Italy on my mind

Our Italy trip has been on my mind a lot lately, for all kinds of obscure and tangential reasons. Things like the financial woes in Europe, the realization that Tony and I probably won’t be going overseas again, seeing some poppies growing locally, graffiti that reminds me of the trains in Italy…

I’ve been wanting to start a new series of paintings, using mainly black and white with a little red, and over the last few nights have dreamed these into existence. As I start painting Tony often asks, partly to wind me up, “what’s it going to be?”. He kept coming and looking at these three, a bit baffled. When I had finished he said “poppies”. Yup – but think of the viaduct, and the train tracks. Oh yeah, you have the graffiti underneath, and the old roman viaduct. Yes, Tony, I do!

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Reminding myself

There are things I know that are with me every day: my address, my husband’s birthday, my dog’s name – you know, the stuff that just *is* in our brains. And then there’s the stuff I have to be reminded of periodically, such as what I really like to do art-wise. Slowly but surely I go off on a tangent from time to time. I suspect what happens is I’m influenced by what I see in magazines, online, in galleries etc. I incorporate a bit of this style, that technique, that colour way – just to try it – and slowly move away from doing what makes my heart sing.

I’ve way adrift at the moment, so am going back to playing on paper for a while, to rediscover my true artistic self. What made me realise I needed to do this? Two things; I have been putting off starting any new paintings, which is unusual for me. And seeing work by the two artists below. Their work spoke so clearly to me of what is in their hearts. It was an “aha!” moment.

Check out Martial Robin here and Cathy Hegman here (particularly Memory Marks top right). I love works with a lot of white, with scratches and texture, inky splashes and charcoaly shadows. But it’s *not* what I do – and that’s the catch. To love other works, but hold true to what makes my heart sing.

Like an old-fashioned diary

I sometimes hear people say that in 100 years time there will be no evidence of us; blogs, Twitter, emails and digital photos mean we’re not recording our lives in the same way that our forbears did. It’s true that we’re not recording our lives in the same ways as the pioneers did. The days of a quill pen, bottles of ink, and diary are long gone. But many of us *are* leaving a trace of ourselves.

I still write letters to some people and, yes, I use a fountain pen with fabulous coloured inks. I admit they’re not 10 page wonders full of the adventures of living in a new land far away, but they are a record of my hand writing, and the fact that I care enough to put pen to paper.

And of course I scrapbook, as do many thousands of people around the world. I don’t even remember how I started scrapbooking but it’s the perfect hobby for someone who loves to play with scissors and glue! In the early days of scrapbooking  becoming popular as a hobby it was quite regimented in a sense, with very strong emphasis on preservation and archival materials. A lot of people still scrap that way, and they are leaving an amazing legacy behind. Most of my scrapping is still safe enough but I also do more art journal style pages now, where the photos are copies and I don’t care how long the page lasts.

I have no children of my own, so that begs the question – if I am documenting my life, who am I documenting it for? I used to think I knew the answer to that, but not any more. There are a few possibilities that occur to me. Some relative might want the scrapbooks as a reminder of our family. Maybe. I might adopt a child in my 50s and they will want the scrapbooks. Um, not happening. Or some poor soul will have to dispense with them when I die, just like I had to deal with my Aunt’s teaspoons. Likely scenario.

So why do I keep scrapping? For the love of it. I love the colours, the papers, the artistry, the freedom to get my thoughts down in a permanent form, the chance to tell people how I feel about having them in my life. In the end, it doesn’t really matter what happens to my scrapbooks, what matters is that creating them enriches my life.

For the record, the photos are not great – light fell across the pages, the camera wasn’t straight on so I had to crop them funny, etc. In real life, the photos are straight, the edges square etc. Oh well…

Envelope fun to distract me

A few posts back I advertised a mail art swap – I’m really looking forward to seeing people’s envelopes turn up by the middle of July. Last Wednesday night I had a car accident; a drunk driver pulled out to pass a car, straight into my path. I almost managed to get out of the way, so things could have been a lot worse. Anyway, I’ve had a few days off work because I ache all over, and have limited movement in my shoulders. Trouble is, I hate having nothing to do … hmm?

I know – decorate envelopes. Something I could sit quietly and play with at my own pace, and not needing much shoulder movement. Excellent! Hauled out some art supplies  – ink dyes, sprays, acrylic paint, gel medium, Copic pens, collage papers, stencils, foam stamps –  and sat myself down in the sun Here’s a few of the 20 or so I’ve made so far. Letter writing will ensue 😉

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This is the only photo of have of my car post-accident; glad I can’t see it really.