Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Gentle Footfall on the Forest Floor - and musings on hypochondria

Well hello there Bloggers,

sorry for the rather long absence - but there has been a sort of necessary stock-taking.

I have finished all my prints now for my exhibition. Today I even spread them out on the table and signed, titled and numbered them all. I haven't yet done a full print run. I will have to save that for when I am more settled. But have the first two or three of each edition ready to rock and roll.

This print is what I think is the best of the bunch - technically at least - and that is sort of part of the whole thrill of it isn't it. Mind you it was a real pain to handcolour. Still, I thought that I controlled the cutting well on the whole. I managed to create good tone, shade and highlight. I have come to the conclusion that the black and white prints are pretty cool too. They have that nice refreshing look about them. So I am doing a colour run and a black and white run of certain prints. Some of the prints work better in black and white too even though I had planned to colour them from the start. Oooh life! It is always a learning curve.

Anyway. The last week or so I have been doing quite a bit of stock-taking and packing and sorting stuff out. It is good too. Sometimes you have to draw your horns in and just spend some time thinking things through. Changing your habits is also refreshing and leads to new thoughts and ideas. As a matter of fact I couldn't sleep last night at all for some reason. My head was buzzing with all sorts of new ideas, especially for some new sculptures. I just haven't quite figured out how I am going to do them. I was thinking of handbuilding in a nice firm grogged clay but then you have size and weight to deal with and where will i take them to get them fired? I obviously still have to suss these things out. I also don't have a car anymore, and was not planning to get one, so how do i get my sculptures about?

There is another small issue on my mind - my body is not quite behaving the way it used to. I think it is called old age. But apart from a general weakening I have a rather serious issue with my right-hand shoulder. I know what it is, because I have self diagnosed from the internet. I also know the treatment - rather alarmingly I may need an operation - fine if it works, but it is one of those that is not always successful (because it involves the repair of torn tendons). The other thing that is on my mind is that you are supposed to seek help as soon as possible but because of our transient status here I am not going to get to a doctor until we get to Spain. In the meantime I am conscious of the irreparable damage being done.

The point is - if i don't have the strength in my arms, large scale sculpture will no longer be as possible as previously. Of course, there are still medals, paintings and other smaller and less physical media to work in so I am not too sad about it all.

By the way - did I ever tell you about my father who was a terrible hypochondriac?
Well he was. He used to come to ours for lunch on a Sunday and tell us all about his old-man ailments real and imagined - in glorious technicolour detail! And that all over the brussels sprouts and roast potatoes - really appetizing. His most thumbed text book was his ancient medical dictionary. And when I used to take him to the doctor for checkups etc he would get out his own diagnoses and thoughts on his illnesses and tell the doctor what to check for. I remember his last consultant very patiently telling him that he had checked for Diabetes, twice just to make him happy, but he really did not have it. Still, my father was not fully convinced.

I thought the grandest irony was that after he died - and he died rather suddenly so he needed to have an autopsy - it turned out that he actually had hemochromatosis! i will let you look that up yourself - but he had no idea which is such a pity as i know how much he would have enjoyed actually having something to blame for all the other bits that were falling off.

I spent years complaining about him but must admit that I too have inherited this small failing. Not the hemochromatosis but his hypochondria - so now I can have my own real and imagined ailments as I cruise gently into old age. Incidentally, I have kept his medical dictionary as a memento, but being a child of the modern age I prefer to surf the internet checking out all my symptoms as they occur.

It is very educational actually and in fact reassuring when you find out that really that particular ache is nothing to be worried about at all.

So on that positive note i will leave you now to enjoy my latest print.

talk soon

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Leaf and Fern - and dreaming of summer mmmmm!

Well, the head is a bit clearer today - inspite of a lingering hangover.

My beloved has gone home to see his family for the weekend so we had a little 'last supper' last night with a couple of bottles of wine. I know, I know, pure gluttony .... but most enjoyable.

And here is another photo taken out at the Mosvatnet (the lake) under the trees.

I love ferns - I love the fact that they are so primeval and i love the way that they look like feathers and i especially love them in the spring when they send out those spirals of shoots that unroll and unroll. They always look so tender and young when they start - covered in down to keep the little baby leaf warm.

More than any other plant - except perhaps mushrooms they have an almost animal quality about them. Perhaps because the way they fan out is reminiscent of a hand reaching out skyward.

I am probably attracted to them also because they are so mysterious, growing in the damp and dark beneath the cover of trees and other shrubbery - and yet they can often have such a lively shade of green.

There is a pattern emerging here isn't there. Favourite subjects of mine include: Ferns, moths, mushrooms, dead birds, decaying leaves and other forest floor matter. All these things that exist mysteriously in the dark and damp.

I am less attracted to sunshine and flowers or butterflies. Although in my own life - the one that I live - I do prefer sunshine, and flowers make me smile too and there is something so uplifting in the sight of a butterfly flippy flapping around the garden as they do. I do like the way butterflies fly alright - not exactly in a straight line, although to try and catch that in a picture it does not always translate. Bumble bees make me smile too for that same reason - they are adorable when you see them bumbling around from flower to flower, seemingly unhurried and unconcerned by birds or other possible predators.

Aaah! The remembered sounds of summer days and the feel of the warm sun on your back. The summer is only just gone and I am already nostalgic for it. Perhaps that has something to do with the severe lack of summer we did in fact have this year. So i close my eyes and dream. Next year ....

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

An Autumnal Ramble!

I hope some of you are still checking back on my blogsite from time to time. I did say that I would be dipping in and out for a bit. It is a shame to lose the momentum, but that is just part of the whole creative process as I keep learning and relearning.

I have been pretty inactive over the last week or so - well, at least in the art department.* That said, I am still working away, albeit slowly, on the prints which I made. I am still trying to dry them out thoroughly and am working out colour schemes for the ones that I am going to hand colour.

Thinking is also a big part of the process. I am sure that people would probably laugh to see me sitting or even lying on the couch in the morning. They would of course think that I was completely inactive and probably even think that I was lazy. But little do they know - inside my head I am hatching plans and thinking about threads of work. Words and images crowd around sometimes and combine without preamble. You might then see me leap to my feet to grab a piece of paper or a notebook where i will furiously scribble for a minute or so to write or draw down my idea.

Half of my ideas never do come to any sort of fruition, but at least I am assured that during times of artist's block I have source material on hand to jog my fumbling brain.

Why is it that i cannot write in a straight line - or event think in a straight line. Don't get me wrong, sometimes i have moments of great clarity, and of course if I am writing an essay or a proper letter I will crowd all the thoughts in first and then thin them out and organise them. But here I allow myself to write much more as I think. It does not bother me unduly, only when I cannot remember what I have said or thought only minutes or even seconds before.

What I am trying to say here is that I was planning write a post about my photography and why I take photos and what I think of them. So far in this post I have not mentioned photography once. Well actually right now I have mentioned it - twice - in one sentence.

So, the photo above. Well, obviously it is a nice picture of a forest floor in the autumn.

I use photography as a tool - not an artwork in its own right - i take photos of things that interest me and store them for the time being. When I am looking for inspiration, as well as the copious notebooks, i also have the photos to draw upon. I trawl through them and start chopping and photoshopping until something starts to take shape. Of course that is only part of it. Most of those chopped and changed photos just return to files and never rise themselves off the page again. Others work for me and these become a starting point for a work or a thread of works.

I know I am rambling - I cannot tell you how disabling the menopause can be at times. I seem to be living on the edge of life sometimes - It is like I am standing at the edge of a party and am watching it through a frosted glass wall. Sound and thoughts are muffled and especially dulled is my peripheral vision - I always prided myself on my peripheral vision, perhaps it is ebbing away with the years, but I think it is more at these times when the head is full of cotton wool and all my senses are dulled.

Oh dear, I am off again.

I wanted to tell you about the other reason I use photography.

I use it for documentation of my work. That has improved quite a bit - practice makes perfect. Although it is not perfect, especially as we do not have a suitable outside spot here for taking photos in natural light. I used to haul all my work outside when I had a garden - that helped a lot. i will be able to do it again when we finally get to Spain. Now I have to make do with large windows and photoshop.

I am thinking now that the ideal thing would be to set up a permanent photo 'studio' outside. i could devise a corner with rendered walls, painted white for a backdrop. Yes, as I think of it, that is a very good idea.

You see - i really cannot keep my ideas straight today - i do apologise - I am looking forward more that you know to life after the menopause, when my brain will settle down to more rational thought once more...not completely i am certain, because of course then i would not longer be me.

Keep watching this space :-)

*My vegetarian cookery is coming on a treat. We had gratinated Lyonnaise Potatoes last night - very tasty!