Looking, cropping, thinking

I have been doing some careful looking at old  scans of artworks, looking for interesting bits that I can reuse digitally. I’m particularly interested in making them really big, perhaps printed out on vinyl. Here’s a 2009 painting, cropped into 3 parts, with some bits left out. I like the strong colours but don’t think it would sit well as a group – it has lost too much of its ‘connecting tissue’ so it looks too random. But the idea has appeal and I can see I’ll be playing with this for a while yet…

I think it’s good to re-use old artworks, and to look at them in fresh ways. Doing some digital work is good for the planet too; no paint used, no solvents, no paper towels. That’s not to say I won’t be getting my hands dirty this week, I will be. I have 5 or 6 mixed media works to create on heavy watercolour paper ready for ‘Reflections of Italy’ in Wellington in May. I’m just waiting for the paper to arrive from Gordon Harris in Hamilton, and I have to say there were very helpful in helping me choose paper over the phone!

I tamed the mess

Yesterday I showed you some photos of the mess my desk and paperwork had gotten into. It felt out of control and was contributing to my stress level, especially as I deal with a sick Aunt. This weekend I have tidied, thrown away, sorted and filed. The house feels much more organised and my art / office area feels like a happy workspace once again. Thank goodness for that.

Now I can actually get on with making art…and boy oh boy, do I have some art to make. I have 3 exhibitions coming up in May so I need to get creating. Exciting times 🙂

My Aunt is doing better; she ate a tiny meal last night and is drinking again, which is probably the more important things really. I went up about 7pm and she was fast asleep, tucked up in her bed with the sides up so she can’t fall out. I thought she was looking much more her usual self.

I've gone from papers everywhere, to papers in bright new folders, and rubber stamps in labelled storage.

I can easily find my art supplies instead of hunting through the rubble

My desk is clean and tidy (except for the paint splatters!)

Family and art – as messy as it looks

Yesterday I spent the day at the rest home with my Aunt. They thought she had a chest infection and I had some very hard decisions to make. Turns out she had aspirated some of her Nutrisip, so crisis averted for now, although the aspirated drink may yet cause pneumonia. The Doctor and I have agreed that we will not treat her if she does develop a chest infection or pneumonia. It’s a hard decision to make fr another human being. But Aunty Julia has late stage Dementia and no quality of life. I was dithering a bit and he asked me “if we save her, what does she have to look forward to?”. Nothing – she can’t move on her own, doesn’t talk etc. So I sat with her, giving her sips of drink, reading my book and talking idly to her. What else can you do. Life can be messy and hard, but with love and patience, there’s a way forward.

And so it is with my art. My desk is a shambles but it is not really as chaotic as it looks. I am working on my journal, trying out some ideas for an exhibition in May, and filing odd bits and pieces I want to use at a later date (into gorgeous new brightly coloured paper folders I bought the other day). All of a sudden the desk will clear and order will be restored. I need to spend some creative time out today. Yesterday was hard, I called a family member who lives 4 hours away and they have come up for 36 hours for what is probably a last visit. I will leave her care with them today and take over the reigns again tomorrow. Today belongs to me…


Working on the filing system

Aunt J looking very alert Christmas day - it's fair to say this is the not person we're dealing with now.

Working in, working on, my journals

Recently I purchased a few arty magazines from Stampington & Co, because it is cheaper to buy direct from the USA than to buy them here in New Zealand; that’s if I can even find the titles I want. So, I’ve been enjoying the Winter 2011 edition of Art Journaling by Somerset Studios. Yesterday I popped across to Ro Bruhn’s blog and, what do you know, she was blogging about sketchbooks. As I said on Facebook, I had an instant case of sketchbook envy. Then I got to thinking; what is it about Ro’s sketchbooks, amongst others, that make me envious and wanting to do more? I use my sketchbooks, so what’s the issue here?

I spent some time looking at my journals, some online ones, and the pages in Art Journaling and started to see the differences. Often the ones I love use pages that have been prepared ahead of time – smothering them in gesso and acrylic washes ready to work in. Many that I like have stitching and ink splatters, or just lots of layers of work. Yet when I look at mine I tend to want to get the ideas down, visually thinking out an idea, and then move on. It was an “AHA! moment.

I hauled out a 13x21cm sketchbook with a nice weight of paper, and went through it covering all the pages with gesso. When that was dry I went back and edged all the pages in various ways – something else I had realised I love the look of. After that had dried, I started creating some pages, working back and forth, adding paint and collage and ink and my own handwriting. No plan – just working intuitively and, more importantly, keeping working on the pages. And you know what? I now have 3 pages in my new journal that I’m really happy with. They say something to me, say something from me, and are testament to my new working process.

For the record, the page I have scanned is about the recent disasters and how I am overloaded by all the tragedies and taking myself off the news circuit for a few days. A huge step for someone who is normally a news junkie…

Make it stop. Cath Sheard, 2011


Art from the earthquake

Now that we know our family is physically safe, if emotionally a bit stretched, I am starting to work through my feelings about the quakes. That means I am writing in my journals, sketching out ideas and painting. This work, in acrylic and ink, is approx 8″ square on heavy watercolour paper and reflects my feelings about how angry the land seems.

The earth shook again last night. Cath Sheard, 2011.