The Flow

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My plan to get settled into a regular blogging routine may have to wait until my life becomes a bit more,  errr… routine ! My little family and I have been living on a 42 foot houseboat for seven years. Now that my offspring is enormous – six years old and getting taller by the day – we have simply run out of living space. We are moving back onto land and I am so excited that I can hardly contain it. However, my life is currently chaotic. My recent drawings have been limited to fun collaborations with the wee boy and the photography has really been put on hold. It’s kind of frustrating and I am starting to get grumpy. Lack of artistic outlet/output makes me grumpy but if I can put up with this for a teensy bit longer, everything will be ok. It will be more than that, it will be stellar ! I will finally have my own little home studio. I will have a place for all of my media.

The new place is an old and strange house and it is quite a fixer upper but it has lots of windows and a yard. I keep imagining all the ways to photograph inside and around it. That is, after I paint every last square inch of it. Sigh. I think I might paint a whimsical mural on my little boy’s bedroom wall. I might paint one on mine.

Memorial weekend has come and gone and tomorrow I must return to work. Things are heating up on Ocracoke Island. This coming weekend we have the Ocrafolk Festival with three days of music, art and storytelling. At the Book Store where I work, we will be having a book signing by author Donald Davis and on Sunday, the last festival day, I will be out taking pictures of the goings on. Maybe I can share some of these images next week !

Dream Writing

Creative block can come in many forms. Often we don’t know that we are blocked. Often our blocks are self imposed. Pressure to perform blocks me like nothing else but only when the person I am performing for is myself. Weird. When I have a deadline I have to meet for other people, I always come through. I might procrastinate and I may be less than one hundred percent happy with my end “product” whatever that may be but only because I am a perfectionist. I still perform well under pressure of a deadline for other people.

I have never been a faithful keeper of a journal or diary – an example of a daily deadline set for myself at different times in my life. I think this quote from the book I am reading might go some way to explaining why: “When she read the letter, Juliet winced, as anybody does on discovering the preserved and disconcerting voice of some past fabricated self. She wondered at the sprightly cover-up, contrasting with the pain of her memories.” ‘Runaway’. Alice Munro

Diary writing has always felt a little inauthentic, edited, contrived and never truly private. All of my re-reading has made me feel embarrassed by my “old self”. My dream recordings, on the other hand, I have to exclude from this. At several different times in my life, I have also tried to keep a dream diary. It always starts out well. I remember my dreams and record them for several days in a row. Then, I get blocked. I cannot remember my dreams and it is as if, by the mere act of trying to remember them, I am causing them to slip away. Then I stop trying to write them down. For years. This is sad because all of the dreams I have recorded are precious. I remember them and they help me to understand my life and myself. But why does it have to be all or nothing ? Maybe that’s where the problem lies. Nowadays, if the dream is really significant or particularly beautiful, I have a notebook that I keep close to the bed and I write down as much as I can. No pressure. I think what I am looking for in my dreams, is inspiration. I have been re-learning to draw and paint and once I get past the basics of how to do it, I will need subject matter. I think the answer might be in my dreams

Dots

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I am hardly a child, I know, but there is something about this self portrait that reminds me of the Childlike Empress from ‘The Neverending Story’.

I am less happy with myself, since I have started gaining weight. Part of that , I am sure, comes from the societal pressure to be skinny that many women feel. But, mostly, I think it’s because I have been thin for most of my life and I don’t feel right with the extra weight. I don’t have anything particularly insightful to say on this subject. It’s one of those common complaints. I take less pictures of myself these days because of how I feel about my body.

I still enjoy taking black and white pictures of my face. I have taken countless pictures of my face and it always looks different to me. I feel like I am having a conversation with myself when I look at the image above. I am looking for answers to questions. What is most important ? How am I going to fit everything in ? Can I really become as good at drawing and painting as I want to be ? Can I continue to improve my photography ? Why am I the way I am  – that all I desire is to be accomplished as a visual artist ?

Of course, I’m over simplifying my desires here.

And, now that I have gone and given the image a little (whiny) context, it’s less open to interpretation. For this reason, I do not usually title my photographs. What if I had’t said anything ? Could my self portrait be a still from film noir, or an indie Sci Fi film ? It’s possible.

Here are a few of my favorite black and white selfies from the last 15 years –

and more here. I will probably be doing this for the rest of my days.

Taking An Evening Walk

It was one of those rare, magical days, where the sky was full of amazing clouds and yet I was unable to take a picture. I saw another local photographer out shooting early in the day and I was a tad jealous. When I got home from work, glowing, puffy,wonderclouds were still all around the harbor but I still couldn’t shoot ! I had a few things to to first. I kept glancing out of the window, gasping at the beauty. Finally, when I was done, I asked my little lad if he fancied a stroll. He almost always does, we are big walkers in our family. Grabbing the camera with hope, we bounced out of the boat ( did I mention I live on a houseboat ?) and rushed to the closest vantage point for a big sky. All the way I was muttering to myself that I had missed the best of it. And maybe I did but it’s not the end of the world. I have taken some really memorable photographs on walks with my little boy. Preserving memory does seem to be one of the most important aspects of photography. Anyway, here is my most valiant effort from ‘Magical Cloud Day’ – Friday the 6th of May.

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Craft. Work. Books. Life.

Books To Be Red

Ocracoke Island, my home for twelve years, is a spectacular place. Beautiful beaches and wildlife aside, this quaint little village has some of the loveliest gift shops I have ever seen. They are owned and run, almost exclusively, by women, whom I must add, have impeccable taste. At least they cater to my whims and desires  (I know I have impeccable taste ! ) and I can always find something amazing for my loved ones. Anyway, I have had a big lifestyle change recently. I have just started working in my most favorite of all the shops – Books To Be Red. I am so happy. I love books ! you can never have enough books. I get to recommend  good stuff to read and I get lots of visual stimulation from beautiful new book covers, graphic novels and children’s picture books. I love art and this special bookstore has a lot of art supplies ! One of the best things about my new job, however, is getting to apply my artistic sensibilities to my new environment. I was asked to create a spring themed book display on the porch, in this cute little cabinet and a crafty little light bulb lit up ! After finding a great selection of springy books and gifts, I was inspired to jazz it up even more by using gift bags and tissue paper. I cut out tiny little birdies from the gift bags, giving them tissue paper wings, then I made little butterfly cutouts from the tissue paper as well. So simple and so cute !

           This was so much fun, that I was inspired to take a little extra home and make some more cute things. Over the weekend, I made a sweet little jacket for my tatty sketchbook:

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Did anyone else have to do this at school ? When I was at Primary school (Elementary) in Scotland, we had to cover all of our books to protect them. At first my mother did this, then I had to take over the responsibility as I got older.

One the book was covered,  I remembered the butterfly cutouts and made some bigger ones:

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I folded a hand-sized piece of tissue in half, to make it easy to cut out a symmetrical design. This took a few tries as I kept making the bottom wing too big. The first butterfly was made up out of my head. To get inspiration for a slightly different shape,  I googled “butterfly silhouette”. Then, I simply glued each tissue shape onto a piece of gift bag paper and applied some circles cut out of the same gift bag to the top of the tissue. I gently drew some details with fine point markers and a white roller ball pen. I loved doing this ! I could do it all day. I also have a few birdies inside my sketchbook to remind me of how cute they are.

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Keep your gift bags ! re-use them, upcycle them, craft them up into something cute ! The possibilities are endless.

Sketching

Here are a few more recent sketches from my wee Fabriano journal.

This is from a photograph. I used red and black watercolor pencils and a finetip sharpie marker. Her hair was actually pink in the photograph. I wasn’t very happy with the drawing at first. It looks like the subject but her face just isn’t quite right, so I flipped to another page and tried again.1echodraw

This time the sketch was a lot quicker. I used white watercolor pencil on the red background initially but it was too soft so I switched to black  sharpie again and I really think the drawing is better – more accurate :1echodrawb

I drew this lady from I tiny magazine image I have had for years.1girldraw

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The next image looks very soft but it’s not an unfocused photograph. I actually made it on computer paper, using the edge of a sponge dipped in some kid ink (Melissa and Doug jumbo stamp pad). I didn’t even know it was going to be a man, it just kind of turned out that way. So…1softface

I added some details with a sharpie marker :1hardface

I really enjoyed this exercise. I have always loved mark making in unconventional ways. When I was in art school, I remember we made “brushes” from sticks and attached different materials to the tips. Before that, when I applied to art school, I had a stone, inherited from my dad’s rock collection, that I used to make marks. I drew my cassette playing stereo, using the stone dipped in blue ink. It was part of my high school portfolio. I haven’t thought about that in such a long time ! Another good thing about using computer paper is that you can dispose of the image easily if you don’t like it.

TTFN ! Ta Ta for now.