Working hard on some new ideas

A few posts back, here, I showed you a test piece I had done – thinking about ways of presenting information and photos from our Italy trip ready for an exhibition in Wellington in May. In that piece I used a couple of MM foam stamps. I am happy enough with the result but would really like to be using something more personal, something uniquely my own. When I was studying with the Learning Connexion I did some lino cuts and a lot of monoprints. Here’s a couple of examples:

I decided the answer was to take an image from our trip and cut a stencil or make a stamp and use that in the new artworks. The image needed to be something iconic enough that people here in New Zealand would still recognize it even after I had simplified it right down. I had a play with statues, the domes on top of churches, the bridge over the Tiber and the Colosseum. The Colosseum won easily, it is just *such* a recognizable structure. I scanned one of my photos into Photoshop and reduced the level of detail, then turned it to a negative so I could cut out the right parts. I transferred the image onto my lino and got cutting. My first attempt I really liked, but I had forgotten to flip the image and so in terms of my memories of the Colosseum, the building is running the wrong way. Okay. I flipped the image and started again. The end result is quite a different linocut to the first, because that’s the way I work, but I like it. It has energy and it’s mine, not someone else’s idea of the Colosseum.

I wanted to do some more linocuts but had run out of lino, hadn’t had time to get some more, and it’s quite expensive. Today I was watching ‘Acrylic materials and techniques for expressive art with Merle Rosen’ from North Light DVDs. It’s a great dvd by the way, fun to watch and Merle has an exciting art practice. Anyway, part way through I had a total “Aha!” moment. Merle uses old styrofoam packaging to make stamps; it’s cheap (free) and easy to make marks in with scissors, metal tools, old pens etc. How cool is that?

We tend to buy most of our meat from the local butcher. Grant’s old-fashioned, in the best sense of the word, and wraps the meat in brown paper. So no styrofoam meat packaging in our household, but we can always buy some muffins — just for my art practice you understand.  In the meantime, here are my first attempts at the Colosseum – these are the linocuts themselves, not the printed images. The images are not perfect and I don’t want them to be; they’ll be used in the background of mixed media works I’m creating over the next month or two.

Linocuts of Colosseum

Goldpan heading off to exhibition

This is what the invite said “Panning for Art: Gabriel’s Gully 150th 2011. As part of the celebrations, the Tuapeka Goldfields Museum is sponsoring an art project which will be exhibited in Ross Place, the main street of Lawrence. The museum is offering 150 gold pans to 150 artists to decorate in any way they choose. The pans are totally authentic, and although made today, they replicate those used by the miners’ in 1861.  All you need to do is wash off the protective layer of oil with household detergent.”

How could I resist the chance to paint a goldpan? I couldn’t, of course. The goldpan turned up and my brain went numb. It was just so totally not what I was expecting. I’m not sure what I *was* expecting; a glorified frying pan perhaps? So it sat under my desk, and sat, and sat. Time started to get a bit tight and I knew I had to get on with it. For Christmas I had done some mixed media works that involved a sea theme for two family members and suddenly I had the answer. A deep blue sea with real gold mica flecks and a jellyfish cruising round the edge of the bowl. Done! It’s hard to get the sparkle of the gold in a photograph but I’m happy with the final result.  

You made a sale! The good news department.

I love the quirky emails RedBubble send out when something sells on their website. Today the email was to say I’ve sold some greeting cards of a work I uploaded yesterday. Why do sales matter to me? The obvious reason is to make money from my art, to recoup some of my costs. But of course there’s much more to it that just a few dollars here and there. A sale is recognition that someone went to my site to start with, and that they actually liked what I do enough to open their wallet on my behalf. How cool is that?

Okay, good so far. Does the recognition matter, or perhaps more correctly, should the recognition matter? As artists we paint because we have to, because we have this inner drive to express ourselves and to share our vision of the world. Our vision still exists, whether other people appreciate it or not. We need to get it out onto paper or canvas, not just want to.  And yet, here’s the thing, for me anyway. The recognition by other people, other artists especially if I am totally honest, does matter. Why? Because it validates the vision of the world I have. It says I’m okay and what I produce is ok. Would I change what I’m doing if it wasn’t okay? I doubt it, but the validation through sales and feedback sure don’t do my day any harm either!

How about you. Is your vision valid no matter what? Or does your day get a boost when someone posts positive feedback?

Working the Freezing Works IV. Cath Sheard 2010

Trial run for new series of work

In May some of us who travelled to Italy for the Legato exhibition will be showing work together in Wellington. The exhibition, timed to be one year on from Legato and held at the New Zealand Academy of Fine Arts, will give artists an opportunity to focus on the experience of the trip and what Italy meant to us. As with the works I took to Italy, I want the new paintings to need really looking at; I don’t want hem to reveal all at first glance. I want them to be personal, yet not so personal that others would not want to own them. Yes, I am hoping for some sales! And I want them to contain layers, in the same way that the trip had layers of meaning for Tony and I. I’m working smallish again, possibly about 30×30″, because that size encourages people to get up close and examine the work.  

This is a work I have done for our bedroom wall, to l the pastel of Mt Egmont that I sold recently. It’s 20×24″ and has quite ba few layers – it’s done in acrylic and ink, with rubber stamping and collage using our own digital photos.  I need to live with it for a bit, but I think this is how I will be creating the news works – just not with photos that have Tony or I in them…

Remembering Rome. Cath Sheard, 2010

My guiding word for 2011

Each year I have a word that guides me. Last year’s was MAP and it turned out to be exactly right, even down to the MAPs that guided us in Italy and Dubai. MAP had all sorts of connotations for me and was a useful word to refer back to. Many people who have a word for the year choose something quite exotic or ‘trendy’ –  I’m sure you have seen examples. I would love this year’s word to be something exotic and terribly clever but it’s not. I have searched for another word, woken in the night thinking about it, but no matter what I do, only one word fits for 2011.

My word this year is — DETERMINED. I am determined to:

  • get in plenty of art time
  • use good quality canvas for all my works
  • enter more art events than in 2010
  • lose another 25 kilos
  • get on my exercycle at least 5 times a week
  • save money towards a trip to Dubai before Tony retires
  • make sure Mum stays happy as she gets older
  • ensure there is balance in my life

When I look at the list, what other word would guide me as well as DETERMINED? What are you DETERMINED to do this year?

Finlly, here is a painting I have been working on over the weekend, but I haven’t yet determined if it is finished. It’s the view down Patea River to the Tasman Sea from a friend’s farm.

Patea Sea Walls with Cow. C Sheard, 2010