Friday, January 30, 2009

Off to Book Arts Classes...

At last a little bit of structure to my year...I have enrolled in a weekly class in Book Arts at West End Studio with one of the luminaries of the book arts in Queensland, Adele Outteridge. She runs the studio with Wim de Vos, another great book artist and they regularly offer classes in book arts, printmaking and mixed media.

I first heard of these classes in 2007 from a friend who was going. She recommended them and says that once you know the basics, there is freedom to pursue your own projects with Adele and Wim to facilitate. With my masters to finish, I had to be patient, but now I am really looking forward to receiving some instruction in binding and construction techniques.

A couple of years ago, I attended a one day workshop on artists books which was run at Impress Printmakers Studio, and everything else I have done has been self-taught. While it sounds impressive to call yourself an "autodidact" (what a great word, hey?) it is a slow process, involving a lot of trial and error, and false starts, at least it is for someone like me, who can never stand to just do what the book says - I always have something a little different in mind!

I'm hopeful that Adele and Wim will be a great "fit" for me, as their work is often very sculptural, and I have had a long time dream of learning more about printmaking too, which we touched on during my ceramics course. A lot of printmaking techniques can be adapted for use with clay by using plaster for your plate and underglazes or slips for ink.

So you can see what I mean about the sculptural aspect of Adele and Wim's books, I've uploaded some images of their work.

Adele Outteridge

Wim de Vos

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Plans, dreams, goals?

2009 is starting out pretty slowly for me, but that is fine. Outside the weather is alternating between heavy tropical showers and blasting hot sun. The temperature has been in the low 30's C (high 80-low 90s F) but the humidity has been 80%+. There's something about the humidity that just seems to sap the energy from you, as if by osmosis, so I've been staying inside sheltering in the air conditioning. I tend to think of this weather as our tropical equivalent of being snowed in!

The new year always starts off slowly for me due to the weather, and after the pace of last year, I really want to make sure I change a few things this year. For the last few years I've really been in a fairly unwise place when it comes to my health, always playing catch-up and resting just enough to keep going. The need to finally make it to the end of my masters coloured every day and it is really important to me that I re-evaluate and make some decisions that are good for me.

This sounds as if the masters was "forced" on me, and of course it wasn't, but it was something I wanted to do that was about achieving according to terms set by the outside world. Now I've done that, and I'm very pleased and proud that I have, but I do acknowledge there was a significant cost. So far it doesn't seem to be as serious as I feared it might be, but that doesn't diminish the realisation that I must look after myself much more than I have in the past. No more waiting till the warning bells are so loud they are deafening.

The end of my masters has placed me at a crossroad, at I'm peering down the alternative paths, wondering which to choose next. With the blossoming of and the general online art community, I've realised that there are a lot of people out there who earn money from their art, and that being an artist isn't necessarily about getting really famous. I realize that sounds incredibly naive, but I have come from a very non-art oriented family, or at least one that saw an artist as the rare genius we read about in art history books. As a result I always thought I'd make money from my "real career" (OT) and this would allow me to pursue art without any thought of generating an income from it. Since my involvement with art came after I developed CFS, this just meant both of these would be on an extremely part-time basis.

Now I'm wondering about the possibility of gearing my art practice towards sale-able objects. For over a year, even without this consideration, I've been subscribing to Alyson B. Stanfield's Art Biz Blog. I receive the free newsletter weekly, and have joined a couple of the online teleseminars which piqued my interest. There's a lot of good information on this website free, and I have been enjoying the slow drip feeding of business/marketing ideas over time - it's an area that really makes me squirm, but I know it's important.

It's all inspired me to think about how I could make art to sell, in a really, really low-stress way. I don't want to be rushing around, trying to meet self-imposed deadlines and making life unbearable and stressy for everyone around me. So, is it possible to make a body of work and then just "release" it? Either online in a virtual store, or in a real one? Should I put myself up for commissions? Or maybe it's better to stick to making work for exhibition and leave organising the actual gallery until the work is completed. More thinking to do....suggestions welcome!

Monday, January 05, 2009

Reflections on 2008: Gratitude

I always find that this time of year finds me in a reflective mood. Often year's end leaves me a little down. All that potential that the year held and yet... and yet...

But the end of 2008 was somewhat different. For me there were three major events planned, and I managed to pull them all off! They were of course, my first exhibition outside Brisbane (in Melbourne in February) my first trip overseas in more than 20 years and finally, completing my MFA.

Through all this my CFS has been my constant companion (!) and it's a wily one, requiring thoughtful and at times personally-challenging management. Although I can't say I have always succeeded in minimizing its effects, by really testing myself on all levels I have learned quite a bit more about the areas that are my weaknesses and likely to cause me problems. I have noted that my ways of managing stress and difficult emotions aren't always working for me, and I am closer to working out some complicated dietary issues too.

Overall, as I look back on the year that has passed, my overwhelming sense is of gratitude. As I toured around favourite blogs, catching up on posts written over the past month or so, there have been many expressions of thanksgiving. Bloggers from the US tend especially to get into this, starting of course with their Thanksgiving celebrations. It seems that in America, this holiday creates a culture more at ease with expressions of appreciation. Some bloggers even write about a having a daily practice of gratitude. I appreciate the intention behind this, although personally I find instituting that kind of routine actually leaves me a little emotionally numb. Other Australians of British descent may understand. Or maybe might just be me!

Nevertheless, as we move into the new year, I feel moved to look back, and share some of the things from 2008 for which I am thankful . So, in no particular order:

  • a Christmas that passed all expectations
  • having my mother to share another year with
  • my lovely husband
  • air-conditioning
  • a cuddly puss who has survived to share another Christmas despite his heart condition
  • our cat's cardiologist
  • the cool breeze that flows through our patio
  • the most generous and caring mother-in-law you could wish for
  • meeting family members in Belfast
  • seeing Jomon (Japanese prehistoric) pottery in Tokyo
  • spending time with my husband in his country of birth
  • being accepted to exhibit in Melbourne
  • visiting Paris
  • a day spent in Tokyo, revelling in the cultural differences and physical beauty
  • my health holding out till I finished my masters
  • my doctor
  • all I learned about art and myself by doing my masters
  • having found warm, caring and fun friends who accept me for who I am
  • my online chums who give me so much support
  • having friends who I can "talk art" with
  • online shopping and small shop owners, so I don't have to go to big shopping centres/"malls" too often