect they echo the rocks I saw at Hokitika Gorge but I’m not sure. That’s the thing with my art process – it’s intuitive and iterative. The first few tentative works in a series and the final pieces are often worlds apart and, for many people, the final works have little or no relation to the initial inspiration. And I’m totally ok with that.

The collaged shapes are very specific. I have quite large sheets of randomly painted papers and when I cut a shape it is carefully chosen for the colours. Then I test the shape on the base work and sometimes trim a millimeter or two off here and there, more than once, before it feels right!

What I know of this Hokitika series is there’s some distinct colours, lines and shapes that are appearing over and over again. I’m still working quite small – these are about 6″ square – but will work bigger eventually.

gelli hokitika gorge 20190311 agelli hokitika gorge 20190311 b

 

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Get your gelli on

I love gelli printing, and have taught it in the past. I’m going to be teaching it again this winter, in Greymouth, and am really looking forward to it. I may do some more classes here in South Taranaki too.

In the meantime, I have a joint exhibition booked for the Lysaght Watt Gallery in October with Dimmie Danielwski – I’ll be using some existing works but also making a new body of work based on my visit to the Hokitika Gorge last year.

With those two things in mind, I’ve been doing some gelli printing. I’ll use the captions to explain what these are.

gelli 201490310 a

Multiple layers using stencils.

gelli 201490310 b

Multiple layers using stencils.

gelli 201490310 c

Using a final layer of paint to pull all the leftover texture off the plate.

gelli 201490310 d

A more painterly approach, using a brayer and the end of a paint brush.

gelli 201490310 e

A more painterly approach, using a brayer and the end of a paint brush.

gelli 201490310 f

Single layer print using a gel texture plate. 

gelli 201490310 g

Single layer print using a gel texture plate. 

gelli gorge 20190310 a

Done using a brayer, and lifting small amounts of paint off at a time. This probably isn’t complete; I’m likely to do more mark-making into it yet. This is very much Hokitika Gorge inspired.

gelli gorge 20190310 b

Done using a brayer, and lifting small amounts of paint off at a time. This probably isn’t complete; I’m likely to do more mark-making into it yet. This is very much Hokitika Gorge inspired.

gelli gorge 20190310 c

Done using a brayer, and lifting small amounts of paint off at a time. This probably isn’t complete; I’m likely to do more mark-making into it yet. This is very much Hokitika Gorge inspired.

gelli gorge 20190310 d

Done using a brayer, and lifting small amounts of paint off at a time. This probably isn’t complete; I’m likely to do more mark-making into it yet. This is very much Hokitika Gorge inspired.

Hard decisions – dementia

As many of you know, Tony has Power of Attorney for his cousin Alison, who has dementia. In less than two years we have moved her from her home to a serviced apartment, then from the apartment to a rest home room. On Tuesday she is moving to the secure unit because her wandering is at the dangerous stage.

I had PoA for Aunt J and her journey was similar. The secure unit she was in was scruffy, but the staff were fantastic. Both Tony and I were apprehensive about moving Alison because she is used to having nice things, in nice surroundings. We were both pleasantly surprised by how stylish the secure unit at Jane Winstone is. To be honest, I doubt Alison will even notice the difference the change. They have activity people on deck for around 10 hours a day, 7 days a week, which will help keep her occupied too.

Once the staff have shifted her on Tuesday we’ll need to clean out her room because she won’t need much in the way of ornaments etc, as they mean nothing to her now really, and get rid of her furniture. We’ll leave a couple of sets of clothing and bring the rest home – I’ll go through it all and see what she’s got before doing a major shop. I know, from Aunt J’s time, that she needs easy wear easy care, so it’ll be tracksuits etc.

It feels sad she is deteriorating so quickly, but of course she is unaware. As the staff member we spent time with today said, “Alison is happy and will make new friends quickly”.

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Of monsters and men

Anyone else a fan of “Of monsters and men”? They’ve got some great music, but that’s not what I’m writing about. Last time I blogged I talked about scribble writing in my journals because, although I’m pretty open, I don’t share everything for the reasons I wrote about then. 

(Trigger warning: abuse, domestic violence)

I follow Grant Shimmin on Twitter and he wrote an excellent article this week, which has made me speak out a bit more. If you follow me, you know I’ve had weight loss surgery and as part of the journey I’ve done 2+ years of counselling and am still unpacking the shit in my head. Part of that is realising how awful my first marriage was – something I carefully hid from myself (and others). When we separated most of our friends were completely unprepared because we seemed so fortunate except for my infertility.

My ex-husband wasn’t a monster. He was an ordinary man who could be difficult and had mental health issues (severe, crippling depression). It’s really only this last six months or so I have started to admit I was abused. Not physically, but there are ways to abuse people where the scars aren’t obvious. I am dealing with the impacts of that abuse now thanks to counselling and other support.

Does Tony know the extent of the abuse? No. Will I tell him the details? No. He fell in love with the product of that abuse – I don’t mean he was/is abusive. Far from it; he’s one of life’s gentle supportive people. But the things that make me “me” – behaviours, actions, ways of being – are a product of that abusive relationship and he’s dealing with a changing me. That’s enough for anyone.

As I said, people were shocked when we separated. Because men who abuse others – physically, emotionally, sexually and financially – men who rape and attack – get away with it because of their seeming normalcy. They don’t wear a sign saying “hey, I’m a monster so be careful”. My ex was probably Tony’s best friend, we all used to hang round together. He had some great friends, who are no doubt very loyal and would say I’m lying – one of the reasons I have never spoken up, and also out of respect for his kids.

When the Courts, media etc say men have “acted out of character” or are “good men who suddenly snapped” they are wrong; this narrative enables men to keep abusing, and silences victims. I know from personal experience that abuse is insidious and increases over time, but often remains hidden because of shame and an attempt to maintain a sense of (admittedly damaged) self. When women say they’re abused, believe them. When someone says a good man “snapped” call bullshit…

 

 

Recording the hard stuff

I was talking with someone on a FB group page and they commented that you can’t journal the hard stuff because others might read it. It means you can’t share the page, so others don’t get to be inspired by your art.

I disagree; I’ve always journaled the good, bad and ugly in my scrapbooks and art journals. As an ex scrapbooking teacher, I’ve always shared my art in person and online.

Sometimes I write it all out so it’s legible and figure, if I share the hard or ugly stuff, I might help others get through and be able to tell their stories. We can all help create safe places for others to share their experiences, especially around addiction, mental health and abuse / domestic violence. I’ve never felt my life has to look perfect in order to share online.

But, even for me, there are things I don’t want the world reading about. Sometimes it is just too raw, other times it’s because it would compromise another person in some way. Often it’s about my food addiction, addictive personality, Tony’s health or my relationship with others who support me (or have similar issues) that I’m wanting to talk about.

When I want to record things but don’t want it to be legible, I use “scribble writing” so I get it all out of my head, but no one can read it. I usually start in the middle of the pages then work up and down, so the lines aren’t consecutive, and make sure the writing is loopy and overlaps. If’ you’re a scrapbooker or art journaler I’d encouarge you to record it all, it’s very healing.

For the record, this page is about some of the head struggles I’ve had this week, more than 2 years post weight loss surgery, what I’m doing about it, and the support I get from people.

go deep wls 20190119

 

As 2018 ends

It’s time for me to look back at my year. At the end of 2017 I said I don’t have major goals for 2018, in many way it’s just more of the same, but perhaps a bit more refined. So, my aims are:

  1. Painting more
  2. Doing art/craft regularly
  3. Stay at goal weight while eating a little more normally
  4. Drinking 1200 mls a day, every day
  5. Walking 4,000 steps minimum, every day
  6. Connecting with people who feed my soul, through snail mail and Twitter
  7. Making sure I am a positive influence in the world

I have painted more, I even did a joint exhibition with Dimmie Danielewski and hope we can keep working together. I’ve also done very regular crafting, including ding all the ColourMePositive weekly challenges.

I’m walking more than 4,000 steps every day (sometimes 6,500 steps, which is a lot for me), drinking 1200 mls, and eating fairly normally. I got a bit too thin, down to 60kg and looked scrawny. In trying to fix that I’ve tipped the other way, sitting at 69kg, and working my way back down again. I think 65kg is about right. It’s tricky learning how to keep that balance! I haven’t been in hospital at all this year and, although I still have some health issues, I’m so much healthier than I was at 139kg.

Tony and I have been together almost 27 years. His health issues cause some difficulties but we manage ok. We’re fortunate compared to many, and lucky to have each other. One of the things we know is when you’re in pain, and limited in what you can do, companionship matters so much. 

I’ve connected with amazing people, both online and in person. A real highlight of the year was my trip to the West Coast to meet Penny Kirk, a fellow WLS success and art journaller, who works in community development – so we even share similar social concerns. We talked honesty about our lives and how we ended up so overweight, did art together and ate a fab brunch at a local pub. I stayed with Alan Fowlie, an old family friend, and did the tourist walk at Hokitika Gorge. The shapes of the river beds, and the colours of the water in the gorge, have made a strong impression on me and I’ve been doing a lot of art since then, trying to capture what is in my head.

Work has been great – I’m proud of my team, and enjoy my workplace. Of course there have been challenges but without them it would all get a bit boring. I love that we make a difference in people’s lives. Some changes in the structure at work as 2018 ended mean there are some additional challenges for 2019 – bring it on!

I’ve been doing the Papa Reo course through the Wananga this year. It’s not the first time I’ve tried to learn Te Reo and it’s hard going for me but I’m finally making progress. I won’t go on to do the next level, but at least can meet, greet and do the basics now.

Do I have any goals for 2019? Nothing concrete just to continue being happy, creative, and connected with people who matter to me, while trying to make a difference in the world. The words that spring to mind for me are kindness, authenticity, diversity and creativity – not bad goals for any of us I guess…

 

The art in my head

In November I spent a few days in Greymouth and Hokitika, and visited Hokitika Gorge. The shapes and colours have invaded my mind & are appearing in my art.

When I did my final (4th) year at The Learning Connection a few strong marks emerged, including a sort of curved power pole with a cross beam, normally in cream. (I can’t find an image of these works anywhere)

I’m finding those marks have reappeared in a new form – this time as a cross with some tiny hatchmarks near it, a cross and some hatchmarks inside a circle, and a curved pair of parallel lines with a cross beam. The circle / oval are featuring too, and are fairly new to me in terms of consistent use.

I’ve shown below some works from 2008, and some of the new works I’ve been doing, which are gelli prints as a base with mark making in subsequent layers. Looking at these, the connection between the 2008 marks, and today’s marks, isn’t as obvious as I thought it would be … 

(in other news, I think my scanner glass needs a good clean)

West Coast V.jpg

One Little Word for 2019

Every year I join #olw – One Little Word with Ali Edwards. This year my word was ENOUGH. You can read about it here. As always happens, the word turned out to have more connections and meanings for me than I could have imagined. I ended up in counselling, getting to the heart of some issues, working towards a point where my heart – not just my head – knows I am enough. I’m a work in progress.

I’ve put quite a lot of time into choosing my One Little Word for 2019 and tested four out by writing down what they would mean to me. Aware and connection were pretty good but, in the end, DEEP was a clear winner. As we get into 2019 I know, from previous years, more connections will become clear, but for now DEEP resonates for me because:

  • I want to understand myself at a deep level
  • I am prepared to dig deep emotionally
  • I seek friendships that connect at a deep level
  • I aim for a deep understanding of key issues at work
  • I aim for a deep understanding of national issues that are aligned with my interests
  • I am prepared to dig deep to get fitter, even when it hurts
  • I am willing to dig deep to reach my goals

Normally I make an index card piece of art and put it in my office at work This year I’ve gone for a square format and made two, one for at work, and one for my home office, to keep me even more focussed on my word and what it means to me.

Collage papers using the Gelli

I’ve spent a couple of hours today making more gelli prints using stencils, masks, stamps and bubble wrap. What do I do with them? I use them for collage, in my art journals, card making and even in finished art works. Some of them will end up with more paint, crayon, pen etc over the top yet.

Doing the arty basics

My sister gave me a lovely set of Golden Open Acrylics – the traditional colours – for my birthday. I love them, and already had the modern set, plus Payne’s Grey, Permanent Dark Violet and Nickel Azo Gold. What I’d never done is a colour chart with them to see what they create. This morning I was awake early so decided to get out my art journal and have a play. It’s always surprising the colours you can make from even very basic mixes, and is a good visual reference to look back at.

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