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Face the impossible … is best

December 8, 2017

For the past few weeks I have been in and out of difficult places and times; even though I have been working and quite productive in my studio and making concrete plans for next year.  My condition alongside the depression is complicated grief and like it says on the tin; is complex so I am often unable to have a sense of the cause or the cure. Acceptance of the impossible is painful; but the trick.

So, while I have been facing this enigma I have been drawing in a couple of A6 sketch books; with just two tubes of paint picked at random and a handful of brushes I make marks on each page until they are covered and covered again each morning. After an hour I close the books, not looking until I begin again the next day.  They are not and will remain unfit for human consumption but enough to say there are lots of empty pots, tables, windows that open out on to nothing -ness and as yet unwritten poems …


Boots don’t fail me now …

December 2, 2017

Yesterday I began walking beside the Thames.  I leave near the river at Reading and have walked it often during the last 30 years, and even walked the paths in London.  So, I have set myself the goal to walk it in sections and consecutively up river in the coming year.  It is 180 miles long; stretching from the coast at London to the Cotswolds.   It is not a long way by some standards; doable for me alone with or without my bike.

So yesterday I began a leisurely with a celebratory gang of supporters with a 14.5 kilometre stroll from the London Barrier to London Bridge it was wonderful.

I still have some time to change my mind …

November 26, 2017

only a black pot

Today I am going to do something that I have only dreamed about or it has been part of a hideous nightmare depending on the mood.

I am going to an ‘open mic’ evening at my local arts centre. I have been to poetry evenings and read my poetry at evening class too been hideous and a delight; but not something I have wanted to repeat in a rush.

Somehow, it seems a shame to let this opportunity go by without giving it a go.

Since beginning to do creative writing and writing poetry and not being particularly successful I have become more able at ‘other’ art so writing has become been less attractive.

However, since I have the ability to add narrative to my work with letterpress I have had the idea that I might begin to write again or better revisit some of my previous work.

I call it concrete poetry, but I am not sure it serves me well as title. For me, it is adding a haiku, and it comes after the image and allows me in 17 syllables and I am very careful about this to add something to a drawing, a pot, a painting, an embroidery or even a sack.  More colour, depth, texture, dare I say narrative; not by way of explanation. Just another layer much like any layer; a fashion accessory, more bedding, icing on a cake, a cherry, leaf mould on the garden.  It adds richness, insulates, warmth, then like a veil when it is removed reveals something else; and is illustrated in the poem today

An empty black pot

Until filled with fine blooms

Displays its darkness ….

So, this may be the beginning of something else or a blind alley … but I have been here before and I am not afraid of the dark anymore.

More drawing or more tea?

November 24, 2017

I have reached a bit of a hiatus; probably more to do with the time of year, it is time for hibernation.  Perhaps I should just baton down the hatches and watch back to back box sets? However, I have been a bit low (and high) for a few weeks so there is a bit of confusion too. It is wise for me to venture into the gloom and wait and see before taking drastic action.

Back to back TV would be a little too much!

So, while I can rule out serious issues; from a practical point of view, I have been working hard and just finished another sack; therefore, between tasks.  So, it seems like an opportune time to rest and gather strength.

However, that is easier said than done.

I have been thinking (and dreaming) I have always wanted to do daily sketches, and I have often attempted to do this but looking at the first page, so clean just puts me off and the book becomes something else often very beautiful; not wanted I wanted it to be!

I just want to do daily ‘doodles’ that might go on to be a bigger piece or a print a peaceful exercise; a jumble of thoughts.

Yesterday, decided to gesso the pages of two small drawing books, one portrait and the other landscape. So, I painted every page with various shades of gesso; and planned to have some fun.

This seemed like a good idea this morning now the paint is dry I can create; with a pot of tea and then more tea I still not got further than my same old images … pots of flowers and dead as well.

So, what do we do? More tea I am thinking?

A good read …

November 19, 2017

I enjoy reading and trust a book, to answer a question in my complicated life.  It may be merely a recipe book, spiritual guidance, a novel, for technical help, or just something to make me laugh.

While some muddy the waters, I try and stick with them hoping to find it the last chapter may just have the answer. The ones I enjoy the most are those where the protagonist or the author is a maverick or a bit strange not necessarily insane but someone I can relate to. They also may be upsetting but nonetheless vital.

So, my book cases are filled with books about all manner of subjects not all fulfilling their place; maybe just looking pretty that too is also a consideration, a good jacket, binding and illustrations can be pleasing.

The book I am reading at the moment does come up to standard … called Threads the delicate life of John Craske by Julia Blackburn … it is about a Norfolk fisherman born in 1881 who fell ill at 36 and while he never recovered he spent the rest of his life in bed doing embroidery.  His works were of the sea and his masterpiece was The evacuation of Dunkirk.

There are few facts about Craske and Blackburn’s account is far from a conventional biography. It is much about her journey as she explored the fisherman’s way of life in Sheringham and Cromer … it is a delight and I am looking forward to seeing some of his embroideries next year and to explore for me an unknown part of the UK.

Do I or don’t I?

November 18, 2017

On Thursday I went to London and walked from Waterloo Bridge to Southwark Bridge; it was a lovely day and a walk I have done often before and enjoy. I was on a mission and planned to stroll back later.

I did look round Intaglio; although it not somewhere you might wander; you do need to know what you are looking for.  It reminds me of the shop I used to go to with or for my dad to buy putty or linseed oil; things he needed as a boat builder 60 years ago. There  is no advertising or music and there is an absence of any electronic device; my bill was written in cursive script in duplicate; sadly he didn’t use a piece of carbon paper;  as a 7 year old girl that was like magic and I looked longingly at the little jewel of life. Until I learned that the wrapper of a Cadburys chocolate bar was a poor but clever trick of a child … when the rations were lifted.

I digress, I was shown a few multiple tools and tried some; but it was slightly overwhelming; although I had taken a block with some marks to compare with it still was a bit of a guessing game.  I chose one that felt right and strolled back to Waterloo via, Bankside Gallery, and a pie shop where I could get a gluten free veggie pie and mash. Belly full and happy with my purchase I went home.

Buying a multiple tool I understand is a big thing; not just costly but there is also conflicting  thoughts in the wood engraving world; mostly it seems are against them.  Chris Daunt says in an article in Multiples that he doesn’t like them and refers to another engraver who suggests we should be cautious; especially those of us who are inexperienced.

The marks made by a multiple tool it seems are uniform and don’t lend themselves to the ‘man made’ look.

Since trying mine and understanding the ‘thoughts,’ my wood engraving style is not regular; I wish it was, for me the tool is big almost clumsy it is 7×45 and doesn’t find its way into smaller spaces.  However, in an area where I need silvery tones or dare I say form, with practice it will work. Especially as I working away from removing too much black as suggested by my teacher.

So, it might seem that I might have to consider buying a smaller tool say 2or 3 x 45-60 to do detailed work.

But without sounding a bit melodramatic it is like Russian Roulette  a scary and expensive business … but is that the fun?

to London to try a multiple tool …

November 16, 2017

Each week I ‘take’ time to go to London or Oxford (I live between the two) I don’t go for anything in particular or important (that is for another time) Although it is best I have a vague idea of where I am going so I can plan the route. Although, I take a tube if required I prefer to walk and this is often miles.

Last week I went to Portobello Road for a metre of linen, next week I plan to go to Islington for some sewing thread. I have been to the Physic Garden, Regents Park, Little Venice often not buying anything more than a cup of tea and seeing no more than the sights; and all in the Off Peak between 9.30 and 4pm. This way, I can wander, and keep the costs to minimum and time balanced (trying to think kindly of myself as I fear I might be spending far too much time and money on myself)

Today, I am going to the South Bank and Southwark Bridge where I can visit Intaglio to buy a wood engraving tool and pop into Bankside Gallery and get home for tea.

It has taken several months to allow myself to look upon these days as just days and not a time to cruelly crush between worldly tasks.

Thanks to the graver or better a multiple tool.