inspiration – situation not changed

When you’re feeling ok but are stuck in a hospital room waiting to be fixed, you do a lit of browsing on the internet. This morning’s browsing led me to this:

Which then lead me to look up Corita Kent.

I want to print up her rules and have them in my workspace. I already think everything is an experiment and there are no mistakes, but I love her rules.

Going back to watching DIY videos on YouTube.

I really miss having a workshop.

z

black dog – lockdown 2 day 75

Meet Petey. The first portrait dog sculpture I’ve made. And the first black dog!

Petey belongs to a good friend and one of his photos inspired this. He’s a newfoundland x gordon setter, ie huge, loving and drooly. He’s one of Lainee’s good friends though she regularly walks under his stomach.

I love how he turned out.

Petey was found in a dumpster. He was covered in fleas and ticks and his tail had been cut off. I’ve given him a full tail again in this sculpture. He’s the sweetest dog you’ve ever met and his colour and size scares the crap out of little old greek ladies (a bonus).

Petey (the sculpture) was made the usual way: cardboard, paper, masking tape, wire, alfoil, paper pulp, air dry clay, recycled fabric, glue, paint. 90% recycled.

So, other than finally getting around to photographing work, what have I been doing that kept me from posting? Well… A couple of great days where the sun shone and it was warm again meant a little more time spent outdoors. More work at my aunt’s unit, though its so slow progress. Another coat on this, another on that. Let’s put on the handles. Ooops, don’t have the pliers to cut the excess off the screw that goes into the knob. A coat of wax on the one finished piece…oops they gave me the wrong stuff. A trip to the hardware store to swap it. Take mom to the doctor, spend hours in town waiting for her to finish her chores. Groom a dog, meanwhile Lainee is getting hairier.

Bascially, the usual.

I took Lainee to the vet again. Most of the smaller lumps have disappeared with the treatment so thats good. The big lump remains though, and might be angrier… The vet was concerned cause I said Lainee seemed to be coughing more, not less, with her heart medication so we added a diuretic to her treatment. That seems to be working great. First thing she did was pee on a friend’s good rug. Ooops. But the coughing is definitely reduced now. Fingers crossed.

Eric is beginning to look like a cat now, no longer the cute little kitten… he’s an adolescent cat with a naughty face. But he’s still cuddly between bouts of insanity so there’s hope.

z

naked ladies – lockdown 2 day 74

To be honest I’m not sure I should be calling this a lockdown any more. Schools are back in session for the most part and retails shops are open. The only things that remain closed are restaurants and cafes. We still have to send sms when we go out and wear masks and abide by the safe distance rules, no large gatherings, festivals still cancelled, limits on how many can travel in one car, still not allowed to travel from one county to another… but is it still a lock down? This seems almost like back to normal life… funny what you get used to.

Should I continue to number my posts by lockdown days?

Anyway, thought I’d share another of my projects… I’ve started making naked ladies. I’ve done something similar to this before but not the same. I’m going with a sort of greek statue-esque look. Maybe some will be more fertility goddess looking… for now this is the first one ready to share.

And for those of you who haven’t clicked yet… given I love art from trash and recycling and using everyday things to create art… Can you guess what she’s made from?

She’s made using a dishwashing liquid bottle as the base with DIY paper pulp, recycled cardboard and air dry clay.

Not bad for an old dishwashing liquid bottle huh?

z

big question #3 – lockdown 2 day 43

Not art. Graffiti – the cute kind. But is it art?

As we continue in our lockdown with very little light at the end of the tunnel, I find myself reading the odd article online and this particular article sort of played right into my ‘big questions’ posts of the last few weeks.

This is the article for you to read through…

And now for my thoughts, cause I know you’re just dying to read them!

Could behaving horrendously make the art better?

One of the things we grow up believing (well, I did) is that artists must suffer for their art… that they are troubled people, live difficult lives and often die poor. At least that’s how it seemed to be in the past. Read My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok if you don’t believe me.

Artists are supposed to be moody and troubled in some way. Its the ‘creative’ spirit. You can more easily forgive someone for being a temperamental git if they’re gifted in a creative way. ‘Never mind him, he’s an artist/musician/opera singer’ will excuse a multitude of sins.

I always felt my being prone to depression was part of being an artist.

“Some link the unhinged mind to creativity, as if chaotic living might be evidence of a gift. But chaos doesn’t make for great art. Rather, it sells the artist as great.The wildman is what we devour in artist bios, much as we admire mafiosi on-screen. We who submit to the rules of society, repressing natural selfishness, view outlaws with a shiver of admiration. They enact our fantasies, scoffing at rules, earning respect nonetheless. Nobody relishes a well-behaved artist.”

Is that true? It is true that people see artists as being different – they’re expected to dress a bit different, not conform, be eccentric. If you’re not, then you’re just like everyone else, so how can you be more creative/talented/a genius?

When I was working as a graphic designer for years in office environments, I didn’t have to conform to the same business attire rules as everyone else. I was ‘a creative’… and as such people didn’t just accept me going to work with 102 ear rings in my ears and nose, wearing leggings with striped long socks, mini skirts and ripped Tshirts… they actually expected it.

So, right now I’m too normal to be an artist. There is nothing different about my look. Everyone has extra ear rings. Everyone has tattoos. So many people have nose rings, so dress funner than me. (Its a word if I say it is!)

I may have to dye my hair pink again in order to stand out!

“The industries of culture have a stake in perpetuating artistic myths because an idol is invaluable for marketing. It’s diabolically hard to sell a cultural product on its merits alone. Look around: Nearly all arts publicity is backstory. About the maker. About a work’s origin. About anything except that which was intended to speak for itself.”

And this quote puts into a nutshell what I was saying before about the ‘story’ attached to the work that makes it valuable. Its all about the story, not the work itself any more.

So its a natural extension to my ‘am I an artist’ questions.

z

my drying rack – lockdown 2 day 36

Eric has begun to leave little hairs on me when he’s on my lap.

The reason I never wanted a cat.

But its a trade off I guess. I have the cuddles, the cuteness, the purring… vs the hair! (oh and lets not forget the kitty litter!)

I better get back to brush training. Sigh.

Meanwhile what have I been doing? Not that much. Yesterday I had family related things to do in the early afternoon, so when I got home I started work on some more clay things. They’re all on my ‘drying rack’ (the shelf in front of and above the tv, under the air conditioner).

I saw this on FB this morning and I think it sums up my house:

I love it. In fact, I want this.

I need a studio. I’d like to be able to work with ‘real’ clay, not just the air dry stuff. That needs space and makes a mess.

(Everything I do makes a mess.)

I’d like to be able to redo furniture and make things…

I began dreaming of how/where I can find myself a workshop for cheap and went off on all kinds of tangents: a container fitted out as a workshop, a caravan gutted and used as a workshop…

My options are rather limited. Renting will cost more money than I have to spend unless I can find a garage or something cheap. Real cheap. Huh. A challenge on an island. I have land, but no power or other amenities to it, and to build is not only expensive, it also needs permits and the costs just escalate from there. So, back to something temporary like a container or caravan unless I can find a cheap rental space. If I’m not renting those are the only options since kit shed/home/office buildings are not allowed on the islands.

Something temporary still needs a site with access to power. I know I could use a generator, but generators are expensive to run and I hate the noise and the stench of fuel.

What do I do?

Not having the space to work is getting me down.

Last night I tossed and turned for quite a while, thoughts of how and where running through my head, ideas on what I could do with a container or a caravan, what I would need, what I could work on, how I’d gut a caravan, how to fit out a container, what type of clay I could get, what I could make, how to organise firing of my stuff, what kind of pottery I’d like to make, what kind of glazes I’d use…

I do love sculpture it turns out, so I’d enjoy doing more of it. But what happened to painting?

It just got too complicated. In the end I think I fell asleep cause I was too exhausted thinking.

z

gee time flies – lockdown 2 day 28

Almost a whole month of lockdown already.

Its become the new normal. I don’t think we question it much any more.

Sure, the 9pm curfew is a bummer but given you shouldn’t actually visit people, and there’s nowhere to ‘go’, what does it matter? I’d like to be able to drop in on a friend (and I do occasionally), and since I like being at home the curfew doesn’t bother me much. In fact, it means I have the evening to myself – I’m selfish that way!

Today I thought I’d share an experiment with marble, decoupage and paint. I was trying a new way of decoupage (when I did the mom and dad memory box) and while I was at it I decoupaged a few pieces of marble to see how they would turn out. Nicely as it turns out. I decided to try painting on one of them so I had an image with a background. A different background. I love the marble though, so I may not do a lot of this. It was something different. To be honest I kinda like the marble with just the decoupaged image on it too, just as I like the painting on its own.

Yesterday I received the pots I ordered for the front porch. It was looking a little too redneck out there with the assortment of different pots so I wanted to make it look a little classier. Here is a photo, still messy out there as I have a ton of pots on the ground behind the wall to protect them from the nasty wind till spring. And the rug I put out for cats to sun themselves on, plus bags of potting mix still to be used… But the uniform planters each with a mix of succulents in them are looking good.

You can’t really see it in the picture, but the last planter has 2 african daisies, a white and a pink. They will hopefully do alright in any weather conditions here as they did in Australia and spread everywhere. I may have to move them to another spot later, but I love them for their resilicance and colours.

I love playing with dirt and plants, as you know… All you have to do is look at photos of my garden in Tasmania to see that. Like here, and here… not to mention here, and while we’re at it, a bit of nostalgia… here.

There’s so much to miss about that farm, that garden, that house, that life… sigh.

Meanwhile I try to fit all my interests into this tiny apartment with a view of the sea and the fresh air of Paros.

One of my aunts gave me this little ‘side of the road’ gem so I did a bit of rearranging in the bedroom.

That ‘s where I had all my suitcases before.

At the time I had the foam from the antique Paros couch under the bed taking up room. I decided that since I wanted soft and cushy for the couch if I ever finish and use it (cause I have no room in this place) I got rid of the foam and I put the suitcases under the bed for storage. Much smarter idea. I can now pull the suitcase I want out like I would a drawer.

And I put the little table in the corner to shove things that need storing under. Like paper supplies, mom’s old sewing machine (which needs a tweak to work) and some card for painting on. I was thinking of making a rack for shoes to hide under it, and maybe I will one day, but for now I just put this stuff in there to hide it away.

In order to make it less ‘i just had to stick this somewhere’ visible, I used the lace pillow cover as a curtain. It had a small rust mark on it so I cut that away and stitched a small round doily over the hole. Works for me.

You may remember this is how my bedroom looks. A great friend gave me this gorgeous mosquito net and (like any girl) I’ve always loved the romantic look of a mosquito net over the bed. Even if its just me and Lainee sharing the bed.

The dilema now is this: I have a beautiful painting (a nude) of myself done by a friend and great artist. I had it hanging over the bed in Tasmania and I forgot to take it to Athens for storage when I went last Christmas. Its been in its box in the bedroom since then. Just waiting.

Here it is, in the bedroom in Tassie:

Now I’m wondering if I should remove the mosquito net and put the painting on the wall over the bed.

Decisions decisions. I love the painting. I love the net. I’ve used the net a few times, so its handy as well as gorgeous.

I have no other big wall to hang the painting on unless it goes over the couch in the living room.

… but is that a good spot for a nude of myself?

Mind you, its a tasteful nude. All you can see are my hip and my breasts (which were pretty small at the time as I was a lot thinner than I am now). Its in muted tonal colours which suit the decor here… I’m not sure what to do. I think I’ll just leave it in the back of my mind for a while, It will come to me.

z

big question #2 – lockdown 2 day 24

Is it art or is it craft?

I know that my friends have said I am definitely an artist, but this is part two of the big question…

Am I an artist or crafter?

I create stuff which is aesthetic, but (a lot of times) also has a use in every day life… and by definition, isn’t that craft?

Basically, since I am no longer painting or drawing or religiously following what is traditionally known as ‘art’, can I consider myself an artist?

I did some research on the subject…

These are some of the things I found:

Definition of Art

We define the term ‘art’ is an expression and application of imagination, feelings, thoughts, ideas or any other human creativity, in a visual form, having aesthetic and emotional value.

A piece of art has an intended meaning that provokes a person’s feelings. It has a limitless expression and endless interpretation, which depends on the person.

Definition of Craft

The term ‘craft’ implies an activity involving skill and experience in the creation of handmade tangible objects that fulfill a particular purpose. It is defined as the production of those objects that has utility for people. The purpose can be decorative or functional or both, depending on the use.

Craft is a product of the mind; that attracts people. It is a learned ability, which is acquired by a person through regular practice.

Here are the bullet points:

  • Art is a type of work that expresses emotions
  • An artist makes art that comes straight from his soul and heart
  • Art is the result of the natural and inborn talent of a person
  • Craft is a type of work that is in the form of tangible output
  • Craft is the result of skill, experience, and training
  • Craft comes from the mind

Both art and craft are creative results of an imaginative mind. Both need skill and talent, though in its simplest forms craft can be learned whereas talent cannot be taught.

So, does that answer my question?

Not really. Cause I do both. I have talent (doubt myself as I may, I know I have talent) and imagination. I can do original work in the traditional ‘art’ fields like painting, printmaking, sculpture etc. But I can also sew, weave (in my own way), felt and other things along that vein. I create using fabric, clay, pastels, paint, found items, trash… I love to experiment and love accidental art. I love to mix things up and to try new things.

Surely that makes me an artist.

So, after all that soul searching I ask this:

Do we need to define ourselves as one or the other?

and:

Must we have a theory behind our work, whatever medium we chose to create (and express ourselves) through?

z

the big questions – lockdown 2 day 22

Color pencils on dark wooden background

art or not art

This is the first post of a couple (or few, time will tell) dealing with the big questions.

Basically, mom duties aside, lockdown means we all have more time to think. And thinking can lead to all sorts of things, including big questions.

I’m having a crisis.

Sort of.

Its one I’ve had on and off throughout my life… Its about being an artist. Or not being an artist.

I think the first time I had this crisis was at art school when a tutor criticized my work, telling me that if I didn’t have a ‘theory’ behind my work I’d never amount to anything – I’d be one of those (sad and sorry) people selling paintings on the esplanade (or any outdoor market*).

At the time I was angry (upset and p*&@ed off actually). Why did I need a theory behind my work? Why couldn’t my work stand on its own? So that anyone seeing it could interpret it any way they wanted to, letting my work speak to them whichever way it wanted. I just didn’t get the need to provide explanation (definition, instruction, excuse?) for my work.

(Did Rembrandt have a theory behind his work? Or did he just PAINT? After all, weren’t most painters back in his day paid to paint?)

After all, I got into art school on the strength of a series of small etchings I’d done of eggs. Yep. Eggs. Oval shapes in black and white.

Isn’t theory basically what conceptual art is all about? Since I’m baring my soul I’ll admit I don’t like conceptual art. I get it, I just don’t like it. To me art has always been about the work itself, not the theory behind it even if I can appreciate a good concept.

However, I’m beginning to wonder if perhaps that art tutor was right. These days it seems you need ‘theory’ behind your work to be taken seriously as an artist. You can’t just paint something without some meaning behind it… Not if you want to be taken seriously. Can you?

You can’t just ‘paint’, you need to paint metaphors or interpretations.

At art school I was working on black and white images (etchings, lithographs, charcoal drawings) of small details/items blown up to large proportions (having moved on from eggs). I’d take a tiny bowl of curly pasta and focus in, drawing the curls and swirls on an A2 sheet of paper. I’d toss my leather jacket on the desk and draw its rolls and folds. Ditto with licorice pieces or anything else that grabbed my attention. I interpreted these images on paper, litho plates, stone, zinc and copper.

I could have yammered on about crap if I’d wanted to**, but I refused to cause I didn’t think I needed to in order to have my work taken seriously. I got through high school and an A Level in English Literature by bullshitting my way through poetry (something I was never enthralled with). I could bullshit about my work with the best of them if I’d wanted to.

I’m rebellious by nature and I just didn’t feel I should have to.

When asked to describe my work I simply said “Those are noodles, that’s licorice allsorts, that’s a leather jacket and that’s a fish”.

When the tutor said “But what does it mean?”

I said, ” Well… Those are noodles, that’s licorice allsorts, that’s a leather jacket and that’s a fish”.

At which point he predicted I would never be a real artist.

Now I wonder… was he right?

For most of my life I blamed him (the tutor who shall remain nameless – mainly cause I’ve forgotten his name) for me not BEING an artist. Because I refused to fit in with what he dictated I had to be to be an artist. I refused to be like some students around me who produced work I didn’t respect but would blather on about its meaning till I wanted to vomit. Students who sometimes didn’t know which way was up on one of their works? Is that what makes a person an artist? Blarney?

So, what makes someone an artist?

Is it talent? I’m sure some of the people I went to art school with are now selling their work in galleries and have made a name for themselves. They’d be considered artists. Like the tutor who’s work I disliked? ***

Is it about being prolific? Just keep working at it, pumping out work regardless of success cause one day you will make it. A matter of numbers, luck and persistence. About believing in yourself regardless…

Is it about working at your art full time or with at least some kind of dedication which I seem to lack (due to my ADHD when it comes to creative expression)? Like finding a medium and sticking with it – not jumping from stitches to clay to paint on marble and paper and canvas in a week?

I’ve noticed that people who work steadily and consistently on something, regardless of talent, achieve success in what they dedicate themselves to. Maybe I just don’t stick it out with one thing long enough to achieve anything.

I read “My Name is Asher Lev” before art school which may have reinforced the idea that I’m not a real artist… in the book Asher can’t NOT draw. He can’t live without painting. I can. After art school I went years without lifting a stick of charcoal. Mainly due to two things: having to earn money to live and not believing in myself. Since then I work in spits and spurts, when I have a commission or inspiration. Often getting my creative fix through alternative sources.

For years I split my time between work, my poodle addiction (which included showing and breeding standard poodles for years), renovating 3 houses and working with power tools to upcycle things. Not to mention the insatiable desire to try all kinds of different things – creatively speaking.

So… am I an artist? What do I have to do/be/change to BE an ARTIST?

Of course I need to work more regularly on my art, but what IS my art? I do so many things. I like painting, mixed media, art from trash, sculpture, textiles… Can’t I be an artist and do a whole lotta different things?

I give up.

z

*I have (often) sold my work at outdoor markets, mainly my upcycled, recycled and remade stuff. Is that fulfulling his prophecy?

**When you looked at my work, you didn’t know what it might be. The leather jacket was a landscape of rolling hills, the noodles and licorce was waves, rolling hills or rocks, a play of light and shadow, where things weren’t what they appeared to be at first glance. Heck, I could have rambled on about life and meaning till the cows came home if I’d wanted to.

***Why would I let a man who’s work I disliked influence me so negatively?

fish door – lockdown 2 day 20

No, I’m not losing my mind. (Yet.)

Its not a door for fish to come and go, as in ‘dog door’… Its a door with fish painted on it!

I mentioned a while ago that my cousin wanted some fish painted on his front door and I finished it yesterday.

Given that I normally work with watercolours and pastels, its always a challenge for me to work in acrylics. I need to put in the time to work with them in a dedicated way in order to conquere them. I’ve used acrylics many tmes over the years, but never feel as comfortable with them as I do with other mediums.

Anyway, here is the door before:

And in progress:

And here are the fish in closeup. Again, not the best pics. Man, I really gotta get on top of the fuzzy image problem…

Once again, I have a kitten in my lap as I write. He doesn’t ask to be in my lap, he simply climbs up my legs. That’s ok if he climbs up to play gently with my bracelets or the ties on my hoodie, but if he gets rough and bites or scratches I’ve been picking him up by the scruff and just plonking him on the floor. I think he’s learning… Mostly he just wants hugs.

He’s getting peskier as he gets more comfortable and grows. He’s now started exploring the ‘upper levels’ of the house. Yesterday he climbed onto the small cabinet in the bathroom and broke a glass holding some items. This morning when I went outside to water the plants I came in to find him on the sewing table. UGH.

This is what I dislike about cats.

Last night I started looking at ideas on how to make him a scratching post/cat tree sort of thing that will look nice, not take up too much room and I can make myself using things I can find. But where to put it? The tiny hallway space outside the bathroom is already tagged to hold a cabinet I plan to make (THIS YEAR) to hold linen and towels above and shoes below. I guess I could add a couple of shelves on the side which he can climb up to sleep…

I dunno.

Eventually he’ll grow into a big, hopefully lazy, quiet cat. But till then I have to deal with the crazy kitten phase… I hope my stuff survives.

Maybe I need to get a large container and start putting things away, wrapped and safe till I can have an exhibition…

Good thoughts.

z

shutters – lockdown 2 day 16

Day 16 and counting. First they said it was going to be a 3-week lockdown but nobody really believed that. Now it will be extended but when and for how much longer I don’t know. As it is, we never get truthful info on just how many cases of COVID 19 there are on Paros… Last I heard the free testing day resulted in 12 cases being diagnosed. No idea how many more there might be which haven’t been tested.

Yet my days are busier than ever with mom and mom-related activities.

Meanwhile this is me right now:

Not easy to type with a kitten wanting to be hugged all the time. When he isn’t typing for me he’s climbing all over me and yowling if I put him on the ground. sigh. Worst still is he’s learned to climb up my legs (ouch) to get up onto my lap.

What’s really wierd is that this little guy is getting under my skin. Maybe its the way he just sits and stares at me, or the fact that he wants to be on me all the time, purring and rubbing against me. Maybe its that he even made my mother (who hates cats and who swore at me for taking in Spartacus who gave us all ringworm) laugh with his cute face and antics with an empty paper bag.

This morning he played with the paper bag and ran around a while then went quiet. I looked for him everywhere as I wanted to put him in the bathroom when I went out and couldn’t find him. Thought he’d gotten under the couch again. The paper bag was in the middle of the floor so as I passed it I scooted it out of the way with my foot. Odd… heavier than usual. Turns out the little ratbag was asleep IN the paper bag!

I’ve always loved all animals and can’t resist helping any animal in need. Yet so far I’ve managed to resist keeping a cat. I’ve thought about it but always managed to say NO. I’m not sure if I actually want to give this boy up. Maybe logic will prevail if I can find him a good home.

Ya think?

Still, at least I managed to do something different today. My cousin asked me to paint the shutters in his ‘attic’ room… This is what I did.

The paint dribbles started accidentally cause the surface wouldn’t hold the watered down paint, but I loved the broken up look of the paint where it didn’t hold on the surface properly so I kept going. A thicker layer of paint held but I liked the result. I love accidents. Sometimes the best bits are the unexpected bits.

I’m not sure my cousin feels the same way. It might be too ‘arty’ for him, but that’s ok, I’m happy to redo if so.After all, he’s the one paying (in coffee…). I’ve been wanting to do octopus tentacles on his living room wall or on the ‘aloni’ (a cemented threshing circle in the yard) for years, at least I got a chance to do them SOMEWHERE in his house!

I really am missing working steadily without interruption. Today was a great day, but I only got to be creative for a very short time, the rest of the day being spent with other people, albeit happily. Tomorrow looks like the entire morning is blown… but I intend to put my foot down about Tuesday. I’m going NOWHERE. In the words of Alan Jackson:

I parked my car ’round back
I’ve got the shades pulled down
I told everybody including my mama
I was leaving town…

I’m just a rockabilly country hillbilly r’n’r dancing greek australian arty creative dog cat and animal loving (especially poodle loving) Netflix addicted home renovator book reading dog grooming blogger living on Paros in a tiny house surrounded by things I love and a serious case of garden envy.

That’s all she wrote folks!

See ya tomorrow!

z