Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Ghost Town

Photographing at night . . .  a natural progression from walking at night. Go out during the day and there is too much to engage with. Walking at night everything is pared down, visually and aurally. I feel free walking at night. 

I'm trying to take more time framing the shot, thinking about what I'm after.
Still thinking about alienation but also about the different layers to the world; there is always another world beneath/behind/underlying the everyday one we so casually accept. Which most of us don't really look at all.

Layering the different shots together . . . . don't ask me why I went for colour with these . . . . just to see really. I shall draw my last breath thinking " I wonder what would happen if . . . . ?".  There's a kind of underwater feel here.

Alienation,strangeness, loneliness . . .  this little seaside town has it's desolation just like anywhere else. I'm not interested in the chocolate box giftshop chip shop thing unless it's to draw out the strangeness of it.

My favourite out of all this lot ( above )  . . .  now the new blog header, facebook picture thingy. Can't get enough of it.

Then invert everything and we've got an urban take on the Landscape of Nostalgia thing. They have a kind of early photography feel to them  but with weird added to the mix. Which do you like best? Colour or vanilla?

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

The Creative Process Part III - The Heart Asks Pleasure First

The ideal, for any artist, is to stay creatively healthy, happy, and productive. Begin by recognising that the creative self is something that has specific needs and  requires nurturing and you’ve made a start. What does the creative self need? What is the nature of creativity? 

If asked, most people would say that creativity is just making stuff. But no, making stuff is the end product. Creation itself arises from the very core of our being, from a deep, deep wellspring within. It is the expression of something that comes out of the Self but also comes from somewhere beyond ourselves.

It is both simple and complicated. Simple because creation is, first and foremost, play. Not worthy, sensible, serious stuff but simple child- like wonder and playfulness. Complicated because we grow so far from our simple selves and the world demands so much that goes against the grain of that simplicity and inner freedom that we are often in danger of draining the life out of ourselves and our creative natures.

If you watch a small child play, they are completely involved, totally present and alive in the moment, absorbed, endlessly fascinated, always curious, experiencing the world with all their senses. There is little or no sense of what they can’t do. Once you've left childhood, play is dismissed as being childish and a waste of time. But play is not only how children express themselves, it is how they learn about the world and their place in it. It is how they innovate and find solutions. It is how their imaginations and their hearts learn to fly. As Einstein once said “ Imagination is more important than knowledge”.

Your creative self is just like that small child. Yes, if you are a working artist/writer/musician there will be hard work and serious stuff but at the heart of it all you must keep the wonderment, the sense of adventure, the fun, the lack of strictures and rules and all the other crap that the world says you need in your life but that will suffocate the life out of that creative happy child. Do this you and you create a place within your life from which all the art/words/music/dance comes. This is the anchor, the starting point, the bedrock of your creative life from which all else proceeds.

This can be a tricky balance to try and maintain. The world clamours ever louder for our attention and there a million and one ways to drift away from that bedrock. Knowing what you need is the vital starting point, from that you can begin to work out how to keep your creative self sane, happy and nourished.

I will leave you with a couple of quotations from Joseph Campbell that have been constant reminders of where my heart has needed to be . .

“I don’t know whether my conciousness is proper conciousness or not, I don’t know whether what I know of my being is my proper being or not; but I do know where my rapture is. So let me hold onto my rapture and that will bring me both my conciousness and my being.”

“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, you are enjoying that refreshment, that life within you all the time.”
Joseph Campbell, Mythologist.

Next time . . . . .  What Not to Do or How to Keep your Creative Sanity

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

The Creative Process - Artists are not like other people.


Artists are not like other people. Creating is not something we chose  as a self indulgent whimsy, floating around with paintbrush/pen/musical instrument in hand, head in the clouds, living in some fey fantasy La-La Land waiting for The Muse to touch us with her faery wand. Tell someone you’re an artist though and you will see an approximation of just that cross their minds.

For most artists creativity is not a choice; it's a need. It is essential to your wellbeing and your peace of mind and it is as intrinsic to you as your DNA. It is hard wired into your soul.

All very well and good but your creative soul has its own set of rules and needs. Meet these needs and you will feel content, harmony will reign and your work will flow. Neglect or ignore these needs and you will begin to feel emotionally dehydrated, irritable, defensive, hostile, exhausted and pretty much ready to kill anyone who crosses you. Or  looks at you the wrong way. Oh, and your work, your beloved work. Producing anything significant will be like pulling teeth.

The secret lies in knowing and understanding what the creative self needs. You wouldn’t buy a car and not bother to find out whether it takes leaded or unleaded petrol. Nor would you think of driving it around without putting any petrol in it at all. Understand what you’ve got and you can care for it and nurture it. It will, in turn, nurture you. Sounds corny but it’s true

Next time I will look at how your creativity works.

In the meantime do leave comments, opinions etc – feedback on this would be most valuable.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

The Creative Process - Failure


I'm knackered, burnt out, depleted, bereft of inspiration ( I could go on but I don't want to go bringing parrots into it*) . Another bout of creative failure has brought about this sorry state. And yet I am not sorry. Not sorry I tried and not sorry that, once again, I failed. 

Being self taught means there is a lot more trial and error than usual; I haven't had art college to help me define my ideas or style, it's been a wide ranging, on-going process of trying everything to see what works. And what doesn't. A lot of this process has taken place publicly, on my blog, website and facebook page not to mention the Etsy shops that died a death. Oh yes, I've put a lot of crap out there over the last few years.

There have been times when failure has been particularily hard - I have torn up and thrown out almost all my early paper based work. That  really really hurt and I confess to having cried but each time I did it I knew I was clearing the way for something new.

And that's the point right there - failure is not this isolated 'thing', it's part of a process. Obvious really but we tend to focus on the bit that didn't work rather than the wonderful, complex, evolving whole that it is.  

I once likened the creative process to wandering from a place you know to a place you don't know and possibly can't conceive of with a cardboard box on your head. To which I might add that there is a big element of going over the edge of a cliff as well. With the box still on your head, of course. Sometimes I make a mad dash for the edge and fling myself off just to see what happens, at other times I find myself inching closer and closer to the edge delicately feeling my way along. I am driven by curiosity and just enough fear and uncertainty to make it interesting.

I realized the other day that I loved this crazy process and was no longer that fazed by the possibility of failure - public or otherwise. The prospect of seeing whether I could fly off the edge of the metaphorical cliff or if I was going to crash and burn is just too damm exciting.

And in the spirit of possible failure I intend to blog more about what goes to make up the creative process, why artists are different from other people and how not to burn out . . .  that kind of thing. Stay tuned.

* Youtube search 'Norwegian Blue Parrot' if you don't get this reference.

** This picture isn't actually relevant I just didn't have a picture of a mad artist running off the edge of a cliff.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Strangeartworld Photography - The Fair came to Town

 A stunning opportunity for taking pictures . . . .  thursday night, the rides only half filled the carpark in the middle of town, a very sad bedraggled looking affair, only a few bewildered looking families and the usual bunch of likely lads. 

 Because it was almost deserted I was able to lie down on the steps of the Dodgers ride to get a couple of really good shots of the lights. No-one took any notice . . .  I'm developing the knack for being invisible when I take pictures.

Camera on the same setting, getting two very different results, I'm loving the over exposed yellow.

 But you have to admit this one's a cracker . . . . .


 Can't decide which I like better here, the colour or the black and white. The black and white given a little bit of punch with levels but that's all. The rest are all straight out of the camera. Have to say I also like the different size  formats available to me with this camera ( Lumix G3 ).

I only came home because the battery died on me  . . . . . dying to get out and take more trying different camera settings this time but, being a Bank Holiday in England, it's pouring with rain. I keep going to window to look out and speculate wether it will pass over by this evening. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

You can see the rest of the pictures here

Monday, 16 July 2012

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Rosary - Photo Montage

Malcontent that I am  I wasn't entirely pleased with the last lot of images . . . same old, same old. The germ of an idea was there but it needed taking up a level. I can't rest until I'm satisfied, got to keep tweaking . . . . now this I am pleased with. It's too late for me to be doing test prints now but first thing tomorrow . . . . . . I have a feeling this one will make it into the Strangeartworld Etsy shop so check my Facebook page for the latest.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Putting Stuff in my Scanner Part III - Spoons


Yes, Hector, I really do put spoons in my scanner. I'd probably put the cat in the scanner if I could get hold of him! Having had some success with this so far I'll admit I'm looking at everything with a speculative eye. 

So, the spoons  . . . .  the scanner was being pissy with me the day I did this and kept cutting the edge off one of them. In the end I thought, sod it, I'll work with it as it is. Got to love the accidental . . . . 

 This is one of those things that I've just got to live with for a while. Most of all I need to do some test prints and stick them up on the wall and live with those for a while. It's the ultimate test . . . .  the weaknesses and strengths of a piece will always show if you give it time.

 Here I had printed the spoon out, hand stitched the paper and re-scanned. More food for thought. Like with the gloves, the story needs to tell itself and right now I have only a small inkling of what that might be. All too often the temptation is to poke it and push it. It's like making an omelette . . .  let it set and you've got something good, poke it too much and you've got scambled eggs.  One more instalment of 'Stuff I put in my Scanner' to come . . . . till then . . . .

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Putting Stuff in my Scanner - Part II

Something I had to try in the scanner was this old  glove . . . . the softest softest kid, faded and grubby, it seemed perfect. First try with it as a Photoshop brush/stamp was nothing special  but I was sure it ought to work so I kept going. Put a brush of an old sheet of watercolour paper with a raggedy edge underneath and then printed it out onto card.  Just following blind really, gingerly feeling my way to the next step but not able to see any further than just that next step. This is good, an exercise in trust . . . .  usually I try and pin everything down to the nth degree.
Sewing into the paper  with a dull yellow thread, hugely satisfying but then hand sewing always soothes my soul.
Now I had something else . . . .beginning to get some kind of a feeling about this . . . .  scanned that in

Now it's another brush/stamp and I've layered it up a bit and echoed the yellow of the thread I used. So far ,so good . . . . .

Now we're getting somewhere . . . . deconstructing the larger piece and relayering. Putting  conscious control  aside . . . . .allowing the story to tell itself . . . .  something about domesticity . . . . .it has a kind of Georgian feel to it . . .  thinking of the painstaking restoration of old houses where layers of history can be seen in the flaking faded paint and the weight of peoples lives hang in the air. It is often the small everyday things that remain, a child's toy, a lady's comb, a piece of lace, that are the most poignant. This was what  emerged, slowly and almost incidentally while I was working.


Then a further deconstruction . . . .  taking sections of the glove to re-lay them onto a new ( digital ) surface. I'm not sure I wouldn't print those pieces out seperately and sew them onto watercolour paper and then scan that back in.  A very different way of working for me . . .  slower, more absorbing but infinitely satisfying. To be continued . . . . . 


Monday, 11 June 2012

Putting Stuff in my Scanner - The Rosary Series

Boredom, curiosity, whatever it was it was going to happen at some point . . . putting 3-D stuff in my scanner. In order to protect the glass I cut up a plastic wallet and lay that on the scanner bed placing the objects on top of that. Let me tell you it attracts a lot of dust, no sooner had I wiped one side of the plastic clean then the other side went all staticky and dusty. The scan of the matches has all the dust included. I got impatient and thought I'd better pretend it was meant to be that way or I'd still be there now.

First my Rosary got scanned and then some matches. Pretty good combination I reckon. The matches led to a whole other lots of pictures which I'll show you presently.

This one is entitled 'The Ascension'  using one of my old altered dolls . . .  I can't help being flippant. Every time I think I've got the whole 'Serious Art' thing nailed there's a part of me that pushes it in the other direction. I was a nightmare at school for that very reason.

Here we are . . . .  'The Brides of Christ'  using a paper collage of a bride from a war time Picture Post magazine. Me being flippant again. It makes me laugh though which is so important; I  quickly get fed up with anything po-faced or boring.

And then, from one minute to the next it went from slightly silly to pretty serious. This piece really embodies the practise of payer and meditation. Go figure.

More 'Stuff in the Scanner' soon . . . .

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Strangeartworld Abstract Work

 The last few weeks have seen me churn out a ton of new ideas - artist as sausage machine you know. It seems to be cyclical, I can tell when I'm coming up for one of these periods because they are always preceeded by a kind of restlessness and irritability where I'm unable to settle to anything properly. Like a bubble waiting to burst, things rising slowly to the surface. Sometimes wonder if the cycle/gestation thing is more pronounced because I'm female but I suspect all creative people have something similar.

It takes a while to sort out the stuff worth keeping, there's always plenty of crap generated. These ones here, I decided, are keepers and will be listed in my shop over the next week. Will post it on the Strangeartworld Facebook page when that's done.

Abstract is something that never fails to move and excite me. I've stood in front of a Constable in the old Tate Museum and thought 'meh' and then stood before a wopping great black and white abstract by Pierre Soulage and had  a visceral experience of it that was so strong I had to go outside and take deep breaths of fresh air. And while I loved abstract work,I felt it really had all been done before and that I could not add anything original. I wandered off in other creative directions instead.
But if you go far enough you meet yourself coming back, or so I've found. Somethings you've just got to do and being creative has never lent itself to being rational. Like falling in love, it's most un-rational.

 These two shouldn't really work but do. When I printed them out I thought the blue would look artificial and kind of pasted on. It doesn't, it just floats on top, seperate elements that keep their individual identity but somehow belong together.The process is still a mystery to me. I hope it always stays that way.

 Heavily influenced by textiles and fabric design, this last piece is going to be  a starting point for a lot of variations . . .  want to try this in different colours,just to see. I will be sorting through the newly generated pieces over the next week or so and will post a bit at a time. Till then . . . .

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Holga Photography

I have taken many, many pictures of the harbour but I've never been so taken with the results as I am with these. The 208 page pdf of instructions that came with my new camera put me off taking it out until in the end I just thought 'sod it' and took it out anyway, stuffing the Holga lens into a pocket as I went out the door. What can I say? The results speak for themselves.

 It was a grey overcast day, be interesting to see how the same scene looks in bright sunlight. The lens is just a cheap lightweight bit of plastic with a lens cap that doesn't fit and has to be held in place by bluetack - a solution pretty much in keeping with the whole lo-fi, no-quality Holga aesthetic. There are no controls over aperture, white balance, etc, what you see is what you get . . .  literally. Not only do you get that lovely vignetting around the edges but it does chop off a fair bit either side of the picture. . . . same picture taken with the proper lens on fits more in horizontally.

 Love that greenish underwater kind of look .  . . very turn of the century which was exactly what I wanted.

In the picture below I've boosted the levels a bit . . . . a  bit is all you can do before you blow out the highlights completely and lose all the detail in the shadows. Interested to see how it would print out I tried it on my canon matte paper . . .  comes out not as green but pretty much the same. It was only a 6x4 test piece, not sure if the detail would stand up to an A4. Need to think about it some more before I try that out. I need to think about the whole thing because it really took me by suprise, I just wasn't expecting this kind of result. I'm a bit stunned really  . . ..  . don't miss the next exciting instalment of . . . . .


Saturday, 28 April 2012

Saturday Night Photoshop Silliness

Really, I wonder about me sometimes . . . .  I mean what the hell is going on here?  Answers on a postcard, as they used to say. After a ( much needed ) week in bed I can only think that boredom may have something to do with it or just stored-up silliness . . . . .  
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Thursday, 19 April 2012

The Landscape of Nostalgia

I'm still working on the idea of Nostalgia, though mostly in my head. A good idea needs to be carried around for a while, quietly nurtured in the mind. This one needs to be sidled up to rather than approached head on.

The Landscape of Nostalgia is a fictional place with it's roots in a real time and location. By the time one arrives at nostalgia any resemblance to the original reality is tenous. Enough to make it look similar but now it's the evocation of a time that fills the space.

I am genuinely interested in early photography but also aware of ( and amused by)  the fact that everyone is looking back and saying ( nostalgicaly), remember the good old, bad old days of photos that turned green, cameras that leaked light, film that was grainy?  It's evocation, evocation, evocation - the 70's weren't really great, we just think they were.

It wasn't until I had done these couple of pictures ( very exploratory still )  that I realised I had been so influenced by Atget's photographs of Versaille. Like everyone I love the pictures of the old Paris buildings but the photos taken at Versaille seem more moving somehow. Can't really analyse that.

These three pieces have the right amount of fictional about them while obviously rooted in some kind of reality. I feel that I'm heading in the right direction.

Technically I'm not 100% sure about them as they print up quite green . . .  or purple according to which paper I'm using. That's just trial and error of course, lots of trial and plenty of error . . . . .and plenty more thinking about it.

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