Imperfect and scarred

My friend Penny and I have been working on a collaborative project, sending works back and forth, adding layers of words, tissue, paint and so on. These aren’t about making pretty art. They’re about documenting stuff that’s deep, and occasionally dark, that we share.

I commented to her tonight that “we are utterly imperfect and that’s totally ok. There is both beauty and survival in our scars.”. Our scars are physical and emotional, surface and deep.

I have a lot of physical scars; there’s a giant one and around a dozen small ones on my stomach alone. A couple of weird – but thankfully faded – ones on the side of my neck from a central IV line. A big one on my right leg from a total knee replacement and, later this coming week, there will be a matching one on the left knee.

It’s the same with the emotional scars … some are small and faded, others deep and persistently livid. I’ve talked about the cause of some on this blog, others there’s only one or two people who know the story. And there’s a couple of scars I can’t ever verbalise – but I have shared most of it, in writing, and in tears.

Scarred inside and out. And that’s okay. The scars are part of me, just as my art is part of me. Like me, my art isn’t about pretty. It’s not made to match people’s furniture or look cute in a cafe. It’s about telling my story in paint when I can’t find the words and, some of the time, shining light on dark things and bringing a sense of lightness to them.

Layers aren’t precious

Most of my art involves layers. Layers of collage, paint, mark making. Hiding things, revealing others, making some areas stand out. The layers are intuitive and unplanned, my hands working back and forth across the substrate.

I was talking to my friend Penny tonight, who is also an artist. She was talking about an aspect of her process that’s important to her. I commented that, when I’m cutting painted paper for collage, I might cut it multiple times, shaving a few millimeters extra off until it feels just right. The shapes are organic, so you’d think those few millimeters wouldn’t matter – but for me they’re crucial.

When I work in layers I’m happy to give up almost any layer, mark, colour if I need to. Nothing is so good it can’t be covered over. I can always paint another one, cut another one. There’s enormous creative freedom in being able to let go. Yesterday I shared online the layer online seen below and said I was going to start covering up most of it. A few people said “don’t”. Too late, it’s gone…

A crafty Easter

Most weekends I spend time doing some art and craft. This weekend is no different; except of course it is. Easter is lockdown is a whole different animal – no going away for the weekend, no church gatherings (not that I would anyway), no dinner with friends. I was so tired by the end of the week I was hanging on by a thread, so four days away from my dining-room-table-home-office is a very good thing.

What have I done so far? Made cards. Made more cards. Coloured in stamped images. Worked in my art journals. What else will I do? paper, scissors, glue…

Art, COVID-19, our household

New Zealand is now Alert level 2 with COVID-19. No community outbreaks yet but think it’s getting close if the overseas experience is anything to go by. People who are wilfully ignoring the protocols are endangering others. It’s not cute or funny or brave – it’s dangerous and should be criminal.

Tony is in the danger category – diabetic, over 70 etc so is choosing to self-isolate. Me going to work does put him at risk but we’re doing all we can to minimise it. Things like me washing my hands in the washhouse before coming inside.

I’m limiting the news I watch to the essentials for work and trying to make social media a safe place while sharing what I need to. It’s a fine line, because I don’t want to feel overwhelmed but do need to be well informed for my work.

So I have been doing plenty of art, partly because I’m not sleeping well. Penny and I are into our second month of Dr Vuong’s Leap Year Challenge and I’m learning so much. I’m recording some of it in my Dylusions journals because the mix of thinking and art helps embed it for me.

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Gelli prints layers

This evening I’ve started to put together some samples for the gelli print landscape class I’m teaching in Greymouth in early December. This is only the first layers, they have a long way to go yet.

I’m using the traditional colour set in the Golden Open paints. I also added some Titan Pale Green, which is one of my ‘go to’ colours. Open are lovely to use, give more working time, and react well when sprayed with water for a different effect. They’re also a lot dearer than the normal Golden paints unfortunately.

The class is being held at CoRe, through Left Bank Art Gallery … contact them if you’d like to book a place. Bookings are essential because I’ll be preparing class packs for everyone, and numbers are limited so I can give people enough time and attention.

In catch-up mode

I was away last weekend, heading home from the Museums Aotearoa conference, so didn’t do my usual weekly Dylusions Dyary page. I’ve done two today, catching up, and printed the wee photos using my HP Sprocket. No the colours aren’t always true, and they probably won’t last decades but this is hardly a museum quality piece anyway! As a scrapbooker I am happy to have some things archival and others not so much…

Sorry about the photo straight up my nose but there was no other way for me to capture the bruise on my throat given I was on my own at the time.

I used Dylusions paints and stencils, and a couple of random pens.

dyary 20190526dyary 20190602

 

#BlogJune

For the last few years I have joined #BlogJune on Twitter. It’s one of those challenges that you can do, sort of do or even not do, and no one minds.

I’ve previously posted from my professional blog but – for all kinds of reasons – I’m not using that for now. With my library blog, I find regular writing is good for thinking about issues, but I’m not currently sharing those thoughts with the wider profession. 

I like #BlogJune because it gets me posting more regularly. My focus this year is art, family, health, disability etc so I’m going to try and post once a day on this blog instead. Sometimes it’ll be an image from my art journals, other posts will be about our changing lives, or what the pets are doing – so a mix of miscellaneous nonsense and the occasional deep and (hopefully) meaningful ramble.

If you want to join in, go for it. You don’t need to be on Twitter, you can just write and post the link anywhere with the hashtag and people are bound to find you. Following the hashtag can be a fun way to find new people to follow too. 

 

zz blog

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…

 

CMP17 week 28

I’m right back on track with my CMP art journaling and it feels great. Now to get some crafting time in, because that’s part of me being truly well again. I’m not physically 100% yet but I’m getting there – and tending to my mental health is part of the healing process. If I’m not doing art and craft, there’s no way I am totally well…

This page screamed out for glitter, but I don’t use the mucky stuff. What I do have tucked away is some Pipe Dreamink Opals embossing powder – perfect!

week 28