21 days in my art world – 2021, Days 8-14

 In About My Work, Journal

We’re into the second week of Tara Leaver’s  #21daysinmyartworld challenge. The first week, covering days 1 through 7, was fun. It was very similar to the 2020 challenge, and lovely to revisit what I wrote last year.

Here we run through days 8-14 …

Day 8: Inspiration

Monday 11 January 2020

The Challenge: Today, share with us somewhere or something that inspires your work.

My Response: The natural environment is the primary source of inspiration for my work. It is effortless and full of energy and drama and peace and beauty and tragedy and life and death and abundance and sustainability and destruction all at once – and it is beautiful. I find respite in nature … comfort in her tenacity … and inspiration in her unrelenting beauty. She just is. I live in a beautiful space surrounded by open spaces and forests and pastures. There is beauty and birds and critters and nature all around me – and I take much inspiration from my own natural environment. And I am thankful for it everyday.

I’m currently building an online version of my studio workshop space where I host my online workshops. I made this video to share with students the space outside my studio. This space is my first go-to for inspiration …

Day 9: Where the art happens

Tuesday 12 January 2020

The Challenge: So today it’s time to show us your workspace!

My Response: My studio! We moved into our new home about 2 years ago. The home came with a 4 car garage. I staked my claim on that space and converted it into my art and workshop studio, aptly named The Studio. Sometimes it is tidy. Sometimes it is prepped and ready for a workshop. Other times it is a complete and chaotic mess. But at all times I an grateful for this space.

Day 10: Artist Selfie

Wednesday 13 January 2021

The Challenge: So, you may remember, if you’re a 21 days veteran, that today’s prompt used to be ‘artist hands’. Last year I changed it, because I thought we’d be a bit more daring {not least because it’s quite hard to photograph your own hands}, and go for the full selfie!

My Response: hmmm. I’m not really feeling it at the moment. Sorry! But instead, here is a photo of my taken early 2020 in the studio.

Day 11: Turning Point

Thursday 14 January 2021

The Challenge: Today, tell us about a turning point for you in your artist life.

My Response: Dare I say it … COVID19 bought a turning point. Years and years of working to slow down in life and work (but not quite getting there), and finally, with forced home isolation bought about by COVID19, I did slow down. That was about April last year. I printed 4x reduction linocut prints during the home isolation time. And I could feel the pace at which I carved and printed and planned … slow … right … down. I loved it. The phone didn’t ring. No one needed me for anything. I couldn’t go out to do anything. We were all forced to stop. And rest. And be. Out of such a horrid situation came a beautiful gift.

And with that slow down it gave me time to think. Time to think a little deeper about what I want to create. How I want to create it.

Time to stop, in place, and feel the deadline-driven conditioning of a 30-ish year commercial career in design/advertising/marketing. Conditioning to a cycle of bigger-better-bolder-repeat.

Once restrictions eased I felt myself springing back into the slightly frantic pace of pre-COVID19, and I didn’t like it. Actually having the time to stop was what I needed. To actually experience the slow down. Not just fantasise about it.

So as 2020 came to a close and I started thinking about 2021, I made a deal with myself to remember those slow feelings and take a much slower step into 2021. At the start of the 3rd week of January, I’m still in go-slow mode. Maybe I need to pick up the pace a little. Maybe not. Its nice to turn off the auto-pilot motion. I have no idea where this new pace will take me. With all the horrors of the ongoing pandemic, I am thankful for the gift of time it has given me. Now to see what’s next.

Below are the prints I created during the home isolation period:

Day 12: Current Motif(s)

Friday 15 January 2021

The Challenge: So, today’s prompt is favourite motif{s}. What keeps popping up in your paintings over and over? What motifs fascinate you so much you keep having to recreate them? Is it something you found or borrowed, or is it something that just started happening? Is it a shape, a subject, a series of lines or a pattern? Might be fun to set up an arrangement of several paintings that contain your current motifs, to illustrate. The magic of motifs is they link work together – instant series!

My Response: Birds. When I look back on my work, birds are a recurring element. I love birds. Birds. Birds. Birds. And I’m currently working on a small series of reduction linocut prints that evolve around birds … specifically magpies. And more specifically a family group that I shared my last home with. Year after year they visited for breakfast, hunting and feeding on the earthy goodies they found in my yard. Each breeding season they bought their young, teaching them to hunt for food. They would sing in family groups. Visit me in the studio. Wander around my feet (on the extremely rare occasion) when I gardened. I have literally thousands of photos of them. I would sit in the yard, watch, listen, photograph. They got to know me as I them. It was a great privilege. And something I hope to share soon.

Day 13: Process Insight

Saturday 16 January 2021

The Challenge: What insight borne of process can you share with us today? What has your process taught you about yourself, about your art, about life? Or you can talk about your process in more practical terms; do you use the same approach each time, or do you prefer to keep trying new things? Is there something that always has to be present for you to make art?

My Response: I am a printmaker. Process underpins printmaking. I love process. Process helps me realise each final print. And the different forms of printmaking I enjoy all employ different processes. Ahhh … variety is the spice of life 🙂

My two greatest printmaking loves are reduction linocut and gelatin plate monoprinting. Two very different printmaking processes – one very controlled, considered and planned; the other spontaneous, impulsive and exploratory. And that really works for me.

I love the control and predictability of the linocut process. It suits my control-freakish mind. Counter that with stepping intuitively into a space with no pre-determined outcome as in monoprinting. Both, together, help me find a balance within myself.

I find respite with both printmaking processes, both meditative and calming in their steps and stages … I can easily lose hours carving the next layer of a linocut. I admit that I’m not a fan of the actual printing stage of the process – its the carving I love best. I enjoy the pre-planning – planning my image, trimming paper and preparing my registration jig. I generally have a pretty clear idea of where I’m going with any linocut print before I start.

But when it comes to gelatin plate monoprinting, it is the exact opposite … beyond collecting my plant materials, gathering my paints and grabbing some paper there isn’t much more planning or preparation involved … I enter a state of play and experimentation, allowing myself to dissolve into the process and see where the layering, colours and plant materials take me.

If you’re interested in the specifics of my printing processes you’ll find plenty of posts I’ve shared in my blog – process details for linocut and gelatin plate monoprinting.

Gelatin Plate Monoprinting in process

Linocut process 'You are here' reduction linocut print

Day 14: Sold!

Sunday 17 January 2021

The Challenge: It’s time to share with us a painting you’ve sold. {This one’s quite long, so if you’re not up for this feel free to skip it!} Maybe it’s the first one you ever sold; maybe you’ve been selling your work for years and have heaps to choose from. Maybe it’s your most recent sale.

My Response: I’m going to share my most recent sale … ‘Wait for me‘. This cheeky fellow is a companion print to ‘Come on … come with me‘. And both of them relate to my first cockatoo print ‘Ruffled Feathers‘.

These three cheeky sulphur crested cockatoos were reference from an afternoon visiting the Sydney Botanical Gardens some 15-ish years ago. I spent a few hours watching a large flock of cockatoos wreaking havoc in the park. It was a windy afternoon, and they were having a ball.

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