Saturday, January 30, 2010

First 5 letters for ALaW

The ALaW project is growing still. I think there are about 15 members now from about 4 or 5 countries. Well done to our lovely Fiona!!
As I have already indicated, I am using photos taken of an old painted hand made box to source my alphabet letters. For some unknown reason, my initial letters were vowels, thus I am a week ahead!! I am using mainly ACDSee [a simple version of Photoshop] to achieve these results. I will note when I use another programme.
Here are the original photos, the final letters, and some pointers on how I got to that stage.
a. Mirror image, flipping, cloning.
e. Flip, clone.
i. Flip, clone, colour changes.
o. Flip, clone, add contrast.
u. Change perspective [with 'Paintshop Pro 7'], clone.
There are some challenges ahead. I will need lots of artistic licence with some letters.
I am teaching these techniques at an ATASDA workshop in Brisbane on April 24th and 25th.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Artist Books and movies

I have been feeling very flat creatively this month but I have used my time to rest, watch some DVD's [the tennis and the cricket do nothing for me], and finish off some 'UFO' projects.
Our local video shop has 4 movies for $8 on Tuesdays, and I have a list of 'must sees'. I've enjoyed all of these so far. A real treat to snuggle up on the couch with a cup of tea and airconditioning.

Last June, my friend Jan from Melbourne was visiting and we went to Australia Zoo and the Bunya Mts amongst other things. We were enthralled by all the beautiful birds we saw so launched ourselved into book making and box making with birds as our main theme. Jan finished hers [of course], and now I am pleased to say mine are also finished.

Details of books:

I found this tin in a junk shop on the way to the Bunya Mts., so thought it appropriate to use it as a container for my books.

I find that these small book projects and the ALaW project are keeping me going while I wait for my painting muse to come visit me again.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Nail Polish Artist's Book

On January 3rd, I posted something about 'another book'. I was playing with my left over nail polishes. I never throw out 'stuff' that may be useful in my artwork. Here is the result.

A concertina book seemed logical as the pages were rather thick, and I decided to write words of wisdom throughout [not mine] as a few of us are going through 'flat' stages at the moment, waiting for the next surge of creativity and inspiration.

The nail polish was lovely and as shown here, I glued a strip of nail polish painting to the outside of the slip box.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Week 3 and here is my next letter - 'a'. I developed it from a knot in the wood of the lid - making a 'mirror' image to create a round shape, then 'cloning' the gaps in the wood and rotating the image until I made a convincing 'a'.

21st January.
I have added a couple more letters to my list today. The group is sharing images of letter creations on ALaW2010 blogsite. It's great to see so many varied approaches.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Postcard from Paris

I have just finished my 'Postcard from Paris' book which I started at the end of December. I have so many half finished projects hanging over my head that I lack motivation to start new work. So here it is - I used a sloppy version of coptic binding - not really my thing - too fiddly, but I'm OK with the result. I copied both sides of the post card, laminated both cards and used them as covers.  I won't be going into professional book making, but it's fun for a bit of a change.

Eumundi Galleries

Last Friday, my friend Christine and I had a fabulous 'Gallery Crawl' day. We had planned to go straight to Noosa to check out the Ranamock glass exhibition at the NRG, but we detoured to Eumundi to see what's happening there. It is a wonderful little haven for artists and we found six art galleries, all with quality work. Maybe I need to move to Eumundi! As of the end of this month, we will have only two dedicated art galleries in Maleny, and neither in the main street.
The Red Desert Gallery is in a lovely old building with an amazing range of indiginous works. Paul was really friendly and allowed me to photograph the worm eaten wabi sabi floor boards. I san see a painting coming up!

My favourite was The Gallery, Eumundi. This used to be the Francis Reilly Gallery. They still have Des Rolph's work which I love, and Rowley Drysdale, who is always inspirational for mixed media artists. Steven and Karen are the 'new' owners and they have opened up the historic building even further. Steven was a perfect host, enthusiastically chatting and explaining and sharing IT knowledge with us. We even ran into an artist friend, Elizabth Corfe who added to the incredible 'coincidences' the universe is throwing my way at the moment.

As my friend, Ken Munsie said to me the other day 'When one door closes, another door opens'. Yes, I am ready for a new door to open - another idea for a painting.
P.S. The glass exhibition was wonderful and we did some window shopping in Hastings street. Christine fell in love with a beaded vest - on sale down from $3000 to $1500 - well, it WAS in the French Quarter.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

ALaW 2

I'm still happy working with letters found in photos of the old wooden box with its peeling paint. Many of the round letters will be formed from the round screws. I love the challenge of using 'photoshop' as my creative tool to manipulate and form new letters. I'm actually contemplating two alphabets from this source, presenting them as a concertina free standing 'book' with letters on both sides.
Here is the second week's letter - e .

Sunday, January 10, 2010


When I was in Japan last year, I attended a few rehearsals and performances of Noh theatre [the one with elaborate costumes, very controlled movements and masks]. My friend Yoko attends classes and is very skilled in this ancient form of theatre. She sent me a lovely calendar, bringing back memories of the amazing dedication and committment the older Japanese have to their traditions. It is tragic that the young ones are not interested in the rich heritage of their culture.

Friday, January 8, 2010


My friend, Fiona, and some of her calligraphy friends have stated ALaW [a letter a week] and they have kindly allowed me to join them. I have often thought of doing 'a drawing a day' or some such thing, but have not been too keen to commit myself. After much deliberation re the style of lettering to explore, I have decided to go with what I know and love - wabisabi and computer design enhanced photography. The universe was with me, as after making my decision, I immediately saw the letter 'o' - soooooo oooooobvious, and easy peasy!!

After taking the photo, I decided to set myself a bit of a challenge. I will use this lovely old wooden box with its peeling paint as the source of all of my letters.

I have 6 that stand out immediately, and with minimal 'photoshop' editing I will find another 20. I will do my best to disguise the changes. I'm not sure how the presentation will work, but I have 6 months to worry about that.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


The Grafton Artsfest committee asked me to be part of a summer exhibition they are holding in Yamba, Northern Rivers Coast, NSW,  in January. I am sending down a dozen paintings including four new ones. [I'd do a slide show here if I could figure out how to do it]. The exhibition is called 'ART IN ALL ITS EXCELLENCE' and includes 10 of their regular tutors. I'm very happy with the first two paintings - 'Flotsam and Jetsam' 3 and 4. I continually struggle to not overdo my paintings, so I am happy with the free gestural mark making in these two. I think the other two are overworked [nothing a coat of gesso won't fix after the event!!].

The next step was to make a box to send them in. Because I decided to 'blog record' the making of the box for anyone who is interested??, I went about the process in a structured and methodical way [which actually made the job easier and more accurate, I am pleased to say].
Step 1
Stack and measure paintings.

Step 2
Draw a diagram of prospective box,
and a fold out plan drawing with measurements.

Step 3
Mark out, cut and join a large refrigerator box to plan.

Step 4
'Tack' box together with tape and adjust if necessary.

Step 5
Stack in paintings, fill spaces with bubble wrap or similar.
Step 6
Reinforce corners with plenty of tape, add large addressed label to top and side and plenty of 'handle with care' stickers - wishful thinking!

Off to the Post Office. It cost $55 to send this regular post. Express Post would have been over $250. Hope it gets there in time for the opening on Friday night!
This box making process worked well. It was a perfect fit for the paintings.


What to do with a gorgeous assortment of old nail polishes [not including the ones still in the cupboard which have now gone hard]?
Well - why not tear up another sheet of heavy weight water colour paper, slop some printer ink over the surface, then start random doodling with the nail polish? This is just the start - I will have to now make sense of the doodling and add some thematic structure. Left brain stuff is not my forte.

....and it is STILL RAINING....
I have emptied my frog bucket [which sits on my deck and was made by Cathy Lawley], three times in the last 10 days.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


I need more pages for my book. Because I usually make things up as I go along, I often find myself in this predicament. I have some lovely rusted paper which I made in an Adele Outteridge workshop. This will be great as a basis for my pages but as I am using my printer to transfer the images, I'm a bit wary of what the rust may do to my printer....hmmmm, so I guess I need to go wash the paper with soap and water then dry it and iron it flat again. Yes, I have 'joined' pieces together with tissue paper to make them long enough for my book. Somehow the book pages ended up 30cm long, and the rusted bits are only about 26cm. Just as well [or maybe this is why] I am into wabisabi.

I have also been waiting for my daughter to contact me regarding using some of her photos in this book. I have exhausted the possibilities with the postcard image, so I want to add a few other pics from Paris. I am scanning my old slides from the 80's but I have very few interesting pics from Paris. As well as the prohibitive cost of taking slides, I was into 'recording the sights accurately' in those days, and 'arty' shots were a real luxury. I am super proud of Eliza for taking lots of 'arty' shots [some just for my benefit]. She thinks she is not arty, but I beg to differ. Take a look at these....

Arc de Triumph

Glass Pyramid at the Louvre

the Seine?

and the stairwell inside the Arc de Triumph.
This is a bit of a 'hot potato' in the art world. The legal eagles who know our predicament have set guidelines for us and those who buy/copy/learn from us, but unfortunately enforcement is expensive and impractical. Just look at the 'McDonalds' battles. Who wants to go there?
If someone takes a photo, the intellectual property rights remain with that person unless he/she gives permission for the photos to be used. The pics may or may not be used for commercial gain, but the photographer needs to know the intent of the 'user'. The 'user' should then acknowledge the photographer if photos are used. This is especially important if the photographer uses photos as part of his/her arts business. Otherwise it is just plain good manners to do so. The same applies to photos of art works [paintings, quilts etc] but usually galleries or exhibition curators have an appropriate clause built into their contracts.
The really tricky issue comes with workshops. I have had to face this problem many times as I often teach at the large 'summer school' style conferences in Australia. Students will often copy tutor's styles and even specific art works. This is the nature of learning and teaching. However, the work made in workshops should NOT be offerred for sale and if it is exhibited [which I believe is also a bit dodgy], then the tutor should be given credit for teaching the techniques. Ideally, the student will leave the workshop with new ideas to incorporate into his/her own work. The work may be seen as being INFLUENCED by the tutor, but not looking like it was MADE by the tutor. I had a situation where a student produced work very similar to mine, even used the same framing style, AND exhibited in the same gallery as me!! In my early career, I was making fabulous 'up market' personalised hand appliqued and painted windcheaters for a ski resort. A couple of years later, the same design appeared as a screen print in all the local shops. Thank goodness I could laugh about it then as I had moved on to other creative things.
It's all a bit of a grey area, but I believe that tutors should state their personal beliefs at the start of classes, students should respect the tutor's skills, knowledge and experience by not profiteering from same, and galleries and institutions should support and encourage their artists and not 'rip them off'. Yes, I'm an optimist and can be very naive at times!!
Getting back to my 'Postcards from Paris' book, I won't sell this one, because the photos are not mine, and  it's very special [and as I have said, I am new to bookmaking and it will probably not be up to scratch technically]. I may use it as a general teaching aid, or may even exhibit it [NFS], but I will make sure that I credit Eliza's photos, probably by hand writing somewhere on the prints. Maybe I'll even give it to Eliza if she likes it.

This is not the end of the story, because what do I do about the original post card image? The card was paid for, there is no copyright logo [not that that means much], and the photographer, who is credited on the card, died in 1994. I am using an art work [photo] which is not mine though I am changing and distorting it to suit my own style of artistic expression. Is this ethical? If the photographer was still alive and I was producing multiples of the book [ie hundreds] I may feel morally obliged to ask his permission, or give him a cut of the profits. The legal eagles say that if you change the design in even a small way, you are not breaching copright, so legally I'd be OK, but I'm not sure how I'd feel morally. Maybe I'll just credit the photographer in text somewhere as this will add to the 'story' anyway, and then just go and bury my head in the sand.
What do other artists think about this issue? I'd love to get some feedback.