Friday, April 11, 2014

Not waving, drowning....in mess

It seems that the more I try to focus my attention on a single art project, the more projects I end up starting.

 I have, as you know, wide-ranging interests and limited energy. As a result, I often find myself working on one thing while I'm longing to be making something else. So I thought that as a strategy to manage this, I would try focussing on one work for a month at a time. This would allow me to make some progress wih one thing, work on something else for a while, and then return to the earlier project before so much time has passed that I've totally lost my train of thought.


Before we went on holiday to Melbourne, I was working on a book using photographs that I took in Paris. The stairway in the building where we stayed in the Marais is very atmospheric and a great example of "wabi sabi". As well as the more elaborate staircase leading up to the apartments, there is a smaller, darker set of stairs leading from the entry down to the cellar.
My idea for the book, tentatively titled "ascendre/descendre", is to use the photos going up and going down in such a way that it's not always clear which is which and where we are heading. I see it as a metaphor for our times, and even the human race.

Here's one of the photos I'm considering using. The first step is converting them to black and white and making any other digital processing changes.




When I returned from Melbourne I was scheduled to start a three week online course Drawing for Textiles with Dionne Swift. I actually met Dionne in Brighton last year at the Art Fair, and after an inspiring chat with her and seeing her work there, I had enrolled in this course immediately. I've been waiting for March to roll around with great anticipation ever since.


But inspiration doesn't necessarily strike when it's convenient, does it? I've been tossing ideas around in my head for the upcoming Personal Histories exhibition for months and months. Nothing had really felt quite right to me. I was beginning to worry that I wouldn't be able find any inspiration to suit the theme.


And then, out of nowhere really (but of course from somewhere) I knew what I wanted to do. And I wanted to make a start. Straight away. So over a week-end, just before I got cracking on Dionne's first drawing exercises, I got to work.


This book is tentatively called "About ME" and I'm going to use translucent pages and text. It sounds horribly narcissistic, I realize, but I'm reasonably confident that it isn't. The text is information about M.E. (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis) the now-accepted "proper" name for chronic fatigue syndrome. I'm really delighted to say that I've been granted permission by the IACFSME to use their text in the book.
There isn't much to show you yet, as I am just cutting stencils, but here's a peek.


Next, I dragged out my lovely chunky drawing supplies and roll of cartridge paper and made a start on the tasks set by Dionne.

After a week or so of drawing it was time to try out some of the ways she showed us to translate those marks into textiles. It was all new information to me, and the results are wonderfully textural and exciting.


But you should see the state of my studio now!
(no photos, It isn't for public consumption)

With all these different projects on the go, it has just become layer upon layer of art materials and media, and quite honestly, there is not a bit of surface clear to work. I am forced to take my lap-top tray to the sofa in the living room to do anything. Of course, that's exactly what I'm doing - I can't stop now, can I?

But April really has to be the month of culling and tidying, or else by May I might not be able to get past the door.




15 comments:

  1. Well, at least you know what you want to do and have started! I still don't know anything and I have 3 projects I'd like to get started. sigh...

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    1. Something will come to you Di, I'm sure. Good luck!

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  2. "It seems that the more I try to focus my attention on a single art project, the more projects I end up starting.(..).As a result, I often find myself working on one thing while I'm longing to be making something else." - That sounds so familiar! I console myself with the thought that those projects which don't make it and are pushed to the end of the work stack again and again are maybe not worth it (yet?).
    Many times for me tidying up marked the point where the creative juices stopped flowing. (Whether tidying up is the cause or effect of this, I couldn't tell.) So be careful not to tidy up too soon ;-)

    In any case I am happy to hear that apparently you are in a very creative and productive mood! The photo of the French staircase has a wonderful look and atmosphere. From the little you told us, it sounds like an intersting starting point.- I am looking forward to seeing more! And good luck with the "personal history" project! Again, I am looking forward to seeing more.

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    1. Hi Hilke! I have the same sense about projects that are pushed down the list. Maybe they're not great, maybe they or I need more time in development. It's good to keep them floating in the background because sometimes I find after maybe 2-3 years they emerge and push their way to the top.

      Yes, I do seem to be in a creative mood and I like your advice about tidying! Do you think that applies to housework too? ;-)
      Seriously, I plan to only tackle a small section at a time, not to dive in and do the whole thing. When I tidy everything up at once, I always lose track of where things are and it takes me twice as long to find the tools etc I need to use.
      PS. I'll be emailing you soon.

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  3. I often find I head off in a hundred directions and then the moment appears when I stop and just focus. It helps! I am still in the dithery phase at the moment, hoping to do the focus and the completion soon, but I do think a messy studio is a wonderful sign of creative juices flowing!

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    1. It's good to hear that other people start off scattered and then focus in. I'm sure that will happen. At this stage things are all in the "set-up" stage really, but the time will come for more intense work.

      As for the mess, I'm sure you're right Fiona, but I think only us artists understand that the mess can be a good sign. Certainly I don't think the lady who helps us with the cleaning does!

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  4. Everything you're working on is just amazing Amanda!

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  5. Thanks Nancy. I'm glad you like what I've done so far. I am excited about where these might go. Given time! :-)

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  6. Glad to see you've got a bit of wind in your sails Amanda :)

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    1. Thanks Rob! Great to have some fair weather :-)

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  7. Better to have too much than a drought but I think most of us are in the same boat some of the time. I have so much stuff never finished but I can;t throw away and then suddenly you see a way clear and solve one problem and often many unfinished works all get completed. You have so many exciting possibilities just keep going.

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    1. Thanks for your encouragement Jack. I certainly don't mean to complain. I'm having a great time, but I do want to try to clear a small space soon...maybe over Easter....but not so much tidying that I lose my momentum.

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  8. A - having a number of things on the go feeds the soul - but the challenge is getting them to completion - that is finding the balance. Today I was working on leaf letter openers and yet it offered the opportunity to anneal metal for another project and create a set of earring drops and a few small leaves as discards of the main project. B

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  9. You can also count me in as an understanding soul :) The times when I am only interested in one project and can dedicate my time to it undistracted by others are rare and very precious. All the projects you've blogged about are exciting, I love your staircase, your ABOUT ME idea and that last photograph! Wow!

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  10. Hi Amanda, I'm so glad we've made contact again! And wonderful to see you're as ever engrossed in your processes and the making&thinking of artwork.
    I completely understand the frustrations you talk about, having a head filled to the brim with impulses and ideas and, because of limited energy, edit them right down to something that is manageable and meaningful. For that reason my writing has become more important over the last few months, it's the one thing that gives me continuity throughout the longer periods of fatigue, I can follow my threads inch by inch. It gives me focus and while the writing is slow it has become so enmeshed with my art-practice that I feel I'm working even when my hands aren't up to much. I take as much care with my writing as I would with a piece of work.
    Need to check out that online-course you mentioned, feel in need of learning new processes.
    And by the by: If you'd like to leave a comment for me after reading Sleep-drunk I dance you can do it on My art grows around me, where I will post my pix from now on, with a link to my writing.

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