Wednesday, 20 February 2013

The abstract introvert

(Is it me?!)

A trip on the train today to London to see this, also gave me the time to read some more of this book.  I thoroughly recommend them both!

reindeer bone

mammoth tusk...

I've come home with pages and pages of sketches in my little sketchbook, some interesting and inspiring thoughts about abstract art (something that's been noodling around in my head for a few weeks now anyway) mixed up with deep thoughts about the tricky business of being an introvert in an extrovert world.

I was brought up (a) in a largely extrovert family, and (b) with the understanding that work should be useful - and by useful I mean in a very obvious, tangible, practical way - e.g. being a doctor, scientist, teacher etc.  So it's only natural that I've always struggled with being (a) an introvert, and (b) someone who creates things.  See?  I can't even write "artist"!

So to see the evidence - that 40,000 years ago people were carving both abstract and realistic forms from mammoth tusks and bones - imagining things, ideas - and representing them using lines, dots, curves - well, that must make it OK to be someone who creates things.  Yes?

more mammoth...

The abstract thing?  I struggle with expressing myself, artistically.  Most of what I stitch is for teaching purposes, not self-expression.  Whenever I try doing something personal, I struggle because I keep trying to make pictures or useful things or recognisable things. 
But the big thing about this exhibition was to show that the abstract forms and decorations created thousands upon thousands of years ago are just like the abstract forms and decorations created now.  Alongside the carved mammoth tusks and reindeer bones were modern abstract sketches, paintings and sculptures. 

And I think I'm beginning to understand.  Some of the words in the exhibition described abstraction as requiring an "imaginative mind - to be able to symbolise and give meaning to form wtihout being realistic". 

So as well as it being OK to create things, it's OK to create things that might or might not look like recognisable things.  Yes?!

And finally the introversion thing.  Is it hard to be an artist and an introvert?  Is it because I like to keep my thoughts to myself that I find myself "stuck" with my art?  Is it an inability to express my innermost thoughts, a subconscious refusal to express my thoughts, or just that I have no thoughts worth expressing?!

And is it just part of being an introvert, that whenever I create something and put it "out there", I will then be wracked with self-doubt?  Do extrovert artists have an easier time of it?

If you don't know whether you're an introvert or extrovert, or what type of introvert/extrovert you are, have a go at this little quiz.  I love this stuff!

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Chasing my tail

Nothing new there then!

Why is a half-term "holiday" busier than a normal week?

Maybe it's something to do with the presence of a Small Child who actually isn't that small any more...

I started the week with all sorts of good intentions, including finishing my pencil bundle:

But that's as far as I've got.

I read a book about pencil sketching while waiting to donate a pint of blood last Tuesday.  I got all inspired and even called in at the shops on the way home to buy some more pencils (ahem, like I didn't already have any...). 

So much for that then.

We did make it out to our favourite Sunday morning place though, and stopped a while to smell the Daphne:

and admire some magnificent fungi

And the past two days I have cleared away all the dead things from the garden.  (By dead things I do just mean stalks and twigs and lacy old courgette stems and six-foot dried fennel stems, nothing more gruesome than that...)

It's still cold, but there is hope - little buds and green bits poking their noses out of the ground despite the frost lingering in the shady bits i.e. all of my back garden - I found a wonderful disc of ice on the top of the Girl's green bucket...

Tomorrow we are off to see this exhibition minus the Small Person.  I'm sure the Small Person would very much enjoy a trip to London and a museum, but I'm also sure the Small Person's attention span would be shorter than mine and Trouble would ensue and it would end in tears and grumpiness (from both of us).

Finally, this evening I've been particularly busy with some heroic kitchen action:  I looked in the fridge earlier and discovered eight pints of milk that was all about to go out of date.

So far I've made a toad-in-the-hole, custard, cheese sauce, a mammoth rice pudding, 30 drop scones, a pint of yoghurt and a ginger cake...was there anything else I could have done?!

Maybe it's time for a cocoa...

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Cold pricklies

It's what comes of having warm fuzzies last week.


Just 48 hours of madness in which to tame all the paper in the lever arch folder, make sure my objectives were all s.m.a.r.t. some quick rejjigging of a lesson plan to make it marginally more exciting than "students finish work started in previous session" and I was finally deemed to be "Good" (I think I forgot to take my hoops of fire to jump through whilst balancing a ball on the end of my nose)

...just as well the students are Outstanding!

All are Fiona's outstanding pieces of stitch, exploring texture . 
I love the merino wool in the third one down...

Friday, 1 February 2013

Warm fuzzies

The other day I heard someone describe teaching as something that could either give you "warm fuzzies" or "cold pricklies".

Wednesday and Thursday were definitely warm fuzzies!

I forgot (as always) my camera for Wednesday, so I'll have to grab some pictures next time.  We are approaching the end of the City & Guilds course and there is some utterly fabulous work emerging.  I am stunned at what people have been able to go away and do after a session of vague and waffly teaching with me...(well, it feels vague and waffly to me sometimes!  I get side-tracked by ideas).  Promise photos next week...

Meanwhile, on Thursday we have been making holes in things.  Someone told me a while back to confront my fear of teaching with craft tools that could potentially burn down the building, as it was fun...and I think I'm finally convinced!

Here is my original sample (in a sudden flash of inspiration it is backed with FOIL - I have after all got quite a lot of the stuff)

And here is Ann's piece, pre-burning of the holes - this is Ann who said she was no good at free machining...I beg to differ:


Angela's (also pre-burning).  I love the frayed edges of the silk that Angela has used:

And Carole has been very busy, displaying her work beautifully in a hard-backed book:


And Sheila has also conquered free machining and produced some beautiful work:


Now that we've burnt holes in anything that will stand still long enough, we've started to play with shirring elastic:

The Girl has also been stitching cut-through circles for her plant cell quilt:

Girl tacked all the hexagons, I did the triangles (because the points were fraying) and then Girl stitched it all together by hand, and free-machined and cut away the blue vacuoles.  All nuclei and chloroplasts also stitched on by Girl's hand.  Since this (blurry) photo, I have stitched it up with wadding and a backing, and Girl will machine quilt it next time I can grab her to come and use the sewing machine...

Science homework isn't what it was in my day...

FINALLY we also managed a spot of tray-dyeing in class yesterday (no wonder the car was laden to the roof!)


Sneak preview...

I haven't ironed it yet...