paints and pens, stuff i've made

Pinkland + Spirographs in acrylic

caramel caravel2

Day Two of this painting. Still very much a Work In Progress. And yes, it is very pink, isn’t it? Maybe it should be called “Portuguese Arriving to Sack Electric Ladyland”. I had a lot of fun when I started, which is why so much got done in just two days. But I sort of hit a wall this afternoon, and now I don’t know what to do with it.

As usual, I like parts of what I’ve done…but not the painting as a whole. Not sure what’s bugging me about it, but I suspect the whole painting should be flipped to its mirror image, so that the boat is entering the scene from the left (forget about it, easier to paint a new painting!) Also, I think the sea should be a reddish purple (I thought of Homer’s “wine-dark sea”) and the ship should be something really goofy…not just some dwarf version of a real caravel…

…but god, I am so tired of wrestling with it—it measures 2′ x 3′ and I have been standing in front of it all day—and I don’t know if I will ever get around to making such big changes. Right now, I can’t LOOK at it any longer, I am so tired of staring at it that it all dissolves into puddles of colorful mud when I try. I think I’ll just turn it to face the wall for a while, and see what I think of it in a week or two.

caramel caravel1

I did learn something new, exciting and funky on this painting: A fine-tipped Posca paint marker (1-MR) will fit in the holes of a Spirograph! This means a lot to me. At last, I can use my Spirograph with more than black drawing pens or ballpoints! I am besotted with Posca pens, anyway, because they are water-based acrylic paint pens, and they draw a rich, opaque line, and they glide over any surface like an oil slick; knowing I can use them to draw Spirographs just means that I love them more than ever.

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life, travel

landfall

i fear
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

I came home last Wednesday night to the best thing possible: four long letters from Kris in my Inbox! Forty-five days after leaving Darwin, he was in Pemba, Mozambique.

My heart is singing, morning and night.

 Screen shot 2014-07-25 at 6.29.56 PM

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aboard the M/V sonofagun, paints and pens, stuff i've made

A smack of jellyfish

redwork bird

As promised, here’s the finished redwork bird design from yesterday, done up as a mock kitchen journal cover using the font Asterism, and a woven fabric texture from Picmonkey, to sort of give me an idea of how it might look.

Also some very small (the size of a playing card) watercolors from this morning…just playing with ideas and stuff. I really wanted to jump-start  a big painting, but didn’t feel well…think I have picked up someone’s flu. It was bad enough to prevent me from heading in to work. So I consoled myself with these little things…they sort of serve as warm-up exercises for the large painting I had in mind; whether I use all the motifs or not is not important…what matters is that I’ve dumped my ideas somewhere for reference, and my mistakes on these teeny-tiny canvases will possibly save me from making the same ones on a larger scale in acrylics.

terrarium jelly

An idea that has been with me for a long time (too long!): a jellyfish that is also a terrarium. Because the two forms have always seemed to be crying out for each other, in my imagination.
There’s something very right about this combination.

muumuu jelly

A jellyfish like a pink silk muumuu with pleated ribbons.

crocheted jelly

Not happy with this one: Just. Too. Much.
Looks like the sort of horrible lampshade you sometimes come across at a Salvation Army shop. I like the tentacles, though.

beaded jelly

The Meh Jellyfish…every smack of jellyfish has to have one: kinda boring, lacks spark. That beaded curtain was a really lazy, unimaginative, clichéd way to finish what might have been an okay exumbrella. (That’s that outer, umbrella-looking part of the jellyfish. I looked it up just now.) Maybe if I transplanted the tentacles from the crocheted lamp jellyfish…

mangroves

One interpretation of mangroves.

Speaking of mangroves, check out my accidentally fabulous tomato plant, growing like nobody’s business in the middle of a mangrove creek! It sprouted from some kitchen scraps thrown onto a basil plant! Pretty soon it had ousted the withering basil and become the star plant on the F/V SonOfAGun.

sea tomatoes

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paints and pens, stuff i've made

Rather red…

redwork bird WIP*long, happy sigh*

This Sunday was spent just the way I have fantasized about spending a Sunday for many, many weeks: no craft market, no dinner parties, no social commitments, no dramas, no urgent errands, no housekeeping. I got up at a lazy 8 a.m. and—after breakfast and getting a huge pot of coffee ready—set to work with the aim of getting one simple project done, from start to finish, in one day.

I took an idea for a new journal cover design and moved it from daydream…to doodle…to finished illustration. In these pictures it isn’t quite done…but dusk came along just as I put in the finishing touches of opaque white ink, and then it was too dark to photograph the illustration properly.

redwork bird 2This is going to be the cover fabric design for a hand bound “Recipe Journal”…the title, in handwritten Spencerian script, was supposed to go inside the empty label, but I’m glad I held off from writing straight onto the illustration…text can always be added in Photoshop, later. I think I’ll keep the label blank, so that the design can be used for other things besides a recipe notebook.

redwork bird 1I loved devoting the entire day to making something. Now it’s dark outside and my eyes are a little strained from all the fine brushwork I did, so I’ll probably spend the rest of the evening listening to music in the dark and then turn in early.

It’s been a perfect, perfect Sunday. Hope your weekend was peaceful and satisfying, too!


Process: Pencil drawing (4B), watercolours on cotton rag paper. Redwork details (I was trying to capture the feel of embroidered redwork stitches) in matte flow acrylic paint applied with a fine-tipped gutta applicator. Opaque white details (not pictured) using white ink and a mapping pen.

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aboard the M/V sonofagun, Darwin, Australia, life

My prodigal dinghy was found today, intact and outboard running. I even got a bonus: there was a huge red fuel tank in it that wasn’t there before…ha ha ha.

Three policemen in plainclothes came to see me at work; they’d caught the guy who did it (no, not the heroin addict at all…shame on me for being such a sucker for movie stereotypes!), and wanted badly to prosecute, as he is also responsible for thousands of dollars stolen in credit cards, electronics, and a caravan, I think they said. So I signed a statement and came home and towed the rowing dinghy behind the motorised dinghy. The mood at the club was celebratory, and I was getting waves from people on boats and thumbs-up-signs from passing dinghies…I waved back, returned a small smile, but didn’t really feel as elated as, I guess, they thought I’d be.

A lesson has been learned, and I cannot consciously, purposely, go back to ignorance, so I will continue to row, now that I know how easy and quick it is from our new spot in the Sadgroves Creek. Also, to put it mildly, I do not love that outboard.

All’s well that ends well. At least I have my dinghy and oars back! And I AM sincerely glad that I have recovered what was really Kris’ property. It will come in handy on craft fair days, anyway, and has proven invaluable for moving four friends at a time, to and from the big boat on party nights.

Isn’t it funny how, when you accept a situation fully—to the point of actually falling in love wiit the new conditions—whatever the problem was in the first place often rights itself?

The best part is that I now enjoy a new FREEDOM: I no longer need nor am dependent upon what I originally thought I had lost.

Lost & found…& found again.

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aboard the M/V sonofagun, Darwin, Australia, life, philosophy

Working with a thief

home

That which stands in the way IS the way.

Marcus Aurelius

After my manager returned from her 6 weeks of annual leave, one of the other staff members at work resigned, and so I am still working 6 days a week and, believe me, this blog isn’t the only thing that’s suffered from it…I have had no time to make anything new or do anything creative; with just Sunday free, I barely have time to keep the houseboat from looking like a pigsty, get the laundry and groceries done, run all those little errands that hold the framework of my life together.

Last Sunday, my one day off, I worked some more: I took all my craft market gear ashore, and a friend kindly loaded the stuff into her ute (that’s Aussie for a pickup truck…from ‘utility vehicle’) and took me to the Museum Grounds for the Dragonfly Craft Fair. It was a good day for me, and I came back to the Dinah Beach Yacht Club cashed-up and feeling triumphant. My friend was curious to see what living on a boat is like, so I invited her to come home with me. We unloaded my tables, chair, boxes of craft market goods, and I went to get the dinghy. But it wasn’t where I’d left it, and more looking revealed that it had not simply been moved nor ‘borrowed’ by a fellow club member. It had been stolen.

When I used to row my dinghy, I could leave it tied to the pontoon for days on end; nobody touched it for all these 5 years. Thanks to the new outboard engine, it disappeared just 6 weeks after the engine had been attached.

I apologised to my friend, reported the theft to a few friends, the marine police, and some people at the club. At first I was a bit upset…with myself, for not locking my dinghy the way everyone else at the club does; but mainly over the loss of the aluminum dinghy, itself, as well as the small but super-heavy anchor that was in it, my custom-made oars (extra long, tropical hardwood, with oversized blades), and the two 15-liter water containers that I carry water home in.

I ordered a vodka-lime-and-soda, rolled a cigarette, and found myself strangely at peace with what had happened. What do you do when something like this happens? Cuss? Start shouting? Cry? Round up a posse of murderous, bearded waterfront characters and comb the harbour in a flotilla of dinghies for signs of the dinghy and/or thief? (Nobody saw who took it, though there are suspicions that a homeless heroin addict that’s been hanging around the waterfront lately did it. Who knows?) Rush off and spend all of the day’s earnings on another outboard engine? Someone told me “That’s why you should always have TWO outboards…so if one gets stolen, you have a spare!” Buy outboard engines for thieves?

Strangely enough (maybe it was the vodka?) in a very short time I accepted what had happened, felt a kind of relief and peace wash over me, and pushed the lost engine out of my mind completely. The truth is that I never did like that outboard…’fast’ was the only good thing that could be said of it. Otherwise it was noisy, smelly, it vibrated the dinghy so violently that parts of it had started to fall off, it was moody on cold mornings, it was vulnerable on rough days at the pontoon, with all the dinghies lurching and leaping and crashing against each other. It was a hassle to buy fuel and oil for regularly. The worry that I would run out of fuel midway through the week, or during a trip home, was a constant faint anxiety at the back of my head. I couldn’t listen to music on my way to work. It scared all the birds in the mangroves away, so that I never saw them. A couple of times I went over rocks in the shallows with it, and the propeller made the most terrifying grinding and screeching sound…it required deeper water than a rowing dinghy and so I found myself stranded by tide levels that I would normally scull right over. But my beloved had bought it for me, and I couldn’t refuse to use it without seeming ungrateful and recalcitrant.

My peace blossomed into joy: I had an excuse to go back to rowing! I laughed out loud at the bar, delighted. Thank heavens for Josh, who is one of just five men (Kris included) at Dinah Beach who have actually done some serious rowing: while everyone else was giving me their two cents on where I should start looking for my lost dinghy, or asking me to demonstrate my knot-tying skills (implying that because I am a woman, I probably don’t know how to tie a decent knot, and the thing worked itself loose and drifted off! To which I found the quick reply “Sure, I’ll show you my bowline knot…can I use your dick as a bollard?”) or offering me the loan of their spare outboard (so the thief can have another one, and I have to buy them a replacement?), Josh simply, matter-of-factly, handed me his oars and told me where to find his own little sculling dinghy (his own boat is out of the water, for now, so he doesn’t need them soon). He knows I like to row. And as someone who’s done it for years, he knows it not as hard or unpleasant as it may seem to onlookers.


I’ve been to and from the boat a few times, now. Josh’s oars were just 6 feet long, awkward and much too short to scull properly, so I bought myself a pair of 8-foot oars at the ship chandlers after the first trip. The blades are still too small for my liking, but at least I’m comfortable rowing now. I’m like a huge water bug, skidding over the surface of the harbour on long legs. I pop my earbuds in and listen to music or an audio book as I row. I skirt the mangroves and the birds fidget when I come near, but they don’t take off in a scatter of panicked wings. I look around me as I row, drinking in the cloudless sky, the sunlight embroidering the edges of the leaves in fil d’or. I’ve been listening to the audio book Vis and Ramin, an 11th century love story. I catch myself grinning as I row. I LOVE this…I feel so alive, so much a part of this world. My body loves the honest work of rowing, my heart beating time to the rhythm of my strokes, and the world isn’t flying by in a rattling metallic cacophony of fuel-scented exhaust. It’s good for the heart, for the body, for the mind, for the soul, for the environment. Why would anyone want to do anything else? I’d like to thank the dude who stole my outboard for giving me back my self-reliance, and so much joy.

Fabulous Water

*And for those who are always concerned about Time and argue that rowing takes too much time (though they don’t complain about sitting in front of a television for a couple of hours every night), I have timed each of my recent rowing trips, and it has consistently taken me 35 minutes to row from the boat to the yacht club or the other way around. That’s 15 minutes longer than it took by outboard.

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Doing the rounds on facebook is this Vimeo of a record player that “plays” the growth rings of a cross-cut tree trunk. Rather than have an actual needle grind and grate over the wood’s surface, Bartholomäus Traubeck’s turntable scans the grooves on the wood and translates them into piano notes. I love the heavy chords where the trunk is scarred, and the little trills where a crack splits the rings. Eerie and beautiful, the years of a dead tree told like a story or a song.

This gave me goosebumps.