Saturday, November 24, 2012

Colours flow with more water - part 2

Part 2 of our watercolour exploration started with preparing our paper. Unlike the previous week where I had prepped the paper onto boards, this week it was over to the CKs. Paper was dampened (to stretch the paper) and gum tape cut to size then wet, to secure paper to boards.

Whilst the paper was drying I introduced the CKs to the topic for the day - self portraits. We discussed how their self portraits could be explored. A lot of detail? More abstract perhaps?  As usual, there was no right or wrong approach the work.

We began with a grey lead sketch. There was observation of face shape, eye colour and many decisions (and discussion) around 'parts' that weren't personally liked.

With the boards now dry and sketches complete it was time to start on the main piece. 

To close I invited the CKs to write themselves a note that could be sealed in an envelope – to be opened at a future time. Kind of like a time capsule, as pointed out by one of the boys.    
To assist I asked a series of questions connected to the artist and their portrait, such as:

How old are you? 
What school do you go to?
 Who are the important people in your life? 
What do you like doing?

Some wanted to share with me what they had written, others preferred to keep them private.

For me the letter is a lovely addition to a self-portrait, capturing not only in image but in words a snippet in time. I wonder if in years to come the artists will look back on this with interest and reflection. 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Colours flow with water - part 1

For the past two weeks the Creative Kids group have explored the beauty and challenges of watercolour. To be honest and fair I was quite surprised that the challenges were few. If any were stumbled upon they were met with creative integrity and not so much of a rumble of works being 'ruined'. Which I was very pleased about, opening up the work to individuality and exploration.
This first week began with views from a far. Landscapes - mountains, trees, flowers, bush, water, nature... Were all identified by the CKs as possible elements to include.
Working on easels with paper pre-setup on boards we began with the sky. Then as a way to explore the technique of wax resistance we drew in the by the land with a crayon. Then it was over to the CKs to form their landscapes.
There were apple trees...
And weeds popping up. New effects were also tried such as using the end of the paintbrush to 'scratch-in' to the paper. Used here for the weed stalks and to depict the flow in the river.
It was a delight to see this work take shape - I wish I had progression photos. It began as daytime with a sunrise, then with gentle removal of colour, with tissue, the day turned into a starry night. Truly beautiful.
One of my other artists had just returned from Italy. She asked if she could paint the sea, as it reminded her of her time there. What a special piece and such a lovely way to hold memories and time.
With landscapes complete we moved to a more free flowing abstract piece. I really wanted to CKs to explore the quality and nature of watercolours. This time we worked on wet paper.
Even though the works were 'unplanned', when we stepped back from the works we saw stories emerge from the works. We could all see a dancing figure in this artists work. Can you?
This artist went back to her landscape work and added some of the new techniques she had been exploring in her abstract piece - splattering! As I held it up, 'looking again', the splatters appeared like little fairies. There was a flurry of excitement. In agreement, she returned to the easel to form up the fairies in more detail.
Some artists simply enjoyed trying different things, that they may not normally. Such as using more water to blend colours and trying different stroke forms.
A discussion at the end of the session revealed that the CKs enjoyed creating the abstract forms most - it was fun. They also liked the wet paper. Personally it was great to see them explore the materials and take an exploratory approach to their art making.

Stay tuned for part 2...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Puzzling Rabbits - a puzzle no longer

Some weeks back these little rabbits and their carrots appeared on the fence at Sussex Neighbourhood House. With much curiosity our Manager emailed the address (on the carrot) to say thank you and to find out more. What we received back was an invitation to reclaim our lost creativity.

So with copies of the puzzled rabbit template each, the Creative Kids set about answering all the questions raised, by Peta Bunny. We won't spoil it for you (incase you want to participate in the project) but needless to say the individual rabbits depict things of importance and identity.
The rabbits took us two weeks to complete, with a break and another activity in-between.
Sewing and making things with textiles is very important to this artist. So naturally woollen pieces and a bit of stitching was a must!
More stitching...
Words and colours represented important people and events.
A little book for reading. Word and colours for family.
Family and rainbows (an elephant, a missed pet and a favourite colour were added the following week).
Each rabbit was then photographed and sent to Peta Rabbit, with personal messages.


Some lovely carrots were also crafted and sent.

Peta Rabbit has responded to each email. So I look forward to delivering those to the CKs this week.

Thank you Peta for bringing some creative excitement to our neighbourhood. It's great!


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Portraits of home

Mixed media is now a few weeks into term and it's a focused view on our end of the year exhibition. This year we are joining forces with the creative movement and dance group to present a creative arts extravaganza.

First up a major project - portraits inspired by home. To begin we spent one evening gathering together images, which reminded us of 'home' cut out of magazines. This might of been actually images of things we liked, or selected colours and textures which felt homely, or words which held the spirit of home. The room was a buzz with talk and trade of items - food was a very popularly homely image. Then it was a case of creating a 'mood board' to get a feel for what home means, or represents.

The following week these mood boards were the inspiration for the paintings. 

With some timely luck my neighbour had a new bookcase made that week and I noticed the builder stacking nice square, flat off-cuts in her driveway. After checking she was fine for me to collect, we used some as our canvas. A quick sand and a coat of gesso and they were transformed into lovely boards, ready for paint. Some stretched canvas recently donated to the group was also used. As in any group there is a preference to size, the artists were invited to pick the one that most suited them.

Each moodboard was placed on the table, alongside the canvas.
Images or look & feel became the access points – a place to begin, to be inspired by.  

A very delicious looking chocolate strawberry sweet was the way into this painting. 

This artist's mood board was full of multi colours - reflected in the work. 

The composed...

and the abstract. 

All great works and very pleasing to see artist's focused on their individual pieces. The flow of process was exceedingly present, I believe mostly due to individual selection and image ownership. No 'I can't do it' comments, but plenty of smiling, proud faces by the end of the night.

I look forward to seeing them in full glory at the exhibition / performance. 10th December – save the date! 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

MoreArt 2012 reflections

It was with a bit of sadness and a lot of pride that I closed the shutter on the 2012 MoreArt exhibition piece 'A Neighbourhood Holding Space', yesterday. Present in my life for two and a half months (a little more if you count it's idea birthing  near the beginning of this year) the artworks and the stories held and told, have become very precious to me and others involved.

MoreArt is an annual public art show, funded by my local city council of Moreland. Contemporary art pieces are exhibited along the Upfield train line and adjacent bike track. Personally I think it is a great event and look forward every year to looking out the window of the train, to see artworks travel in and out of view. For this MCC I thank you.

This year I was very fortunate to be approached by Sussex Neighbourhood House to put forward an artists proposal. With the support and assistance of Suzanne, the House manager, we formed the idea of what was to become 'A Neighbourhood Holding Space'. An exhibit created by 'our neighbourhood artists', using the knotted art form I call 'Holding Spaces' and inquiring into the question, "what does neigbourhood mean to you?" We were delighted to receive our acceptance letter. The former vendor window at Gowrie train station was our exhibition site.

Our first visit had us wondering where Gowrie train station was. Neglecting to check the map before we set-off northwards, assuming the other knew where we were going, Suzanne and I enlisted the help of the 527 Northland SC–Gowrie bus-stop signs, aware that it's end stop was the station - cleaver!

After the site visit, photos taken and with note that we would need to clean out the cob-webs and fly cemetery we set about calling for our artist collective. As I have previously experienced in community art-making inquires, our participants came forward through 'connection'. I believe this has something to do with 'trust'. It's often difficult to articulate a process which is rich in emergence - we can only explain so much, the rest we do not know, ourselves trusting a process and the personalities involved. Our artists collective included friends, friends of friends, neighbours and House regulars.

Over two community gatherings (and a couple of extra visit during installation time) we formed Holding Spaces and shared what we wanted to of the individual stories they held. During this time we witnessed the strength of the process and of the power of shared story. The flow-on effect / affect of artmaking and reflection, what we had come to now know and it's impact on our daily lives. There were connections between stories or the forming of connections by sharing our own story. 

The individuals then came together to form a whole. Our exhibit. Life stories to tell of a community story, of 'what neighbourhood means to us'. Positioning of the Holding Spaces and words which spoke of the essence of their stories were positioned with careful consideration within the space. This was important. I often say the exhibiting space informs the artwork, in turn enhances the story – it is a continuous cycle, if you are open to it. It was a difficult piece to photograph in it's entirety and we're ok with that. We like that the observers reflection is in view and the world outside is reflected in the window. All symbolic when describing 'neighbourhood'.

We do however invite you in for a closer look. To take your time, sit down, have a cuppa, read our stories, see our work at the Sussex Neighbourhood House website 

Even though the shutter has been drawn on 'A Neighbourhood Holding Space', it's not the end. We believe it is just the beginning. It is "more than MoreArt" - our emergent tagline, as it continues to have an impact on the artist's lives and perhaps our viewers..?

There is one piece missing from the above photo. It was taken down last week, carefully packed in bubble wrap and handed over by the artist to a community friend, before she left for Spain. This holding space is an offering to La Casa, in Seville. From her blog she describes La Casa as "...two things; an Asociacion of community members working together (voluntarily!) to provide a supportive social and economic environment in an area of the city that is being changed by gentrification and the GFC. It is also a historic building, in danger of being lost to decay or developers. It is the base for the Asociacion and the heart of the community."

We also experienced many opportunities to share what we had come to know with passing commuters and at the Squeaky Wheel artist's talk. When deinstalling I received lovely feedback from one lady who thanked us for the exhibit, she had enjoyed it each day. She told me she had been missing 'this sort of thing', having recently moving back to this area, from St Kilda. As her train pulled into the station we quickly chatted and I hope to see her at the neighbourhood house one day soon. 

My own personal stories of neighbourhood continue to grow, form and change – I hear this from others too. We will meet again in a few weeks for celebratory community gathering. Holding Spaces will be returned to their creators, there will be time to reflect and ultimately re-connect – food to share and no doubt many stories floating through the air.

Farewell Gowrie and MoreArt2012 – thank you, my neighbourhood is richer for it.
It has been grand!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Melbourne on a spring day

On Friday's I work with a lovely young woman, companioning her in exploring 'the artistry of life'. During our time together we head out and about, finding places in and around the city that add to our experiencing. We notice art around us and find welcoming cafes where drawings can be made and poetry formed. We like to discover new places but also have our favourites. We make friends with some lovely people.

I thought I would share some of our gems, we quietly come across with you. Here are yesterday's...

Wandering down Hanover Street, Fitzroy, calming down after risen tempers at tram door closure incident, this installation piece was a refreshing sight.
Turning the street corner to discover a new cafe - Argos Loves Company.
Wonderful food and very allowing of our 'spreading out' and 'sitting time'.
I also liked the environment, quite homely, yet fresh and rich in texture.
Gorgeous cutlery!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Message flower in bloom

A few weeks back I received an email from a friend with numerous images of art-making ideas, using recycled items. An image of flowers made out of printed pages took my interest.

My apologizes to the original creator, I don't have your details to credit you. However, thank you. 

What I was interested in was not only the form, but the material. In the past I have found the process of 'blocking out words' (this will become clear as you read on) from pre-existing print to be very insightful. 

So I began by cutting petal shapes out of an old newspaper. 

Next, with gouache I blocked out words and phrases, 
but highlighted words that interested me (by not colouring them). 

I did not think too hard about which ones to choose – simply those that I wanted, stayed. 

Once dry I stitched petals into shape and then together, to form my flower. 
I preferred the idea of stitching rather than glue.

Then I noted down the highlighted words, that I could see. 

Here planning joined meet heritage collaboration the planet excuse kitchen cupboard people want to know for sure shocked chemical years because sustainable doing the right thing local shut no sense large volumes potentially moving homes retain hand taken want lock the gate land

It was interesting to notice what message was emerging from my work, from the words. I recognised the topic, it was connected to my concern for the environment. However it wasn't until I took the words into poetic form that it started to make more sense, to me. 

Kitchen cupboard people
doing the right thing,
want to know.
Large volumes
potentially moving 
the planet.

Chemical years
no sense, excuse.
Lock the gate shut.

Retain hand, heritage, land.
Want local, 
Because sustainable homes
for sure
meet – joined.

For me it was a lovely reminder of returning to some of the 'old ways' in our homes. Less chemicals, growing veges, buying local, connecting with our neighbours. Working together to create more sustainable homes and lifestyles.

That was the reminder for me. If you could like to see what message is in a flower you create, then please join me at the next Artist's Studio (Nov 12th). There is no magic just the beauty of art nurturing what matters.

The monthly Artist's Studio at Sussex Neighbourhood House is open to all. Be supported through a focused project (November = the 'message flower') or bring your own project to work on. $20 per session. 6:30-8:30pm. To book call 9354 2210.