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” 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.
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.
I realised with a start yesterday that the deadline for iHanna’s DIY Postcard Swap has crept up on me while I was tied up doing other things! So I got my ass into gear and made 8 postcards…actually I made 11, but as the quality of subsequent ones got better, I found myself throwing the very blah earlier ones away.
Which is not to say that I consider these 8 to be the pinnacle of my creative abilities…I was tempted to discard a few more from this group. But let’s be practical and realistic: I have two free days left. I’m running out of time. I also need to make some journals for the craft fair this weekend, as a matter of urgency. So these will have to do…and I hope I can make another two postcards this morning, so I can get cracking on the bookbinding.
“Please upgrade your output levels to Panic Mode…and thank you for flying with Seat-Of-Your-Pants airlines.”)
It quickly became clear , as I put these collages together, that I deeply dislike using commercially printed papers. Although I have my own small stash of scrapbook papers and other decorative elements from the scrapbooking craze of several years ago, when it came to putting collages together, I almost always tossed the pre-made decorative stuff in preference for papers and media that I had made, myself. I still used some patterned papers or magazine pages for some cards, but I tried to keep them minimal.
This lady with a cactus, for example, uses commercial papers for the cactus pot, and the floral background. The paper clay face was made in a Sculpey doll mold. Everything else was painted, printed, drawn or stitched by hand.
This one doesn’t look like much, but I’m very proud that everything used for this collage is my own work: painted textures and fragments of old lino prints that I did during a printmaking course many years ago. Totally organic.
A cartoonish painting of a cat that was in an old sketchbook…I love finding uses for odds and ends like these.
An unsuccessful little painting on canvas got cut up and I drew the bottle around it, and stuck it down to commercial scrapbook paper and a scrap of Thai ‘money’ for the dead.
The other half of that underworld bill, on a page from one of my favorite drawing magazines, Le Gun, and another unsuccessful painting of…toothpaste? Go figure.
A second paper clay character…I’ve nicknamed her Little Zen Riding Hood. A stencilled background, some linoprinting, a coloured photocopy of some cross-stitching I did on paper, and the red cloak is cut from Unsuccessful Painting #3 (I did a whole series of these lumpish duds).
In emulation of a line from one of Joanna Newsom’s songs (Bluebeard) I wrote “What a woman does is walk paths of the unconscious…it is not a question of straying or not straying.” Deep, huh? LOL
Hello, sorry It’s been so quiet on here. I’ve been quite busy making stuff…just didn’t remember to take pictures of anything I was doing, hence nothing to show you or blog about.
Yesterday I started working on a series of mixed media journal covers because I visited my own ETSY shop a few weeks ago, and things were looking very, very lonely and neglected. I am trying to get back into bookbinding now, because I have a dozen or so text blocks of beautiful paper all bound and ready for covers. The covers are always the hardest part (but also the most fun) because I don’t like to repeat myself, and I tend to get stuck for a long time, fiddling with tiny details on every single one.
The subject of this batch of journal covers is tea time; this one’s predominantly lavender. The base is painted artist’s canvas. I’ve used various papers—tea stained pages for the tea cup, and my own marbled paper for the tea, some gift tissue—and bits of fabric. Machine as well as hand stitching. Acrylic paints (and some dimensional glitter paint), acrylic inks, and some shading with colored pencils.
What have you been tinkering with lately?
Played with bits of scrapbooking paper and a scalpel today. Taking a break from embroidery!
The Gypsy Poet is closely based on one of Leon Bakst’s watercolor costume studies for the Russian ballet. This may even be Nijinsky.