A super fast, super flash (not really) update

Lots happening here chez Harrison and Little. It’s been an age since I’ve updated so update I shall.

Brag: I’ve finally been invited to show an artwork in an exhibition. Rejected twice this year for RSA and RA (Why do you not love me?) so needed something to pick me up. It’s a good thing I’m a balanced enough individual to know that one shouldn’t place their self worth or creative value on these things. Which of course means I didn’t cry or swear at receiving aforementioned rejections. Ehem. 

Thanks be to the fine people of DOK Art Space of the Steel Shed for accepting my textile work of Edinburgh Mortuary for the ‘Locality’ exhibition. I don’t have a photo of the piece but I do have the scribbled page of my artist statement:


I have also recently ventured into the world of the Artobotic. Artobotic?! What is this? Follow this link for all the info you need to fully grasp the greatness of this idea. Basically, it’s a machine that vends small art works for 5 £2 coins. John Byrne has involved himself with this as have many other artists. 


This is the piece that I was dispensed when I put my coins into the Birthlink Charity shop Artobotic machine in Tollcross.

And finally, I have become one half of a duo interested in Edinburgh places, spaces, squares and streets. Dead Ringers Shop was created out of, uhm, huh, can’t remember exactly how it all began but we are a humming with the activity of screen printing t-shirts and totes. 


Dead Ringers Shop can be found on Twitter @DeadRingersShop and Instagram @deadringersshop and etsy Dead Ringers Shop

This year I’ve been lucky to have commissions ongoing since January. My current project is an A3 print and textile piece to be the main artwork in a domestic living space. So far so good.

I want to give a shout out to my peeps….no wait. Even that makes me want to vomit. Let’s start again… I’d like to thank my friends for stepping in to help over the past few months. Childcare was not happening for many weeks, yet work was still needing to be done. Thanks to teams Corin, Dylan, Rosie, Bella and MJ for your care, conversation and chocolate biscuits. 

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Under the influence 

It has been an age since I’ve written in this space. My lapse isn’t down to not much going on. There is in fact, rather a lot going on and, Le sigh, not enough hours in my work day to make it all happen what needs to be happening.

Let me just dish out some gratitude here. I couldn’t have done it without you. I wouldn’t be doing this without you. If it weren’t for your interest, I could not do this thing that I love. So here is my Thanks to my friends and family that have cheered me on and to the fine people that like my artwork enough to buy it and commission more. And of course, thank you to the shops that stock my prints and also work with me on various projects.

My current project has me working with a local cafe to create something of a keepsake poster. More on that later as it’s still in the making. I’m excited about this project as I like the person I’m working with and this project will stretch me in the creative process. 

A fun side project involving a different kind of textiles is currently rolling around in the land of ideas. This isn’t a solo venture but something created out of collaboration.

Back to the poster idea. There is something I wanted to say here, something that many artists struggle with so thought I’d give it a mention. When I first started sketching ideas for the poster, a fabulous idea came to mind and I drew it out. I was getting that fizzy feeling when you know it’s good, the thing that you are making. Even a ‘this is so awesome, I can’t believe it came from my mind!’ And then I realised, it didn’t. This idea was someone else’s idea.

So I trashed it.

Although I hadn’t ripped off a drawing line for line, I could see where my influence had come from. I could have easily gotten away with it, but it would have always bothered me that this was not fully mine. 

It is true that in regards to art, there is hardly anything new out there. And in some way all the art that I have seen and experienced has trickled into my subconscious and might eventually find its way back out again in something I create.

There have been a couple instances over the past few years when I’ve seen someone else’s artwork and thought there were small hints in it of something I had done. Perhaps we had reached the same conclusions in practice, following our own individual paths. You can always follow the progression of an artist’s journey by looking at their past work. 

In this field, there only needs to be a 10% difference between your work and their work for them to deem it their own. 10% is not a lot. Where is the honesty in working like that, where all you’re aiming for is to be slightly different from so-and-so? Instead of trying to see what you can get away with, it should be about working in integrity.  It’s hard enough making a living, living this way. It would be a wonderful thing if artists could feel safe to share their vision without others taking their hard earned ideas for a spin themselves.

Working it (single parent style)

Yesterday I took an original artwork to Copyshop for scanning. I had to spill my pocket contents onto the table as I couldn’t find my memory stick. An artist once told me that you’re not a real artist unless you’re drawing everyday. His pockets were full of art materials. So, what does this make me then?

This week I’ve had a few conversations with other single parents. Theme: How to make work work. One friend has applied for jobs and made it to interview stage only to find the impossibility of the hours. Hours that extend either side of school, before school and after school activities included. One job that seemed ideal had to be dropped due to impossible hours.

Another single mother friend, parent to twins, is having to consider quitting her job as they are unwilling to give her the flexibility she needs to work and parent. This is a job she’s had for over ten years, good track record and clearly highly competent.

As for me, not only do I work as an artist, I’ve also signed up to supply teaching. Next week I have worked out a rather crazy schedule for myself and have had to make special arrangements with her dad, nursery and additional childminder just so I can rock up at the required time and be available all the hours needed. It made me realise I can’t keep that up thereafter so need to rethink this dual job thing. It has to be done, but how? And in between the parenting and supply work, I need to carve out time to print prints and work on next commission.

All these dilemmas.

We want to work. We have much enthusiasm and skill to offer. So how can we make life work? Because to be honest, we would rather not sit on our asses collecting benefits.

Differentiation

Line.

It’s my favourite element. So much can be expressed travelling from A to B. Staccato. Elongated. Meandering. Diagonal for tension. It’s wonderful what that thing can do.

Last year and now into this (bizarre, world-going-to-hell-in-a-handbasket, it-feels-shallow-to-speak-of-nothing-beyond-world-events-now) new year, I’ve been practicing my lines.

Come here often? 

Well yes.  

You’re sitting in my spot.

Actually, when I rock up to a coffee establishment with a glorious big window and a bench for viewing outdoors, it makes me giddy. When I see people occupying all the good seats, it makes me cross. Those window seats give me great opportunities to observe the traffic, people, buildings, life moving moving gone. My wiggly lines are hopefully capturing some of that energy.


But the thing about line is…is…well, you start to notice that yours aren’t too different from someone else’s. And that can be annoying.

Edinburgh is easy on the eye. She’s a beauty to draw; the different  shades of her personality change from Morningside to New Town to Newington to Leith. There are many artists in this town that enjoy capturing the details, streets, vistas, building, etc, etc. I’ve met a few and enjoy their line making and admire their work.

However.

My work is starting to feel too similar and I guess this is the push I needed to attempt to differentiate from the other makers of beautiful line. 

Today I worked hours, finding my fabrics, using new screens, scribbling down ideas. I’m hoping my line practice will move my print and textile pieces forward and to the side, sitting in their own space. It was fun to feel the excitement of ideas zinging about me, problem solving my way through the usual dilemmas. 

So. Hey. Let’s see what happens.

Energy

Took myself off to Morningside, hoping the biting cold wouldn’t deter me from outdoor sketching. It did. Apparently, I’m not that hard. And so I perched myself upon a tall chair at a coffee shop with a big window to the outside world and drew the activity on the street.

What I’m aiming for: I want to not just draw the details of things that I see; I want to attempt to bring the viewer to the place where I was sitting for that moment in time. My art lacks life and I want to bring life into it. Or energy, more accurately. See what happens, ehe? 

“What will we do? What will we be?”

It’s the night before the next Day of Adventure and I’m pausing two seconds to ask myself ‘What am I going to do with this child of boundless energy?’ Holiday Day number 12 in the Big and Little house. Ennui is setting in.

The other day we glued and taped together a cardboard homage to the now deceased Cockenzie power station. L displayed her thoughtfulness by stabbing breathing holes into the lid. I’m assuming the real one did not have holes randomly poked through its roof.

As I’m trying to keep my progeny entertained, I’m trying to plan my own life (worklife, parentlife, playlife) so I can start this new batch of days with sure footing and something of a planned trajectory.

What I learned from the previous year was that although my drawing and painting skills improved with the ‘Hello Neighbour’ project, what people continued to like most were my textile and print artworks. Good to know! One of the shop owners said that its the materials used that sets my work apart. I’d wanted to take a break from them as a) I didn’t think you could see my hand in them and b) I wanted to improve my drawing skills. B is an ongoing process and I should treat it with the seriousness of breathing. As I was thinking of my words for this, my next daily drawing project came to mind. So, I guess there is purpose in this blog after all.

I’ve been researching new materials and also thinking of subject matter. Whilst the prints are ticking over in the shops, I’m going to divert my attention to a project I’ve had on my mind for the last four years. Now seems about right to make that happen.

So, I can’t say that we’ve planned change this year, or new ways of living. More of the same, please. In this home we grab our pens, lean over paper, and draw and colour for fun, for relaxation, for the need to be creative.  See how amazing L is at colouring in the lines? She’s just 3 and she’s mastering it. You learn the rules. And then you learn to break them. Let’s see how colourful life gets when that happens.

‘Hello Neighbour’ and other spaces

Last week I took this show to its final stop:  Curiouser&Curiouser on Broughton Street. This small idea of postcard sized neighbourhood studies has somehow carried me through the passed ten months. This stand accompanied by 16 tiny friends, has visited four spaces, linking Bruntsfield to Stockbridge to Grassmarket to Broughton Street. In total I must have made around 60 sketches and paintings. As I look at the details, I can see improvement. And thank goodness for that.

Part of ‘Hello Neighbour’ is still visiting Hula Juice Bar in the Grassmarket. Find it here, at the bottom of Victoria Street. 


Brochan Cafe on Marchmont Crescent is currently hosting these two large original watercolours, along with a selection of prints. This was one of those small pieces of magic life hands you, which started with “I have a friend opening a cafe. Want her details?” Thankfully, said friend was happy with my work and I have to say, it gels well with her colour scheme. Plus, she’s a vivacious, charming person and I rather like working with such lovely people.

Not everything has gone swimmingly. The VAS did not love me this year (rejected for RSA wall space, but I’ve already exhibited twice this year. Can’t win everything!). I also felt the cold shoulder of rejection for an art-related job I was keen on. But it’s fine. Life is a big room with countless doors. I’ll continue to try my luck to see which ones I can coax open and see what happens.