Category Archives: process

Present!

Present, St Mary's Street, Edinburgh

Present, St Mary’s Street, Edinburgh

On my journeys to and from the Copyshop (for all my scanning and postcard printing needs) I often pass this little gem wedged between restaurants and cafes on St Mary’s Street.  I have ventured in, bought presents and cards, ventured out then went on my merry way.  The thought occurred to me that perhaps my prints would be a good fit for them and so I made contact.

I am happy to announce that they have taken me on.  Hurrah.  Any shop with a shop dog is ace in my book.  Bunty does not disappoint.  She is complete with handmade scarf, her own house and tiny bowls, and sweet demeanour.  Can’t help but like that the owner of the shop is sporting tattoo sleeves of the real variety.  No meshy slip-on ones for her.

The tourist season is soon upon us and this makes me sigh with relief.  I know I’m a bit of a sell out, but we must all make a living somehow.  I like it that they like my work (especially the Yanks) and that my artwork is living in homes from the States to Japan and lots of places inbetween.

And so, I plot my next artwork, possibly a view down from Calton Hill.  If I can manoeuvre my expanding self up that steep incline.

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June pop up in Stockbridge

Danube Street

Danube Street

In June, I will be having a pop up art exhibition at Daisy Cheynes in Stockbridge.  To be honest, I’m not sure if such a thing should be called a pop up as it is already in a shop.  But anyway, I will be creating 5 to 7 new Stockbridge specific artworks and we will have a little opening party at the shop some Saturday afternoon in June to welcome the new arrivals.

So far I have created only 2 screens as I am still wandering around the area, trying to find new and interesting angles of some old favourites.  It’s not that easy.  Stockbridge is not a massive place.  I also have yet to decide my colours for this project.  Perhaps I’ll take a leaf out of the Hula pop up book and choose six colours, each work using five of the six in various quantities.  You have to plan these things or the show might not come across as coherent.  I’ve already tacked together swatches of fabric onto my work desk and will try out a few other variations before I settle on something that is pleasing to my eye (and hopefully almost everyone else’s).

Getting rid of rigidity with adventures in Monoprinting

As this is the year of experimentation, this old goat (Capricorn…not that I give much credence to that stuff) decided to try to introduce new ways of mark making into her artist’s life. There is the fun side project that is Tex and Bonnet, which is a collaboration with Jimmy and our friends Super Fun and Fantastic. It’s an outlet for collaborative creativity and we’ve already started rolling out some new designs.

I have unearthed my massive sketchbook and am commiting myself to adding to it every day. I have failed 12 of the 14 days of January so far, but my intensions are good and I at least know where the massive sketchbook is.

Today was my first firm step into the realms of rulerless-drawings-of-buildings-and-things-on-buildings. I have tried to do this with pencils and paper but no matter how hard I try to quickly and energetically lay down my line, the rigid, rule-follower in me, the person that practically faints at the sight of a vertical line that is NOT perpendicular to the bottom edge of the page, persists. I’m clean. My paper is tidy. I have several sizes and types of rubbers at my disposal. (Sorry Americans, that would be ‘erasers’ to you and yes, I realise you are practically weeing yourselves with laughter right now).

Monoprinting‘ was my word for the day. A brayer was purchased, as were papers and inks. I’d read a book and saw some helpful Youtube videos and now it was time to commit. The thing about monoprinting is that you cannot rest y0ur delicate hand on the paper because if you do too much of that, you are going to smear the heck out of the image side of your paper. So. Lines must be laid out decisively and quickly. Look at your subject, then commit. There is no erasing unnecessary or ugly line. You may be able to fudge it with a scribble and call it a ‘tree’ or ‘foliage’ but there’s not much to hide something errant.

It took a few tries to lay on the ink correctly as too much ink turns the entire paper, erm, inky. But even that mistake wasn’t too catastrophic. The unfortunate thing about monoprinting is that, as indicated by the prefix, it is a one shot printing adventure. I do have ideas, though, on what I can do with these monoprints for the future. I haven’t abandoned my print on fabric artworks. In fact, these monoprinting adventures are going to segue into developing my process. I’m really digging this monoprinting lark as it challenges me to create artwork that is so very different from what I’ve been doing the last three years.

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I remember reading an excerpt from an article about Tracy Emin. Emin and her friend travelled in the states. I can image her in some desert, dust clouds kicking up and the heat beating down. In my imagination, she’s wearing aviator shades (when they were tragic) and sitting in an itchy, fold out, lawn chair – you know – the kind with the plaid design, woven in plastic, frame made of cheap metal.  Actually, it was rather a different kind of chair in which she sat.  And as a matter of fact, here is a link to the photo that feeds my imagings.

As for this blog and my joke that it is ‘relentless self-absorted chat about what I do,’ I find that for me, the writing about making art and inspiration is as important as the making of it. It almost feels as if I can’t have one without the other.

The Seal and Josey show

Possibly too much fun is being had chez Steel and Harrison.  We have gotten our mits on a device that will make many fun products for our crazy imaginings.  Three different designs were created today, two of which are featured below.  The third design may need some re-thinking as to how we want to present it to the world.

Both images began as rough sketches in my sketchbook.  Jimmy then added the necessary colour and zing to make them more fun than my black-ink-on-beige-paper markings.

find me on a pocket mirror

find me on a pocket mirror

and me, too

and me, too

 

Excursions and experimentation

It should be illegal to procreate between March 20 – April 10.  Because if you do your basic maths, you are going to land that child right in the middle of the Christmas and New Year festivities.  Not nice.  That poor mite will be born on a short, dark, cloudy day and who knows what that’s going to do to their personality as they develop.  They might grow up to be moody, a bit gnarly, much like this tree I snapped whilst on my birthday jaunt.  (Snapped, not in anger, but with my handy small camera).

gnarly

gnarly

Being born this time of year is like being hit twice with the ‘What should I do with this new year’ dilemma.  You get it on the slow crawl up to New Year’s and then again when you look at your shiny new year of you.  What to change?  What to improve upon?  What to keep doing more of?  I suppose if you make a decision for the New Year and don’t like what’s happening, you can quickly change tack on your birthday.  That would give me a couple of days for dithering.

Usually, I am good with a plan.  Ideas fly – too many to do something about – but usually there are a few good gems in there.  This year I felt uncharacteristically befuddled.  And now that I am thirty plus a handful of years, I do feel that I am entitled to use the word ‘befuddled.’  Whilst staring into the bleak winter day, clouds low, silver-greys looming, I thought to myself that perhaps it was time for a nap.  My other thought was that I needed to be kinder to myself, take it down a notch, rest well and use that extra space to contemplate new ideas.

And experimentation.  This is going to be my year to explore new ways of creating.  I’ve bought a whole lot of art gear from the states and am waiting in antici…pation for their arrival.  There will be new printing techniques to explore, and not just those involving fabric.  Yeah.  I know.  What a diversion.  Subject matter still yet to be decided.

There will also be excurions, facilitated by fellow adventurers Jimmy, Seal, Josey, and who ever else wants to come along for the ride.  Excursions to also be made wonderful by a lovely green, brown, and cream coloured thermos bought for me by the lovely Adrienne.

And so, that’s me, this me, moving into the new year of 2013 and *mumbles current age.*  Wish me luck.

Me and a little dog named Seal

Me and a little dog named Seal

 

by definition, I shall change

You know the kind of person that shows up on time to things? Anything. You know, like work or social engagements or coffee dates with friends, etc, etc. I am not that person. You know the kind of person that looks ‘well put together’, matches in beautiful colour tones and just seems to breeze comfortably from one meeting to the next? She must exist. I’m sure I’ve spotted her out of the corner of my eye. Or perhaps she’s just the figment of a Hollywood imagination.

I know one thing. I am not that person.

Late. For most occasions. Sweaty. Disheveled. Out of breath because I’ve had to hurry to be less than my usual ten minutes late. Messy hair. Eye baggage and every other kind of baggage, oh yes, I’ll bring that to the meeting, too.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve been looking into 2013 wondering what to change for that upcoming batch of 12 months. ‘Everything’ seems too large a task, but I haven’t even the foggiest of the smaller things. I thought perhaps that ‘arriving to things less flustered’ would be a good aim, until I realized that I am not the kind of person to pull that off.

Maybe I could do something new with my hair, like grow it out long and shiny, combed and beautiful. Maybe I could imagine a life of putting on lipstick and ensuring that one arrives un-muddied and nail polish un-chipped. I then look at my two lovely, playful Labradors settled next to my feet and know that the possibility of the previous sentence is not possible.

Maybe I could really have that cheery disposition my Twitter account boasts of, smiling graciously and wonderfully as life throws curve ball after curve ball in my direction. Maybe be more philosophical and forgiving of others and self.

Or maybe, possibly maybe, the way to step into 2013 is to accept all of my many flaws, embrace my boyish good looks and instead call them ‘gamine,’ be okay with my short scrappy hair and flustered state upon arrival. Perhaps I can rebrand what’s there. Flustered could mean ‘fresh faced and healthy glow’ and late could mean ‘so busy with all the many adventures of life it’s difficult to cram them all in so hey, I’m late because life’s exciting.’

I’m choosing to rebrand my brand of self as ‘something of a beautiful mess.’ It’s really the only way to avoid self loathing in Edinburgh in 2013.

Madness is doing the same thing over and over and over and over

The Christmas market run. Oh, what fun it is to see it from the purchasers point of view and not from the POV as person freezing their buns off on the other side of the table. My first venture into Christmas Marketstall Holding happened 8 years ago, that effing cold fateful winter in London at Greenwich Market. There wasn’t room enough in the inside, so a bunch of us were set out into the cold wilderness, standing on cardboard because that’s what you do to avoid frozen toes and unhappy feet. On that day, I sold one knicker bag. (This was back in the day when I was peddling various bags for knickers, shoes, swimsuits).

From that year until the Christmas of 2010, I spent my December running from one Christmas market to the next. I would spend a frantic Night Before Market preparing my products with irons and taggings. The set design needed assembling, hence, tables, chairs, hat racks and whatever household item could lend itself to be used as prop was taken from its home and added to the ever growing pile of things to be used at the market. The day of the market meant sitting and smiling for hours, wondering if the person standing infront of me wanted to be engaged in coversation or not. It was not always easy to judge. Sometimes Possible would be interested in the ‘this is how I make my stuff’ spiel, whilst others would quickly retreat. There was that awful time I had flyers made up to hand out to strangers. I’d stretch out my cold, shaking hand with flyer attached and the passers by would recoil, as if I were trying to hand them a disease.

And so. Last year I decided to end my relationship with being a stallholder at any Christmas market. I did make the necessary money to earn my table, but for all of its stress, it just wasn’t worth it to me. I now go to those things and enjoy the wander around and the chat with the makers. Those markets can be a tough gig and I applaud each and every maker and creative using this method to introduce their wares to the world and to make some much needed, much deserved, hard earned cash.

As I’ve been relaxing from my whirl around town, reading the Wrap magazine purchased by my boyf and myself, I have been thinking about other things I will not be doing once January slips into my present.

Here is my short list:

1. I will no longer be using Gocco as my only means of printmaking. I tell myself this every year due to the fact that the supplies are becoming increasingly more difficult to come by as well as more expensive. I find the Gocco print restrictions on the size of my images could also be putting a restriction on my creative process.

2. Over the past year, I have booked venues to display my artwork before even creating the work. Although I feel that I am somewhat organised and flexible enough in my work schedule to deal with this, I find that the deadline rushes up so quickly that my last works suffer due to rushing the work through. Not ideal. And a mistake I don’t tend to repeat if I can help it. I feel that having had these many pop ups over the last 12 months (I Heart Cafe on Leith Walk, Urban Outfitters on Princes Street, Hula Juice Bar and Golden Hare Bookshop, both on Victoria Street/West Bow) has seen my work change. New ways of working with fabric and colour and collaboration with other artists (okay, one other artist, and of course we know who that is) has helped to develop my work. With that said, I think that I need to approach the new body of work in a more relaxed way. Not so much rushing, but more thinking, experimenting, and the nerve to ditch an idea if it isn’t actually working out. (Sorry Space Embassy, but we know I’m talking about you).

3. Not talking enough with the gallery owners that currently sell my work. I need to develop a closer relationship with the two galleries. I think my relationship with the boutiques is healthy and I do keep in good communication with them. It’s now time to give the galleries the same attention and see what we can make happen there.