Sunday, 31 August 2014

a dream, a dream, a dream come true!

Dear friends,

I tried to write a short blog post before I went off on a much needed break. I didn't quite have the time it so appeared. But here was the pic that was meant to go up:

Taken of the front of a card given to my daughter for a special birthday not so long ago :)

I also wanted to say that I have been reading this excellent book, found on the shelves of a dear friend's house. It seems ironic as I beetled off to France for a hols without kids. I found myself living out one of my dreams - I am so lucky and I sometimes wish I was back there now. #wild dolphins


I even heard them speaking underwater when I jumped in! It was amazing.

I have been reading old blog posts tonight and realising how very far I have come. How all the reading, the mindfulness, the ground-work must be paying off especially when dreams become a reality. It is a good feeling. But there is always expansion, time to grow in to the next phase. I'm sensing now in the world is a really good time to think positively and call forth and imagine what we would like and not the opposite!

Here's to fulfilling your dreams and living the (best) life you imagine.


Thursday, 14 August 2014

instagram ideas (P R I N T E D)

I'm in Bognor Regis #Butlins :)

Lately I've been getting back in to taking instagram pics. I enjoy the thrill of finding something eye catching and carefully framing it in a little square. Easy capture - as my phone is in my pocket and I can mail it to myself too.

The idea of re-framing the world to create little magical images appeals. An opportunity to seek and find something pleasing out there, using the lens to create a mini piece of art. At least that's how I see it. It's about seeing (not just looking), which always feeds in to the art-making process for me. Cut out the clutter, home in on what you want to view/create.

For a while I've been harbouring the notion of turning the pics in to something real too. 

So, some ideas for you and me:

:: Printed photos with polargram - if you've already got an intagram account just log in and select images and get them printed!

:: Ceramic instagram pic tiles with imagesnap - they ship internationally although it seems a little long-winded for those of us in the UK (link at bottom of page)

:: One in the UK for photos to tiles - Splashbacks and all sorts created due to their addition of a special protective solution

::  Photobook - make your own instagram photobook of daily pics with blurb - I LOVE books!

:: Greetings cards - this company looks rather gorgeous; printstagram - based in the USA again although they ship internationally. Inkifi is based in the UK though

:: Business Cards - are a rather delicious company (albeit not the cheapest) and are now doing square business cards if you'd like your gorgeous snaps to become your calling cards ;)

:: Stickers! Get your favourite images as stickers you can stick up around the world with

:: Fridge magnets here

Saturday, 9 August 2014

the journey to expansion

a recent collage of mine

Dear friends,

Their is an urge to share more on this journey right now.

As many of you know, life is full of ups and downs here, but somehow in sharing there is strength, room for reflection and maybe even inspiration.

I feel a pull toward something bigger at the moment, which has happened before. It normally means a change is about to occur. And it can also feel uncomfortable at times.

Many of you will know I'm scribing the Experimental Art Academy and sorting out for the next new art e-course. However, one thing I've often 'suffered' from (not sure if suffered is the right word?!) is trying to do everything my self. I mean everything. From running my business, to cleaning my house, to caring for my kids. Sometimes my stress levels hit the roof and dreams about having a gardener, cleaner, nanny, admin assistant, tech assistant etc etc kick in. I often look at large and successful bloggers and (if they have kids especially) am quite convinced they have an army of little secret gnomes assisting them in their pursuits and obvious successes but they don't tell anyone.

It feels time to let my guard down and admit the desire for some support on this ole journey at this stage. To be able to say 'will and can you help me here?' and for one reason or another, that often remains a challenge for me.

However, I've decided to say just that. To let my need/fear/desire to do it all on my very own (does this come from being a lone parent and having to do so much alone do you think?!) and gather in a guide and some support. I am choosing to work with others to grow into the next stage of my journey. If I am able to offer myself as a guide as such, surely it's best to be able to do the very same myself?

I am definitely of the ilk that believes that if one is a tutor/teacher/guide/mentor in any way then we are at our best when we too are always still learning/being guided and mentored. I may 'teach' (or maybe guide is a better word?) art, but am always delving in to learning it too. Always on a course, or asking, or reading/researching, observing and doing. In fact I am so excited to have just enrolled on a printing course starting September. Hopefully it will co-incide with the beginnings (fingers crossed) of the experimental art academy whereby one idea is that we will work as a core group on our individual art projects TOGETHER. Yes, I'd like to be doing the art with you this time too :)

So, I am seeking ways to work this 'assistance' or support in to my life right now. It's part of the E X P A N S I O N - life is one never-ending spiral of growth and evolution. It's natural. I frequently read that some of the most successful bloggers and/or solo business owners have often-times invested in others to help them on their journey and that that is vital. To mastermind with masterminds builds all sorts of gold and delights and successes and expansion.  I am being a little cryptic, but will share more once the plan is completed ;)

I am reading my way through this (FREE!) e-book at the moment, and feel an emotive 'yes!' when reading such as: 
"Today, you are called to find your unique vocation and to discover a work ethic of joy. This means work that utilises the best of you, your talents, your gifts and your best spiritual self. Instead of chasing success, follow your joy."
Just a lovely reminder that life is about finding our individual joy, growing in our path of doing what we love. Admittedly, it's not necessarily an easy path just because it's joyful but nevertheless it's worth doing if you love it.

Some reflections for you.....

Who can you go visit for inspiration? 
What can you do to build your vision of expansion?
How can you ask for assistance/inspiration/guidance from?
What is your joy and are you doing it?

Go do it!


Wednesday, 30 July 2014

artists books + a book fair YOU can take part in

I am having a Summer time break. Ok, that's a break from intense child-caring and school running.

It has meant though, a leap in to making and writing, researching and picture taking! I am loving it.

The wind blows through the back door. My table is spread with all the papers I found when I was clearing out not so long ago. They are being whipped, cut, shaped and painted into small artists books.

See what I've been making below (a few select pages):

Materials used in this book: pages stitched together with linen thread, then inside: somerset paper, recycled & reclaimed papers, acrylic paint, gouache paint, hole punch, vintage photo, tracing paper, pencil, spray paint, collage, tape, vintage book and good ole fashioned Pritt Stick! I'm thinking of re-opening a shop soon...... what do you reckon? I love making books and collage sooo much.

I find book-making like this such a great way to develop and process ideas and thoughts for art-work. I can spend a lot of time thinking about a next project in my head, but once my hands become involved too, it seems a different part of my brain/mind becomes active and this has proven to be a good thing. This work is about an articulation and expression beyond language, beyond text (there is not text in this book whatsoever). I'm often seeking to make the invisible (emotion) visible somehow. New ideas are emerging.....

In the meant time, I wanted to tell you about the.....

ArtLacuna Book Fair

Recently the artlacunas met and we have discussed and decided on an ARTLACUNA BOOK FAIR (amongst other things), to take place this coming December 2014 at our gallery/project space.

If you or anyone you know make books, zines or anything long these lines, we are going to be renting out shelf space for ANYONE who wants to sell their wares.

The idea: you get a metre of space (keep your eyes peeled for updates on price etc), this will cover electrics, a provided shelf space, and publicity - you just have to be there to sell your wares. There will be recitals and readings, we will be launching part II of our own publication series, there will be drinks and refreshments and a party feeling of Festive Cheer we hope.

Do you make photobooks, artists books, collaged books, hand-printed books, recycled books, mini art-works as books? If so, start making more and come join us in December. You can always subscribe to the ArtLacuna newsletter to find out more and know when bookings are being taken.

In the mean time, here are some artist book makers to get you inspired:

(I think I've linked to some of these before, however, they continue to inspire me and make new work and well, it's always worth spreading some link love.)

And remember, if you are interested in signing up for updates on the experimental art e-course & art academy, join the mailing list here to be first to know more :)


Monday, 28 July 2014

I want to be Skip Shuckmann! featured artist #1

image from here

In a recent tweet I linked to an article starting with a quotation by Jeanette Winterson:

“Art can make a difference because it pulls people up short. It says, don’t accept things for their face value; you don’t have to go along with any of this; you can think for yourself.”

And it's a great quotation to introduce my latest find; artist, Skip Schuckmann.

There is not much at all about him on the internet. The information I did find was in this book: Making Contemporary Art: How Today's Artists Think and Work.

It's a book I've had a while but isn't it strange how you suddenly notice things one day that you didn't notice before?

Skip is stated as being a 'one on one' artist, moving away from the "bombast and theatrics" of much contemporary art. Trained in technical biological education, forestry service and wildlife management, which would see most people work for government, corporations, or universities to render their knowledge/ services, however Skip Schuckmann decided to become an artist. By doing this he is able to share his knowledge of land and creativity with his 'client's' as his calls them, whilst they are together on a client's land.

"My teaching technique is not institutional, but one-on-one tutoring. I am working for them by guiding them toward an understanding of their immediate surrounds and helping them to articulate their desires. In the process we create form."

This notion ties in exactly with one of the reasons I chose to take my teaching qualification to 'teach' art outside of art institutions - I wanted to share my knowledge on my own terms and in ways I had noticed people might respond to it differently.

He goes on to say:

"We are operating in a dream made manifest by television and money, engineering and computers. We have had enough rapture for a while. What we need now is plainness. We need to start responding to the world without emotional attachments and simplistic enchantments and the belief that buying things is the only way to get satisfaction." And as a result he suggests we "Move a rock. Sit awhile." 

His is a promotion of the plain and ordinary, although I would add, the embracing of the miraculousness of what is already around us, which is often ignored by a mindset that sees the world through industrialised gimmicks. I love the idea of re-embracing the enchantment of magical (natural) worlds that already exists.

Lately I've been thinking about a need to reconnect to nature (isn't it ironic I find this artist?) - a feeling I get intermittently due to living in a busy city no doubt, and thus I'm totally smitten with the idea of 'micro-climate sculpting' a term coined by Skip Shuckmann for his artistic processes.

It also taps in to another interest I have which is that art is not just an 'end product' but is many things including: a process, an enquiry, an investigation, an event or happening, a way of life even. Those who've done my experimental art e-course will know this about me well.

The idea of a studio being anywhere, being transient and any place where enquiry, investigation and an exploration of passions can take place is quite thrilling. Even more poignant in an era where there is so much at stake environmentally thus taking an interest and an understanding of our natural environment by spending quiet reflective and 'still' time within it becomes even more valuable. Nature has plenty to share with us if we take the time to 'listen' and observe I'm sure.

It's for all the above reasons and more that I believe art is so valuable. It's a way of finding a re-enchantment with the world by directly engaging with it. So much traditional education is about learning 'the answers' using our heads only, and I often wonder how children maintain their awe, wonder and excitement if eduction/school is reduced to so much learning by rote? If it's all already been discovered by someone else before us, can you imagine how unexciting that is for the average child (or person even!). Ways that encourage re-discovery, new explorations and personal unveilings can re-invigorate a sense of excitement in the world around us. And that's one of the reasons I want to be Skip Schuckmann.

The whole thing about being an artist and 'getting in to the right' gallery or trying to have one's work 'selected' for a competition can be demoralising for some. That's why I'm an advocate of finding something we are interested in and passionate about and if it's useful or functional and valuable in anyway, that's even better. Plus, there are many ways of sharing our excitements's and discoveries (art) - not just through traditional art institutions - which is why, in the Experimental Art Academy, I will also be including non-traditional places (and the how's and wherefores') of showing one's 'art' may take place.

Shuckmann is a good example of a different way of being an artist and 'showing' work. His relationship with 'client's' involves no contract and the end of each day sees a discussion about whether he comes back or not, and his working relationship can span years. Things that were seen as rubbish or waste are transformed and if working over long periods of time things that are created can fall prey to the effects of seasonal weather changes and are often then given another (and new) lease of life in a different form. Things are encouraged to unfold as they will, with no prescriptive end result in mind, how liberating is this?!

What could you micro climate-sculpt?
Where could you spend time observing and exploring to discover a relationship with your materials and consider what could potentially be material to use? The very air of the day? The light of the sun? Shadows? The detritus of life? (I love recycling!) Don't throw it away - find a way to give it a new lease of life - to marry it with nature. Not everything has been discovered. Watch things change over time. Build up slowly and maybe dismantle too.

- Does your art need an audience within a gallery setting?
- Or could you begin to formulate your own type of audience?
- Could you offer work - which directs art and a relationship with it - one person at a time?
- Is what you do already art but you haven't named it as such?

Schuckmann states he dispensed with conforming to regimented procedures, pre-determined hypotheses, standardized preconceptions and the sanitized environments of laboratories (galleries?) so he could form a direct relationship with the land in a more "thought fully' and conscious way. Thus his work allows "contemplations [that] cultivate an interplay between the plants, trees, land contours, shadow patterns, rock formations and all the other other parts of the environment that are visible as well as those that are hidden under the earth".

I feel excited. There are many places we could consider a 'studio' (nature being one of them) which are available to us to play in. We can create, carve and contemplate within the world. Being present in the moment and and an already existing environment allows an artist freedom to make or display art outside of galleries or museums.

I would like to run a series of featured artists, pondering over different ways one can 'be an artist' in the world, in the run up to the start of the next e-course (date tbc) and the beginning of the experimental art academy (date also to tbc).



PS. thank you for all the comments and emails re. my last post. Watch this space :)

Friday, 25 July 2014

blogging, ideas, and income?

an image I took on a recent photowalk (more about this another time....)

Recently I read a post discussing the role of bloggers who earn money and what people's thoughts were on this.

I found it intriguing as someone who started a blog and launched an e-course from the back of that blog. Someone who tried out having individual businesses on my side bar as advertisers and then for a short, brief moment, tried out google ads (argh!). These have all gone.

I started a blog with fresh content, a change of life in the air, and a tonne to share + a determination to give up work that stifled and slowly killed my soul. And I achieved this. However, over the time of this blog, I've struggled to find content to share at times (and still worry I repeat myself). I got concerned about selling out. And became discontent with how much time I spent online, whilst at other times I struggled (and still do) with the requirements on my time to even do anything - I watched this video today nodding my head. I thought for a moment I was going to give up writing blog posts and close the whole thing down, then had quite a quick turn around in thought. It's been a slow burn and build, and I like to think there is something here worth keeping.

I got concerned too about keeping up with what I started, how I could deliver and address my own needs and interests and those of people who may read my blog. I did my art MA and thought I should be a 'professional artist' and not share intimate thoughts and opinions and simply streamline my blog to my art journey. But now I'm going through a phase of thinking, if I try to be like everyone else I will lose myself, and become another similar voice lost in a crowd, and  therefore, I've got to do it my way as that's the only way that feels authentic and worthwhile and thoughts and ideas about life, art and other things always seem to bubble on up and through.

I've re-discovered a love of this. I realise too that working for myself and following dreams is still the way to go. I am glad to say that I have achieved so much by setting out on this journey and genuinely ticking off some of my key dreams/goals. But shall I tell you something strange? I have rarely reached a place where I feel I've completed most of what I set out to do (dream-wise), but that's kind of what I feel is happening right now. I'm thinking carefully about what to call in next. Oh yes, I could tell you things like I want to go holiday in the Bahamas, but I know myself well enough now and I would get bored after a while and I find the sun too hot and I think I prefer working to relaxing (at least for a certain amount of time). Also, the BIG KEY THING that I've come across recently is: IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT ME!

The holiday in the Bahamas would be great, but like most things in life it is made better by the people you get to SHARE IT WITH (why am I shouting in caps?! I don't know. Maybe I'm confirming my realisations to myself!!)

I know so much of life is about GIVING. Is this where true meaning and fulfilment comes? Does constantly fulfilling oneself ever really feels enough? Each time we reach a goal, or get to a place we wanted to get to, does anyone else feel like it's not quite what they expected, or that it's not as fulfilling as they thought, or that desire forms itself into another object/thing/feeling we would like? An expansion of the never ending search for 'having it all' or 'having it perfect' but do we ever get there

Oh to be in the moment, to realise it is an ebb with a flow and that both are required. And that minds and things change.

To cut a long story shorter, I wish to re-visit some original ideas: to develop a school or community where we can come together and I get to share all I've learnt so far, and all I know about art-related things and creative living. Tried and tested. It doesn't do as much keeping it to myself.

And so the blog post about sales and selling and what people think, comes at a timely time as I think about how I'm truly going to embark upon the (interesting and challenging?) journey of developing the EXPERIMENTAL ART ACADEMY.

I've had a few people ask about the next experimental art e-course and I do intend to run it again soon, and on top of that I really do have so many ideas that I want to share for the experimental art academy. A membership site, that offers simple prompts, plus in depth art techniques, how to write your CV, how to write proposals to galleries, how to find the time, energy and inspiration to even just sit and start making + much more. Strength and inspiration comes in community, but yes, it will involve the exchange of money. And then there are those discussions about how much we charge which says so much about how much we value ourselves and our skills. Oh my - it can be tricky.

At this time it is definitely my intention to do it. But I know that life can throw new things in to the mix and I will have to see what happens on this front. Some of you who read regularly will know what I'm referring to ;) I'm busy scribing content at the moment and I've even developed a specific mailing list so that it will be delivered primarily (and maybe only) to those on that list. So if you are interested in hearing more about art workshops, e-courses and the experimental art academy please subscribe here

And then I'd love to hear from you. What do you think about bloggers earning money and maybe more importantly, how they do it? What do you think about a membership site for the experimental art academy? And if you do have any preliminary thoughts about what you'd really like to do, or have shared in that site, what that might be? As although I have ideas you may have things I've not even thought about! Feel free to email or comment here and hopefully I can run some taster things......

As you can probably sense, I'm bursting a little. Writing here in the burning heat of the UK weather (not used to it being so hot), finding it easier to concentrate being out of the house and down by the River of London.

I intend to be back here again soon with more...

Monday, 14 July 2014

the curious art of hanging (art)

A recent fascination with the way one can hang or instal art - whether it be at home or in a gallery type situ has ensued.

I've even created a pinterest board dedicated to ideas and curation.

This interest may well have been sparked by my recent spate of home decorating which I could no longer avoid (repairs, repairs) making me think how art/home are often an extension of one and the other. And partly because everything at home got jumbled up, moved around and I had to re-think everything!

How might we marry the two, interior style - which is a reflection of ourselves and our lives - with art-hanging - moving outside the usual framed image or canvas hung flat on a wall at eye height?

Art, for me, ultimately holds the greatest power in asking questions of the viewer, or evoking re-consideration of a topic, and pointing to new (without being didactic) possible answers or thought/s. How can this be reflected in the hanging or installation of said art-work in that case?

I've long been intrigued by where art can meet 'life' and alternative ways and places to show art other than galleries.

Alternative ideas for art installation at home:

:: How can we project images (walls) or showreel images on monitors/screens? It doesn't just have to be TV that plays moving image at home! Possibilities: nestled amongst shelves, on walls, high up, floor or ceiling based, housed within another object.....

:: How could sculptures be interwoven with our furniture arrangement? hanging; floor-based; projecting from the wall?

:: A series of photographs or prints hung in wooden-clamp clothes hangers - what other similar household objects could hold prints on a wall? - clipping works to wire hangers? bulldog clips on nails? clipboards?

:: I'm currently developing a wall of paper based works hung with chrome magnets at home (loving magnet expert) allowing for easy rotation/change of works when required. The photo above is of a piece by my daughters friend. There are craft magnets blu-taced to my wall behind, just in case you're wondering. An alternative would be to paint a wall with magnetic paint

:: A series of small shelves with front facing displays with books, magazines, canvases, framed pieces, prints, photos etc. I've made shelves before with bits of wood from the local DIY shop, then painted white and attached to a wall

:: A stack of posters, images, prints in a room. I like the idea someone can take one each time they visit

:: A single protruding shelf for small 3D sculptures with nothing else on there, or small blocks of wood as plinths for small prints, photos, other - which could be arranged on multiple surfaces at home

:: Another simple idea is leaning framed prints or canvases up against the floor, on tables or on shelves, rather than hanging straight on wall

:: The temporary nature of taping to the wall seasonal collections, or small works in progress would be good for this - especially now that washi tape seems so popular (you can get it in black too!)

:: If feeling brave there is always the option of art done directly on to walls - a sense of permanency rather than temporal

And I leave you with the thought that you could make your very own installation art piece - a personal oasis? - at home ;)

I'm sure there are many more ideas. If you have any, do leave in comments below, and if I come up with them, I may add here......

Oh, and thought I'd share my latest discovery; artist/illustrator massimo nota - yum!