the ancient and the absurd

When a birthday falls mid week, mid winter, mid-school holidays (not to mention mid-life) – a less inventively inclined type might find this precludes fun activities – y’know, with friends, outdoors, not surrounded by a gazillion anxty families…. One thing was for sure, I wasn’t going to spend it in the office pretending it’s just another day. (Too many years have passed that way – a postponed birthday never really works for anyone over the age of 6)

So taking advantage of being close to London, I took myself off to the V&A.

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It’s indoors (even the walk from the tube station is underground and out of the rain) and although families visit, it’s museumy and sedate with minimal shouting and squealing. (Even from me)

I’ve visited many times before, but despite this, hardly begun to see all there is on offer. I didn’t realise how much there was to see until I looked it up just now (thank you wikipedia)

The Victoria and Albert Museum (often abbreviated as the V&A), London, is the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design, housing a permanent collection of over 4.5 million objects.

….

The V&A covers 12.5 acres (51,000 m2)[3] and 145 galleries. Its collection spans 5,000 years of art, from ancient times to the present day, from the cultures of Europe, North America, Asia and North Africa. The holdings of ceramics, glass, textiles, costumes, silver, ironwork, jewellery, furniture,medieval objects, sculpture, prints and printmaking, drawings and photographs are among the largest and most comprehensive in the world.

Several hours and 4 aching feet later, we sat down for a tea and food before wending our way back post rush hour chaos. Minds were blown. Awe was inspired. The extremes of the ancient, the enormous, the itsy teeny detailed, the extravagant and ornate are all there. Most too amazing for words.

A tiny handful came home in my camera and in my mind’s eye.

Some of these will be characters in future art…

And as always I’m drawn to the abstract imagery, both in the art and in the architecture, it kinda blurs into one big gestalt experience.

 

The Stretchiness of Time

 

2015 was tied up in this book, in the rigidity of one page: one week, when some weeks felt empty of expression and some pages felt too small for all that was flooding out of my imagination.

 

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By mid year it had taken on a thick, heavy persona with paint all gooey and chewy and some weeks where no amount of layers would cover up the uncomfortable truths of ugly: a parallel to the world it was illustrating. Something intangibly off. Something meh. Some things I didn’t like, didn’t like confronting, didn’t like to witness. I didn’t want to relive, repeat, or even properly acknowledge.

The book served a purpose: A lesson in being a grown up is knowing when to persevere, and when to stop. I persevered. And when the year was up I was glad the book was full. Finished. Finally time to move on. Onto what next. 

What next?

 

…And then a really long time seemed to pass, and I rested. A really long time that went quickly, and dragged slowly and passed in a flash.
Because Time is Weird like that…

 

I found myself cutting out shapes from magazine pages, scrap paper and junk mail. Something was stirring, I didn’t know what…

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Last week I fell into a new facebook group run by the gorgeously art journally Orly Avineri. It was the catalyst I needed to jump into this new book.

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I’ve got gesso under my nails and ink on my face again.

I feel like I’ve come home! 

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This book is different, there are no limitations and no rules.

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Free to fly in and out, land a while –

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‘Take a closer look’ –  the serendipity of the cut up.

– chat with my thoughts, flit off again.

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It takes as long as it takes.

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I’m getting more and more aware that by pouring out my unconscious I can steer myself through this life in a fashion not like anything else.

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It’s a compulsion.

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You get this too, right?

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Everything that was feeling stale and sludgy has dropped away since just this first page.

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Life feels like spring time: new pages are beginning to blossom.

A Treasure Hunt

Yesterpost I shared an exploration into the evolution of an abstract photo. If you liked that, you might like this too: My regular post on Dirty Footprints Studio  gives a bit of insight into the process of gathering these images.

Happy idea-gathering, folks 🙂

where’s my muse gone?

Y’know the thing, where you’ve cleared some time, you’ve made some space, you’ve got peace and quiet for a reasonable stretch of time. All those obstacles that prevent you from creating in the usual day-to-day-ness of life………….

……….. and where’s your muse gone?

…… when did that perpetual freaking flood of imagination dry up?

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the thing I was going to do that involved torn book pages and photos. Erm… Meh…

Sometimes (I think) when the ideas sense you’ve made space especially for them – they simply evaporate. ‘Perhaps’ (they think) ‘we aren’t as wild or breathtaking as we seemed from a distance.’

They get shy and they hide. And they lurk, hushed, round the back of your mind, behind the mis-rememberings and the fluff. Where it’s quiet. They fall asleep there.

So It feels like your muse has abandoned you: but all those ideas just need to be coaxed back to the foreground where they can shine again.

In all my years of being and  spending time with creatives I’ve seen this happen over and over. And I’ve learned a few ways to entice them back:

Check out these top tips to Reconnect with your Muse  I put together for Dirty Footprints Studio. 

SevenWays

with tiny sketchy folk (40/52)

There’s likely something telling about the inclusion of these tiny sketchy folks in this week

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(this character looks like he’s sustained a cartoon style head injury – a dropped anvil or grand piano I expect)

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as usual I can’t offer any explanation, this is just what falls out of my unconscious mind via my pen holding hand.

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In her TED talk, Elizabeth Gilbert recalls how the poet Ruth Stone described her creative process:

“…she told me that when she was growing up in rural Virginia,she would be out working in the fields, and she said she would feel and hear a poem coming at her from over the landscape. And she said it was like a thunderous train of air. And it would come barreling down at her over the landscape. And she felt it coming, because it would shake the earth under her feet. She knew that she had only one thing to do at that point, and that was to, in her words, “run like hell.” And she would run like hell to the house and she would be getting chased by this poem, and the whole deal was that she had to get to a piece of paper and a pencil fast enough so that when it thundered through her, she could collect it and grab it on the page. And other times she wouldn’t be fast enough, so she’d be running and running, and she wouldn’t get to the house and the poem would barrel through her and she would miss it and she said it would continue on across the landscape, looking, as she put it “for another poet.””

She talks at length about how ideas are entities that search out a person through which to be made manifest in her book Big Magic

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I love this for so many reasons…

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These are concepts that fit my ideologies

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Removing the responsibility of being the creator: we are just the catcher.
It’s more fun.

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Way more fun

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It was this thinking that encouraged these tiny sketch folks out through my pens this week.
To be witnessed by this week’s ubiquitous big eye

Water In Parallel (part 5)

The ongoing story of the two paintings about Water bumbles on… collage on top of painting on top of collage.

Next? Next came more painting!

I love the stuff that going on here, it’s expressing the watery vibe I want it too. But there’s a lot of it with no central focus. It’s uncoordinated jazz that needs summoning together into something more melodious.

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Blocking out bigger areas in white was the best way I could find to start this stage of the process.

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Then I got thinking about ripples….

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I’m really nearly done on this now. I’ve got some more pulling together to do – and I know just what (I’ll show you next post). This came to me in place of sleep last night. Insomnia is a double edged phenomena: it leads to tiredness and inconvenience, but it also provides the space for thoughts that just don’t seem to have room to surface in the bustle of daytime.

Water In Parallel (part 3)

Having left off at this point, the next question inevitably is: where next?

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Well. Now it’s dried the hasty haphazard approach to the initial gluing has resulted in a bumpy bubbled surface. Which kinda appeals, not least as a literal interpretation of the Water theme. But it doesn’t give the substrate the integrity we all know it needs, given I’m just into week two of a six week projected plan, and I’m not gentle with my art. It’s gotta be tough to survive.

So some surgery is required:

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Delicately lifting the blisters and… oh who am I trying to kid?

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Stabbing and slashing with a palette knife! pulling up anything not firmly adhered….

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preserving the torn scraps in water to replace and patch with later.

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Part way through the slash and patch process, I’m loving the way splashes of colors emerge back to life in places. And there’s almost  a suggestion of composition beginning to emerge as well! Lordy whatever next!!

Water In Parallel (part 2)

Last post I had just constructed these thick papery substrates on which I had not the foggiest idea what was to happen.

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Which is a really exciting place to be!

When in doubt, I like to make a big move: a doing or an undoing, doesn’t really matter which. Time to make a change: lose the colors.

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They were there to serve a purpose: get focused on the theme of Water. Now move along! IMG_3959

Diluted white gesso on scrumpled paperis just lush – all those lovely rivulets and wrinkles were already there, but they needed shining up and showing off!

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Next installment coming soon….!

ideas about ideas about ideas…

I’ve been processing thoughts on and around the creative process over the weekend. Unravelling thought processes.

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In my exploration I can across this article ‘Find your creative currency’. It invites us to explore where our ideas emerge from. Like the author I can happily binge on texture.

concrete. what's not to love.
concrete. Deliciously speckly – what’s not to love.

Tree bark, rocks, skin, textiles, metals (and everything else) – they all have the potential to release a new stream of wanna-make/draw/invent/etc.

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But more so I get this from arrangements of color. A little grouping colors – a patch of nature or a window display, the clothes on a passing stranger or a row of parked cars. These are magical gifts to a color hungry mind. I have been known to stop and gaze at a stretch of brickwork or a row of books on a shelf for just this reason.

Really?

Really, no, not known to. Because I don’t generally tell people that’s what’s going on.

(But I do it, and that’s why.)

Gaping Void

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I love Hugh McLeod’s drawings, and his very succinct way with words.

This cartoon of his is a favorite of mine, those three words speak so much to me. They describe so much.

He wrote a fantastic article on creativity (I looked it up just now to link you to it, to find it’s over 10 years old. It’s stuck with me all that while!)

If you’re a creative (in any field) with a creativity block –  artistically constipated  – this is a great resource of timeless advice, and a place to go and cogitate on the nature of making.

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