Monday, December 20, 2010

More Sketchbook Project 2011.

The latest double page to reach completion. No real meaning here which is the fun of a sketchbook and is probably why I seem to be falling back on fashion illustration a bit. Astute fashionistas will notice the dodgy Prada knockoff! A big thanks to everyone for their encouragement on my last post - a busy time of year and the clock ticking away at that deadline!  I am having fun with it though - like the cut out bit on the right hand page and also I've stuck pages together and pasted in my sketching (which has been done on a much nicer quality paper) so that the result is a cardboard like thickness to each page. Which is nice.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Giving Thanks, Ex- Voto And Detatchable Frida Kahlo.

I know I complained to anyone who'd listen (Hi Karen!) about having to write an essay AND give a PowerPoint presentation on Frida Kahlo a couple of months ago but the fact is the process was enriching (learning hey, who knew?). I've always been fascinated by Frida Kahlo's circumstances but not so enamoured with her actual work - I just didn't like her style. Researching Frida however and her paintings turned that around somewhat. Now I get it. Still, I wouldn't want to have Frida's My Birth hanging in my living area (Madonna owns the original and decides who'll make it as a friend depending on their reaction) but I do love the kitsch that has grown up around her iconic image and has it's roots in Mexican folk art - the very thing I disliked about her style in the first place. The best part though for me was discovering ex-voto and retablo which were popular in 19th century Mexico and which Frida drew inspiration from. They are small religious paintings on tin which give thanks to a saint for intervening in a tragic event or illness. Sometimes the retablo will depict the tragic event, inscribe a sentence or paragraph abut it and in the corner have the intervening saint. In ex-voto it's just a painting of the saint. Searches on google images or etsy will turn up ex-votos or retablos of Frida Kahlo herself. Like she's the saint now. The saint of suffering or rather triumph of the spirit over suffering I like to think. Which is why when I had lots of tin left over from my chandelier project it seemed obvious that I should make my own Frida ex - voto with a little polymer clay. Then it seemed obvious that with a bit of  blu- tac it could be a detachable element of the chandelier - especially if I wanted to push the chandelier over the line into kitsch! As for Affluenza maybe it's just a reminder to give thanks for what we already have. Hope you are enjoying the festive season! 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Completed Affluenza Chandelier.

Phew! The Affluenza Chandelier is complete and has been put past the panel for assessment. Pretty much the most involved project I've ever completed I can finally breath a sigh of relief. It brought it's fair share of stress along the way but I learnt a lot. I now have metal wrangling skills and look at mundane objects and (non vegetable) refuse in a whole new way. I also learnt that if you are sick stay away from permanent super glue based decisions: in these instances blu tac can be your friend. I am also really lucky that we had our assessment in two parts and that I learnt in a forgiving environment that I am NOT, even about a project I know inside out, capable of speaking off the cuff. Fortunately I had a week until the graded panel assessment to get over the virus and learn my presentation off by heart - also rewrite it so it made sense  (that helped, who knew?)  and sell the concept behind my chandelier the best I could. In the end it seemed too much for some flan tins and plastic cutlery to embody  the fullness of Hamilton's arguments in Affluenza so I narrowed it down to a metaphor: the Family Meal. That is taking the time to cook fresh ingredients in enduring materials and nurturing your connections with family and friends around the meal table in contrast with the takeaway meal eaten alone after a twelve hour day at work. The flowers are of course my depiction of the "Down Shifting" Hamilton cites as the cure for Affluenza. They start at the bottom tier, multiply in the middle and by the top tier form a thriving garden. Using yellow also helped me portray the sense of energy and new life and abundance (as opposed to material abundance) that comes from individuals downshifting (shame on anyone who thinks I used yellow because I've got a BIG crush on it and it's SO hot in design right now.....).
As a final note I should probably start calling it the Down Shifting chandelier because, like the book, it ends (and I'm hoping this comes across visually) with the feeling of optimism and new possibility. And plus no body wants a depressing chandelier do they?????

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sketchbook Project 2011.

A few weeks ago I joined up for Sketchbook Project 2011. I hadn't heard of it until recently and it seemed like a really good idea as I had wanted to use these summer holidays for working on my drawing and nothing works better for me it seems than having a deadline. And this deadline, it occurred to me yesterday, is ridiculously close. This is what I have achieved thus far....

I have an excuse though. I needed to wait until the chandelier was complete and I was free to focus on something else. Well the chandelier is done (!!!!!! will post some pics of it when I get a bit more time) and that gave me the opportunity this weekend to open up the envelope from the Sketchbook Project organisers which contained my moleskin journal and some extra details. Well the first thing that occured to me was "my, the pages are quite thin and there are a lot of them". Not being what I'd imagined I was taken aback. ALARMED in fact. Especially as there is only three months and I have missed the first month busy with course work. So some executive decisions: will use a lot of collage - both to give weight to the pages and to fill them a bit faster. Also I may glue some of the pages together (all artistic decisions obviously....). A quick scout of the web suggests others are wondering about the thin quality of the pages too. Like here. And here. Anyway, what am I doing sitting here blogging when I should be SKETCHING?

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tim Ryan And Gold Lame.

I love gold lame. Pity then that so few opportunities arise in my life to wear it. I'm starting to wonder though if I should just start wearing it regardless. School pick up? For sure. Saturday morning cricket? Why not! Ask not where one  can wear gold lame but where can't one wear it. These are from Tim Ryan's S/S 2011 collection and they side step any connotation I might have for 60's gold lame, Samantha Steven's cocktail wardrobe, and modernise it thoroughly. Great updated silhouettes and really loving it with the pale blues, mauves and shots of graphic black. I hope there's going to be a lot more of this lame going around....

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Crap Parent Award.

Wow, two awards in one week! First the Versatile Blogger Award and now The Crap Parent Award which I have awarded to my partner and myself for the following incidents.

- Driving our daughter and her friends home accross town from band rehearsals in a car with a clutch about to give. Limping home in the dark having to restart the car every time gears need changing. Of course the kids loved the drama. "We thought we were going to die!!!" my daughter's friend gleefully told her mother, having to be picked up from our place where the trip was finally aborted.

- Sending our daughter off on the state band tour at 7.30 in the morning sans trumpet. Daughter's friend's dad (who is chauffering because our car has dodgy clutch) rings up at destination in panic "Missing a trumpet!".

- Discover later on that father of daughter's friend has also stopped en route at bakery for danish pastry when our daughter announces no one has fed her that morning.

We accept our Crap Parent Award as duly deserved and are happy to pass it on to whom ever else feels worthy.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Grady McFerrin.

I can't remember how I stumbled across Grady McFerrin and his beautiful letterpress illustrations but it was instant love. I would like to see him do a children's book - preferably with a vintage circus theme  as he seems to have a lot of vintage circus type graphics in his portfolio and there's nothing I love more than a vintage circus. That in my opinion would be getting close to illustration heaven... 
See the rest of his portfolio here.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Orla Kiely's Yellow Velvet Dress

More sixties retro from Orla Kiely that you might already have seen. I LOVE the yellow velvet dress but if you think about it, how easy would it be to wear that colour? Or a thick velvet if you are short? I can imagine myself impulse buying it then getting home, trying it on, looking in the mirror and going "Oh my god, what was I thinking? I look like a chubby extra from the set of To Sir With Love, not in fact like the model dancing away on her own in a wood panelled den." Lucky it's prohibitively priced and I don't know where you'd buy Orla Kiely. Cool party dress nonetheless. Go for it rich, skinny girls...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Gender Studies 101.

Archie was telling me the other day how funny one of the boys in his class was being, a child with a rep for being the naughtiest boy in the kindergarten class. I said "Did everyone think he was being funny?"
Archie said "Just the boys".
I said "Why don't the girls think he's being funny?"
Archie said "Because they know he's being naughty"
"Don't the boys know he's being naughty?" I asked.
"Yes" said Archie "But they can't help it"
It was hard to know what to say next. You'd probably pay a psychologist with a Phd in gender studies a fortune to reach an insight like that...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Daily Foto Project.

No nice way to say this - I'm hating the affluenza chandelier. It's a logistical nightmare. Too many pieces, too ambitious and it's going to embarrass the hell out of me in two weeks time when I have to present it to the 'panel' of industry experts. Only one thing to do when this happens: steal some nice pics off etsy and get them to pretty up my blog. These photos come from thedailyfoto - a photographer named Melissa from Australia who is self taught. The images I've chosen here are from a daily photo project where she will take 365 photos in 365 days. Whatever catches her eye on the day I guess. I particularly like her eye for colour and her sense of the graphic. The photos can be bought on etsy where Melissa also tells the story behind the image  and as an added plus $5 of each sale goes to your choice of charity!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Affluenza Chandelier Update.

Only two more weeks until first stage assessment begins on my Affluenza Chandelier - the project I am working on for the Reclaim Reframe brief that pretty much forms all the assessment for this year's course work. The phrases "Bitten off" and "More than I can chew" keep coming to mind. At least I have settled on the two manafactured pre -used materials and the form my 3D structure will take (the chandelier). Above are the (time consuming) metal flowers made from the base of used flan tins that will decorate the outer tins (I will need at least double what is done here) and then plastic cutlery used as the "crystals". Getting more 'flowers' done and the putting it together so that it looks like the picture I have in my head (!!) is the next logical step. True to form I'm having stressful dreams about the whole thing!

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Bad News. The junior school has seen fit to install a sand pit. I thought the days of picking up my son and 2kg of sand everyday in his shoes was a thing of the past. Why would the school do that to me? Why? Why?????

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Best Medicine.

Struggling this week with a virus that is refusing to make itself fully known. Coward. When that happens the best medicine is of course amazing imagery. My eyes can dance even if the rest of me can't. Enjoy!

Cardboard cutouts from Orla Kielly via Creates Loves

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Elanora Arroyo Illustrations.

I am such a sucker for miniature and diorama but these illustrative pieces by Elanora Arroyo are beyond cute. My favourite above evokes the magical, quiet of the world at night - or maybe he is an astral traveller - I can almost feel a warm breeze and hear the twinkle of stars....
The neutral palette with hits of red are a favourite too. See more like it here

Friday, September 17, 2010

Book Week.

A week ago now but Book Week at the school ended on Friday with a dress up assembly. Funny, I always saw myself as the mother who would be whipping up elaborate original costumes when the occassion arose but I realise now I was thinking of another mother entirely, not in fact myself. Not to worry - the kids assembled their own costumes - Batman and Harry Potter. See those blue girls sports pants doubling for Batman's uhmm...shorts... over his grey tights? That was my idea. Go me. Frankly though I was surprised he went for the suggestion. Glad he did though, they complete the ensemble. Otherwise it might just look like Batman pajamas with a vampire cape.... 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hope. Spring. Maternal.

Ah Spring! Thank goodness you are here. Late. A bit chilly. But still here you are! All is forgiven as you melt the misery of this recent and difficult winter away. Some little thank-yous are necessary. Thankyou to my mum and dad who, while always helpful, really stepped things up these last three months taking the kids to school in the mornings and picking them up again in the afternoon with a grocery run thrown in between. Dad rescuing my sick car last month and mum making sure I  had a spare meal in the fridge and a fresh load of laundry out on the line. Not to mention working a bit of her magic in the house. Remember Bewitched and how Samantha Stevens could twitch her nose and go into a speed clean that had the house clean in twenty seconds whenever Darren called to say he was bringing clients home for dinner and the house was a total mess with only a few minutes till they arrived? Thats my mother. Without the nose twitching. Or the cocktail dress. One minute it's like a bomb has gone off in the kitchen and the next minute it's clean. I don't know how it's done but I sure am grateful. It's one thing to be sick but to be sick in a house that has no order is another thing entirely.
Other thank -you's: my intended of the last thirteen years for picking up the slack without complaint and dear friends who make everything seem brighter - even if it is with dark humour! Thankyou!!!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Dear Virus.

Dear Flu Virus,
When you first arrived over two months ago now I wasn't happy about it but thought I would keep my feelings to myself and just bear out your time with grace. I didn't complain that you had turned up uninvited or bring up the bad time we had the last time you stayed. I didn't mention how my kids resent you or how awkward it is having you suck up all my energy and attention when they need it more. I guess the first real problems began when I said I would put you up for a while but not to expect me to change my plans for you. I made it clear that I would be continuing to go about my activities and that my children needs would be coming first. I think that's when you really took offence and decided to make your presence truly felt. All of a sudden we were doing what YOU wanted, when YOU wanted it. Eating what YOU wanted to eat. Sleeping when YOU wanted to sleep. Spending insane amounts of MY money at the chemist (btw you've never paid me back). Even when I tried to sneak out to class on weeknights I found you had tagged along, then set about distracting me the whole time I was there. In the end it was just easier not to go and now I'm behind. In short it was all about YOU. But tolerence has it's limits. That's why I am writing this and hoping my message gets through loud and clear: you are not welcome. When I wake up tommorrow morning I want you gone and  I don't want to find a single trace of you left behind.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Reclaim, Reframe.

Have begun work on what is to be the the main project for this years study and supposed to draw on everything we have learnt so far. It will also be the main source of our grade for the year (no pressure!). As always when I see a brief I can't imagine how I'll ever begin to find a solution to it. Titled Reclaim Reframe we must use two recycled manafactured materials deconstructed and reformed into a 3D form which meets a percieved challenge in the area of one of following: Economics, Agriculture, Environment, Ergonomics...The difficulty here is the limit of two materials. To be honest I just let this go for a couple of weeks, completely at a loss. I don't feel comfortable with 3D and it did cross my mind, with the flu still in active residence, that this might just be my quit point. But it's early days to be giving up. I should at least see how I go, right? So here I am now with three old flan tins of various sizes and a book that 'speaks' to me -  "Affluenza" by Clive Hamilton. Hamilton is the founder and former director of progressive think tank The Australia Institute  and this book looks at how our increased wealth as a nation has not brought us increased happiness but instead tied us to longer work hours and a slavish devotion to consumerism. So somehow I have to reflect these issues in a piece of art. Seems a lot to ask of a flan tin doesn't it? So far my idea is to use the three outer tins as tiers for a chandelier and then cut up and rework the circular plates for hanging pieces. I'm calling it the Affluenza Chandelier (feel free to laugh). I've never worked with metal before so it's a real learning curve. Lucky I still have a second material to discover and I'm hoping when found it will magically bring the issues Hamilton so eloquently presents in his book come to life. Plastic forks perhaps??????

Saturday, August 28, 2010

New Cat On The Block.

Poor Cat. It hasn't been the easiest few months for her. Not only did she come to stay with someone who was paranoid about the risks of Kitty Litter on a compromised immune system but she had moved into a neighborhood where a nasty clique of Mean Cats roamed. These Mean Cats started up an intimidation campaign almost immediately. They would approach right up onto our deck as she innocently sunned herself on a deck chair. A warning hiss would bring me to the window where I would bang on the pane to scare these shameless intruders (I swear one was the size of a small lion) away. They gave her no peace. On Monday we noticed something hideous on her back leg. Suspecting she'd been attacked by a small lion we took her to the vet. It turned out out she had been attacked but probably a couple of weeks ago resulting in a hideous abscess. This would require a $380 operation, a shunt inserted and some antibiotics. All things considered I decided that this was not a good place for Poor Cat to convalesce. It was decided Poor Cat would be far more comfortable with original owner Grandma in her cosy unit, cutting short the proposed six month stay. And there she is, beside herself I am told, with comfort. Back to being the House Cat she originally was with her doting carers. Smart Cat. How could something so good come from something so nasty she probably asks herself as she enjoys the civilised life, catching sight of the shunt in her leg. And all it cost was $380 (insert strained smile here)...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

House On The Mind.

Not sure why but a lot of my sketching involves girls wearing a house on their head. I'm pretty sure it's not a fashion thing. At least I hope not. I do dream a lot about houses (with maze like interiors) and apparently to do so is to explore an emotional vulnerability. It kind of makes sense. The sketch below adds in another favourite theme: the circus. Not sure what that means.

Monday, August 16, 2010

The Principles of Uncertainty

Well the virus still has it's ugly claws into me, not willing to let go yet. Some days I think it might be relenting, others I see it has a while yet to go. So far I've been getting by in surrender mode, study going by the wayside for the time being. I haven't given up though and art, mostly in books (have found the internet a bit overwhelming), continues to inspire and enliven. Scored for myself a second hand copy of "The principles of Uncertainty" by Maira Kalman, "visual columnist from the NY Times", in hardcover for $19.00. Such beautiful and joyful work. Her colours remind me of Matisse. Hope you enjoy this sample of the book and look I forward to reconnecting some time! xoxo