I took Lainee down to Parikia for a walk again this afternoon, along the beach and the waterfront. On the way back it got dark and I discovered there are Christmas lights up in town!
Its a glorious night, after a brilliant day. The sea is still, not a skerrick of wind, just perfect. Unbelievable to think Christmas is just around the corner.
This time of year they always light up the windmill in the port, but I didn’t see the lit up boat in the town square. I think that gets lit at a Christmas fete later in December… Though I don’t think that’ll happen this year. Large gatherings of people, even outdoors, is probably a no-no. No Christmas markets either I bet. In fact, we’ll be lucky to have stores open for Christmas shopping the way we’re going.
Lucky I make my own presents!
I visited the nursery again today cause I needed another bag of potting mix. The new planter I got for the lupins out the back is huge and needed about 100 litres of potting mix. While there I fell in love with this little plant. No idea what it is, but I love its whimsical craziness.
As you can see, it now has a great spot on my book case and is wearing my little star fairy lights.
A little bit of Christmas for me too.
I wasn’t going to do anything this year, but I’m finding I want to do something. I might go get some outdoor fairy lights to put on the tree outside. Or across the front. I may not put up a tree but I love fairy lights.
I might also dig out the indoor ones and put them up high where they won’t tempt Eric.
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.
Another finished dog. I just love making these guys. They take about a week to make. Making the armature is easy enough and only takes an afternoon. Then the actual shaping (building up of body) and adding face and paws takes a few days since they need drying time between goes. Because of that I usually start another dog before I’ve finished the one I’m working on. At any given time I have at least 2 dogs ‘in progress’.
How many dogs will I make? I’m not sure. I have other projects I work on in between (more clay dishes for instance since I bought a few packs of air dry clay) but I come back to the dogs when I feel at a loss. I have cardboard prepared to paint on, so I have to get to that at some stage. The idea is to have enough work to choose from when its time to have an exhibition. What doesn’t sell there will go in my new online shop.
Yes. New shop. I was getting really down about not selling anything in my Etsy shop for a long time so I closed it. Maybe that was rash… Now if I want to re-open it I have to start over. But who knows. I’ve seen some papier mache dog sculptures on there for unbelievable prices, which makes me think mine, at reasonable prices, might sell. Or I might just stick to opening a Facebook shop. I started on that but stopped cause I can’t make things to sell now AND have enough stuff for a show later on.
Oh the dilema of being an artist… sell something now or keep it to show…
Anyway, this little dog began life as a short muzzled boy, but when I added cheeks and jowls he looked like he’d been stung by a bee. I began thinking I’d put a bee on his nose and call him ‘I got Stung’ but discovered I could carve into the paper mache clay. I fixed his face and now he has this quizzical expression I really like.
(I reserve the right to make a stung dog though!)
He’s been made the same way as all my dogs, with recycled materials and finished with vintage white cotton fabric and white paint. His face and paws are air dry clay.
It was a glorious day today. I took Lainee down into Parikia this morning and we took a long walk with one of my aunts all the way to the other end of town. The sea was so gorgeous I couldn’t resist and had a quick skinny dip. I hadn’t planned on swimming so didn’t have my bathing suit or a towel. There was no one around so why not? The sun was warm enough to dry me off quickly and it felt incredible. Sure, it was cold in the water, but it was worth it. Though its such an easy walk it sure doesn’t feel like nearly enough exercise.
Lainee said it was enough for her though. She made some new friends along the way and then came home and crashed.
Mom made me some bean soup. It was nice. I hadn’t had it in a long time. Sometimes I need to remember I’m greek. I can’t live on panettone, thai green curry and gyoza all the time!
What else have I got to share?
My new vacuum cleaner sucks. Literally. It sucked the rug right off the floor. I almost broke a rib trying to pull it across the rug. I found I have to use that little air slider thingy to loosen its grip in order to vacuum even on the hard floors. Well, that’s a good thing. Last thing you want is a vacuum cleaner which doesn’t suck!
My newest clay dishes (in cement-like air dry clay) dried with big cracks in them. Not as good as the white air dry clay which is a pity as I have 2 more packs of the stuff… Tonight I’ll try patching them up and see how that goes. Maybe they dried too fast?
The dishes I made a few days ago are now dry and I need to decide whether to paint or just seal them tomorrow, then share them.
Instead of doing more clay work tonight I think I might start on another sea rope basket as I watch Netflix. I finished watching Hollywood (a funny, feel good series) and have started watching Sweet Magnolias. So far so good. I love strong independent women doing their own thing.
I finished the play bowing dog with the teddy in his mouth. As the title says, he’s killing it!
I actually finished him a couple of days ago but was waiting for the chance to photograph him outside. Not the best light, but a bit better than the kitchen counter.
This dog is made like the previous ones – starting with cardboard, newspaper, masking tape, wire, foil. Building the armature first, then building up the shape bit by bit. The top layer is vintage fabric and paint. The nose and paws are paper clay.
I made the teddy out of fabric so he’s soft, and I even gave him some ripped bits. One ear is only partly ripped and chewed, the other ear dangles by a thread.
The gallery below shows some of the progress.
I’ve been working on so many different things at the moment I think I may have to start posting more than one thing a day! Eh, better to have too much to share than not enough.
I’m loving having some days a week to myself. I sort of made it clear to mom that I won’t see her every day, I won’t go into town every day. I need a couple of days a week (at least) to work on my own things. I’m happy to do the shopping or take mom to see her sisters etc, just don’t expect that I’ll do something every day.
Today I spent all morning working then I took Lainee for a walk on the beach. It was a lovely sunny day, made me wish I had my bathing suit with me! Bonus I met a guy riding on the beach… It was lovely to touch and smell horses again. Made me wonder if I want to organise a few rides.
Anyway, spend time with mom o’clock.
Thank goodness for 9pm curfew, I get the nights to myself and SOME nights I even feel like working!
Since I bought some air dry clay to fine tune my dog sculptures, I figured I may as well have a go at making other stuff with it just to see how it dries and what I can do with it.
I had a little look on Pinterest and got some ideas to try out and made a few small dishes…
Cats, they seem to be very popular on Pinterest…
A rough little lace plate…
A fish, not a dish but an incense holder…
And one bowl you’ll see again later when I finish it.
Other than that I’ve been busy. No surprise there.
I got a vacuum cleaner today, something you wouldn’t think you’d need on a greek island with all the tiled floors, but once you get a rug… Not to mention that apparently you need a vacuum cleaner in summer too as its almost impossible to sweep up the dust and sand without the wind scattering it.
Of course I haven’t used it yet. I’ll save that for tomorrow!
I’d been out shopping for mom and myself today, picking up stuff (including the vacuum cleaner) so by the time I got home all I wanted to do was sit and work for a while.
And wash the mess of rope I picked up off the road. (But thats another story.)
Then eat a late lunch and finish watching season 3 of Zoo. Not so sure about that series anymore. It started out great, all about animals attacking humans, then it got into some pretty way out wacky genetics and mutating stuff, but its ventured into implausibility and sci-fi territory now. Still, I’m attached to the characters now and will watch the next season if (and when) it comes out.
…I wonder what’s happening with The Walking Dead… Anyone know if there’s another season out or coming?
Anyway, I have a dog waiting for me on the table. Not Lainee. She’s quite content. I took her for a long ride in the car today and then a run on the beach. She’s had her dinner and is currently curled up on the couch.
Eric is around here somewhere… not sure where… I can’t hear him or see him.
Hmm. Its quiet. Too quiet… It reminds me of a little poem I read somewhere many years ago:
More frightening than a storm or a riot Is a bunch of kids Which is suddenly quiet.
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?
Must we have a theory behind our work, whatever medium we chose to create (and express ourselves) through?
(Struggling to type with a kitten on my chest, forcing me to lean back on my chair so he won’t use his claws to hold on… The trade off is purring at my neck.)
I was thinking that I needed something to hang a leash, coat, scarf, keys, flashlight, whatever on behind the front door. You know, a handy spot for those things you grab on the way out.
About 2 weeks ago I began thinking of what I could use to make this and picked among the driftwood I’ve collected. I chose this piece cause Iove the worn shape on the end.
I sanded it back to reveal the fresh wood colour, removed nails but left the holes, and then just let it sit cause the next step involved a mandala stencil I couldn’t find.
I bought a set of mandala stencils on ebay a few months ago and put them ‘somewhere safe’… out of the way. Permanently it seems. I’ve searched everywhere I might have put them, all the likely spots in the house and even the most unlikely. Nothing. Maybe I threw them out by mistake? I sure hope not.
After searching and then not searching but hoping they would pop up as I went about life (as things usually do when you stop looking for them) I decided to leave the mandala idea and just get on with it.
Instead I used one of my industrial stencils from Australia. I’ve used these to make various other projects over the years, you can see one here, and here. And here are a couple more I never posted about:
Anyhow… back to the current coat rack…
The hooks were some I bought here on Paros from a second hand dealer a few years ago. Rusty and just gorgeous.
The nails are copper nails I found somewhere along the way… they came over from Australia along with a whole lot of other handy things I brought. Cause unlike most normal people, I brought my clothes and personal items, my tools, my art supplies, a ton of fabric and a whole heap of odds and ends for things I plan to make. Like the coffee table legs for the table I made for my living room.
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.
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.
*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?
Today was a busy day. Very busy. I had a ton of things to do… none of them creative.
But after visiting to supermarket I went through their bins and got a few small cardboard boxes to make Eric a kitty playland.
I used 5 small boxes and an extra large coffee cup to create this monstrosity, now sitting in the middle of my living room.
Lainee was a bit envious. I never made her a playland… (its ok Lainee, Eric doesn’t get to sleep on my bed!)
Ok, so its not pretty, and its small, got small doors and crawl spaces, plus slots for little nails to poke out of. The boxes interconnect with little doors leading through one to the other, side to side and up and down. I hope he likes it.
It still needs a few things. I could only find one bit of crinkly stiff plastic that I hung off one side. Eric approves of that. I plan to add more. I need some small toys attached with string or ribbon, plus something bouncy and dangly on wire. That ought to get his attention. For now he’s only barely explored it.
Like I said, not very creative today, but at least I got this done.
I’ve been giving thought to my next dog sculpture though and have some ideas. Who knows, I might start tomorrow. I have some air dry clay bowls to finish before I make more, so plan to work on them tomorrow too.
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…
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…