Jungle Book

Jungle Book

The last of the 10 handmade journals commissioned by my friend Riitta had this on its cover. It was a book and it had jungle plants, hence the name (I’m often stumped what to call each design).

The image is a mishmash of river and island memories…of which there are many, because I have been living in or near water since I decided, at 25, to spend the rest of my life with a salty sailor (who keeps the sea as a mistress).

I was inspired by the limestone islands of El Nido, the jungle surrounding the Essequibo, the tepuys of Venezuela, the birds of the Orinoco and the Rio Dulce, and the green mangrove water of Sadgroves Creek in Darwin, though I kept the design light and simple, no grand or profound truths in this little illustration!

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New Print: Three moons & a tropical sun

3 moons and a sunA new illustration in my Society6 shop. In it, three jellyfish ‘moons’ float around a tendrilled and petalled discus that glows like an underwater sun. Striated coral bommies fill the lower half of the frame.

The themes of sea, marine life, ships and the saturated colours of the tropics, feature a lot in my life and, therefore, in my illustrations.

The original is in acrylic (paint and ink) on canvas, and is destined to become the covering material of a hand-bound journal that was commissioned earlier this year.

Premium quality art prints on fine rag paper are available at Society6. I’ve also enabled the design for printing on selected items. Enjoy!

three-moons-a-tropical-sun-prints

Structured Disorder

A sneak peek… WIP for Disorder Gallery

WIP for Disorder Gallery

Work in progress for a group show at Disorder Gallery in Sydney, sometime later this year.

Another two or three planned, after this…not sure what my ‘theme’ is, other than that I have decided to avoid any representational work, for once. That said, this began as a painting of a sleeping cat… 😉

paint & puffballs

Allium journals (WIP)
These embroidered allium journals are probably the most time-consuming of the ten journals that a friend has commissioned from me, so I thought I had better get cracking on the embroidery part. This is Number 2. They always take longer than I think they will: the painted canvas is leathery, hard to push through, and my index finger already bears small cracks and cuts where I use it to push the needle in. I suppose I should use a thimble, but I don’t own one (I have yet to find one that fits me properly).
Allium jurnal WIP
The puffballs are very pretty (I think so, anyway) when embroidered…they don’t look as nice, painted or drawn. But it’s incredibly boring work, the same star stitch, over and over. Thank god for audio books! They make the repetitive stitching bearable. I have been listening to Barbara Mujica’s “Mi Hermana Frida” in Spanish. It’s my second time to listen to this audio book…a year and a half has passed since I first listened to it. I’m enjoying it so much more, this time around, because my Spanish is much better than it was then. It’s a nice way, too, to hang on to what I know of the language, as I hardly get to use it over here…

Tea & chocolate in Barcelona

Té y xocolata
Another teacup book cover in what’s become a whole series of hand bound journals, over the years. I am making 10 journals of various designs, commissioned by a good friend and loyal collector of my one-of-a-kind handbound journals over the years.
Té y xocolata
Getting started was hard—I am rusty at designing bookcovers (the extra-wide format, and one must always bear in mind that the cover will fold, later on, to form front and back covers, plus a spine.)

These teacup ones are especially baffling, because  they use so many different mediums (layering, sewing machine appliqué, paint, spray paint, collage, painting, embroidery, stamping or stenciling…for this one, I also printed the teacup with fresh leaves) but after a few false starts, I have finally found a rhythm, and the other 8 books are coming along more smoothly than this one did. They aren’t all of teacups.
Té y xocolata
I named this book after Barcelona, because of the Barcelona based chocolatier, Simón Coll’s, chocolate wrapper used for the flower vase. This chocolate bar wrapper design has been in continuous use since 1880.

rombo-simon-coll

Paradise Found

Paradise Found

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

excerpt from Little Gidding, T.S. Eliot

I went away for two years, to marvel at vine-hung jungles up muddy rivers, at tepuys rising like wizards fortresses out of a sea of greenery, at waterfalls so high that half the water had blown away on the wind before a drop reached the ground where I stood. I clung to mules as we descended near-vertical mountain paths in the Andes. I bedded down for the night in bus stations, in traveller’s inns that felt like army barracks, in 18th century mansions filled with antiques, and in a crash pad in New York—eight Latin Americans in one room, of whom one spoke English.

I stayed with locals in disparate settings of 18th century charm, or 18th century poverty…in a clapboard house sinking into the squishy mud on the edge of a filthy canal, in a house in the old slave quarters of a medieval city, where the young prostitutes drank and argued on the old cobblestones, and  I spent one night in a communist-style block of Cuban apartments where the water and electricity came on for a few hours each day, but every resident owned an instrument and the building twitched its hips to salsa music, morning till midnight.

Naturally, when the time came to return home, I was a little worried that life in Darwin, Australia, would seem poorer for all the places I’d been.

I needn’t have worried.

As the old cliché goes, “There’s no place like home.” Back up the creek on our houseboat, SonOfAGun, the mangroves swayed in the sea wind, and morning sunlight lay slick on green-gold water like fine olive oil. For many months I was utterly spellbound.

When Kris and I moved our boat to this spot, I loved it right off the bat: the solitude, the natural surroundings, the quality of the light, the chi of living surrounded by water. I didn’t think it was possible to love this place any more, until I came back from my wandering and found that I did.
paradise found 2

“Paradise Found” was made for the exhibition “Gypsies, Vagabonds, and Wild Mad Women”. I priced it to discourage anyone from buying it and, luckily, no one did. I’m glad, because I want to live with this one for a while. It’s the beginning of what I suspect may be a bunch of love letters to my home and my life.
paradise found 3
It’s composed of watercolours, acrylics, collaged papers (linocut, textured or painted beforehand) and a bit of colored pencil. I’ve just uploaded the image to my Society6 shop, so it’s now available as a fine art print on acid-free rag paper.